Hiring Your Employment Law Attorney
Over the years, many studies have been conducted regarding clients’ satisfaction, or lack of satisfaction, with their attorneys. Of all the client complaints discussed in these studies, two stand out as being the most common: (1) Attorneys often do not adequately communicate with their clients, and (2) clients often do not understand the basis on which they are being charged for attorney’s fees, expenses, and costs.
Our goal is to have clear and open communication with all of our clients. Towards that end, we will give you a written policy describing what you should expect when you need to call us. We also encourage you to set up an appointment with us at any time that you feel there is a problem with our representation of you, whether it be how we are handling your case, a perceived communication problem, or any other concern you have.
If you have any questions at all at any point during your case, please write or give us a call immediately. Do not wait. If you have not heard from us in a while and are concerned about the progress of your case, let us know. If your case is moving slowly, there may be a good procedural, strategic, or tactical reason why. Also, remember that we are busy with many cases, including yours, and that sometimes factors outside our control, such as motions by opposing counsel in other cases, unexpected emergencies, and Court-imposed deadlines, may make it difficult for us to update you as often as we might like. We may be involved in an extended trial. Sometimes we attend legal seminars out of town, become ill, or take a vacation with our families. But we always want you to know what we know about your case. If there is a problem with our communication with you, we want to fix it.
Likewise, it is important that we hear from you about your case. New facts might develop which you need to tell us about. You might want to put your case on hold for some reason, or perhaps slow down its progress. If you believe we do not understand your expectations and goals regarding your case, let us know. If you think we need to do something or stop doing something, let us know. Even if we disagree with your assessment, it is important for us to talk it out with you, to understand your position and make sure you understand our reasons for doing things the way we do. Unfortunately, miscommunications sometimes occur, which need to be straightened out. Not communicating can lead to a host of problems.
Better understanding your legal fees and your relationship with your lawyer.
Rarely does anyone want to be in a situation that requires hiring an attorney. One reason is because, quite frankly, it can often be expensive. We try, however, to understand our clients’ concerns regarding legal fees. We also make every effort to help you understand why you are charged what appears on your bill, how those fees were incurred, and all the other details that make up the attorney-client relationship.
We do this by beginning the relationship with the Agreement for Legal Services. The Agreement is a contract which sets out in detail all the important rights and obligations which you have as the client and which we have as your attorneys. The Agreement should answer every question you have about our business relationship. If you do not understand any part of the Agreement for Legal Services, ask to explain it to you. After fully discussing any concerns you might have, if you are uncomfortable with any of the terms or conditions in the Agreement, do not sign it.
While we will tell you the hourly rate you will be charged for our services, or the percentage of your recovery which we will collect as our fee in a contingency case, we cannot tell you in advance how much our total fee will come to or how much you will owe for expenses and costs at the end of the case. Any case can become more complicated than it first appears, and the time and effort we spend will depend in part on the cooperation we receive from you, from the opposing party, and from the opposing lawyer. We will try to keep the fees and costs as low as possible, consistent with our duty to fully protect your interests. If you do not understand this, do not sign the Agreement for Legal Services. If you do retain us, and at any point in your case want to discuss how to hold down future charges, let us know.
You will be given as much time as you need to read and ask questions about the Agreement for Legal Services. Take your time. Read it carefully. The Agreement is long and detailed because we want you to understand everything about our representation of you from the very beginning. We disclose all our billing practices up front. There are no hidden charges. We have found that, the more information we provide clients at the beginning of our relationship with them, the more comfortable they are at each subsequent stage of their case.
Given the importance of the Agreement for Legal Services, we are sure you understand that we do not want its contents publicized for any reason or in any manner. The Agreement is a contract which we use for all our clients, and as such, it contains terms which have been agreed to by those clients, terms which those clients, and you, have every right to expect to be kept secret. Therefore, prior to signing the Agreement, you will not be allowed to leave the office with a copy of it. The only exceptions to this will be (1) if you live outside of Memphis, Tennessee, and are not able to come into the office to sign the Agreement or (2) if you need to take the Agreement to an outside attorney for reviewing its terms with him. If you do need to seek the advice of another attorney regarding the terms of the Agreement, we will require you to agree not to photocopy it and to return the original to us, whether you sign it. If you hire The Crone Law Firm to represent you and sign the Agreement for Legal Services, at that point we will make a copy of the Agreement for you to keep in your files.
Finally, if you decide to hire us as your attorneys, it is essential that you understand that, as attorneys, our behavior and representation of you is bound by the Code of Professional Responsibility, a code of ethics set forth by the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The Code of Professional Responsibility spells out our ethical obligations to you, the public, and the Court. We must abide by those terms. This means that, while we must zealously represent our clients, we cannot do so recklessly nor unethically, even upon the demands of a client.
In sum, taking the time now to establish a pattern of clear communication and taking the time to fully understand the attorney-client relationship, including the basis for our fees, will enable us to work together more effectively in the future towards a positive resolution of your legal troubles.
What damages are available in an employment law case?
The damages that are available generally in an employment discrimination lawsuit include the employees lost wages plus the value of the lost benefits plus reinstatement plus attorney’s fees. In addition, most statutes and most of the common law is going to enable an employee to recover for his or her pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other elements of compensatory damage. Beyond this, some statutes, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, permit an employee to recover punitive damages for the employer’s unlawful misconduct. Amounts of damage vary widely from case to case and are very dependent on the facts of each case. However, as a rule of thumb, punitive damages are awarded more frequently in retaliation and harassment cases then they are in discrimination cases.