What Kind of Lawyer Should I Hire For My Job Problem?

by Evil HR Lady on September 7, 2016

I get a lot of questions where the answer is, “you need to speak with an attorney.” Attorneys are expensive, and while some work on contingency, most employment law cases aren’t these big cash cows that you read about in the news. So, you’ll have to pay up. In order to save you some money, I thought I’d put together this handy guide in choosing the type of lawyer you need to handle your employment case.

Q: What type of attorney should I hire if my boss is sexually harassing me?

A: An employment attorney.

Q: What type of attorney should I hire if my boss is discriminating against me on the basis of race/gender/or another protected characteristic?

A: An employment attorney

Q: What type of attorney should I hire if I want to claim FMLA interference?

A: An employment attorney.

Q. What type of attorney should I hire if I want help negotiating severance?

A. An employment attorney

Q: But what if my brother-in-law does real estate law?

A: Buy a house.

Q: Seriously, he said he’d help me negotiate severance for free.

A: Then you’ll have to buy a smaller house because your severance will be craptastic because you need to hire an employment attorney and you won’t be able to afford the bigger house.

Q: Okay, so my sister-in-law handles civil cases, like divorce. Same thing, right? It’s all just contracts.

A: Why do you have so many relatives that are lawyers? You still need an employment attorney for employment issues. And I bet Thanksgiving is a riot.

Q: Why can’t you take my case, for free?

A: Because despite my stellar LSAT practice scores, I am not a lawyer. Also, I don’t like working for free.

Q: Why don’t you have the laws of all 50 states memorized?

A: Because I don’t need to. Hire an employment attorney that practices in your state.

I hope this helps! I sure as heck feel better.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed Danielski September 7, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Very good advice. This statement will cause most other attorneys to turn red, but I really believe it is fact: Employment law is the most difficult of the attorney specialties.
Reason: Employment laws change every day, different laws for federal and each state, many different courts can be involved, law promulgated by many many different agencies.
In other law areas the basic laws haven’t changed since they were written, in some cases 50 years ago.

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Danna Blum September 7, 2016 at 6:36 pm

As I like to say, you wouldn’t go to a dermatologist for a heart condition, would you?

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Professor Dr Roger Rabbit, PhD September 7, 2016 at 7:12 pm

I get stuff like this all the time. Q: “You have a PhD in ‘the stock market’ so what stocks should I buy/sell to become a billionaire by next week? I want to start with $1. I live in a different country. I want your help for free.” They are then shocked when I tell them that I don’t have inside information on every company in the world and they should seek a broker in their area who will get them returns much lower than infinity or *gasp* they could even lose money. And the person/company will charge them for advice/investments.

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Evil HR Lady September 7, 2016 at 8:14 pm

Hey, if I start with $5, will I get to billionaire status faster?

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Professor Dr Roger Rabbit, PhD September 8, 2016 at 12:06 am
Professor Dr Roger Rabbit, PhD September 8, 2016 at 12:06 am
the gold digger September 8, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Here’s one of the few things I remember from my finance class in grad school: The only way to beat the market is to cheat.

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SuperRabbit September 7, 2016 at 8:17 pm

I had a general attorney friend tell me that I did not have a case when I had a workplace issue. But I went to an employment attorney, they took my case, and I received a settlement.
Attorneys are like doctors, they specialize in one thing and know very little about other specialties.
And giant corporations get sued constantly and know how to deal with lawsuits. Do you want a traffic law attorney fumbling around with their first employment law case? Nope! You want someone who knows all the tricks and jerky moves that companies use. Get an Employment Attorney!

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Evil HR Lady September 7, 2016 at 8:20 pm

I’ve had people email me with clear cut cases of things like FMLA interference and when I’ve said, “you need to hire a lawyer,” they say, “I already asked a lawyer and he said there’s no case.”

Now, I’m all in favor of walking away and not suing because suing is super stressful, but if you want to sue, you should do so with an employment lawyer.

And many employment lawyers specialize. Like worker’s comp. Shudder.

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Nikki September 7, 2016 at 8:31 pm

I am a HR professional and an attorney. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard all of these … As well as “But why should I pay you for this? Don’t you feel bad that I’m going to get fired because I told my boss not to touch me inappropriately.” That is exactly why I left private practice employment law and went into HR … But hey at least then I could choose my clients.

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Paula September 8, 2016 at 2:02 pm

http://www.workplacefairness.org has nothing but employment attorneys who represent workers listed. None who mostly specialize in other areas, and none who primarily represent employers. The site, run by the nonprofit Workplace Fairness, also has over 400 pages of know-your-rights FAQs and 50-state law explained for a non-lawyer audience, so that even before you talk to a lawyer, you can better understand the law applicable to your situation. I don’t always agree with EvilHRLady, but she’s absolutely right on this point: find an employment lawyer.

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SuperRabbit September 8, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Funny story…I found my employment attorney as a reference from an attorney that represented the employer in employment cases. The case wasn’t with one of his companies, so he was happy to give me a reference. He said, “This is the attorney I would hate to be up against in a courtroom.”
So if you have no where else to start, call any employment attorney and they can refer you to an attorney on the right side of the courtroom.

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Camellia September 8, 2016 at 6:42 pm

I saw what you did there. 😀

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