Alberts Law Office

Alberts Law Office

Mr. Alberts is a skilled Pittsburgh attorney who helps people in difficult times - A LAWYER WHO LISTENS AND CARES!

Firm Overview

Practice Areas
Debt Relief & Bankruptcy
Estate Planning
Probate & Estate Administration
Social Security Disability

Experience, knowledge of the law, professionalism these are all qualities you should seek in your attorney. But don't discount the power of thoughtfulness, kindness, genuine caring and gentle reassurance. These are the qualities that are remembered by Mr. Alberts clients long after their cases have been settled.

"a thoughtful and sensitive person, a good listener, and knowledgeable."
"very professional, knowledgeable, and a very compassionate attorney."
"works very hard for you and treats your case as if it is the only one."
"thorough and careful"
"gentle and reassuring"
"demonstrated great kindness and genuinely cared"
"always handled every question, concern and fear with kindness and patience."
Main Office
Main Office
239 Fourth Avenue
Suite 703
Pittsburgh  PA  15222
Phone
  • (412) 454-9012
Fax
  • (412) 454-9011
Websites

Office Information

Office Hours
Regular Hours 9 AM - 5 PM M-F; Evening and Weekend Hours by Request
Emergency After Hours
Yes
Languages Spoken
English
Disability
Has your claim for Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income been denied? Michael J. Alberts, a Pittsburgh based attorney for two decades, knows the appeal process and can help you maximize your chance of being found disabled.
If your claim for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) has been denied, you have the right to appeal this in order to have a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. However, if you appeal, you face a long and difficult period as you wait to have your claim heard. Michael J. Alberts of Alberts Law Office has assisted numerous people get through this process, diligently working to strengthen your claim during the wait for your hearing.

The appeals process can leave you waiting for well over a year before you finally go in front of an Administrative Law Judge to have your case for disability presented. This obviously can be very stressful if you are unable to work due to a disability because you lack income but have a great deal of time in which you have virtually nothing to do from one day to the next. Mr. Alberts is sensitive to this situation and will work with you to develop your medical evidence, which is the backbone of your claim, and will answer your questions so that you know you are not facing the Social Security Administration alone.

As you struggle to get through each day, you must remember to continue your medical treatment because a lack of treatment without good reason is likely to doom your case. Mr. Alberts will discuss what is important in strengthening your disability claim and will talk with you about how you are doing while you have to wait for the hearing. By doing so, he constantly is working on your behalf so that your claim does not simply slip through the cracks you don't want to wait for years to get to the hearing, only to find that your representative has not been working for you and is not prepared to represent you. Mr. Alberts will know you and know your case before the day of the hearing is quickly approaching.

In addition, from experience comes knowledge. Mr. Alberts knows how the process progresses and knows the types of information that matters to Administrative Law Judges. He may ask you to keep a diary of daily activities because your day-to-day functioning is important when you testify at your hearing. A diary not only helps you to remember and be prepared but also helps your representative gain a better understanding of what you have to endure.

Mr. Alberts will take an active role in assisting you with the development of your case. After all, if you have to wait for close to two years for a decision regarding disability, you should not feel alone despite having a representative. It is not that Mr. Alberts believes that you should be hounded by him on a daily basis. He will be in contact, though, because your condition is likely to change during the long wait for your hearing. He believes that this makes necessary keeping up to date on any changes that you experience.

As part of the ongoing preparation, Mr. Alberts will get to know you and your situation as it develops over time. He takes a hands-on approach to developing your claim. By seeing you and listening to you, he gains a better understanding of how to present your case. Your doctors and other treatment providers will be contacted to get your treatment records in order to develop your file with the Social Security Administration. He also will look to obtain "medical source statements" from your doctors because they can provide a more direct way for an Administrative Law Judge to know what your condition is since medical records can be hard to understand and apply to your disability claim at times. A plan that includes the "theory of the case" (basically, the reasoning behind why you should be found disabled under Social Security law) will be developed. Mr. Alberts also will be available to discuss all aspects of your particular circumstances, to answer your questions, and to discuss your concerns throughout the process so you should feel free to contact him at any time during his representation of you. He also will do whatever he can to make you comfortable as possible going to your hearing when that day finally arrives and will be prepared to provide you receive with representation you deserve at the hearing.


