Friday, February 17, 2012

Hiring An Employment Attorney

   If you are searching for an employment attorney, you most likely have come across lawyer marketing material. These materials include pay-per-click ads, videos, testimonials, and websites.  The message of these ads usually is some variation of: sue your former employer using  our law firm because it is the most aggressive, knowledgeable, and experienced in the area.

  But this message is at odds with the advice most good employment lawyers give their potential clients facing litigation:  there are risks and uncertainty ahead; the legitimate grounds for employment law claims are narrow; the law is complex; and the system is, at times, unpredictable. Even when a client has a good claim, he or she will fighting an employer that likely has greater resources than the client.  

  A potential client should look beyond the lawyer marketing messages. He or she should seek out the best possible lawyer for the situation.  A potential client should do the research.  In outline form below, I set forth some tangible and intangible ways a potential client can do just that.   
          
  • Tangibles
    • Is the lawyer licensed?  In Maryland check here.   
    • Has the lawyer been disciplined?  In Maryland check here.  
    • How long has the lawyer been practicing?    
    • Have clients posted public reviews?      Avvo is a good place to look for answers.
    • How many cases has the lawyer filed and has he or she taken any to verdict and judgment?  Though the records can be difficult to decipher, Maryland State Court Case docket information and Federal Court case information (registration and fees required) are available.
    • Does the lawyer really focus his or her practice on employment law?
  • Intangibles
    • Meet with the potential lawyer in person if possible. 
    • Is the lawyer (not just the staff) easy to reach by phone and electronic mail?
    • Does the lawyer appear worthy of your trust?
    • Is the lawyer willing to give you examples of his or her past experience?
    • Is the lawyer willing to give you an estimate of the costs going forward?
    • Expect to pay for good representation. Seek out attorneys who are willing to take a flexible approach to billing arrangements.  
    • Written retainer agreements are a must.

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