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Attorneys in California on Employment Litigation: Five Questions to Ask at Your First Meeting

May 23, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 198

You want to be sure you ask the right questions at your first meeting for several different reasons. The first being is you don't want to waste your time or the attorneys'. Extra time with an attorney can cost you more in legal fees, especially if you are unprepared. More importantly, you want to know if the attorney is right for you and if you have a case in California.

These questions are from the perspective of an employee. They may also be applied to anyone searching for an attorney in California, such as an employer.

How much expertise do you have with California employment law?

Employment law in California is vast and very different from most other states, so different that many companies have a separate employee handbook and policies for their California workforce. It has greatly outpaced most states because of constant additions of new statutes and laws and because of the immense number of employment related cases. Civil attorneys in California handling employment cases must stay abreast of changes to the laws or new bills, especially because they may affect existing employment and corresponding civil laws. Knowing all the laws and cases in California is imperative to persuade and win over others and can also aid in preventing a trial, especially if the opposing attorney is lacking in certain areas. You don't want to hire an attorney in California who is learning employment law as your case is being worked on.

How long do you estimate it would take to resolve my employment legal matter in California?

This is an important question while considering your financial situation and any time constraints you may have. At minimum, it may take two months to settle early if both parties are driven to reach a resolution quickly. If you choose to go to trial, in California, the courts are required to begin trial no more than a year because of the "fast-track" system. However, the chances of your case going to trial on the first date scheduled are improbable in California. It usually takes about a year to go to trial in California. Once the trial starts it can take a few hours, weeks, or months. A California attorney can give you a more accurate assessment on the length of trial by drawing on their experience with the backlog of cases in that particular court, where your case will be filed, and your type of case.

Do I have a good case, in California, for my employment dispute?

California courts are, more often than not, employee friendly courts, with a unique body of employment laws that are very different from federal law and those of other states. In California, the most common types of employment cases are wage and hour disputes. California has very unique laws regarding misclassification of employees, "off the clock" pay, breaks, and more. If you have substantial evidence and you believe your employer is violating a California employment or labor law, chances are you may have a good case.

The best California attorneys can give you a reasonable assessment based on the information you have and the history of cases in California similar to yours. If your employment legal matter is complex, the attorney may need to do some work to give you a more accurate assessment. If you want a quick answer you may ask the attorney to give you their best opinion and upon retaining the attorney you may ask the attorney to give you a more accurate assessment in a reasonable amount of time, after they've done some work. The degree of complexity and the availability of accurate information of your employment matter can affect the civil attorney's legitimate effort to assess your situation.

Rather than going to trial, what are my options for resolving my case in California?

In California, the options that exist are settling without every going to trial and settling a lawsuit through a process called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR is a very popular form of resolving a case as it is faster and less costly. California has its own set of court ADR rules, programs. and options such as, mediation, arbitration, mini-trials, conciliation, settlement conferences, case evaluation, fact-finding, and summary jury trials. Sometimes a combination of ADR types are used, most common is mediation-arbitration.

An attorney in California can advise you on your options and the strengths and weaknesses of each. They can also counsel you on the pros and cons of pursuing each option. If you do attempt to resolve your dispute through ADR, but are unable to, as long as the statute of limitations has not run out, you may move forward with a lawsuit.

What kind of evidence do I need to have for my case to be substantiated in a California court?

This is an especially important question as investing your time and money, and receiving a satisfactory outcome does depend on the skill and knowledge of an attorney and having good evidence. In California, the rules of evidence are fully codified in the Evidence code, which means if it's not codified it is not valid. The California Code of Evidence contains laws dictating what evidence can be used in court. For instance, recorded conversations without verifiable consent of the opposing party cannot be used as evidence in a California court. It is vital you tell the California attorney about your evidence and the kinds of evidence you have in order for the attorney to tell you whether or not you have a good case.

Learn more about other qualifying characteristics in your search for a California civil attorney with expertise in employment and related civil laws. Also read about employment cases most common to California attorneys and how they resolve them.

Source: EzineArticles
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