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(202) 638 6988
601 Pennsylvania Ave., Ste. 900 South Washington, DC 20004

When To Consult An Employment AttorneySeptember 3, 2013

Nothing is more daunting than making the decision to consult an attorney. The cost, uncertainty and length of litigation can be intimidating.  This is especially true in employment cases.  Employees often feel powerless, upset and that it’s a David vs. Goliath scenario with little chance of success. As a result, many choose to simply leave their jobs or carry on without consulting a lawyer to see if their rights have been infringed. This however, does not have to be such a daunting decision.  In deciding whether or not to consult a lawyer, it’s helpful to understand how to find a lawyer, what an initial consultation with a lawyer is and what may result from it.

Finding A Lawyer

The decision to consult with a lawyer can be intimidating. Everything from selecting the right lawyer to the consultation itself can be stressful. However, if you feel your rights have been infringed by an employer, its helpful to have a professional assesment. If nothing else, it may serve as piece of mind regarding your situation.

The first step is building up the courage and making the decsion to go see an attorney. Similar to going to a doctor to have a medical exam based on symptoms you have noticed, going to an attorney is a decision many put off until later. People also think lawyers can assist with almost any legal issue.  However, lawyers generally focus on a specific area or group or area’s. In addition, not only might an attorney specialize in employment, but they might further specialize in wrongful termination or discrimination cases within employment law.

Next, it’s time to find a reputable attorney that specializes in the area that you need assistance with. This can be done through word of mouth or through referral services. Word of mouth is an invaluable way to find an attorney based on someone that has used their services and is familiar with their reputation. Referral services include online resources such as Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association (MWELA), Avvo, Martindale Hubble, Find Law, Super Lawyers and Legal Match. The DC Bar also has its own lawyer referral service which can be reached online or by calling the lawyer referral hotline.

The phone book and internet searches are additional resources to find a lawyer although they typically won’t tell you much about a lawyer’s reputation.  Finding a good lawyer is crucial since they are the one you are entrusting with helping to resolve your legal issue. It is very important to find a lawyer you can trust, that listens, is responsive to your concerns and most importantly, is competent in the area of law you need them for.

Setting Up An Initial Consultation

Once a lawyer has been located, the initial consultation is the next stage. Many lawyers will screen potential clients by doing a call with them before meeting. The point of the call is to assess the facts and determine whether or not enough information is there to warrant an in person consultation. If an in person consultation is arranged, you should bring any relevant documentation with you to the meeting. You should also be prepared to sign a representation agreement and pay the retainer in the event the lawyer decides to take your case.

What To Expect During An In Person Consultation

During an in person consultation the lawyer will get to know you and find out details about your case. During the consultation it is important to be as accurate and honest with the lawyer as possible so they can assess your case. Anything said to a lawyer during an initial consultation, even if a representation does not result, is held as privileged. Information the lawyer will be likely be interested in includes:

  • Name and location of the employer with whom you have a legal problem
  • How long you were employed with the employer
  • Titles and positions held during employment
  • Dates of hire and termination
  • What the nature of the legal problem with the employer is (facts, dates, people involved)
  • If you were demoted, denied promotion or terminated, who the people were in charge of that decision
  • Why you think any adverse decision or treatment occurred during employment
  • Your compensation and benefits during employment
  • If terminated, whether or not you were offered a severance package and signed a release

While there is no guarantee a lawyer will take your case, at a minimum, you’ll get a professional assessment of whether or not you have a case.  In addition, all information shared with a lawyer during a consultation is held privileged. If you have been terminated or feel your rights have been infringed upon by your employer, a consultation with an experienced attorney could be the first step in getting justice for your legal issue.


Ryan A. Hintzen


The Hintzen Law Firm, PLLC

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