Empowering you though education
Hi, this is David Brannen, the founder of Resolute Legal.
I would like to tell you the story of Resolute Legal. We are a team of underdogs, fighting for underdogs all across the country.
When I was 10 years old, my family went through a legal tragedy. My grandfather was permanently disabled from work after being injured by a multimillion-dollar corporation. He reluctantly sued the company in a case that everyone agreed he could win. In fact, it seemed impossible to lose.
You know where this is going.
Our family learned a hard lesson that many others have experienced: The truth is not enough to win a legal case. Much to our disbelief, the big corporation won. They had better lawyers who gave a better presentation to the judge.
I will never forget my anger and sense of injustice. In that moment, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and that my future would involve fighting for the underdog. That anger continues to fuel me today.
I have also always felt a strong connection with the disability community. I’m not totally sure why, but I believe it’s related to my drive to help the underdog. This started with my involvement in the Special Olympics when I was in high school, and it’s what lead me to get my degree in Occupational Therapy before going to law school.
After law school, I worked in law firms that focused on representing people in injury claims against insurance companies. By 2005, I started to represent people in disability claims. I didn’t know any lawyers that worked much with disability claims. I had to call lawyers in other parts of Canada and the United States just to learn what to do. However, this area of law — and especially the clients — quickly became my favorite work.
Back then, there was a large disparity in legal expertise in disability claim disputes. Government agencies and insurance companies had lawyers working full-time defending against disability claims. Consumers only had access to lawyers who worked on a few disability cases per year. Insurance companies had a big advantage in experience, expertise, and resources.
And their advantage just continued to grow. By 2010, there was a trend for insurance companies to hire in-house lawyers who only defended against disability claims. These lawyers took it to the next level. When a person focuses on doing one thing, it’s only natural for them to get better at it than others who do it occasionally. This is how anyone becomes a master in their craft — woodworkers, Olympic athletes, and lawyers alike.
By 2013, I decided to start my own law firm. It would focus exclusively on representing people in disability claims. My plan was to beat the insurance companies at their own game. I would build a firm that focused 24-7 on disability claims. Disability claims would be our one thing. We could offer regular people the same level of legal expertise as the insurance companies were getting from their lawyers.
Most other lawyers thought I had lost it. Why would I focus only on disability claims when personal injury claims were more profitable? Would I really turn away a good client because they didn’t have a disability claim? Most lawyers believed there weren’t enough paying clients for a lawyer to focus exclusively on disability claims.
I launched Resolute Legal on January 1, 2013. I wanted it to be Canada’s first consumer law firm focused exclusively on disability claims.
I would like to say it was a straight path to success, but that would be a lie. Resolute Legal didn’t flourish overnight. I was struck by the realities of trying to start a business from scratch. Clients were hard to come by, and I had a family to feed, so I started taking any injury claim that would come through the door. These were some of the most bizarre cases you can imagine. We just weren’t getting traction with disability claims. We were moving away from my vision a little more each day.
However, in late 2014, I heard an interview with a lawyer named Marc Whitehead from Houston, Texas. It was a CD that I got in the mail. I was listening to it in my car while driving several hours for a case. He talked about how he ran a national law firm focused only on disability claims. He represented clients across the country from his home base in Houston.
Something clicked. I pulled my car over to the side of the road and started writing out the plan: I would make Resolute Legal a national disability claim law firm in Canada. There were two keys to Marc’s success: a resolve to focus only on disability claims, and to give his disability claim books away for free!
I made the decision that there would be no going back. By December 2014, I removed everything on our website that wasn’t related to disability claims. When I got home I started writing a book. I started writing articles and guides about disability claims. We started turning away or referring out all clients that didn’t have disability claims.
By the beginning of January 2015, our website traffic was down almost 50%. Our phones stopped ringing. Our new client intake dropped to zero. Things were tense. It wasn’t immediately clear that I had made the right decision; there was a lot of second-guessing going on. However, I did manage to publish my book, A Beginner’s Guide to Disability Insurance Claims in Canada.
In February, I heard crickets. No phone calls. No new clients. My books arrived, but they were gathering dust. Almost everyone now had doubts, including me. The one exception was my wife, Lyne. She had unreasonable confidence that I would make it work. She encouraged me to keep going. So, I listened to that Marc Whitehead CD over and over again, and I pushed on.
By March 2015, I was approaching panic mode. It was the third month in a row with small gains in website traffic and no phone calls. But, we did mail out a few books and we saw a few disability claim referrals from other lawyers. On a whim, I flew to the United States to attend a law firm management workshop put on by the largest disability law firm in Florida. Like me, they started from nothing, and grew to having over 20,000 active clients. That conference was the motivation I needed to stick with my plan.
By April 2015, I had published a guide called The CPP Disability Claim Approval Blueprint. We started offering free webinars on how to apply for CPP disability benefits. Things were looking up. Our website traffic was now growing and we were slowly getting more new clients.
