Bring all documents that relate to your employment case.
Try to avoid the temptation of sorting out your documents in terms of what you the attorney will want to see and what they won’t. Many people bring certain documents to consultation, but leave others behind because they don’t think they are important enough or related to their current problem. In addition to bringing some of the more obvious documents to consultation, such as employment contracts or termination letters and medical records, additional documents you will want to bring include: day planners, miscellaneous notes written while on the job, paystubs, work schedules, employee handbooks, employee rosters, emails, performance reviews, paperwork related to Workers’ Compensation claims or leaves of absence, doctor’s notes submitted for purposes of accommodation, etc. While the average person might not put much value on these items, they can be a potential gold mine from an attorney’s perspective. And when in doubt, more is better than less.
Prepare a simple timeline of events.
When it comes to telling your story to an attorney, the timing and sequence of events is crucial, from the date you were hired until the time you were terminated (or had some other bad thing happen to you). If at all possible, prior to your meeting, try to jot down a brief timeline or chronology of significant events that have led up to your current situation. In addition to your organized documents (see Tip #1), a timeline will help you organize your thoughts prior to the consultation, and it will also help you and the attorney stay on track during the consultation. During the consultation, the attorney you are meeting with will certainly want to know about particular events throughout your employment, including things like: performance evaluations, promotions, demotions, requests for leave, requests for accommodation, oral complaints, written complaints, suspensions, write-ups, etc. Here is an example of a basic chronology that might be helpful to refer to while going over your case with an attorney:
- 01/01/2012: Hired by Generic Company, Inc. as Position #1
- 06/01/2012: 1st performance evaluation: Overall “Exceeds Expectations”
- 01/01/2013: 2nd performance evaluation: Overall “Exceeds Expectations”; Promoted to Position/Title #2
- 06/01/2013: 3rd performance evaluation: Overall “Exceeds Expectations”
- 06/21/2013: Submitted doctor’s note – no lifting more than 5 pounds for a 1-month period
- 06/28/2013: Write-up and suspension (first ever at Generic Company, Inc.)
- 07/02/2013: Terminated
Always be honest and forthcoming.
It is extremely critical that you tell the truth about the details of your case, anything you may perceive to be problematic (i.e., disciplinary actions, negative performance reviews, criminal history, etc.), and last but certainly not least, your expectations, wishes, and desired outcomes of the case. First, the attorney must assess your potential case based on the information which you will provide. Therefore, if that information is inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading, the assessment of your case will not be a realistic one. Second, it is important for the attorney to know your expectations and desired outcomes of the case. Here are just a few examples of the sort of questions you may want to consider before going into your consultation:
- Do you want your job back, or do you want to sue your former employer and recover a settlement?
- Are you expecting to recover $100,000? $1,000,000? More?
- How quickly would you like your case to be over, or expect your case to be over from start to finish? 1 month? 1 year?
- Do you want your case go to trial, no matter how high the settlement offer?
The goal is for both you and the attorney to be clear about what the other’s expectations are before a contract is signed.
The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney.