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I tend to greet the question, “So, what do you do Rachel?” with a bit of hesitation — not because I am reluctant to talk about the work we do at Milestone, but quite the opposite: I want to speak novels about it. I am passionate about what we do, and I think our work and our team is awesome, unique, and necessary. With the holidays quickly approaching, I’m working on honing my elevator pitch, but for those who are genuinely interested in the answer to this common conversation starter, allow me to test out the long version on you. I usually start with, “I work for a settlement planning company — basically, we’re financial planners for people who have gone through a personal injury and are going to receive a settlement.” Except it’s not that simple, because that sounds like it just involves financial management and really, it’s so much more complex than that. Picture this: it’s a normal day, you’re driving down the street, and a car comes out of nowhere and T-bones you. Your car flips over a few times, and even though you’re wearing your seat belt, the air bags don’t go off because of a product defect by the car manufacturer. You’re no paralyzed from the waist down for the rest. of. your. life.

You may have a great case against the driver of the other car, and the car manufacturer for the defective airbags. You might receive several million dollars. But no amount of money can bring back the use of your legs, can enable you to do the things you can no longer do, or can address the added challenges you will face now that you are in a wheelchair. On top of that, you will likely have emotional and mental distress, you may never be able to work again, you’ll have to adjust your home, your transportation, your routines — your life has completely turned upside down.

These are the people we work with. These are the “freak accident” scenarios we hear of every day. It is delicate work, supporting folks who have endured tragedy, every single day. But it is our mission to help them move past their tragedy, and to think of the resolution of their lawsuit as the closing of one chapter and life after settlement as the start of a new chapter. We aren’t just advising them on what they should do with their settlement money; we are educating them on the options and financial strategies available, talking with them about future goals and how they can reach those on their timeline, and if they receive government benefits, our settlement planning company is showing them how they can preserve them.

There is a long-perpetuated myth about trial lawyers being “ambulance chasers,” but in my experience that couldn’t be farther from the norm. The attorneys we work with are passionate about their clients and adamant about getting them the justice they deserve. These lawyers spend months and often years working on a case, and they want to ensure the award they help their clients receive is used wisely. That’s where Milestone comes in.

So there it is, in a nutshell. I hope you’ve followed along. But you know what? This is just the tip of the iceberg. Within our suite of companies at Milestone, we also have a non-profit that supports plaintiffs as they go through their lawsuit, a tech startup that enables plaintiffs to sell their annuity at the very best rates, and a wealth management firm. We’re here to help people who have endured a catastrophic accident during all stages of litigation. We are driven by the idea that every person deserves access to justice, and we want to be trusted guides during this tricky-to-navigate period in their lives.

Settlement planning is not an intuitive industry — unless you or someone you know has gone through a personal injury lawsuit, or is a lawyer, most of this would never cross your mind. As I started out by saying, while it is important, it is not inherently easy to explain. This post was supposed to be 600 words, and I’m already over my limit. Just trust me when I tell you: we’re doing life-changing work.

By Rachel Mathews