You might be shocked to hear how loose the rules on lawyer ads are. Lawyers can run ads even if they’re never handled the kind of case mentioned in the ad. Lawyers can run ads in cities they’ve never visited and never had a case in. And their ads can make you think they work right down the street from you, even if they’re in another state.
The information you need most when hiring an employee rights lawyer – when your income and career are at stake – is missing from most ads. So how do you find out if you’re hiring an expert or an amateur?
You ask questions.
You’re absolutely entitled to know the experience your potential lawyer has. And by “potential lawyer” I don’t mean the lawyer in the ad – I mean the lawyer actually handling your case.
Here’s a checklist of questions to ask a potential lawyer who may handle your discrimination, harassment or retaliation case:
- Exactly (a) how many employment lawsuits have you (b) personally handled as the (c) lead lawyer on the case? Can you print out a list? Why ask this way? Because it’s common for multiple lawyers to file “notices of appearance” in a single case, each having different roles. But normally only the lead lawyer does the critical stuff that wins or loses. Others might have only attended a single meeting. Your lawyer can print out a list of cases they’ve handled. It’s public record. That will tell you lots and it’s a good way to test the accuracy of what you’re being told. But you want to know how many times the lawyer has been the one in charge of the entire case.
- Do you only handle employment cases? What percentage of your annual workload each year has been devoted to employment law? Employment law is very complex. A lawyer who handles a dozen different kinds of claims – personal injury, dog bites, real estate and so on – may not be developing the expertise you need.
- Do you only represent employees – people like me? Or do you also help employers fight employees? Lawyers that help abusive employers fight employees aren’t a good choice. Look for an attorney who truly believes in the cause of employee rights and won’t help employers under any circumstances.
- Tell me about trials you’ve handled in which you were the lead lawyer. Why? Trials are the ultimate test of a lawyer’s lawsuit-handling skills. But some lawyers don’t like going to trial, and their reputation is well-known among lawyers. Others have limited trial experience. These things can drop the value of your case like a rock. Choose a lawyer who loves a good fight and has lots of lead trial experience. Make sure you know many times your potential lawyer has been the lead lawyer and actually got the good outcome. “Were you the lead lawyer in that case/those cases?” is an excellent starting point.
- Tell me about your case outcomes. You need to know the results your lawyer achieved in similar cases.
- Have you ever handled a case like mine? How many times? What happened? General experience matters, but so does specific experience. If I ever have a serious medical problem, I’ll want someone who’s helped patients many times with problems exactly like mine. I don’t want to be someone’s experiment or practice run.
- How well do you know the judges? What do you know about the kind of jury I’ll have? It helps to know how a specific judge rules on the issues that will come up in your case. Most judges have known histories. An expert lawyer can tell you about the judge and how he or she thinks. Some judges are anti-employee. Some are pro-employee. It’s critical to know the difference.
- How much do you charge? For consultations? For handling the case? Lawyers who charge no consultation fees and who work only on a contingency-fee basis are confident in their abilities to win. If you get nothing, they get nothing. Look for lawyers who put their money where their mouth is by agreeing to get paid only if they get results.
Thanks for reading. Good luck.
Florida & Georgia Employee Rights Lawyer
Toll-Free: (800) 663-7999