A series of articles emphasizing practical
knowledge you can't find in practice guides
and interviews with experts who share
their techniques for effective and efficient
Articles emphasizing practical knowledge you can't find in
Profiles of people who changed workers’ compensation
• Warren Schneider
• Marjory Harris
people in Social Security, SSI, MediCal and IHSS
matters. The last two years of
|HARRIS: Melissa, what drew
you to workers’ compensation practice?
BROWN: First, Marjory, I am truly
honored to be included among those who made a difference. I hope it is not all
in the past tense!
I started working for senior legal services in college as a paralegal,
continuing through my second year of law school. I represented many
law school, I worked as a law clerk for the SSA Office of Hearings and Appeals,
and then as a staff attorney for about a year. That background in medical-legal
issues was a perfect fit for a workers' compensation applicant's attorney.
that, representing injured workers and their families was a natural extension
desire to be an advocate for the haves vs. the have nots...real meat and potato
social justice issues. It was an opportunity to litigate a variety of issues
mechanism of injuries, medical issues, serious and willful and discrimination.
HARRIS: In addition to workers’ compensation law, you have an active
Security practice. You also write, lecture, and are a panelist at every CAAA
convention I have been to. There was a wonderful article about you in the Legal
Specialization Digest, Issue 2, 2005, which shows you are a true Renaissance
woman, playing classical piano, baking cookies, making crafts, running a
non-profit that educates advocates for the disabled -- how do you do all this?
BROWN: Every Convention? Gosh, I
hope people are not getting tired of me on
panels. I have always been a multi-tasker, before it was fashionable. I need
outlets to keep my head straight, as well as fiction therapy. Doing projects
hands, playing music, helps me think through and clarify whatever legal issue
working on. And I really love kids, so doing cooking, canning and baking
makes me feel connected to my Mom and grandmother by passing on skills they
> Jam Session with nephew Brenden and
grandchildren Asa and Milan
As far as writing, lecturing and panel presentations, it is really a selfish
it forces me to keep up on the law and if I can explain it, I understand it.
me feel like I'm helping to change the status quo for the better, by
continuing education of colleagues and consumers. I have been blessed with a
of energy, though admittedly it is being taxed to the max since SB 228, 899 and
HARRIS: Do you have any advice for time management or efficiency that would
help the rest of us as we struggle to adjust to the post-SB 899 world?
BROWN: I rely on you, Marjory!
Honestly! The only thing I can say is that I've had to lower my standards
somewhat, by sending more handwritten notes and email.
My firm has also put our phones on voice mail only on Fridays, which allows us
to catch up and work without interruptions. We're also dividing up the
among the four attorneys: Noah Tempkin is our UR guy, David Belden is our MPN
point person. I do a lot of the hearings and appearances and Don Fraulob does a
lot of our appellate writing.
HARRIS: You also are married to your business partner, Don Fraulob. Do you
talk about workers’ compensation away from the office?
BROWN: Yes, although we really
try not to. It is pretty sad to wake up in the morning
and talk about the judge or defense attorney de jour , before you've had
But we do a lot of work at home, trial prep for the next day, petitions for
We don't have to explain to each other why we have to work this evening or
weekend, which is a huge benefit for working couples.
> Melissa with her grandchildren Asa and Milan
HARRIS: I asked this question a few months back of Jettie Pierce Selvig, Esq.,
in the second of this series of profiles, and I am curious how you feel.
currently witnessing around 30 years of advances in the rights of injured
workers wiped out in one legislative session. Everyone talks about “the
pendulum” having swung too far in one direction and inevitably swinging
toward the middle. Do you think that will happen, and how long will it
BROWN: I honestly don't know. I
have no confidence in the legislature until we get
a new governor. I hope it's Phil Angelides, whom I've known for over 20 years.
far, we've had some success in court, and I think that will be our best remedy.
challenge we advocates have is to figure out ways to make a difference for our
clients. CAAA's 899 Committee, a group of about 25 of us, are working hard to
organize the legal challeges to the "deform," and we are seeing
with the obscene profits of the insurance companies, it is only a matter of
before they will have to come to the table to agree to equity for injured
order to justify their premiums. That said, I think it will be a 4-8 year
process at best,
unless we get Arnold out of office. He will do nothing to help. The business
insurance industry are making so much money they will do everything to re-elect
their champion. So short of a new governor and total success in the courts,
much out of whack in our country on so many levels, we may have to take to the
streets before we see change.
Melissa C. Brown is a graduate of the Loyala School of Law,
and was admitted to
the California State Bar on December 12, 1983. Melissa Brown is a California
State Bar Certified Specialist in the field of Workers' Compensation. Her book, "Advising the Elderly and Disabled Client"is
used nationally by attorneys and as a
law school textbook. It covers substantive and legal practice areas regarding
care planning, access to coverage, public entitlements (such as Medicare and
Medicaid), emergency medical treatment, nursing home resident rights and the
interface of public benfits with private remedies (personal injury and Workers'
Compensation). Ms. Brown served as Staff Attorney for the Social Security
Administration and is acknowledged as a national expert on Social Security Law,
Medicare, Medicaid and Administrative Law.
Ms. Brown has performed consulting work since 1975 in the states of California,
Alaska, Arkansas, and Texas, with focus on elderly and disabled consumer health
care and legal rights. She assisted in setting up programs for recovery of
costs to hospitals and in-patient providers from Medicare, Medicaid, and group
health third-party payors (1985 to date). Ms. Brown is a lecturer for the
State Bar of
California (Workers' Compensation and Elder Law) and the
Attorneys Association (CAAA). She is a past president of CAAA, a
association for the advancement of the needs of injured workers.
Farrell, Fraulob & Brown
A Professional Law Corporation
2315 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95816-5812
Post Office Box 160467
Sacramento, CA 95816-0467