Board Certification in Social Security Disability takes the spotlight this week as we feature NBTA member Chris Cornaghie. Chris represents hard working individuals in Social Security Appeals, long term disability and related matters throughout the Mid South: including: Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, and Louisiana.

Chris is admitted to practice in numerous United States Federal courts as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. He has served as president of the Memphis Mid South chapter of the Federal Bar Association and president of the University of Memphis Law School Alumni Association. Chris has also served on the board of NOSSCR (National Organization of Social Security Claims Representatives).

Where did you go to law school?
University of Memphis School of Law

How long have you been in practice?
40 years

In what areas of law are you NBTA certified?
Social Security Disability

Where are you licensed to practice?
Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama

Why is NBTA membership important to you?
Being board certified by the NBTA through the ABA is a tremendous asset in my practice as, along with my years of experience, it clearly sets my practice apart from other attorneys--especially in an era of mass advertising. It is crucial for the solo-practitioner to be able to demonstrate expertise in the particular area of representation.

What would you say to another attorney about why they should become board certified?
A board certified attorney has an advantage in recognition of expertise, reliability and perceived success in that area. The general public will always turn to the certified expert, as I have been told by many of my clients.

What areas of law do you have experience in beyond your areas of certification?
Long Term Disability ERISA claims, Medicare Appeals

What made you choose the area of law in which you practice?
After graduation from law school, I was hired by the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration, where I spent six years as a staff attorney before entering into private practice, specializing in Social Security Disability claims.

In your opinion, what makes a successful lawyer?
Today's attorney needs to be a little of everything, not only a skilled advocate, but a business manager, internet techie, advertising exec and especially somewhat of a counselor in assisting people with difficult and complex issues that greatly affect their lives.

What advice would you give to a young professional considering law school?
Be prepared as an attorney and work hard to know your client and their cause. Be honest in all you do, and be on time.

Do you have any published works?
Federal Bar Assn. Journal "Evidence in Disability Claims under the Social Security Act" Oct. 1990

Share an example of a case that made a difference.
I represented a child in a claim for Social Security disability benefits, Her medical condition was a rare blood disorder, which made it impossible for her to be in sunlight of any type. It was such a rare disorder that only 5 cases were known in the US at that time. After the opening presentation of the medical evidence, the Administrative Law Judge at the hearing immediately ruled in favor of the child. The family was so overjoyed as she then qualified for medical insurance, which was a critical need.