On May 23, 2018 the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board released a proposed regulation that would permit it to “hire and supervise” third-year law students to represent injured workers in claims before the Board. The WCA vigorously opposes this proposal for many reasons, including:
(1) There is no provision for employers or insurers to be represented by law student, or limiting employers or insurers to law student representation where the injured worker does not have an attorney. The regulation would place injured workers at an enormous disadvantage against experienced defense lawyers.
(2) It is a clear conflict of interest for a law student to appear before the very agency that hired and trained the student and is supervising his or her appearance before it.
(3) To the extent the Board has identified lack of representation in “medical-only” cases as a reason for the proposed regulation, there is a much better solution: Provide a mechanism for attorneys to be paid in such cases – just as the NYS Department of Labor recommended a decade ago, but the Board has taken no steps to accomplish. Attorney fees could be paid by the employer or carrier, the health care provider who benefits from the representation, or a fund maintained by the Board.
You can read a full set of the WCA’s comments here.