What to Look for—And Lookout For—When Hiring an Employment Lawyer

There are a few things you want to make sure you look for when hiring an employment lawyer to handle your employment case.

Make Sure you Hire an Employment Lawyer

1. First and foremost—MAKE SURE YOU HIRE AN EMPLOYMENT LAWYER! Lawyers like to dabble, and you don’t want a lawyer who dabbles in employment law. You shouldn’t hire a personal injury lawyer to write your will, and you shouldn’t hire an employment lawyer to handle your bankruptcy. So don’t hire a non-employment lawyer to handle your employment case. We see this a lot, and it almost always leads to disaster. So how can you tell if they are an employment lawyer? For starters, when you go to their website, if employment law isn’t the first AND ONLY thing mentioned, then move on—they are not employment lawyers. Also, at least one person in the firm should be board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legalization. Which leads to the next thing to look out for.

Stay In Your Local Area

2. If you worked in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you want an attorney who practices in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. There are a number of firms that say they are licensed to practice law in Texas when in fact they have one attorney licensed in Texas, but they are really out of state. And while there are great attorneys in other parts of Texas, your best chance to succeed is to hire an attorney in your area. San Antonio has great employment lawyers there. Houston also has amazing employment lawyers. So does Austin. But Dallas/Fort Worth has several great employment lawyers, and if you can’t find an employment lawyer in Dallas/Fort Worth to take your case, then you (a) have not looked hard enough or (b) don’t have a case. Lawyers outside your area don’t know the local courts, the local judges, the local attorneys, or the local defense attorneys. And for firms outside the STATE of Texas, they don’t know all these things PLUS they don’t typically know Texas law. And yes, there are employment laws specific to Texas that are far better for most clients than the related federal laws. Firms outside of Dallas/Fort Worth, let alone outside of Texas, are not who you want to represent you in Dallas/Fort Worth. We’ve had more than one client come to us from a firm out of Florida who we won’t mention by name (it sounds like the name of a famous movie director) asking for help, and we’ve had to tell them we can’t help them because this firm has missed the deadline to file their best claims. So stay local!

If The Lawyer Wants Money From You, Then you Don’t Want Them

3. Most people who have just lost their job cannot afford to pay an attorney $2,500 to handle their case at the administrative level (with the EEOC), but we’ve seen people scrape that money together and get absolutely nothing for it. A good, reputable, Dallas/Fort Worth employment lawyer will take your case on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing out of pocket. And don’t be fooled into thinking you can pay an attorney a small amount to handle your case at the EEOC and that’s all it will take; the EEOC is overworked, underpaid, and understaffed. Your chances of resolving a case without having to file an actual lawsuit are pretty small. Many times, these attorneys will take your money and try and settle the case at the EEOC, and then dump you when they can’t settle it, leaving you back at square one. So if someone wants you to pay them out of pocket, then you want to move on.

This Isn’t A Long-Distance Relationship

4. If the lawyer does not bring you into his or her office, meet with you in person, and complete a charge of discrimination for you to sign, then they are not for you. We’ve had clients come to us after the attorney they hired to represent them did next to nothing, including not helping them complete their charge. That’s absolutely not acceptable. We’ve had clients come to us after they hired an attorney who they never met and never even talked to. A quality employment lawyer wants to meet you, get documents from you, and be heavily involved in the process to make sure nothing gets screwed up. If the lawyer wants to sign you up and then tells you to go file with the EEOC yourself, that’s a huge red flag. Stay away!

These are just some of the things to look out for. But the simple takeaway is this—if you have an employment case, hire an employment lawyer, in your area, who doesn’t ask you for money, and takes the time to meet you in person and handle every step of the process. If you do this, then you give yourself the best chance to succeed. If you don’t, or you try to go it on the cheap, you are asking for trouble.

Contact the Scott Gilmore Thompson today for help with your Dallas employment law case today.