Higher Legal had the great privilege of participating in the California State Bar Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) Conference recently held at the State Bar headquarters in San Francisco. There were many highlights to the meeting, but the one that stands out out most to us is knowing the power of the State Bar to protect the public and insure people have access to the very best lawyers in the industry.
Since 2009 Higher Legal has helped Californians find the very best personal injury lawyers in the business. Higher Legal helps people save on the lawyer fees and monitors clients cases from beginning to end to make sure they receive the most transparent, personal and intelligent representation available. Additionally, as a Certified Benefit Corporation our mission is to be both the best lawyer referral service in the world and the best lawyer referral service for the world.
Human Trafficking is both an international and local problem. Human Trafficking Legal Network founder Daniel Amos is proud to assist victims of human trafficking through Higher Legal, a California Certified Lawyer Referral Service (LRS#130).
Annual Public Benefit Report
A California Benefit Corporation: January 1, 2014
- I. Summary of Public Benefit Impacts
HigherLegal affirmed its commitment to social and environmental change in 2013 by becoming a California Benefit Corporation and certified B Corporation dedicated, expressly by way of its Articles of Incorporation, to empower legal clients and victims through innovation in transparency, education, advocacy, comprehensive support, and accountability within the legal profession with a goal of transforming tragedy into triumph. This transition to a benefit corporation legal structure brings several notable changes to the HigherLegal legal structure, including:
- · We now have a statutory fiduciary duty to pursue the creation of material positive impacts on society and the environment – a duty we proudly undertake!
- · We also have a covenanted fiduciary duty, by way of our Articles of Incorporation, to pursue our explicit public benefit purpose to empower legal clients and victims through innovation in transparency, education, advocacy, comprehensive support, and accountability within the legal profession with a goal of transforming tragedy into triumph. This mission has been core to our ethos and vision at HigherLegal since our founding in 2009. We’re proud to now bring legal protection and legal accountability to it.
- · We are also now subject to an annual public benefit reporting requirement. We have to measure our impacts according to an independent third-party standard, and report those impacts in an annual report displayed publicly on our website.
This transition was a path-breaking endeavor, making us one of the first benefit corporations in the state of California, and one of the first certified B Corporations in the world, as we continue to push the envelope in what it means to be a sustainable, high-impact business for good.
Reported pursuant to Cal. Corp. Code §14630.
2013 was an exciting year for Higher Legal in our pursuit of material positive impacts on society and the environment. In February 2013, Higher Legal changed its legal structure to become a benefit corporation, institutionalizing its mission to help people navigate a foreign system (our civil legal system) that is essentially designed to disadvantage legal victims. Born out of the frustration that everyone “in the game” – including the plaintiff’s lawyer, the defense lawyers, the insurance companies, defendants and judge – all have an agenda and are looking out for what is best for them, Higher Legal steps in to assist he plaintiff, the most important person in the game, who has no one totally looking out for them. Higher Legal levels the playing field and provides information and transparency so that the victim (the plaintiff) can make informed decisions about their case. In addition, Higher Legal provides pro bono legal services to the homeless via the UCLA Mobile Clinic and the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition (GWHFC) on Wednesday nights. With its new B Corporation certification and benefit corporation legal structure, Higher Legal is even better equipped to protect its mission and position itself as the premier provider or victim assistance services for legal victims throughout the state of California.
Our Pursuit of Specific Public Benefits
Reported pursuant to Cal. Corp. Code §14630.
In pursuit of our mission of empowering civil victims, we have created the world’s first personally-vetted and -verified network of qualified plaintiff’s attorneys. Using the 25 years of courtroom litigation and client representation experience of founder Danny Amos, Higher Legal formed its network of attorneys from Danny’s own preexisting network of colleagues and highly qualified litigation specialists who Danny trusts from years of relationship development and watching them develop an impeccable history of successful client results.
Our Public Benefit Shortfalls
Reported pursuant to Cal. Corp. Code §14630.
Higher Legal has excelled at connecting clients with well-qualified attorneys, empowering clients throughout the legal process, and helping clients achieve optimal results in the courtroom and in dealing with the surrounding circumstances. Higher Legal’s shortfalls in 2013 have been mostly related to the difficulty of promoting the Higher Legal brand to relevant victim groups. In order to allow victims to more easily access Higher Legal services, Danny and Higher Legal are using social media to organically grow the list of persons who will benefit from the important services offered by Higher Legal.