If you would like to discuss your appeal with an attorney who understands and has experience with the Social Security Administration's disability process as well as the issues involved in proving disability, you can reach Michael J. Alberts of Alberts Law Office at 412-454-9012 to set up a consultation about your case. The fee in these cases currently is the lesser of $6,000 (paid directly out of past-due benefits) or 25 percent of those past-due benefits if your claim succeeds while you do not owe any attorney's fee if the outcome would be unfavorable.
Debt Settlement
Debt settlement involves many options. For the last two decades, Michael Alberts, a Pittsburgh based attorney, has helped individuals exploring their options to choose the best approach to achieve financial freedom and reduce stress caused by debts.
Being in debt can leave individuals feeling overwhelmed and helpless, especially when getting seemingly nonstop attention from creditors and debt collectors. As a debt-relief attorney, Michael J. Alberts of Alberts Law Office can counsel you about a wide range of options for debt settlement and assist you in choosing the path to will limit any further damage to your financial reputation while relieving as much stress as possible from facing debts that keep growing.

Years of experience and a professional approach that respects the individual, and the individual's rights to pursue debt relief solutions, are found in the approach of Alberts Law Office. The principal behind any action is to look for the least costly choice that provides the most effective result for the individual. Mr. Alberts will listen to what you say about your situation and then will ask questions leading to debt settlement options for you to consider. Among your options are:


Negotiating Agreements with Creditors and Debt Collectors

This is the starting point for debt settlement. If the terms are fair and equitable, you have a way to achieve relief from debt that may be dominating your life. For example, Mr. Alberts can explore a payment arrangement in which you fulfill your commitment to repay what you owe but at terms benefiting your financial health. Depending on circumstances, the negotiation to settle a debt might involve a reduced amount in exchange for an agreement to pay this amount. At times, you may be in a situation in which a product or service received was unsatisfactory, and your right to change the transaction terms is protected by law you may not be responsible for paying for the product or service. These are examples that can be discussed with Mr. Alberts to find the best plan to pursue for you. Among the range of options is the most drastic one: bankruptcy. This can be raised during debt settlement negotiations, as creditors and debt collectors know that they usually will receive less in bankruptcy.

All other possibilities must be ruled out before you look at bankruptcy. As an attorney who knows the area of debt relief, Mr. Alberts can help you to decide if your best choice is bankruptcy after thoroughly reviewing and discussing other debt settlement approaches and the amounts and types of debts you have.


Pursuing Bankruptcy if Other Debt Settlement Methods are Insufficient

If bankruptcy is your best option, Mr. Alberts can help you to decide the type of bankruptcy that would be most effective. For individuals, there usually are two types available you could file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. An in-depth review of your goals and financial circumstances is needed for you to make this decision.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: A Clean Start:
Chapter 7 is used for a "fresh start" by the discharge of most unsecured debts, which generally mean credit-card debts and medical bills as well as various other debts. It also permits you to exempt much, if not all, of your property. You no longer would have the burden of the discharged debts after the bankruptcy and can keep the property exempted under the Bankruptcy Code, which keeps this property out of the bankruptcy process.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Paying Back Debt over Time:
There are situations when you cannot, or should not, file under Chapter 7. For example, you may be behind in payments for your residence or your car. If you want to avoid home foreclosure or car repossession, Mr. Alberts and you can discuss if a Chapter 13 filing is realistic.

