Finding an employee’s lawyer can sometimes present you with too many options: do you select the most experienced, the least expensive or the one you have a great rapport with? There is no correct answer, but this guide may help when looking for an employment lawyer that suits your needs.
10 qualities to look for when choosing an employment lawyer:
Employment law is a specialized field that is somewhat easy to understand, but difficult to master. As a result, some lawyers will dabble in the area, but make major mistakes like choosing the wrong legal forum (costing you time, money and stress). Look for a lawyer who identifies as an “Employment Lawyer”.
2. Employee or Employer side
Employment law can get political: it’s a constant battle between management and workers rights. Therefore, it’s important to know how much your lawyer practices for Employers and works against expanding employee rights. Look for a lawyer who mostly or exclusively acts for employees. This is because your lawyer will have a reputation with other lawyers as zealously advocating for employees. You may benefit from more efficient results than an employer side lawyer handling an employee case.
3. Trial Reputation
The majority of employment cases are not overly complicated and will be resolved without costly court action. Because of this, there are lawyers that take employment cases, but have never conducted or intend to do an employment trial. Employer-side lawyers are aware of which employment law firms have the reputation to bring a case to trial. The consequence is that employers tend to fear these employment law firms most. Look for an employment lawyer that boasts trial experience and ideally has made significant advancements for employee (or employer) rights.
4. Legal Fees: Contingency or Hourly
Let’s just say it plainly: no one likes paying for lawyers. It is, however, a necessary part of the justice system. As a result, there are many ways to finance a lawsuit. Look for a lawyer that works on contingency, meaning their legal fees are based on the results they get for you. Otherwise, a lawyer can work based on the time they spend on your file with no promise of a tangible result for you. They will happily work a dead-end case knowing that there is no assurance your case has real merit.
Sometimes it’s not always what you know (which is always helpful), but who you know. The number of Employment lawyers in Ontario is relatively small and are all well-known in the industry. It pays to have a lawyer with long-standing connections in the field. If your lawyer is well-respected and connected, it can provide a significant advantage when it comes to negotiating with other lawyers.
Things do not always proceed according to plan. New evidence comes up, laws change and agreements are not always honored. It’s important for an employment lawyer to know how to get things done when the unexpected arises, which is not taught in law-school. Lawyers with many years of experience in law have the “Savoire-faire” to get things done when unforeseen complications arise.
Employment law can move quickly and unexpectedly. Some Employers will make arbitrary deadlines, hoping to discourage further legal proceedings. Some Employees will unexpectedly find new work thus jeopardizing their case. You should expect a great employment lawyer to take critical action on short notice.
Emotions can run high for departing employees. When things end badly, parties will sometimes want their lawyers to behave belligerently and unreasonably, just to make a point. Great employment lawyers will persuade people not to do so because in law you “catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” (i.e. be nice, until you do not have to). Look for an employment lawyer who understands that different companies demand different litigation styles.
You have been through a lot and the finish line is in sight. Your employment lawyer has presented a great case and it’s time to think about accepting the company’s offer. An exceptional employment lawyer will leave nothing on the table, then look under the table to make sure nothing fell through the cracks. They will be dogged in their advocacy for you.
Having a lawyer that is understanding and sympathetic to employees means they may fight harder for you. They are not just advocating the facts of your case, but a conviction to advance the rights of all employees. In the face of overwhelming company resources against one individual, it is helpful to have a lawyer that can zealously advocate for employees.
If you have any doubts about the way you are being treated by your employer, call us. Our team of experienced Toronto Employment Lawyers at Lecker & Associates will assess your situation and provide legal advice to support you.