- II. The B Corporation Standard
Why We Selected the B Corporation Assessment as our Third-Party Standard
Reported pursuant to Cal. Corp. Code §14630.
Higher Legal elected to use the B Corp assessment as its third-party standard for evaluating multiple measures of impact such as environmental and social practices. Going through the process of receiving a third-party certification is a way of aligning with world-class organizations of similar values and reassuring our customers and employees that the good we do is actually happening. It also establishes a metric for our company to use for future improvement. We hope our customers know how hard it is to earn this certification and comply with all its requirements for social and environmental responsibility.
What the B Corporation Assessment Entails
The B Corporation assessment analyzes business practices across governance, workers, community, the environment, and the company’s actual business model. In order to join the ranks of companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and B Revolution, we had to score above an 80 on the impact assessment, report impacts on over 150 points of analysis, and maintain our performance standard through legal and certification compliance. Only 1 in 15 businesses that attempt the assessment become certified, and most do not even attempt it! Read below to take a look at our impacts according to the assessment.
- III. B Corporation Impact Assessment
Reported pursuant to Cal Corp. Code §14630.
B Corporation Comparative Analysis
By scoring 81.9 on the Impact Assessment, Higher Legal almost doubled the score of ordinary businesses, beat out the average score of sustainable businesses, and met the rigorous standard necessary to become B Corporation certified.
By earning nearly 100% in Governance, Higher Legal has been rated as one of the most transparent and legally accountable organizations in the world. In “Community” impacts, we scored over 50 points, earning over a majority of the available points in the section and nearly quadrupling the average for ordinary businesses. We look forward to continuing our high-impact community programming in 2014. Finally, in the “Environment” impact section, we earned over 50% of the available points, nearly doubling the environmental impact ratings of traditional businesses and scoring above the average for sustainable business peers.
Our main area for focused improvement will be our community practices, as we continue to scale and enhance our community service, pro bono, and community engagement endeavors.
B Corporation Detailed Reporting Summary
Our governance practices for 2013 included authoring explicit commitments to social and environmental impacts in our written corporate mission, providing training on our social and environmental mission, evaluating our company management team, in writing, on the social and environmental performance, and having a Board that meets quarterly, has an independent board member, and oversees executive compensation. Our Board also has employee, local community, and legal profession, and injured victim stakeholder representatives, and we engage our stakeholders through an annual stakeholder meeting. Finally, we’ve worked within our industry to develop higher ethical standards for the litigation and attorney referral service industries, and we’ve developed a mechanism for our customers to provide public feedback to us through our website and social media.
At HigherLegal, we pride ourselves on how well we treat our employees. Although our workforce was not large enough to be evaluated by the standards of the B Corporation assessment, we do value our employees and pride ourselves on treating them extremely well.
Our community impacts were diverse and substantial in 2013. We contributed record numbers of pro bono hours through our charitable legal services affiliates, continuing our legacy highlighted in the CNN Special, “Homeless Legal Eagle.” We also visited all of our significant suppliers, required specific social and environmental criteria, and applied a third-party social and environmental metrics screen to all our suppliers, evaluating them biannually, while giving preference to local and sustainable or fair trade suppliers. We are locally owned, and all of our customers reside within the State of California. We supported the local economy by attracting local investors and local labor, and spent over 20% of our company expenses through local suppliers. Higher Legal values having inclusive ownership and Board diversity.
Higher Legal maintained strong charitable partnerships through volunteer and financial support to:
- · UCLA Mobile Legal Clinic
- · UCLA Mobile Medical Clinic
- · Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition
Higher Legal maintains its relationship with these charities by continuing to give at least 50 hours of service and $500 per year to each organization. Higher Legal also gives no less than 1% of its annual revenues to local charities designated by the Board, in accordance with employee input. And Higher Legal matches employee donations on a 1-to-1 basis, up to 10% of the 1% revenue.
