Many injured workers are not happy with lawyers recommended by union


We’ve been hearing more and more from injured workers who are not happy with the lawyers recommended by their union. Some injured workers say they feel they are forced to hire these lawyers for their work injury claims. In quite a few cases there is more going on as to why a union refers their injured members to a certain lawyer or law firm.

When a union member is injured at work, they often contact their union for initial advice, and for assistance with for example return to work matters. Many unions will recommend hiring a lawyer and they might even provide the name of a law firm for the injured worker to call. Whilst this may just be a helpful referral, in some cases, there is much more going on.

Many injured workers are not happy with lawyers recommended by union

We’ve been hearing more and more from injured workers who are not happy with the lawyers recommended by their union. Some really feel forced to hire these lawyers for their work injury claims. The specific complaints we hear  is that the lawyers injured workers are referred to by their Union merely “blow off their cases” once they’re in the door. Many injured workers don’t feel like they’ve hired the right workers compensation lawyer (or law firm).

Some  law firms are known as “union firms,” and these law firms get a lot of business sent their way through the Union they affiliate with. Whilst arguably that in itself is not a problem; the question we need to ask ourselves is: Why are the unions recommending these particular law firms?slatergordon-news

Some of these law firms are good, but some (more than you think) are not!

As stated on our “Decent Lawyers” page, the worst lawyers are the assembly-line-factory-type lawyers or law firms (aka sharks or ambulance chasers). They represent hundreds of injured workers at one given time, and they are strictly in the business for the quick money.

We have been thinking and inquiring about the reason why unions recommend a particular law firm. One reason could be the relationships between the law firm’s and the union heads. Yes, there are stories of these law firms taking union heads on holidays, and buying them rather expensive gifts etc. This would obviously be against the law (bribing), but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen!

These alleged arrangements are obviously mutually beneficial for the law firms and the union heads. The law firms get tons of business; the union heads get perks. But where are the injured workers in this equation? Shouldn’t they be the priority?Ryan Carlisle Thomas

A lawyer or law firm for that matter should always be recommended based on their specific ability to best represent a client – the injured worker.

When it comes to a work injury, the lawyer you hire should have specific experience with your type of injury, especially if it is something more rare or complex.

There is just no way that one law firm (or one lawyer) is going to be the best choice for every single injury. For example, if you suffered a heart attack because of work, a CRPS (chronic regional pain syndrome – aka RSD) case, a repetitive strain injury (i.e. carpal tunnel), stress claim, or complex back injury, you will  need a lawyer/ law firm with that specialised experience.Injured workers also want to make sure they are represented by lawyers who only act for injured workers and not for the defense (i.e. employer, insurer)!

When unions refer injured members to a law firm / lawyer, it should be based on the best interests of the injured worker, period.

We firmly believe you should, at least, be given all the information about a law firm (and why the Union prefers this firm), and get a referral (if any) based on your individual needs and a law firm / lawyer with the proven ability to meet those needs.

If your union recommends a law firm, you don’t have to hire that lawyer, even if it seems like you’re getting a lot of pressure to do so. You have the right to seek out your own lawyer, or at least get a second opinion. You also have the right to fire your lawyer!

Did anyone of you also had a bad experience with a union referred law-firm / lawyer?


[Post dictated by WorkcoverVictim and transcribed on her behalf]

10 Responses to “Many injured workers are not happy with lawyers recommended by union”

  1. I attended a senior partner of a union recommended law firm who had over 35 year’s specialty experience in Workers comp law. I was suffering from Melanoma that I believed arose out of many years sun exposure during the course of my employment.
    That lawyer advised that I had no reasonable chance of succeeding in a workers comp claim against my employer because he claimed “anyone can get Melanoma even indoor workers, you could have a family history of Melanoma”. With nothing to lose I submitted a workers comp claim myself based on my researched precedents of Melanoma cases and my supporting GP’s medical report. The insurer sent me to an IME and my claim was accepted by the insurer who paid all my expenses.
    Moral of the story don’t trust any union recommended lawyers no matter how experience they claim to be. I guess that lawyer had plenty of work on or just could not be bothered taking on a case he thought may be too difficult or as it turned too simple for him to make his required profit.

  2. Of course they feel forced by the union to hire the union’s recommended law firm – that’s what union intends – to channel as many injured workers as possible to their preferred law firms.

    The personal injury law firms Slater & Gordon and Maurice Blackburn are an integral part of the ALP machinery.

    By the unions referring all injured workers to the 2 ALP firms, the ALP/Union effectively get to skim a bit of $$ off each injured workers settlement monies (via legal fees charged) to pump back into the ALP machinery via political donations, financial support and backing. It’s that simple.

    Slater’s and Maurice Blackburn are big $$$ political donors to the Labor Party. Both firm’s donate exclusively to the ALP. They are also the lawyers to the unions themselves and to the ALP.

    If you attempted to count the number of ALP parliamentarians that were ex lawyers from Slater & Gordon or Maurice Blackburn, you’d give up trying to count.

    Julia Gillard – Slater & Gordon, Bill Shorten – Maurice Blackburn, Nicola Roxon – Maurice Blackburn. The list of current and former ALP parliamentary members that are ex these 2 law firms is endless.

    It is virtually mandatory for any aspiring ‘Bill’ or ‘Julia’ that wishes to run for ALP pre-selection to have done a stint at Slater’s or Maurice Blackburn.

    If a lawyer at Slater’s or Maurice Blackburn’s lawyers doesn’t aspire to run for a Labor Party seat or become a party staffer then their partners are either union officials, ALP members or ALP party staffers or party hacks instead.

    Slater’s funded an all expenses paid trip for Bill Shorten and his wife to have a nice European jaunt a few months ago – maybe he bought back some souvenirs or picked a few bottles at the duty free grog shop for the injured workers whose money paid for his trip!

    I agree with WorkcoverVictim, do your own research and find the best lawyer for you, your type of case and whom you feel comfortable with, not what’s best for the union and the ALP. You should never feel pressured to hire any lawyer.

    • Excellent write-up, Madama Zena!
      Having had a very bad experience with a Union referred law firm myself, I can’t help but wonder if there is even more to it… For example, the very first thing I was told (within minutes of the consultation) was that “of course I have no common law claim…”. I believe the union referred law firms are also in business (directly or indirectly) with the employers those Unions cover. Who knows maybe the get bonuses paid for not commencing common law claims (!). Needless to say that when I changed lawyers, it was quickly proven that I had a good case of employer negligence (as well as a serious injury after appealing the initial insurer IME impairment assessment, which interestingly the union referred law firm did not want to appeal!).

    • @madame Zena very colourful name, Your comments are informative and educational. I would like to have your thoughts on a new start up

  3. I was given a referral by my union and I decided in the end not to go with the firm. In the initial assessment I didn’t really feel like they were listening to what I was saying. They kept saying oh we’ll deal with that later on if it’s applicable – pain and suffering etc, they didn’t really explain it very well to me. Just wanted me to sign. I have a physical injury but now being away from work I realise there was some bullying too, like my bosses saying to colleagues “oh i can’t help you right now I have to help the cripple”. when i spoke about these things with the lawyer she just brushed them off and said oh those things happen in the workplace and insinuated it was no big deal.
    I ended up seeking out Shine partly due to the things written on here and that when i met with the lawyer from there, she just seemed to be the right fit for me.

  4. I have heard this about slater and Gordon I was advised that Morrison and Blackburn are good, word of mouth from others. Hope this is helpful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    To all the victims including myself.