If you want to keep property that is collateral for secured debts, such as those mentioned above, you must have enough income to pay for necessities (such as food and utilities) each month while funding a plan that will pay your current monthly obligations on these debts "secured" by a house or a car, for instance, while also paying the amounts that you are behind on these debts over a reasonable period of time (up to 60 months). Mr. Alberts will do a detailed analysis of your financial situation and then discuss with you whether it would be realistic for you to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You should feel free to raise any concerns and ask all questions about debt relief through bankruptcy. You will find Mr. Alberts an exceptional listener who encourages a two-way conversation about ways to deal with debt he will candidly and honestly discuss your options and their implications.


This is not an easy time, but help is available

Debt settlement and related areas can be quite complicated, especially when you already are feeling overwhelmed by your financial situation. When you face these prospects, contact Michael Alberts of Alberts Law Office so that you have someone on your side working with you to get the best solution to your financial difficulties. The first consultation is free.
Probate
When a loved one dies, someone must handle assets and debts that are part of the individual's estate. With two decades of experience, Michael J. Alberts is a Pittsburgh attorney familiar with the legal issues and process to help to ease your burden.
When a loved one dies, someone has to handle assets and debts are part of the individual's estate. There are two basic options for opening an estate: probate when there is a Will (which usually is handled by an executor named in the Will) and estate administration, with the administrator of the estate named according to Pennsylvania law. Michael J. Alberts of Alberts Law Office has the understanding as well as the knowledge of both processes to assist the executor or the administrator to navigate the system and successfully handle the estate.
[Note: For the remainder of this page, the term "personal representative" will be used to reference both the executor and the estate administrator.]


Both probate and estate administration involve the court to some extent. The amount of court involvement is largely determined by the complexity of the estate and issues related to it.
Many situations will find arise during length of this process. Having an experienced attorney to work with you can be an invaluable asset with an estate.

Title and ownership of assets is the primary reason for going through any type of administration that will involve the court system. There are numerous times when this will not be necessary. For example, an estate plan involving a living (revocable) trust could avoid such a process. Another situation that can escape court involvement is when property owned jointly with the right of survivorship, which passes to the survivor "by operation of law," and assets (including most life insurance policies) in which a decedent named beneficiaries other the estate.

However, even in those cases, there often are tax issues that have must be resolved. Sometimes, there are decisions that the personal representative can make to reduce the amount of taxes due. If you are managing the affairs of a loved one who has died, you may find that you need to consult with an attorney who has the experience in handling the wide-ranging legal issues that could arise before an estate finally closes.

When the court needs to be involved so that the estate can be managed and its assets distributed to those who are entitled to receive them, you, as the personal representative, could be looking at a process that takes a year or longer to complete. During this time, you will face deadlines mandated by the law. If they are not met, the court could penalize you or the estate. Also, as an estate becomes larger and more complex, it becomes more difficult to manage, especially for someone relatively inexperienced in this area. Problems outside of administration of assets and payment of debts may arise, too. There always is some possibility of a Will contest during probate, and this will bring the estate case directly in front of the court. You probably would be well advised to have counsel representing you here.

Even a simple estate can bring difficulties. Deadlines have been mention the personal representative must know and meet these deadlines. There are assets that can produce income in many estates, and these should be invested on behalf of the beneficiaries. Collection and valuation of assets is an important task for the personal representative since the cost of opening the estate ultimately is tied to this. These issues also revive the problems with taxation. There is inheritance tax with differing rates depending on which class of beneficiary (such as siblings, children, or a spouse) receives the property. Large estates could face inheritance tax. Meanwhile, income-producing assets held by the estate bring various income tax concerns. This is merely the beginning of the list of potential matters facing the personal representative. All of them point to the likely need of a diligent, experienced attorney who pays attention to details.

Finally, there is the matter of how to close an estate. The personal representative could obtain a so-called family settlement agreement, which is an at-risk distribution for this individual because it is not approved by Order of Court. To get this approval, there has to be a formal accounting and an audit a more time-consuming and costly process in which court approval is obtained. There are times when one would make more sense than the other. Experience with estates is the best teacher for this, which is another reason that hiring an attorney to work with you as the personal representative can make sense and could end up saving the estate in the end.


