When you have an employment dispute and want to get legal advice, knowing what to ask a prospective attorney is important. Many lawyers offer free consultations, so you can make a shortlist of attorneys to speak with to make a better-informed decision. Below are some questions the attorneys at Swartz Swidler think you should ask when you meet with a prospective attorney during an initial consultation.
1. What percentage of your practice is focused on employment law?
When you are searching for an employment law attorney, you will want to find a lawyer who focuses his or her practice in the area of employment law. Some attorneys are general practice lawyers who handle many different types of civil cases. Attorneys who do not focus their practice on employment law might not be current with recent changes in the applicable statutes and case decisions. An attorney who exclusively practices in the area of employment law might be better equipped to handle your claim than someone who has little experience handling employment disputes.
2. Have you handled a case similar to mine?
In addition to finding a lawyer who focuses on employment law, it is also a good idea to find one who has handled a case similar to yours. Employment attorneys can accept many different types of employment disputes. You should try to find an attorney who has handled cases similar to yours because he or she might understand the specific types of challenges you are facing.
For example, if your boss fired you after you told him or her you were pregnant, you will want to find an attorney who has experience handling pregnancy discrimination cases. If your employer has failed to pay you for all hours worked or has misclassified you as an exempt employee to try to evade the overtime laws, you will want to find an attorney who is experienced in handling wage and hour claims. You can ask prospective attorneys what percentage of their cases involve your specific type of employment dispute.
3. Do you represent employees or employers?
Some employment lawyers primarily work for employers while others represent employees in employment disputes. Your employment attorney should represent employees and not employers because plaintiffs’ lawyers will use different strategies than employer attorneys. Choosing an attorney who represents employees and not employers also helps to reduce the risk of a conflict of interest.
4. What are my legal options?
When you meet with an employment lawyer, he or she will ask you questions about your employment situation. He or she will want to assess the legal merits of your potential case and should explain whether or not you have grounds to file a claim. Before a lawyer can tell you what your legal options are, he or she will need to know the details of your employment dispute. Because of this, it is very important for you to provide as much information as possible to a prospective employment attorney during the initial consultation.
If your lawyer determines that your case has legal merits, he or she might agree to accept representation. Your lawyer can then help you to understand the next steps and the possible resolutions that you might achieve through an employment law claim.
5. How many cases have you taken to trial?
While most employment disputes are successfully resolved through settlements, some have to be taken to trial to secure fair outcomes for clients. Your attorney might either recommend that you settle your case or take it to trial. If your case cannot be resolved through a settlement, you will want to have an attorney who has trial experience so that he or she can confidently represent you in court if necessary.
6. What should I expect to happen with the EEOC claims process?
Before many types of employment disputes can be filed in court, they must first go through the claims process through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This process can be confusing for many people. Talking to an attorney soon after an employment issue arises can help you to understand the requirements of filing charges with the EEOC and the types of documents you might need to support your claim. If you have already filed a charge with the EEOC and need help with appealing the decision, an employment attorney might also be able to help you with an appeal.
7. What are your firm’s lines of communication?
Employment law cases can be stressful for most people. You will want to know how the law firm you retain will communicate with you from the beginning. For example, you will want to know who you will be talking to the most and the best ways to get in touch with your attorney. A professional, client-centered law firm should be prepared to explain the different lines of communication the firm uses during your initial consultation. Your attorney should also be able to clearly communicate with you in a language you understand instead of speaking over you or talking to you in legalese.
8. What are your past case results?
You should ask a prospective employment lawyer about his or her past case results for other clients. While past results are not a guarantee of the likely outcome of your case, they can indicate whether or not an attorney has a successful track record on behalf of his or her former clients. A strong track record can indicate that you can feel confident an attorney will competently handle your case. You can also read online reviews on Google and social media to get a feel for other people’s experiences with the attorney and firm you are considering.
Schedule a consultation with Swartz Swidler
Choosing the right employment law attorney is important. Employment disputes can take months to resolve, and you will have to work with your lawyer closely. This makes it important for you to retain an attorney whom you trust to competently handle your case. To learn more about your rights, contact Swartz Swidler today by calling us at (856) 685-7420.