It can be a big waste of time for both you and the lawyer if you are not prepared for your first meeting. Being unprepared may also end up costing you money because it will take longer for the lawyer you hire to get up to speed on your legal matter.
First of all, the lawyer will want to know who you are and how you can be contacted. The lawyer may also ask for a personal and business background. The lawyer will clearly want to understand your relationship to the business and will want to be comfortable that you have the authority to speak on behalf of the organization.
Sometimes, a lawyer may also send you a questionnaire to fill out. Be sure to fill out the questionnaire and send it in to the lawyer's office before the meeting. Also send along copies of any available documents that may be requested in the questionnaire.
Before an employee can sue his or her employer, it may be necessary to take the matter to a government agency. If it's a wage claim, for example, the employee may have to take it to the Department of Labor. On other claims such as sexual harassment, the employee may first have to go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or to the fair employment agency in his or her state. Once an employer finds out about such claims, it would be a go idea to talk to a lawyer. Don't wait to get sued.
Written documentation related to employment is important. Spend some time thinking about what you may have on hand. Try to organize the documents in a logical manner before you meet with the lawyer:
- It's absolutely essential that you bring any and all papers from the employee's personnel file. These may or may not be available to the employee without going to court and getting an order. If you're the employer, bring the personnel file and other information relevant to the employee's situation.
- Bring your personnel manual, if there is one.
- Bring a copy of all correspondence and notices relating to the employee's claim.
- Dates can be critical. Get a calendar and mark down dates of when things happened and when you received any notices or other documents. Bring the calendar to your meeting to use as a reference.
- Your lawyer will want to know who you talked with, including the names of any representatives at government agencies. You should have names, addresses and telephone numbers available.
- Round up your insurance policies, as well. The lawyer will want to look at them to see if there is any chance of coverage for the claims an employee might bring.
Questions To Ask a Lawyer
Prepare a list of questions to take with you to your first meeting. In theory, no question is too silly to ask. Keep in mind, though, that you do not want to scare a lawyer out of representing you.
Questions you might ask a lawyer could include:
- What would the lawyer like to see in order to evaluate the case?
- What might your other options be?
- How many similar cases has he or she handled?
- What percent of his or her practice is in the area of expertise that you need?
- Does the lawyer usually represent employers or employees?
- What problems does the lawyer foresee with your case?
- How would the lawyer go about handling your situation? What is the process?
- How long will it take to bring the matter to a conclusion?
- How would the lawyer charge for his or her services?
- Would the lawyer handle the case personally or would it be passed on to some other lawyer in the firm? If other lawyers or staff may do some of the work, could you meet them?