A job loss, demotion, or other concern can be emotionally and financially devastating, especially when illegal practices are involved. As you prepare for the future and consider your next steps, you should consult with an attorney in Jackson County, Missouri. But don’t head into that meeting blindly. Instead, we suggest you proactively fight for your rights by knowing what questions to ask an employment lawyer.

Prepare for Your First Meeting: 9 Questions to Ask an Employment Lawyer in Jackson County, Missouri

1. Have You Worked on This Kind of Case Before?

Employment cases come in all shapes and sizes, underscoring the need to choose a lawyer with knowledge in your particular matter. An experienced lawyer is more likely to understand your unique challenges and build a comprehensive case based on the facts. On the other hand, a novice may make simple but damaging mistakes that can hinder your chances of compensation.

Let’s say your boss terminated your employment after learning you have a disability. You will, in turn, need an attorney experienced in disability discrimination cases. Likewise, if your boss tried to evade overtime laws or failed to pay you for all hours worked, your attorney must have considerable skill in presenting evidence. Every legal matter is different, but an experienced attorney can manage your case and help you rebuild your life.

2. How Much of Your Practice Is Devoted to Employment Law?

This point may seem redundant. An attorney who promotes their services in employment law should be skilled in that area, right? But some attorneys are general practitioners with knowledge of, not experience in, employment law. Other offices may spend only 10 or 20 percent of their time on employment matters, meaning their focus is likely spread across a field of highly diverse cases.

An attorney devoted to employment law will likely be better equipped to navigate your claim than one who only dabbles in such disputes. This distinction is important. The former can provide legal guidance, meet court filing deadlines, and manage communications with your former employer. However, someone who only occasionally works in employment law may be accustomed to different cases with different needs, meaning they may miss a crucial point.

3. What Strategy Is Right for My Case?

When people think of court cases, they often envision well-dressed lawyers arguing before an indulgent judge. The truth is just the opposite: most legal disputes settle out of court. Taking a case to trial can be expensive, emotionally draining, and time-consuming. Courtroom dramas also tend to draw unwanted media attention. You should therefore ask what settlement options are available for your case.

This is not to say that all cases can be handled out of court. The opposing party may not be eager to negotiate, or they may offer a settlement so low that you have no option but to go before a judge. The point is that you need to know what direction your lawyer thinks will be right for your claim. You can then make informed decisions as your case progresses.

4. How Many Employment Cases Have You Successfully Taken to Trial?

Of all the questions to ask an employment lawyer, this one is most likely to be overlooked. We understand why: it seems the least necessary to those who have suffered employment damages. After all, we just mentioned that most legal matters settle out of court. The key word here is most, as some legal matters can only be resolved in court.
If your case goes to trial, your lawyer must be willing to fight for a fair outcome. This means you need someone who can harness their trial experience to confidently represent you before a judge. A lawyer who has never prepared for court may accept a low-ball settlement to avoid the rigors of trial. In short, their inexperience could jeopardize your family’s financial future.

5. How Long Will My Case Take to Resolve?

Legal disputes can endure for months as negotiations lob back and forth. The same applies to employment cases; they can continue even after you no longer work for the company. Your own case timeline largely depends on the complexity of your claim and the extent of your damages. Even with these variables in mind, however, your lawyer should have a general estimate of the time necessary to resolve your claim. 

6. How Do You Communicate with Clients?

Each lawyer communicates with clients a little differently. Some ask that questions be emailed or emergencies get phoned in on their direct line. You need to understand your lawyer’s policy to enjoy mutually respectful communication. It is therefore best to ask on that first meeting how your lawyer corresponds with clients. 

You should also ask how you will be charged for calls, emails, and texts. Does a flat fee exist for each? Finally, ask when you can expect a response to any correspondence you send. Is your attorney’s policy by the end of the business day? Or do they answer client queries within 24 hours? Having this information can improve your peace of mind.  

7. What Do I Need to Prepare for My Case?

One of the most instrumental ways you can help your case is by gathering any evidence your attorney might need. This will likely mean obtaining copies of your:
  • Employment contract
  • Doctor’s notes and health records
  • Employment records
  • Emails and texts with your employer

Your lawyer may also need written statements to record your version of events. Depending on the nature of your case, your co-workers may be asked to give similar statements that can help substantiate your claim. With this in mind, you should collect your basic employment information to give the attorney at your first meeting.

8. What Are Your Previous Results with Employment Cases?

It can feel awkward to ask attorneys probing questions, but doing so is in your best interest. This includes asking about the results they’ve obtained in the past. While previous results cannot guarantee the outcome of your case, they can point to your attorney’s commitment to working hard for clients. A strong track record can also indicate your lawyer’s confidence and competence in handling employment matters. 
In addition to asking your attorney about previous cases, you should read online reviews left by clients. Look at social media and specific review sites. If you cannot find such reviews, ask your attorney for references so you can understand their reputation within the legal community.

9. What Legal Options Do I Have?

Before you ask about your options, you must provide your attorney with details about your employment dispute. This information will then be used to assess the legal merit of your case and determine if you have grounds to file a claim. Finally, your lawyer can clarify the next steps and explain the potential resolutions available to you. 
Keep in mind that any information your lawyer provides will depend on the details you first give. It is therefore essential that you be as open and forthright as possible. Be prepared to support your story with documentation and answer your attorney honestly.

By asking the right questions, you can find an attorney in whom you can place your complete trust. By the right questions, we mean those that give you access to your attorney’s experience, reputation, and skill level. We’re available to help you on this journey by offering personalized, resourceful legal representation. Schedule your consultation today by contacting Holman Schiavone, LLC.