Jennifer Alfonsi joined J.B. Bieske’s law practice even before she went to college in 1997 and has never left.
While studying at Walsh College and earning an undergraduate degree in business administration in 2001 and a graduate degree in economics in 2003, she became a paralegal in the law firm. By that time, Alfonsi knew exactly what career path she wanted to follow: She wanted to go to law school to become a Social Security disabilities lawyer.
For the next three years, she worked full-time in the Bieske office while attending Thomas M. Cooley Law School year-round at night. Initially a paralegal, she applied to the Social Security Administration to become a non-attorney handling SSD cases and was accepted based on her experience. So while still a law student, Alfonsi first started representing clients at Social Security hearings.
After receiving her J.D. in 2010 she joined the Bieske practice as a full-fledged—and already highly experienced—SSD lawyer.
Her daily practice entails significant client contact. After the firm receives a call from a person seeking disability benefits, Alfonsi contacts them to gather information for purposes of determining the strength of their prospective claim. If the information warrants it, she then schedules an interview.
According to Alfonsi, these initial steps oftentimes prove to be critically important for claimants because any inaccurate information that’s put into required government forms can be detrimental later. Alfonsi and Bieske share a policy of seeing to it that they provide hands-on guidance in these early stages for that reason.
“Some law firms just give clients the forms and tell them to fill them out,” Alfonsi says. “But that does such a disservice to the clients. If you hire us, you’re hiring us to use our professional skills in completing these forms.” To Alfonsi, that kind of policy is something that differentiates this firm from others.
“I think the key to our success is the personal touch that we give to each of our individual clients,” she says. “We make sure that in all our files that everything necessary is there. And people know that they’re going to be talking to the same people here—it’s just J.B. and me. They don’t get passed around to different attorneys.”
Alfonsi is clearly devoted to her profession and is a regular attendee at seminars and continuing-education events of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives and the State Bar of Michigan’s Social Security Lawyers Section.
But mostly, she is devoted to her clients and the professional satisfaction that she derives from providing them the best possible service.
“I love the reward it gives me when a client calls and says that I’ve changed their life and they can’t thank me enough,” she says. “That’s very fulfilling to me.”