It was recently pointed out to me by another lawyer that the way I begin a Michigan driver's license restoration case makes the way most other lawyers do it seem backwards. I begin every license appeal or clearance case with a 3-hour meeting, the primary focus of which is to prepare you to undergo the substance abuse evaluation. Apparently most, if not all, other lawyers meet with you after you've had it completed. While I can't even begin to understand doing things that way, it perhaps explains why I'm the only lawyer (that I know about, anyway) who provides a first-time win guarantee.
This is a very important point. The substance abuse evaluation that must be filed to begin a license restoration case is really the foundation of a license appeal. If you stumble at this stage, you've lost the case before it has even begun. The information contained in the substance abuse evaluation, as well as the "tone" of that information, shapes your whole case. This is about a lot more than just getting a "good" or a "bad evaluation." The evaluation will provide a glimpse, in a kind of longitudinal way, of your recovery. Yet there is really no way an evaluator can summarize your journey to sobriety if you can't describe it first. That's what I'm here for.
Thus, for 3 hours, we'll go over the substance abuse evaluation form line by line. I have my own "substance abuse evaluation checklist" where I make notes to give the evaluator to make sure no important details are left out. Details are significant, but there's much more to the story than that. In fact, there's the whole story that needs to be told, and that's where I help.
I call this your "recovery story" because, in every sense of the word, how you made the transformation from drinker to non-drinker is a story. Those who have spent time in AA probably feel a lot more comfortable with the "story" part of this, having spoken of their journey to abstinence at the tables. For others, they'll undoubtedly appreciate the help in setting things out and seeing the chronological progression from their early (almost always teenage) drinking days to the end of their drinking career, right up to their embrace of sobriety.
Make no mistake, there is a story here, and when we start peeling back the onion, it's usually dramatic and profound. In more than 20 years, I've never had anyone sit back and describe, without emotion, how they sat back one day and did a balance sheet with continuing to drink on one side, and no longer drinking on the other, and then just decided to stop because it was the logical choice. When someone decides to quit drinking, there has usually been quite a bit of drama leading up to that point.
Here's where I bring a lot more to the table than any other lawyer, including anyone else who describes him or herself as a "license restoration lawyer." I study the whole process of alcohol problems, from their onset to their diagnosis, and right up through treatment. I am actively involved in the formal University, post-graduate studies of these issues. I know the language of the counselors who do these evaluations. I understand nuances in the evaluation process that some people don't even know exist. Because I speak the language of substance abuse counselors as well as the language of lawyers, I can make sure that the evaluation covers the appropriate and necessary clinical bases, and that it is legally clear, and sound, as well.