Preparing To Meet With a Labour and Employment Lawyer
Preparing for your first meeting with a Labour and Employment lawyer is very important for you and your prospective lawyer. Being unprepared may also end up costing you money, because it will take longer for the employment lawyer you hire to get up to speed on your legal matter.
The employment lawyer will want to know who you are and how to contact you. Be sure the lawyer has your:
- Home address
- Work address
- Home phone
- Work phone
- Cell phone and/or pager
- Fax number
- Email address
You'll want to prepare a chronological summary of the facts leading up to your decision to meet with an employment lawyer. Important facts include:
- Your date of hire
- The names of the employer and key players in your dispute
- Key background facts, such as your performance evaluations, achievements and promotions
- The date the dispute or problem began
- The nature of the dispute (harassment, unequal treatment, non-competition)
- Key events of your dispute. Provide a “who, what, where, when and why” narrative.
- The current status of your dispute.
Dates are very important. You must be accurate. Get a calendar and mark down dates of when things happen and when you receive any notices or other documents. Bring the calendar to your meeting to use as a reference.
Gather all of the documents you may have. These can include:
- Employment agreement
- Non-competition agreement
- Performance evaluations
- Worker handbook
- Benefit plans
- Severance agreement
- All correspondence relating to the matter
- Witness statements
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.
Sometimes, a lawyer may also try to speed the information gathering process by sending you a questionnaire to fill out in advance of any meeting. If this happens, be sure to fill out the questionnaire and send it in to the employment lawyer's office before the meeting. Also send along copies of any available documents that may be requested in the questionnaire.
Before you get too far into a meeting or conversation, the Canadian employment lawyer is going to want to know about possible conflicts of interest. You should bring a list of other employees who may be witnesses or defendants. If the employment lawyer or the lawyer's firm represents anyone on the other side of the legal issue, he or she will have a conflict and will usually not be able to represent you. The sooner you learn this, the better.
Prepare a list of goals that you want the employment lawyer to help you achieve. Typical goals might include:
- To get a contract or other legal document reviewed:
- How should you respond?
- What are the areas of concern?
- How have other clients addressed similar issues in the past?
- How is the other side to the document likely to respond?
- Strategy for stopping harassment or discrimination
- Strategy for negotiating an employment agreement
- Advice on how to respond to a letter threatening to bring a lawsuit against you
- Evaluation of legal claims, or whether a lawsuit is viable
Questions for the Initial Meeting with the Employment Lawyer
You'll want to prepare questions to ask the employment lawyer at the first meeting. These will usually be related to achieving your goals, since a primary goal of obtaining legal advice is to understand your rights. In theory, no question is too silly to ask. Questions you might ask a lawyer would include:
- What would the employment lawyer like to see in order to evaluate your case?
- What are your options, both legal and non-legal?
- How many similar cases has the employment handled?
- What percent of the employment lawyer's practice is in the area of expertise that you need?
- Does the employment lawyer usually represent employers or employees?
- What problems does the employment lawyer foresee with your case?
- How would the employment 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 employment lawyer charge for his or her services?
- Would the employment lawyer handle the case personally or would it be passed on to some other lawyer in the firm? If other employment lawyers or staff may do some of the work, could you meet them?
A great way to start your search for a local Canadian lawyer is at Canadian-Lawyers.ca. Go to the 'Find a Lawyer' search box that appears on the right hand side of this screen to start your lawyer search. Type in the area of law you are looking for or the name of the law firm, the city and the province that you are looking to hire a lawyer from, and click on the 'Search Now' button. This will generate a list of local Canadian lawyers.