Employee Tip: Problems Getting in Touch With an Employee Rights Attorney?

If you are an employee who is having trouble getting in touch with an employee rights attorney, please know two things: (1) your frustrations are entirely understandable- chances are, you are calling about serious, and perhaps urgent, employment issues that seriously affect your life and income; and (2) there are often several legitimate reasons (having nothing to do with anything negative about you) why an attorney cannot speak to you as soon as you’d like or need.

My best advice for you is this: research and find one or two employee rights attorneys who strike you as knowledgeable (or are recommended as knowledgeable by a reliable source) and be politely persistent until you get a chance to speak to one of those attorneys.

An employee-caller’s perspective (or at least my understanding of it).

As a first matter, I want to tell you that most employee rights attorneys recognize and care about employee-callers’ perspectives and concerns.  If you are having employment problems, chances are, those problems are serious and genuinely troubling.  It is understandable that you’d want assistance, and want it now.  Often, there are time-sensitive issues, such as severance deadlines or legal deadlines, that you must attend to.

Yet too often, employees will call many employee rights attorneys, and get few or no call-backs from the attorneys.  Is this ideal customer service?  No way.  Can the attorneys improve the situation?  In many instances, yes.  Can the situation be improved such that you can speak to an attorney immediately, when you do not have an urgent deadline?  Probably not, given the realities and volumes of employees’ concerns and calls.

The employee rights attorneys’ perspective.

I’ll discuss the employee rights attorneys’ perspective- not because I want to make excuses why no one has called you back- but rather so you understand the attorneys’ perspectives (whether they seem real or only perceived), and so you can effectively adjust to those factors and get your call through.

Please know there may be several legitimate reasons why the employee rights attorney you are calling is not able to speak to you promptly.  These may include: (1) high call volume (I personally receive up to 10 calls a day, sometimes more, from prospective clients with employment law issues- if I spoke to each as long as they wanted or needed, many days I would have literally no time to do anything else); (2) existing clients’ needs and legal deadlines must be prioritized over new callers; and/or (3) some other new callers have more time-sensitive or higher-priority issues than yours (e.g. they have a legal document due tomorrow, whereas your meeting with HR is in 3 days).

In my experience, many employee-callers are very understanding and polite when informed about these circumstances affecting employee rights attorneys.

My biggest concern is that the employees who are not aware of these factors may incorrectly assume the attorneys’ lack of response is due to something negative about you, and you may get discouraged and give up on contacting an attorney.  Please do not let this happen- if you are concerned about an employment issue, you should be able to speak to someone.

How you can improve your attorney connection-speed.

Here are steps you can take to improve your chances of talking to an attorney, and getting quality advice sooner rather than later.

  • Start early.  Start locating and contacting attorneys right when your problem arises.  Do not wait until the last few days before a legal deadline to try to talk to an attorney for the first time.
  • Find one or two employee rights attorneys who strike you as knowledgeable, or who are recommended as knowledgeable by a reliable source, and contact them until you get through.  You should not have to talk at length with, or meet with, an attorney who you are not confident in, just because they were the first available to talk to you.  (I have a post hereabout factors to consider when choosing an attorney).  It is better you choose one to two attorneys who strike you as knowledgeable, and contact those select attorneys until you get through.
  • When you call, provide information requested by the attorney’s staff.  Most employee rights attorneys have an “intake” system in which their staff collects information from employee callers, so the attorneys can reduce their call time and handle calls more efficiently.  If you refuse to provide information to the attorney’s staff, that will increase the chances that your call will be de-prioritized or not returned.  (While it is understandable if you have concerns about revealing private information to the law firm’s staff, please note the firm’s staff is obligated, just as the attorney is, to keep your information confidential).
  • If you have a deadline or time-sensitive issue, politely inform the firm’s staff about that.  The attorney will want to know about any pressing deadlines or issues, so be sure to mention those issues.
  • Listen to, and take into account, what the firm’s staff tells you.  If the staff member tells you that the attorney will contact you within 3 days, for example, wait until after the 3rd day before you call back, unless that can’t be done due to deadlines, etc.  Usually, when a specific timeline is given, the firm will try to (and will) observe it.
  • Do not give the attorney documents, unless you are asked.  On some occasions, prospective clients I have never spoken to have sent me unsolicited faxes or emailed documents, or have come to my office unannounced and dropped off documents for me to review.  While I am sure this made sense to the employees and they thought it would expedite the process of having me review their matter, in fact it is a very distracting thing for an attorney to receive unsolicited documents.  (We receive more than enough documents from existing clients!).  Please keep in mind that attorneys- at least the ones I know- prefer to talk to prospective clients first, and get summary information about their issues, before deciding whether to discuss the case in detail or review documents.
  • If you are not called back as soon as you expected, be politely persistent until you get a chance to speak to one of your attorneys of choice.  By “politely persistent,” I don’t mean that you should contact the attorney’s office several times a day.  Rather, you should contact them enough to politely remind them of your interest.

I know this is a lot of information, but I sense there are a large number of employees out there who are not connecting with employee rights attorneys (including in some instances myself) as fast as they would like.  Hopefully, the information above will be of some reassurance, and will help you to get in touch with an employee rights attorney and discuss your matter in detail.

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