Our performance was very strong in the environmental impacts category. We have implemented a rigorous environmental impact management system including: a policy statement documenting our commitment to the environment, an assessment of the environmental impact of our activities, stated objectives and targets for environmental aspects of operations, and programming designed, with allocated resources, to achieve these targets, as well as periodic compliance and auditing to evaluate programs conducted. We have encouraged an office-wide recovery and recycling program that includes paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, metal, and composting. We also use non-toxic janitorial products, unbleached and chlorine-free paper, soy-based inks or other low VOC inks, and organic or sustainable kitchen products, as well as recycled and sustainable input office supplies (paper, pens, notebooks, etc.), reclaimed/reused office furniture, and reusable/compostable catering supplies. The company limited its travel, incentivized carpooling and the use of public transportation and Zip Cars, and implemented energy efficiency and water efficiency improvements, and a waste reduction program.
HigherLegal successfully implemented a social enterprise business model according to the B Corporation Impact Assessment by having products or services that are specifically designed to address a need for victims of civil violations. This business model was facilitated in worker-owned legal structure that created specific accountability to and preservation of the social and environmental mission. And by sourcing, selling, and hiring locally, we are also specifically designed to rebuild our local community.
A Great Day for Higher Legal as
Gov. Brown Signs Law Protecting
Lawyer Referral Service Confidentiality
Higher Legal is proud to announce the signing of a new law today that is aimed at protecting clients of California Certified State Bar Lawyer Referral Services (LRS) like Higher Legal.
Higher Legal was one of just two certified referral services to lobby for this new law which is based on the Attorney-Client privilege and which now protects victims of injury who seek the advice of a certified Lawyer Referral Service (LRS).
- You can contact one of those law firms located outside of California and discuss your personal medical history with an unknown intake clerk, or
2. You can contact Higher Legal located right here in Los Angeles and meet personally with an expert female attorney who specializes in these cases and who understands the privacy you need and deserve.
Many women have suffered injury to organs other than those their surgeon intended as a result of the Da Vinci Robotics, such as a hysterectomy which resulted in a perforated bowel, ureter, aorta or other organ. If you are one of these victims, please fill out the SEND ME A MESSAGE form in the top right and we will help you. Our consultations are FREE and completely confidential. There are time limitations on filing a case, so please act immediately.
The Da Vinci Surgical System was brought to market in 2000 by Intuitive Surgical. The robot utilizes four remote-controlled arms and a sophisticated camera to allow surgeons to operate through small incisions with greater precision and visibility. According to Intuitive, Da Vinci robot procedures offer patients smaller incisions, less blood loss, and quicker recoveries. Since its launch, the Da Vinci robot has been installed in over 2,000 hospitals. The device is used in a growing number of procedures including, Hysterectomies, Prostatectomies, Gastric bypasses and Gall bladder removals. According to Bloomberg.com, the Da Vinci Surgical Systems was used in some 300,000 U.S. surgeries last year.
Thousands of patients have reported adverse side effects from using the Da Vinci and other robotic surgical systems. These side effects include organ and blood vessel punctures, surgical burns, and death. The Da Vinci Surgical System comprises a complex set of robotic arms and surgical instruments. Using 3-D images of the affected area, a doctor at a computerized console operates the system to perform high precision surgical procedures. Since its release, Da Vinci has demonstrated serious side effects, including Organ and blood vessel punctures, Internal burns and other heat injuries, Intestinal tears and burns. The Da Vinci robot’s other side effects include incontinence, vaginal cuff dehiscence, impotence, and cut ureters. Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Da Vinci in 2000, patients have reported some 4,600 adverse events, claims Citron. Of those, 89 events included fatalities. Plaintiffs who have filed a Da Vinci surgical robot lawsuit allege that Intuitive has induced hospitals to buy the expensive technology by promising their market share would increase if they offer patients robotic surgery procedures.
In January, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) launched a probe of the Da Vinci robot to determine if an increase in adverse events related to such procedures is a reflection of a real and growing problem. Among other things, the survey asks doctors to discuss their training on the machine. Recently, the American College of Gynecologists advised its members that robotic-assisted hysterectomy should not be the first choice for most women in need of the procedure.
Higher Legal is the only local service certified through the California State Bar that assists victims in this area, is a Certified Benefit Corporation and specializes in helping people find honest and exceptional lawyers in their time of need. VIDEO: What we do at Higher Legal.