I doubled down by fully committing Resolute Legal to education-based marketing. We included it as part of our mission: to empower people through education, advocacy, and services. We would become known as an education-focused law firm. The number one source for free information about disability claims in Canada. The idea was that people would find our articles online, order our free books and guides, then realize “Hey… These guys really know what they’re talking about, and they seem like a good bunch of people” … and just like that, they would want to hire us.
By May 2015, things really started to take off. We were getting more calls and leads than ever. We were mailing out free books and guides left and right. I had to buy a suitcase with wheels so that our staff could lug all the books to the post office each day. There were so many orders that I couldn’t afford to keep mailing the books for free; we had to switch to PDF email copies for a few months.
We started getting calls from people all over the country. In those first few months, we got hired by clients in British Columbia and Newfoundland. We went from a regional law firm in Nova Scotia to a national firm almost overnight.
When we got our first client across the country in British Columbia, I remember a staff member asking, “Are we really doing this?”
I replied, “Oh — we are doing it!” We ended up winning CPP disability for that client.
Then we got a call from a woman in the Yukon about representing her husband in a CPP disability appeal. She had found us on the internet. They had been denied twice already. They literally lived in the middle of nowhere. No paved roads, no lawyers for hundreds of kilometres — certainly none that focused on disability claims. But, they did have a phone, and she had internet access at work. We took on their case and said we would figure it out. UPS really can deliver anywhere, we discovered.
We arranged for this client’s CPP Tribunal Hearing to be done by teleconference. I was in New Brunswick, the Judge was in Ontario, and my client was in the wilds of the Yukon. We won that case, too.
My client never had to leave his home. I didn’t have to travel to the Yukon. That’s when I knew for sure that our vision of a national disability law firm could work.
I am grateful for all of those people who took a chance on us in the early days. At the time, it was hard to believe that people in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta would hire a law firm based in New Brunswick!
I soon realized that people cared about what we believed in and what we stood for — they didn’t care where we were located. People told me how much they appreciated our free articles, books, videos, and guides. They also liked that we didn’t take ourselves too seriously and were easy to talk to.
The moral of this story is that we didn’t experience success until we committed completely to our vision of serving the disability community. We focused on helping people first, without asking for anything in return. Our biggest impact was in mailing out thousands of free books. In those books, we taught people how to win their own disability claims. We gave away our best secrets.
But it worked, and we got more clients than ever. It enabled us to focus exclusively on disability claims. The more we gave away, the more we got back. I have jokingly referred to our approach as “good karma marketing.” Our goal now is to look for ways to give away more and better content, knowing that we will always get more back!
Fast forward to today, and Resolute Legal has represented clients in every province except Quebec (due to licensing barriers). We now focus on all types of disability claims: short-term disability, long-term disability, CPP disability, workers’ compensation, disability tax credit, and disability-related employment claims. We continue our tradition of education-based marketing. We serve clients nationwide and have offices in Toronto, Halifax, and Moncton.
We still mail out free books! I have now published three consumer books on disability claims. You can get one by subscribing to our email newsletter, The Insider. One of my free books, The Beginner’s Guide to CPP Disability, had a run as a bestseller on Amazon. The third edition of my original book, A Beginner’s Guide to Disability Insurance Claims is due out in 2021 along with a highly anticipated book called Disability Claim Secrets.
We have refined a process for winning disability claims. It’s called The Story Alignment Method ™. This process focuses on winning your claim in a way that shows everyone that going on disability leave was the last thing you wanted to do. This is important. So many clients tell us that one of the biggest challenges of living with a disability is when others don’t believe them — including insurance companies, government agencies, family, and co-workers,
We still believe in education first, so you can make the best decisions about your claim. We use a client-centered philosophy in everything we do. This means we try to deliver services that people want, rather than services lawyers want to sell. We help at all stages of the claim, including applications, appeals, hearings, and lawsuits. We put you first and back that up with our 100% Satisfaction & Fair Fee Guarantee.
Finally, we are so committed to the underdog that we created Resolute Legal’s Access to Justice Program. With this program, we stop insurance companies from getting away with bad behaviour. Sometimes they act shady because they think you won’t be able to get a lawyer. Maybe you can’t afford one, or there’s no money in the case for a lawyer to represent you under a contingency fee agreement.
I am so proud of where Resolute Legal is today. One of the keys to our success has been hiring underdogs to fight for the underdogs! This is no joke. I couldn’t be prouder of our team and their commitment to Resolute Legal’s mission.
I appreciate you taking the time to read our story. I hope you take some inspiration from our journey. If there is one lesson, it is to persevere. Stick with what you believe in. Give things away for free and good things will come back to you.
I wish you the best on your journey.
— David Brannen, Founder & Managing Lawyer, Resolute Legal
Our MISSION — Our WHY
We envision a Canada where no person is wrongfully denied disability-related benefits.
We help you to win disability benefits by empowering you with education, advocacy, and services.
Resolute Legal is based on a foundation of core values and policies, which are binding on all employees and serve to guide us in all we do. We value transparency and strive to be the best source of free information for Canadians dealing with disability claims and appeals. Learn more about our core values.