Probate and estate administration are not simple, especially for the inexperienced. Michael Alberts of Alberts Law Office is familiar with the legal issues and processes involved and can help to ease the burden on you, as the personal representative handling the estate. Fees are reasonable and based on the size and complexity of the estate. You can contact Mr. Alberts 412-454-9012 for a free consultation to discuss what is involved with the estate and to determine and how Mr. Alberts can assist you to navigate the legal issue.
Estate Planning
Having an estate plan can make things go smoothly when you no longer can speak for yourself by giving guidance to loved ones. Michael J. Alberts, a Pittsburgh attorney for two decades, can help you through planning for this inevitability.
Estate planning often is difficult for people because it means addressing issues such as dying and death. Michael J. Alberts of Alberts Law Office has the sensitivity to help you through this as well as the experience to help you to get a plan in place that meets your desires and needs to the greatest possible extent. You can make decisions now that will determine how your healthcare, your finances, and your estate are handled when you are unable to convey your wishes in the future.

Through estate planning, you also can help those whom you love by addressing many issues that they will face both before and after death. Estate planning cannot prevent the emotional pain associated with death, but it can help to diminish other burdens that often are experienced at the same time and can avoid problems that can occur when there is no guidance in place. There are a number of documents that you can consider and discuss with Mr. Alberts to make sure that your voice is heard even if you no longer are able to speak to the issues involved.


A basic estate plan includes a few documents, including a Last Will and Testament, a Power of Attorney (POA), and a Living Will (Advance Directive). These are not the only elements of an estate plan and may not be a part of yours. The estate plan must be tailored to you so you need an attorney who listens to you and has the experience to work with you to develop a plan that you want and does not take a "cookie-cutter" approach one size definitely does not fit all in this area.
The Last Will and Testament often is seen as the major document in estate planning. It can be because it is flexible and can cover a wide range of issues. You can decide who will be in charge of handling your estate's property, who will receive your property, and many other topics. You even can include burial arrangements in your Will. In addition, a Will can be as simple or as complex as necessary. An attorney must discuss what you want and then discuss if this is possible and whether other considerations at least should thought about during the drafting process. Even actions such as signing the Will and having it witnessed are important when the Will is probated. Mr. Alberts will talk with you about these and other topics that would be relevant to your situation.
Although the Last Will and Testament has been the focus of estate plans, there also are Will substitutes to consider. For example, people looking to have their estates kept out of probate may want to use a revocable trust or life-insurance policies that name beneficiaries. You would want to discuss the pros and cons of these approaches with an attorney with knowledge in this area.
Trusts, due to many types that have been developed to meet different purposes, have taken a larger role in estate plans. Trusts can be irrevocable and set up through a Will these are testamentary trusts. The reasons for using these depends on your estate and your intentions. They can be used to minimize the tax bills for an estate, to benefit charities, or to help minors or to those whose government benefits could be reduced if property from an estate went directly to them. This is a complex area, and an attorney who listens and who has the experience dealing with these issues, such as Mr. Alberts, becomes an invaluable resource in estate planning as a result.
Other typical components in these plans include Powers of Attorney. These can be tailored to deal with medical and financial situations that matter to you and that can arise when you are incapacitated by illness. They are powerful documents, and careful consideration to what they involve and who is the agent to make decisions in the POA is crucial. An experienced attorney can provide the information so that you can make informed decisions regarding what type of Power of Attorney would fit your needs.
A Living Will (Advance Directive) allows you to make important healthcare decisions for yourself when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. Again, having an attorney who deals with estate planning will help to explain the implications of decisions and even how to avoid conflict if you also have a medical Power of Attorney.

Having an attorney you trust and who will listen to you is a crucial part of developing an estate plan that will meet your needs. Mr. Alberts has the sensitivity and experience to help you to get an estate plan in place that will reflect your wishes as well as meet your needs. You can contact him at 412-454-9012 for a free consultation about the issues to be considered and the decisions to be made in this important area of law.

