If you listened only to corporate-based rhetoric, you would get the following impressions about individuals who sue organizations:
- Frivolous lawsuits are out of control, and too many huge verdicts are being awarded to individuals who spill coffee on themselves and the like.
- There are too many individuals- including employees, consumers, injured persons and attorneys- who are “extortionists,” and are filing frivolous lawsuits to look for a quick (and large) buck.
- “Tort reform,” and restricting individuals’ access to the legal system, is needed, or else businesses may not financially survive.
As someone who works with individuals bringing legal claims, I see many problems with these concepts, which mischaracterize the state of the world as I experience it.
Employers who are angry wind up paying more in legal fees. A lot more. This is old news to employment attorneys, but perhaps not to the angry employers themselves. Sidetracked by anger and the idea of chasing “principle,” they may not be listening to what their own attorneys are saying. (I should mention that many employees I’ve run into are angry as well, and I warn them of their own risks).
On several occasions, during seminars and personal discussions, I’ve heard employer-side attorneys acknowledge that angry, “principle”-chasing employers are making financially-unwise decisions, but the attorneys claim (which is true) that it isn’t the attorneys’ fault. On three different occasions, when I heard such an attorney acknowledge that angry employer clients tend to pay large legal fees, the attorney followed up with a statement to this effect: “but hey, I’ve got kids to put through college.”
Why do employer defense attorneys bring up their kids’ college funds when talking about employers who are angry or chasing “principle”? Because angry employers are a treasure-trove for legal fees, that’s why. Angry employers usually extend litigation a lot longer, and pay a lot more legal fees, than do employers who are more objective and rational about the risks they face.
Are you an angry employer? Do you think of your anger as a source of college funds for attorneys’ kids?
Below is an article I wrote about important questions a client should ask when hiring an attorney. I submitted the draft article to a business magazine, so the examples are written for the perspective of an employer-client who is seeking an attorney, rather than that of an employee-client. However, the questions and recommendations apply equally well to an employee-client, or to any client seeking legal representation for any legal matter (employment law, tax law, real estate, etc. etc.).
Important Questions to Ask When Hiring an Attorney
If you have a discrimination complaint at the Equal Rights Division (ERD) and are scheduled for mediation (settlement discussions), you can prepare in the following ways to improve your chances of reaching a favorable settlement. While the information below is tailored to ERD proceedings, it should be useful for EEOC mediation and other types of mediation and/or settlement negotiations.
Please note this post does not provide legal advice- if you want legal advice, you should contact an attorney and discuss your specific circumstances. If you are interested in legal assistance from attorney-author Michael Brown for your matter, you can contact Mr. Brown and his law firm DVG Law Partner here: