Selecting A Good Employment Lawyer in Canada
If you're in need of an employment lawyer, you should begin by learning as much as you can about your legal issue. Search the Internet, starting with Canadian-Lawyers.ca's articles. Next, search Canadian-Lawyers.ca's lawyer directory by searching for "Employment" lawyers in your city and province. Also, search general search engines, using key words describing your legal problem and your location. Consult with your family lawyer, a lawyer that you know through sports or church, or an accountant, realtor or other professional. Canadian employment lawyers tend to specialize, and the good ones usually have an established reputation throughout the community.
Once you have a list of names, use the following checklist for an initial screen, so that you narrow your choices down to three or four:
Look at biographical information, including whatever you can find on websites for the employment lawyers and their law firms. Do they appear to have expertise in the area of employment law that you need? Do they have any information on their Web sites that is helpful to you?
Find out if the employment lawyer represents employers or employees. Lawyers who represent employers usually do not represent employees. So look at the employment lawyer's profile and her client list, if she makes it available. If she primarily represents companies, she may not represent individuals. If you cannot tell, call the lawyer's office and find out.
Use search engines to search for the name of the Canadian employment lawyer and his law firm. Can you find any articles, FAQ's or other informational pieces that the employment lawyer has done?
Ask other people if they have heard of the employment lawyers and what they think about them.
You will probably want to hire a Canadian employment lawyer with at least a few years of experience.
Contact your provincial law society or visit their website to find out if the employment lawyer is in good standing.
Check out the online archives of your local newspaper. Has there been any publicity about the employment lawyer or the cases that he or she has handled?
Consider any special needs you have. For example, could you benefit from an employment lawyer who speaks a language other than English?
By now you should have a "short list" of two or three names. Contact the Canadian employment lawyer's firm and ask to schedule a consultation. Most firms will charge a consultation to meet with you, and few employment lawyers will be willing to speak with you for free.
Don't be surprised if the Canadian employment lawyer cannot meet with you on short notice. On the other hand, a wait of more than a week is a sign that the employment lawyer may be too busy to give a new case such as yours the time and attention it requires.
The consultation with the Canadian employment lawyer is the most important factor in your decision to hire a lawyer. Evaluate the lawyer based on the following:
Does he or she listen well?
Does the employment lawyer understand your problem or will he have to do research to answer your questions?
Can the employment lawyer explain the law in an understandable way and how it applies to your case?
Does the employment lawyer give you confidence that your legal problem will be solved in a cost-effective way?
Expect that whomever you hire will delegate a lot of responsibility to their staff. Therefore, evaluate how the Canadian employment lawyer's staff treats you, since they are a reflection of how the lawyer practices. At a minimum, both the employment lawyer and staff should treat you courteously and professionally.
Ask about conflicts of interest. Does the employment lawyer represent your employer or other interested party?
Ask for references. You should talk to people who could comment on the employment lawyer's skills and trustworthiness. The best reference is one of the lawyer's current or former clients. You can also check with other lawyers.
Ask for a copy of a firm brochure and promotional materials. Crosscheck these materials against other sources and references.
Ask for a copy of the employment lawyer's retainer agreement and review it with the lawyer beforehand. Ask if the firm requires an initial retainer fee. If the firm charges on an hourly basis, the employment lawyer may require an initial retainer fee of as much as several thousand dollars, as security for payment of the firm's fees before they begin your representation. This money should go into the employment lawyer's trust fund and be disbursed only to pay for services actually rendered. If the representation ends before the retainer is billed, the employment lawyer should return the balance to the client.
Discuss the costs of your suit as well as the employment lawyer's fees. Costs include:
Expert witness fees
Finally, use your common sense in deciding who to hire. Your relationship can last several years and will involve a working relationship and trust. You want to choose the best employment lawyer who you think will do the best job for you.