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

As an attorney for a nonprofit legal services provider, I had the opportunity to work in a number of areas involving non-criminal issues. When the time came to open my own office, I drew on my experiences to choose the legal areas on which I would focus. I looked at which areas were most interesting to me and, as this would be a long-term commitment, what I enjoyed doing. Of course, something can be interesting but may not fit a person's skill set. When I chose practice areas on which to focus, I made sure that I had the capability to do the work successfully. Also, from my experiences dealing with people, I wanted whatever I targeted as my main areas to be ones in which I could help and be most useful to clients. Finally, I did not want to spread myself too broadly.

The result was that I chose Social Security disability law because I saw people who were not eager to be labeled "disabled" by others they wanted to work but could not do so on a full-time basis due to limitations that resulted from physical and mental impairments. Furthermore, they needed assistance to prepare strong cases. Bankruptcy provided individuals who may have made mistakes or suffered misfortunes that had long-lasting implications from which they needed a fresh start to reverse the downward spiral that was part of their lives. Probate and estate administration is an area that can be complicated. I felt that I could help to make the process more orderly so that deadlines could be met and problems that can occur in these situations might be handled, for example, without a great deal of acrimony developing, as too often is the case. As for estate planning, I believed that there was a need here that can benefit everyone. Powers of Attorney, Wills, and Trusts can be tailored to each person's circumstances. In fact, this is an area in which people often require some education so that they are aware of their options and can make informed choices. I enjoy being part of this process, which is one that everyone from the young to the old can realize benefits for themselves and their loved ones from exploring the possibilities because estate planning helps to provide a structure to be implemented through a well-tailored plan. This reflects my thinking about the legal areas on which I focus and insight into why I believe that they are important and can prove rewarding areas for both rewarding areas for both attorney and client.

What experience or education distinguishes your lawyers from others

What we learn through education combined with what our experiences teach us shape our views. Since everyone's background is unique, this is something that will separate one attorney from another. As for me, my experiences have created self-awareness, helping me to understand my strengths and weaknesses. In order to be most useful to clients, I worked to identify the strengths and sought to maximize their roles in my practice. I am a good listener. By listening and observing, I am able to learn from everyone I meet and gain new perspectives. At the same time, clients depend on attorneys to educate them about the options that they have as well as the potential consequences of these various options. A good attorney never stops learning and also teaches clients about what they can do.

Education helps to mold a person. By earning an MBA and a law degree, I was exposed to different ways of learning and understanding different concepts that I then had the opportunity to apply to the "real" world. A student must be able to maintain focus and concentration, which is crucial in any type of work. I found that I enjoyed working on complex matters and, as a result, have not shied away from them in my practice. Attention to detail also has played a significant role and remains important in what I do. Finally, an attorney has to be inquisitive in order to help clients. From my experiences and my education, these elements have formed the cornerstones for my life in work.

What distinguishes your law firm from others?

I believe that the legal-services background that gave rise to this practice fostered empathy to clients that remains strongly felt. A dedication to helping those who need assistance also continues. At its core, the practice is client focused in its approach.

There is a commitment to the client and the client's objectives and goals. There is an investment of time necessary to understand what a prospective client is seeking, and, when a prospective client becomes an actual client, time and effort again are invested to develop possible approaches to achieve what is sought. The idea always is that the client is in charge and should be presented options from which to make an informed decision. These considerations should be developed from the beginning of the attorney-client relationship and remain in place unless the attorney is asked to do or allow something unethical to occur at this point, the relationship cannot continue in this direction. While that is a possibility, it rarely occurs, and the attorney-client relationship proceeds. Also, the attorney does not shut out the client from being part of the ongoing process. The client always is kept in the loop and receives status reports on the case while being given free rein to discuss the situation's progress and question what is happening at any time.

This law practice adheres to certain fundamental ideas that have been found to be important to clients, as well as others in the legal system: being prepared, remaining determined regardless of obstacles to deliver what the client seeks, and maintaining integrity throughout the entire process. These form the foundation on which this practice is built.

