When Should I Hire an Employment Lawyer If I am the Employee?
Has this happened to you? You were terminated or fired from employment, and the termination was illegal. You are being forced to sign an agreement waiving rights you are entitled to. You have been harassed, discriminated, or retaliated against by your employer.
Your employer has not given the benefits that you are entitled to under your employment contract. Make sure to contact an employment attorney as soon as you become aware of an issue. If you wait to contact an attorney, the delay could prevent you from proving the illegal conduct committed by the employer and also prevent you from recovering damages.
How much experience do you have?
The more years your employer has under their belt, the more likely they will have the skills to help you.
Have you handled this type of case?
This question is probably one of the most critical questions to ask. A lawyer who has the right background can often save you time and money while getting the best result possible. And don't take a simple "Yes" for a sufficient answer. Ask follow-up questions, such as where and when any similar cases went to trial and their results, to ensure the attorney knows the subject matter.
How Much will this Cost Me?
Your initial consultation should also include discussing how much your lawyer's services are likely to cost. Don't avoid this subject—even if you find it awkward—and don't simply assume your lawyer will charge you fairly.
Attorneys generally charge in one of four ways: a flat fee, an hourly fee, a contingent fee, or a retainer fee.
Lawyers often charge flat fees to handle legal issues that are likely to be straightforward and take a predictable and consistent amount of time. For example, an employment lawyer might charge a flat fee of $250 to help a client form an LLC or draft an independent contractor agreement. Both attorneys and clients like the simplicity of a flat fee, but flat fees are not appropriate in every case.
Most employment lawyers who represent employers charge hourly fees. Hourly rates for employment lawyers are usually between $150 and $350 an hour, depending on the lawyer's location, experience, and services provided. Before agreeing to an hourly fee, ask the attorney how many hours your legal issues are likely to require, but understand that this amount can't be predicted with perfect accuracy.
Under a contingency fee arrangement, an attorney agrees to handle a case in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds of the negotiated settlement or judgment in court—usually between 25% and 40%. If you don't recover any money, you don't have to pay your attorney. But a contingency fee usually isn't appropriate in cases where an employer is defending against a claim from an employee, such as wrongful termination, because there typically aren't any proceeds from a settlement or judgment going to the employer.
Employers sometimes have lawyers "on retainer" to handle any routine legal issues that arise. The client usually pays the retainer monthly, with surcharges for extraordinary services such as defending against an age discrimination lawsuit from an employee. Before agreeing to pay a retainer, make sure that you and your lawyer are on the same page about which services are routine and which are extraordinary.
How many experiences Do You Have With My Particular Issue?
In employment law, there are several subsets of legal matters such as sexual harassment, workers' compensation, and unlawful termination.