one must know the federal laws governing lawyer fees
In this Kitchin Legal blog, suggest a framework to assist employers and employees to make informed choices about retaining an employment attorney with expertise in labor law. Whether one is looking to retain an attorney to review human resource practices, interviewing prospective attorneys to defend or prosecute a civil suit, or seeking the services of an employment attorney to represent current or past clients in an unfair employment practice case, one must know the federal laws governing lawyer fees in California. Attorneys may bill hourly, which means that they charge by the hour for their services, or by the work completed, which means that they bill by the work completed. If an hourly attorney bill is used, it is important to understand the rates can vary widely from state to state and case to case.
the following are some tips to help one select an hourly attorney
First, ask to see the most recent filings in labor or employment cases. Many attorneys charge their clients only for those parts of a lawsuit fee agreement that apply to the client. Additionally, some cases, such as those challenging an employer’s anti-worker discrimination, may not require hourly services but instead only require maintenance fees or a filing fee. Therefore, it is imperative that one knows the total costs involved before retaining any representation. It is also important to ask what percentage of the fee will be applied to the defense costs (i.e., settlement fee), and whether any portion of the fee will be used to perform on-site legal research, assist in dealing with administrative duties such as filing paperwork and tracking progress, etc.
Second, request that the fees detailed in the contract be posted in a place that clients can easily find. The best way to avoid being charged unnecessary fees is to understand precisely what the fee per hour represents. As well, be sure that these fees are documented in writing, include all relevant information, and are set in stone (i.e., the hourly rate must be paid by the date of service). If one feels that the bill constitutes excessive hourly fees, it may be better to request that the legal representation company provide their clients with a written blanket guarantee, an analogous to a written warranty that states that “our firm will never charge you a penny for processing”.
local attorneys are retained for a company
Third, if at all possible, try to work with a legal representation firm that is local to the area in which one has been dealing with the employer. By keeping the employment attorney local, you ensure that he has a good working knowledge of local regulations, practices, and laws, as well as an intimate knowledge of the employee’s situation. Moreover, local representation enhances trust between the attorney and the employee. When local attorneys are retained, they will likely be available to the employee during the pendency of the case and will be able to address any of the employee’s concerns directly, as they relate to his particular circumstances. In addition, having local representation forces employers to be more open and honest with the details of the case, as the employment attorney representing the client can better understand the employer’s motivations and priorities.
Fourth, regardless of whether they are hourly or contingency fee based, never accept anything less than the total amount of fees due and any applicable late fees. Never, ever, sign a release form granting the company permission to take your wages in case of an audit. Hire a competent legal employment attorney from day one. He or she should advise you to refuse to pay any fees associated with the audit. Do not sign any releases until you are fully satisfied that you have been adequately represented.
Fifth, if an audit does come up, litigate the matter with the employer. Do not accept any payment in exchange for a settlement. If the employer does not admit liability, then hire a legal representative. Litigation enforces the law and results in maximum compensation if the employee wins the case. Never enter into any payment arrangements with the employer prior to the conclusion of a lawsuit. The fees accrued during the course of a case are known as legal expenses.