If you’ve decided it’s time to seek legal counsel because of your employment issues, the best thing you can do is make sure you’re prepared. This first meeting with an employment attorney will tell you a lot about what you can expect in the immediate future for your case, but only if you have everything the employment attorney will need to help you.
The first thing you’ll do when you arrive at the meeting is fill out an intake form. You’ll need to provide your employment attorney with contact information for you, your employer and any witnesses. If another lawyer did any work on the case, you’ll need to have their information as well. This includes full names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.
The First Meeting
Most likely, you’ll first explain your situation over the phone to an employment attorney or paralegal from the firm prior to a meeting. This pre-interview will determine if your case is the type the lawyer handles. Don’t be surprised if the lawyer tells you that what happened to you falls under “at-will employment.” In California, since you can be fired for any reason or no reason (that is not illegal), circumstances that may feel like they should be illegal are not.
If the employment attorney asks you to meet, you should be prepared to go more in-depth. You’ll need to provide a detailed explanation of your situation, including exact dates and times, places and anything else you think is relevant. Bring all the documentation you have, especially interoffice memos or e-mails, that support your allegations. The sooner you give this information to your lawyer the better.
Your employment attorney will look over everything you provide to make sure they are the right firm to represent you. They will ask questions about what happened. They may even ask you the same question a few different times. Remember, you are familiar with how your job works so something that seems obvious to you, may take additional explaining for a new person trying to understand. Don’t be nervous, but as you’re speaking, the employment attorney will evaluate you: how you tell your story, your attitude, your honesty and your behavior. This evaluation tells them a lot about how you will be perceived should your case go to court. A jury will be just as observant!
You should be completely honest with your employment attorney even if you think you may have done something wrong or contributed to the problem in some way. If your lawyer knows everything beforehand, they may choose a specific strategy or pursue a different avenue that better fits your situation.
What Happens Next
If the first employment attorney you see decides not to take your case, it may not mean you should give up. Some attorneys don’t take certain types of employment cases or your case may be too complex given their current caseload.
If the lawyer decides to take your case, you’ll sign a retainer agreement and be asked to provide any additional information the lawyer thinks is necessary. Make sure you receive a signed copy of the retainer agreement.
You are welcome to ask questions, but it’s extremely unlikely that an employment attorney will ever tell you if you have a case or not—or how much that case may be worth. This is because employment cases are rarely open and shut. At best, your lawyer will tell you that, based on their experience, they have a good chance at success. Of course, there is never a guarantee.
Employment law can be a long and bumpy road and finding an employment attorney to take your case is just the first step. If you feel you have an employment case, contact us here for a free consultation with one of our employment attorneys.