I am an attorney and assist Wisconsin workers with unemployment appeal issues. Often, I get calls from workers after they have had an unemployment hearing (which they lost).
If you think you may need an attorney’s help for a WI unemployment appeal, then please consider talking to the attorney before the hearing. Once the hearing is completed, the amount of assistance an attorney can give is limited.
There are several reasons why an attorney is more helpful before and during the hearing, as compared to after. First, retaining an employee rights attorney could help significantly improve your odds of winning a hearing. If you lose the hearing and further appeal (as is your right), an attorney retained at that later point could help improve your odds of winning the post-hearing appeal, but the odds would at that point be tougher. Generally speaking, the odds of winning a post-hearing appeal are far less than winning the hearing.
As another matter, the hearing is the place where the case “record” (exhibits and recording of witnesses’ testimony) is created. Having an attorney at the hearing helps you make sure your part of the hearing (facts/testimony/exhibits supporting your position) goes as well as possible, and that the record is comprehensive and accurate. If a worker loses the hearing, the worker is allowed to appeal, but for all further appeal proceedings the worker usually is not allowed to add any new information to the record. If the record at the hearing is deficient– i.e. if important documents and testimony were not covered in the hearing record that would have helped– that is tough luck. You are stuck using the deficient record on further appeals, and an attorney retained at that later point would also be stuck with the deficient record.
Many workers decide not to have an attorney assist them at all for their unemployment proceedings. But if you are considering a WI unemployment attorney, know that it is better to retain such an attorney before the hearing as compared to after.