By Julia DiCristofaro
Even with the fiercest legal team behind them, a plaintiff can be overwhelmed by litigation. Talking about their traumatic incident forces them to relieve painful memories. And, as the legal battle continues for months or years, the plaintiff could face a dwindling bank account. Then, if needed be, reaching out for pre-settlement funding can be stressful – especially for those who are not adept at managing finances. The predatory plaintiff lending industry makes it worse – to the point where claimants are typically discouraged by their legal team to apply for funding. It’s quite the predicament.
Throughout all these conversations, it’s easy for a claimant to feel like a number rather than a person. While the legal industry generally handles deeply personal information and distress as procedural, this process can lead to suffering for both them and their client.
At The Milestone Foundation, we emphasize to clients that they can rely on our supportive team to ensure they’re cared for until their case is closed. Our hope is to mitigate the predatory industry of pre-settlement funding – not only by providing low, simple, non-compounding interest rates, but also by empowering plaintiffs to understand their specific financial needs. But, in order to determine the necessary amount an individual needs in funding, we must have meaningful conversations surrounding their injuries, medical expenses, and back-payments. It can be overwhelming. That’s why our entire team is trauma informed.
The Milestone Foundation received trauma-informed care training with Dr. Laura McGuire, founder and CEO of The National Center for Equity and Agency, and a thought leader in the trauma-informed legal space. Through this training, our team learned how to understand and respect the context of a plaintiff’s situation and use proactive responses when discussing sensitive topics. As caring professionals, we take time and reflect before speaking with clients. We approach people as survivors and have re-framed our mindset in terms of their reactions. Since trauma is an ongoing experience, consent is critical to this process, as it is necessary for someone to feel empowered – not pressured, when explaining themselves.
“Consent with a client is multilayered – it’s an on-going process to help them understand future options and why there may be hesitation. Clients should feel good with their decision and not feel pushed into a certain direction.”- Dr. Laura McGuire
Trauma-informed care begins with our intake process. We are mindful that unexpected changes may be deeply stressful to survivors, so we are always transparent regarding our fees, a client’s expected timeline to funding, and their application status. Prior to reaching out to applicants, we contact their legal team to discuss their case details. Respecting their boundaries, we give our applicants the power to choose what information they feel comfortable sharing. As we validate their trauma and offer options on how to resolve their financial needs, our discussions alleviate any frustrations and miscommunications that may occur. We also offer various channels of communication, and clearly communicate next steps throughout the duration of the application process. Through our continuous efforts, we have gained a trustworthy reputation for easing claimants’ worries.
Implementing trauma-informed care policies benefits both clients and staff. Here’s how:
- Clients feel supported. When people feel heard, a sense of trust is developed, and clients are more likely to cooperate throughout the legal and funding processes.
- We open the flow of communication. Clients feel more at ease sharing sensitive information to a team they are comfortable with.
- Discomfort and vicarious trauma are minimized among staff. Staff who reflect beforehand and to debrief afterwards, are less likely to absorb emotionally draining conversations as their own.
- Work satisfaction and sustainability improves. When acknowledging personal biases, strengths, and limitations, boundaries for what can realistically be accomplished are established, helping to minimize burnout.
Trauma-informed care is significant for both the survivor and the personnel who work with them. Through a thoughtful and ethical approach towards pre-settlement funding, The Milestone Foundation provides a service that truly accommodates to the needs of clients. We aspire to lead a team of individuals with the skills to be advocates for those who need us.
“After speaking with you, I felt a sense of relief about the prospect of working with a coordinated team dedicated to the needs of survivors. Your reassuring words left me feeling hopeful that I have found true advocacy to help me to achieve my goals as I move forward.” – Previous Client
To learn more about how The Milestone Foundation can help your client, please visit themilestonefoundation.org, or call 716-970-7100.