If you think you need an employment lawyer, there are several things you should think about before hiring one. Employment lawyers, and their skills in representing you, are not all equal. Some are more tenacious than others. Some are more experienced. Take the time to speak with several of them and ask the following:
How Long Have You Been in Practice?
This question goes beyond years since graduating and taking the bar. You want to know how many cases an attorney has handled which are similar to your case. Your attorney’s experience with the agency or court before which you will be appearing. Your attorney’s experience with mediation and other alternate dispute opportunities. And of course, whether your attorney has gone to trial as lead counsel. Many employment lawyers have no intention of going to trial. While it may be best avoided, you want someone who is prepared, should it come to that, to take your case to the next level.
What’s Your Main Area of Practice and Will You Be Representing Me?
You don’t want a jack of all trades here. Yes, some diversity in the practice to include related areas of practice may be good, but if the attorney sounds like s/he’s reading from a law book on too many areas of law practice, or just dappling in employment law, that’s not going to be in your best interest. You want a specialist. Employment law is based in large part of statutes which require careful interpretation and in- depth knowledge in order to give your potential claim the analysis it deserves. Not every claim is immediately apparent. You need to be confident that your attorney knows what questions to ask and will know how to put the pieces together to present the strongest possible claim for you.
Also, make sure you’re not meeting with someone who is a figurehead in the office who you’ll never see again. You don’t want to be switched to a junior attorney. Ask who will be your attorney and work on your team for you.
Can I Talk to Former Clients?
Testimonials are good, but conversations are better. If the attorney answers your question happily and without hesitation, that’s good. If not, move on.
How Long Has Your Firm Been Handling Employment Law?
You want expertise.
Have You Ever Worked with My Company Before or Are You Aware of Any Past Filings?
Some companies have long lists of grievances. It helps if your attorney is familiar with them. However, keep in mind this might be the first time your company is under investigation.
How Would You Describe Yourself?
You’re looking for words like detail-oriented, tenacious, organized, and assertive. Employment grievances are won and lost on the details. You want someone who knows how to pace the race, and when to speed up, when to slow down. Patience is an attribute.
What Are Your Initial Impressions of the Case?
At the consultation ask her/him how the case would be presented if the trial was today. You’re not locking the attorney into a strategy, you’re testing his/her ability to think on the fly. This is an essential skill for trial. Ask your attorney to help you set realistic expectations. Ask your attorney for a fair valuation of your damages and the risks involved with your claim.
What’s Been Your Most Successful Case?
This may be about money, it might not be. Listen for what matters to you.
Are You Paid on Contingency?
Selecting an attorney is probably not the time to bargain shop but it is a good time to think about how you’ll pay the fees. Many employment attorneys work on a contingency basis and get paid a portion of what they collect for you, that way you needn’t match your income to their pay scale.
How Many Cases Have You Worked on that Were Similar to Mine?
Good representation only gets better with experience. Make sure your attorney has some representing employees, not employers. The more direct the experience to your case, the better.
Most reputable employment attorneys offer free consultations. This is a time to assess your potential working relationship. If you want an experienced employment attorney, contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. today.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.