It feels like just last week that I was writing my 2020 year-end letter, reflecting on the year that had passed and setting goals for 2021. But here I am again, another year behind me, trying to figure out where the time has gone.

I set a high bar for 2021. I wanted to help 1,000 people get approved for disability benefits. I wanted to see 1,000 people enroll in the 2021 installment of our Liner Legal Largest Loser program. And I wanted to open a food pantry that had served healthy food options to at least 1,000 patrons.

While COVID has delayed our ability to open a food pantry, the Largest Loser which wrapped up in the spring was once again a huge success and as we approach year-end, we are coming close to our goal of helping 1,000 individuals be awarded disability benefits.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is famous for saying that people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year—but underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade. In line with Mr. Gates, who knows a thing or two about running a successful business, instead of focusing on what I hope to accomplish over the next twelve months, I am going to share an even longer-term vision. 

Admittedly, even though it has been nine (!) years since we opened our doors in 2013, I am still getting used to how much Liner Legal has grown and changed. We are no longer just a Cleveland disability law firm or even an Ohio disability law firm, but rather a nationwide disability practice with clients from coast to coast and everywhere in between. I want to continue our expansion efforts, but in a way that is unique from how other law firms have grown. Using the Liner Legal brand as a platform, I want to mentor young attorneys residing in other markets who have a passion for disability law and give them an opportunity to become our partners — building practices from the ground up with an education marketing model that is focused on client service and tough hearing advocacy. 

I also want to work to change public perception about the disability programs and claimants. Nobody should have to feel guilty about applying for benefits when they are unable to work any longer due to injury or illness, but because of how the disability programs have been politicized I often start conversations with new clients by listening to them explain how ashamed they are about needing to file. You earn the right to file for disability benefits by working and paying taxes. When you can’t work anymore, you should be able to hold your head up high when you ask the government for help so you can keep paying your bills. 

Some goals can’t be measured with time. They take sustained effort over weeks, months, and years. But if the first nine years of Liner Legal are used as a measuring stick, I am confident when I say the sky is the limit as to what we can accomplish going forward.

Michael Liner