Consultation Fees

CONSULTATION FEES

Many callers say that before they schedule a consultation, they just want to know “whether I have a case” or “whether it’s worth it to schedule a consultation.” Making that determination is often the primary purpose of the consultation. Employment matters are fact driven; just one fact can change the legal analysis. An attorney who advises a caller about legal implications based on a two-minute phone call is creating a substantial risk for the caller.

When I receive calls requesting a consultation, I don’t assume the caller wants to file suit. Many clients are seeking counsel on whether their facts will provide leverage in managing a difficult work situation or in negotiating an exit package. Others want to understand their contractual obligations with respect to a non-compete, non-solicitation or severance agreement, or an offer letter or contract for hire. Some callers want advice on how to manage a bully boss.

Regardless of the client’s concern, with few exceptions, it takes about an hour to gather the facts I need, explain what the facts mean from a legal standpoint, and identify what options are available. I charge for that service. My fee for an initial consultation is $350.00 an hour, pro-rated by the quarter hour. Clients are charged for the consultation whether or not they have a claim; again, because one of the purposes of a consultation is to determine whether a claim exists. If it is clear that no claim exists, a client may still benefit from counseling on what options are available or guidance on how to resolve a particular problem in the work place.

AFTER THE INITIAL CONSULTATION

Some clients want me to represent them in negotiations with the employer; others want advice on how they can negotiate on their own, or they want guidance on communications with the employer or advice about contractual obligations under a non-compete, non-solicitation or severance agreement.

Representation: If the client has facts to support a viable claim and I believe representation is in a client’s best interest, I provide the client with a Representation Agreement which sets forth the terms of my representation. After the client signs the representation agreement and pays the retainer, I work on a contingent fee basis rather than an hourly fee basis.

Guidance: If my client does not have a viable claim, or I believe the client would be better served through behind-the scenes counseling, my fee after the initial consultation is $390 an hour, pro-rated by the quarter hour. After the initial consultation some clients just need a quick follow-up call. Others need intermittent guidance depending on what is going on at work. Clients can schedule follow-up phone calls which are billed at the $390 rate, but are pro-rated by the quarter hour.

WHERE TO FIND EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEYS WHO MAY NOT CHARGE

If clients feel they cannot afford a consultation fee, we refer to the NELA Illinois Website. NELA stands for National Association of Employment Lawyers. To be on the NELA website, attorneys must represent employees at least 51 percent of the time, and many attorneys on the website represent employees full time. Attorneys who have not practiced law very long are less likely to charge for consultations because they have fewer clients. The attorney profiles on the website set forth the attorneys’ credentials. Another option is to seek a consultation with a law school clinic such as Kent or Loyola Law School, as those clinics use a sliding fee scale.

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