Preparation involves using the necessary time to investigate facts, as well as the applicable law, so that there is a solid basis for what the attorney does on the client's behalf. The attorney can work with the client to lead to the desired outcome when necessary, rather than having to follow others due to a lack of preparation that puts the client's position at risk.

Determination is important simply because the practice of law is not simple. There will be obstacles that can make progress difficult. However, just because something is difficult does not mean that it is impossible. Clients hire attorneys to find ways to navigate problems and arrive at solutions. That is always the aim here.

Integrity does not need much explanation. Cheaters do not win and do not last in this profession. Doing things the "right way" is the key to success for the attorney and the client. As far as I am concerned, the "right way" is the only way to truly achieve something positive for the client in the end.

There is one final note that I want to mention. If I had to sum up this law practice in three words regarding what motivates the service provide to clients, I believe that I would select the following: Pride, Poise, and Professionalism.

Is your firm willing to help a client with one discrete part of a case, without taking on the whole case?

This often is called "limited scope representation." In my role as the Executive Director of a small legal-services provider, the concept of limited scope representation, also known as the unbundling of legal services (among other terms), was a necessity due to the number of people needed assistance from one attorney. I continue to work as a volunteer with that organization and continue to provide limited scope representation in that capacity. However, I also believe that this is a useful way to help at least some clients in private practice also.

In unbundling legal services, the attorney handles a specific portion of the matter involved. There is a need to gauge what part of a given case can be handled by a client alone the attorney and the client must discuss the issues and corresponding options to determine if the individual can handle some portion of the legal situation on her or his own. If so, the attorney will help with other parts and is retained to handle those parts with the same ethical and professional responsibilities to the client that would exist in a "full-service" case. A significant value of this approach is that a significant portion of the population cannot afford to hire an attorney to handle the entire matter but still requires assistance with the more complicated aspects of the case. Limited scope representation is a viable way to provide needed legal services to individuals who have incomes that tend to range from low to moderate levels and who would be able to handle part of their cases while needing help with other parts. Costs can be contained to the extent possible, but people also have the assistance of an attorney as needed.

With limited scope representation, a client retains the attorney, with an agreement that sets forth exactly what responsibilities will be undertaken by the attorney as well as what the costs and fees will be for the client. There are certain areas that will lend themselves to this type of representation for clients who can handle much, but not all, of what they face in terms of the legal system on their own, essentially. One such area often falls under the category of advice and counsel. The person needs to understand legal issues, rights, procedures, and options but, once these have been addressed, is comfortable handling the responsibilities involved in his or her case. This often may branch into more detailed discussion of how to prepare for the legal matter, various strategies that might be used, and how to approach possible negotiations that courts often favor for resolving legal problems. "Brief services" is another area in which the attorney may be able to offer invaluable assistance. This commonly means document review and drafting by the attorney so that the client has what is necessary to pursue a legal matter without running afoul of procedural requirements, for example, which can result in the premature and detrimental ending to the legal matter involving the client. A third area for unbundled services could be a limited role in court or administrative matters for the attorney. There may be a particular issue that the client lacks the experience to handle so the client and attorney agree that the attorney will handle this matter, after which the client again will represent herself or himself at subsequent hearings and conferences.

Limited scope representation can serve to level the "playing field," so to speak, when a person needs some legal assistance but cannot afford full-service representation while being capable of handling much of the legal matter even when facing a lawyer for the other side. This can be a service that can keep the legal bills within reason, yet still providing something crucial without which a client would not have a chance a proceeding successfully. Finally, there are times when limited scope representation begins as a good idea, but the case soon becomes too complex for self-representation. At that time, the client and the attorney may decide that this situation needs to be handled as a "full service" case. In the final analysis, limited scope representation can be of great benefit to many people when it is appropriate, and potential clients deserve to have this option if they can find it useful.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

