Something big, possibly something deeply troubling, happened to you at your job. You should probably see an employment lawyer. How do you get ready for that consultation? What should you be thinking about?
You want to have a strong and strategic meeting. You want to gain valuable insights and potential strategies. We suggest here a few tips to help get you prepared.
1. When Should You Contact an Employment Lawyer?
Don't wait. There are time limits in most employment situations -- for example, your employer has made an offer to accept a new position or, on the other end, to decide to accept or reject a severance package. In general, to preserve any legal claims and your leverage in the situation, you must act, well before you approach any time limits.
Job and career incidents stir up emotions. If you don't allow your emotions to swamp you and delay you from acting, you are helping yourself and your lawyer. You want to avoid the unneeded pressure that comes from addressing issues close to deadlines.
2. How to Find the Right Employment Lawyer For You.
You may get some potential employment lawyer names from various sources, such as from an Internet search or a friend's recommendation. The State Bar of California's website offers ideas about how to go about a lawyer search.
When you make contact with an employment lawyer, proceed as a careful consumer. Does the lawyer seem to be a good fit for you? Do you see alignment in personality, approach, strategy and goals? Does the lawyer have the expertise you need? Does the lawyer have the time to put into your case? Is the fee arrangement acceptable?
3. What Do You Do to Prepare for Your Initial Consultation?
To maximize a lawyer's ability to give you potential legal options, you should attempt to create an organized "download" of what happened at work. Take the time to write down the important highlights, from the start to the present.
Does your story allow the lawyer to "stand" in your shoes at work? Have you described when you started at this employer and what role(s) you have played there? What performance ratings you received? Have you described what you believe to be unfair or illegal and when and what happened? Did you complain to anyone and what response did you get? Do you have evidence (witnesses, texts, paperwork, etc.) to support you?
Have you gathered your own thoughts about what specific goals you want to reach in this situation? A lawyer may make recommendations based upon the facts and law, but this is your career -- what outcome do you seek?
4. What Else Might an Employment Lawyer Benefit From Seeing?
Along with preparing your written story, depending on the situation, you may want to begin organizing other paperwork. Here are some suggestions:
(a) A copy of a recent resume, so that the lawyer can view your work and education history;
(b) Documents you received and signed from your employer when you were hired, such as an offer letter, any arbitration agreements, a confidentiality agreement;
(c) A copy of a recent pay stub from your employer;
(d) Copies of performance reviews you received, whether formal or informal, strong, average or weak;
(e) Supporting evidence you may have, such as calendar entries, emails, texts, doctor's notes, etc.;
(f) Any severance documentation you received;
(g) A list of possible witnesses, their job titles, what they may know, and their contact information;
(h) Any other documents that you believe support your position.
Preparation before an employment law consultation, even if you are feeling stress from the situation, is strategic. It helps to maximize the benefits of going to see a lawyer.
Note: This post is provided for informational purposes. It is not intended to dispense legal advice. Each person's situation is different. We urge you to consult an attorney in a prompt manner if you need legal advice and counsel.