Questions to ask an Employment Lawyer / Advocate prior to engaging them
In order for you to be able to negotiate a realistic settlement for an employment problem, you need to know what your fall back position or plan B is, should you not be able to settle the matter consensually with either direct negotiation or a MBIE mediation. It is important to seek expert advice on this. The types of questions you want your employment lawyer / advocate to answer in writing for you are:
- What percentage chance do you give me of winning this and what amount are we likely to be awarded?
- Please can you provide me with an approximate timetable from when we decide to instigate proceedings, until we get the judge's decision and then, how long will it likely take to collect the money if we win?
- What is your estimate of total fees for this plus the likely costs of disbursements, including filing and court costs?
- What is the breakdown of hourly rates these fees are based on?
- If we were to lose and costs were awarded against us, what is that amount likely to be?
- If you were acting for the other side, what percentage chance would you give them of a win?
Most employment lawyers / advocates will not be happy about their client asking such questions. This is because it ties them down to a position they can't wriggle out of in future if they decide it has all become too hard and they either want to significantly change your percentage chance or, they want to charge you lots more. Asking these questions makes them think long and hard about the real merits of your situation and it puts them on notice that they will be measured by this position. You will be doing very well to get a straight answer out of any employment lawyer / advocate. At the end of the day, you are the client and you have a right to know this type of information before you embark on the litigation bus.