A legal consultation is the initial meeting between an attorney, also called a lawyer, and their client. It is a chance for the client to ask questions and determine whether the attorney will be a good fit for the client, both in personality and experience.
For an attorney, the consultation is a time to obtain more information about the case and determine whether they will be able to represent the client. The attorney will determine whether they can legally represent the client, given the facts of their case.
The topics which will be discussed during the consultation depends on the facts of each unique case and the area of law which is involved. This is the same no matter the state, and applies to California employment law attorneys.
What Should I Expect During a Consultation with a California Employment Law Attorney?
For matters of employment law, the attorney will want to review the employment contract. In many cases, this is done prior to the initial consultation.
In an initial consultation with a California employment law lawyer, the client will need to provide a copy of any employment contracts they may have. There are various types of employment contracts which a client may have been required to sign, including:
- Confidentiality agreements;
- Non-compete agreements;
- Arbitration agreements; and
- Termination agreements.
Other examples of general documents that a client should bring with them to a legal consultation may include:
- Police or accident reports;
- Property deeds;
- Employment records; and
- Other documents which may provide evidence of damages incurred.
Documentation related to employment discrimination may include:
- Written evidence of the discrimination, which may include:
- emails or other communications;
- company policies or handbooks;
- job offers;
- employment contracts; and
- Other relevant documentation.
- Verbal communications, which may include statements made in an interview or during an evaluation; and
- Documents, which may include pay stubs or human resources records that may support the damages claim.
One of the most important questions for the client to discuss during their initial consultation with their attorney is the fee structure. Most attorneys use one of the following types of fee arrangements:
The legal consultation will also include a fairly detailed discussion of the legal facts and claims involved in the case. It is essential for the client to be honest during this initial consultation regarding the facts of their case. It is important to be aware that lying regarding the facts and circumstances of a case may lead to harsh legal penalties and may also prevent the attorney from properly performing their job duties.
A client can be completely honest during their consultation because these discussions are confidential. It is important to be aware that the initial consultation does not necessarily form an attorney-client relationship.
The formal relationship will be formed by a representation agreement or evidence of a verbal agreement. However, any information that was discussed during the consultation is privileged and confidential, just as if the attorney-client privilege was formed.
The client should also ask the attorney questions about their practice and experience. This may include:
- The attorney’s education history;
- The attorney’s past experience with cases similar to the client’s;
- The outcome of similar cases the attorney has handled;
- Who else the attorney works with, since other staff may be handling and billing on the client’s case in addition to the attorney; and
- Any other specific questions the client may have pertaining to their employment law case.
How Can I Prepare for a Consultation with a California Employment Law Lawyer?
In order to prepare for a consultation with a California employment law attorney, an individual should gain a basic understanding of employment law and how it relates to their specific claim. Employment law is a broad term which includes legal aspects that are related to:
- Independent contractors; and
Employment law involves numerous specific guidelines which govern many different aspects of employment, from interviewing and selecting employees to work disputes and termination of employment. Both employers and employees are required to follow these guidelines.
In general, an employment law case involves a legal dispute between an employer and an employee which resulted in one party suffering damages. In most states, employees are considered at-will.
This means that an employer is permitted to terminate an employee from their position for any reason adn at any time, so long as that reason is not illegal. It is important to be aware that a legal reason for termination does include no reason at all. Many employment law cases involve:
- Employee status designations;
- Wrongful termination;
- Employment contracts; and
- Employment discrimination.
Employment contracts and the clauses contained therein are regulated by state laws. Employment contracts are agreements between employers and employees that outline the basic responsibilities of the employee.
Once an employee has signed an employment contract, it is considered to be legally binding. Many employment contracts designate employees as at-will employees.
Employment discrimination is discrimination which occurs in the workplace and is based on membership in a protect class, including an employee’s:
- National origin;
- Physical disability; and
Employers are not permitted to discriminate against employees or potential employees on the basis of belonging to one of the previously mentioned protected classes.
Are Consultations Free?
In most cases, an initial consultation is free of charge. It is important, however, for the client to verify this with their attorney prior to the meeting.
Regardless of what an individual is paying for the consultation, they should try to get the most out of it by being prepared for it and asking questions.
One of the best ways an individual can prepare for a consultation is to gather all documents related to their claim. It is important to bring everything, even if it does not appear it may be important at the time. The attorney will want to review everything for themselves and determine what information is relevant and what is not.
In some cases, the attorney may charge a fixed fee or an hourly fee for the consultation. Again, it is important to discuss this prior to the consultation so an individual is aware of their obligation.
What if I Still Have Questions or Needs After the Consultation?
In some cases, an individual may think of additional questions or information after their initial consultation. The attorney will provide contact information for future communications.
It is important to keep a record of an individual’s questions or thoughts they may have after the consultation so that they can discuss them with the attorney at their next meeting. In most cases, the client and attorney will have several meetings in preparation for court or other situations which may arise during the case.
Should I Hire a California Employment Law Attorney for My Issue?
Yes, it is essential to hire a California employment law attorney if you have an employment law issue, whether you are an employer or an employee. Employees and independent contractors have certain rights which must be protected.
An experienced, local employment law attorney is best suited to help you understand California employment laws and how they may apply to your case. Your attorney can also review the evidence that you provide related to your claim and advise you of the possible ways to proceed as well as possible outcomes. Your attorney will also represent you in court if you are required to appear.