You decided it’s finally time to speak with an employment lawyer about your unpleasant situation at work. That’s great! But now, you’re not sure what to expect from your free, no-obligation legal consultation. Learn how to prepare for your first in-person meeting and what documents to bring with you below.
How to Prepare For Your First Face-to-Face Meeting With an Employment Lawyer
Before your in-person meeting, the employment lawyer will call to discuss some basic facts about your case. This free phone call is required to determine whether or not you have a valid claim and schedule your first appointment. The most important tips to make your in-person consultation go smoothly are:
- Show up on time, alone and prepared. Law firms often schedule back-to-back meetings with clients, so plan to arrive a few minutes early, if possible. Do not bring your spouse, children or anyone else (including witnesses). If a friend drives you, ask that person to wait in the car or run errands until you’re done. Dress the same way you would for jury duty, or church.
- Focus on the facts and truthfully answer every question. Your employment lawyer cannot share these details with anyone, but lying will only hurt (not help) your case.
- Write down a list of questions you want to ask and bring it with you. Nerves can make you forget things once you’re in an unfamiliar environment. Common questions to ask might include:
- How many cases like mine do you usually handle each year?
- What is a realistic time frame for resolving my case?
- How often do employers offer to settle claims like mine out of court instead of going to trial?
- What is your standard fee agreement for handling my case?
- Will I have to testify/appear in court?
- What happens next if I decide to retain you as my employment lawyer?
- Are you a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA)?
Documents Your Attorney Wants to See When You Meet
The most important thing you can do to prepare for your first face-to-face meeting is gathering all relevant documents. Your employment attorney will ask for copies of the following items that apply to your case:
- Write down the events relevant to your case in chronological order. This includes things like your hire date, supervisor’s name, dates when you believe your employer broke the law, etc. If you complained to someone, who was it (e.g., HR, your boss)? Did coworkers witness the incident? If yes, what happened next? Try to leave out anything that isn’t directly relevant to your case.
- A copy of your most recent resume, along with your most recent job description. These two documents help the lawyer understand your work history as well as what job duties your employer requires you to do.
- Any documents you received on your first day at work, especially those that list your employer’s policies. This includes new-hire onboarding or training documents, individual policy statements you signed, an employee handbook, etc.
- Annual reviews, bonus letters or other written documents showing your job performance history. Anything with your supervisor’s feedback or input from Human Resources is especially helpful.
- Emails, texts and instant message logs between yourself and anyone else working for the same employer relating to your claim. This could include your supervisor, coworkers, hiring manager, etc.
- Pay stubs or direct deposit statements for the previous year, if possible. Your employment lawyer needs these items in order to calculate potential damages.
- Other written documents you believe are relevant to your case. This may include things like anonymous letters you submitted to report OSHA safety violations, etc.
Important: Focus on the facts! Your initial consultation should last no more than an hour.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.