I see no problem with a potential client who has put in the time and effort to learn what she or he can in order to better understand the legal issues that led the individual to decide to meet with me. The reality of the attorney-client relationship is that the client is in charge while the attorney is employed by the client. I want to be able to discuss the situation that she or he faces, and a case can be easier to develop with a client who has insight into the problems faced and has ab understanding of what may be required for the attorney to be well prepared to advocate the client's position effectively. Of course, an attorney has to be permitted to counsel the individual a client has no reason to hire an attorney if the client does not believe that the attorney has insights and expertise that even the client, as a knowledgeable consumer of legal services, believes will be helpful to resolve the legal issues that exist. An attorney should not become defensiveness when questioned by someone who may become a client. The supply of attorneys is quite large, and the supply of clients places them in the position to shop for someone with whom the individual is comfortable. Just as a lawyer who has some knowledge of car repair is more likely to pick a mechanic in whom he or she has confidence in that person's ability and integrity, I think that attorneys should not avoid clients who have a strong interest in how their issues are handled. In any type of business transaction, an educated consumer is likely to get better outcomes, and a positive outcome should be the objective whenever any attorney provides assistance to a client. The possible difficulty would involve a client who wants to dominate the effort but does not know the law well enough to achieve anything close to the desired result. The attorney must avoid this trap. However, if the attorney cannot and becomes mired in a no-win situation, then the attorney has to find a possible way out because a client is not well served by an attorney, who cannot believe in a client, who no longer can believe in a justice system that will not even listen before passing judgement. When an attorney and client can collaborate, the results will be much more satisfying. We must listen to our clients and give them the opportunity to have input because they often have something important to say that can impact their cases and lives significantly.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

I have no objection to reviewing legal documents that a client has prepared. These often are best viewed as drafts because there can be important elements missing that should be added. Of course, clients usually turn to the internet to find examples to copy, which is a major reason that they may be a starting point, in essence laws change while the documents may not keep pace, and the examples may not be specific to a particular jurisdiction. In these situations, I would see the forms as drafts that will indicate what a client wants. I discuss the positive points as well as what is missing in such cases and am willing to take the framework that the client has presented in order to add or change whatever is required for the document to have legal effect. When the form meets the legal standards to be valid, then I will convey that message. The idea is to make sure that the client has something that fits her or his purposes, not simply to make changes in order to create additional business for the attorney that is unnecessary. Because people are more inclined to make attempts to handle legal matters on their own in this era of ever increasing technology and information availability, attorneys have to adjust to the changing climate. I believe that we have to take steps to help individuals while remaining in step with the world of today and the future. In my opinion, the reviewing of documents prepared by clients is a way to assist people with important legal issues, which is what an attorney is supposed to do.

Michael Alberts

Education

University of Pittsburgh, B.A., Economics
and Business Administration, 1987
University of Pittsburgh, M.B.A., 1989
University of Pittsburgh School of Law, J.D., 1993



Michael Alberts has been practicing law in Pennsylvania for more than 20 years. During this time, he has handled a wide variety of legal matters that have ranged from divorce, employment law, expungements, guardianship, landlord-tenant disputes, and tax matters.

He currently concentrates on cases involving bankruptcy, estate planning, probate and estate administration, and Social Security disability.

Licensed by the Pennsylvania Bar since 1993, he has handled cases on the state and federal levels. For much as this time, he has focused on helping people with legal problems but lacking the resources to hire legal representation, most recently as the Executive Director of Behavioral-Health Legal Services, Inc. In addition, he has experience handling private cases throughout his nearly two decades as an attorney.

Professional Memberships

Allegheny County Bar Association
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives.

* Nolo has confirmed that every member attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with the state agency that licenses lawyers. Any past disbarments and suspensions (with possible exceptions for minor violations or nonpayment of dues, in our discretion) will be indicated accordingly in the badge. Member attorneys are required to notify Nolo immediately if they become the subject of any disciplinary action by any state licensing agency.

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