Joel came into this line of work not through law school, but through many years as a union representative and activist. As a safety committeeman for NYC subway trackworkers, Joel had to investigate accidents of workers injured on the subway tracks on a nightly basis. These workers do the heaviest physical labor inches from moving trains and live third rails, so injuries were frequent and of a wide variety.
One day in the mid-'90s he and some of his fellow union reps read in the morning paper about a family living in their car under the Brooklyn Bridge. To their amazement, they read that the father was a transit worker who had been injured, was not able to work, had got fired, was not being paid, became homeless -- and didn't have a clue how all this had happened or what to do about it.
They found that most injured bus and subway workers had no guidance when they got hurt - many never found appropriate doctors or legal representation. Joel and his team began to attend their Workers' Compensation hearings and to learn how this system works. Eventually, Joel obtained a license from the State to represent injured workers in their Workers' Compensation claims. (In New York non-attorneys can be licensed to do this work.) They set up systems for the union to guide injured members to doctors and attorneys.
At first, Joel limited his use of the license to representing union members who could not find attorneys because their cases were not lucrative enough or just too difficult. On retirement in 2005, Joel started to take on more clients as a kind of retirement hobby. Over the next fifteen years, the hobby got completely out of hand. The client list grew to well over one thousand, his staff grew to four full-time paralegals and four part-time videographers (uniquely in NYC, they video record every examination by the insurance carriers' doctors, which greatly reduces the falsifications in their reports).
Eventually the workload became completely unreasonable for Joel to handle as a solo practitioner. A year and a half ago, a group of the youngest, most aggressive attorneys that Joel had already been working with on a per diem basis for several years decided to form the firm which is now Schotter Millican, LLP. They have taken over Joel’s caseload and have been steadily adding to the client list. The firm has kept Joel on as Senior Advisor in order to help with the transfer of existing cases and with strategizing the new ones.
Thus, while the firm is very young as a firm, the practice that they have taken over has a fifteen-year history of rapid growth, including important victories in the Appellate Court.
So far this has occurred almost entirely via word of mouth. There has as yet been hardly any advertising or media outreach.