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Law & Litigation Blog

When You Hire an Employment Attorney, Choose Wisely!

A study conducted by the American Bar Foundation, which was published in the American Bar Association Journal, found that both plaintiffs and defendants in employment discrimination cases were deeply dissatisfied with the court process and the way their cases played out. 

Out of 41 employment law plaintiffs, interviewed, 27 - over 65% - thought that their own lawyers were incompetent or worked against them. Over 25% even thought that their lawyers were "corrupt." The surveyed group included plaintiffs in sexual harassment cases, race discrimination cases, national origin discrimination cases, Equal Pay Act cases, retaliation cases, wrongful termination cases, and age discrimination cases. As the ABA Journal reported:

Plaintiffs start out optimistic, the study found, until they encounter significant obstacles. Costs are high, conflicts develop with lawyers, and personal lives are affected. They rarely get a final ruling on the substantive merits of their case... Some complained their lawyers failed to make them equal partners in the litigation... Out of the 13 plaintiffs who said their lawyers had integrity or skills, five nonetheless thought the lawyers gave them bad advice, made mistakes or colluded with the defense. Many of the plaintiffs were shocked at the high cost of litigation. Some mortgaged their homes and took extra jobs to pay their lawyers, and some even declared bankruptcy.

Employment Attorney Alexander J. Durst

Employment Attorney Alexander J. Durst

I am a little shocked at the sheer extent of these clients' unhappiness with their former attorneys. Nevertheless, I suspect that the majority of these problems were caused by their attorneys failing to thoroughly explain how the process works from the very beginning and set appropriate expectations. At The Durst Law Firm, doing the following things has helped us to have very happy clients in employment law cases:

  1. Thorough initial consultations. My initial consultations usually last at least an hour and a half to two hours, and sometimes last all morning or afternoon, depending on the case. This is essential in an employment discrimination case so that I can garner a thorough understanding of the facts and come up with the best strategy. 

  2. Explaining what the case will be like for the client. Another reason my first meeting with the client is so long is because it allows me to thoroughly explain what my client can expect throughout the case - how long the case might take, the different "stages" of the case, the factors that could make it take a longer or shorter time, the amount of time the client will be required to spend, etc.

  3. Being extremely up front about attorney fees and costs. As noted above, some of the plaintiffs were shocked at the case expenses. I am very clear up front what "costs" the client is responsible for, and I explain when the different costs are likely to come due, and how much they may be, depending on how long the case lasts. I am also clear about what the attorney fee is. This prevents the client from surprised down the road.

  4. Keeping the client informed at all times, and providing excellent client service. If you call my office, you will likely speak with an employment lawyer right away. Throughout the case, my clients have my direct line and can also call the office number to speak with my paralegal, so it is never hard to get in touch with us.

  5. Explaining how employment law cases work, including the strengths and challenges presented by the particular case, factors that bear on the value of the case, and likely outcomes.

All of this allows a potential client to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to file a lawsuit against their former employer. If they do choose to take legal action, they have a full understanding of what to expect. If you need a sexual harassment attorney, age discrimination attorney, retaliation attorney, FMLA attorney, or other type of employment attorney in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, or anywhere in Ohio, call my direct line at (513) 621-2500.

You can read the full ABA Journal article here: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/more_than_half_of_bias_plaintiffs_in_abf_study_deemed_their_lawyers_incompe/

The full results of the survey were included in Situated Justice: A Contextual Analysis of Fairness and Inequality in Employment Discrimination Litigation, available here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1540-5893.2012.00471.x. Included are 22 audio recordings of the respondents' answers to the questions posed, in their own words.

Alex Durst is a Cincinnati employment law attorney and Cincinnati sexual harassment attorney with The Durst Law Firm. Licensed in Ohio, Alex has also practiced in Missouri, Florida, Indiana, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Kentucky. Alex can be reached at (513) 621-2500 or alex@durstlawfirm.com.