How to Hire Your Employment Law Attorney
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 attorneys fees, expenses, and costs.
Better communication. 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 may 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
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 of
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, by all means ask us or another
attorney in another firm 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 of 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 the purpose
of 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
or not you sign it. If you hire Tennessee Employment Law Center 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.