Frequently Asked Questions
Will my initial consultation be with an attorney or a legal assistant?
Will my initial consultation be confidential even if I do not become a client?
How will my case proceed once I become a client?
How long does a typical case take?
What are mediation and arbitration?
What are my chances of success and how much money am I likely to receive?
How do your fees work?
There is never a fee for an initial telephone consultation. If you and we believe an office consultation is warranted, this visit is usually free of charge. You will be informed ahead of time if any fees apply.
Your initial consultation, either on the phone or in person, will always be with an attorney.
Once you agree to retain us, we will enter into a written fee agreement, a written contract which clearly spells out the services we will provide and our fees for doing so. You will then be asked to provide us with all pertinent information and documents regarding your situation.
In some circumstances, a written settlement demand will be made upon your employer/potential defendant. We will jointly make a decision as to whether this is advisable at this point in your case.
In discrimination matters, the next step will be to file a claim at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and/or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These are the state and federal agencies that enforce anti-discrimination in employment laws. Proceedings at the MCAD and EEOC are similar to proceedings in court which are discussed below. At some point during the MCAD and/or EEOC proceedings we will decide whether to keep your case at the MCAD and/or EEOC or remove it and file a lawsuit in court.
A lawsuit in court consists initially of filing a complaint, a legal document which spells out the facts of your case and the legal claims being made. A copy of the complaint will be served upon the defendant(s) who will then be required to respond.
Next will be the discovery phase of your case. During discovery, both you and the defendant(s) will be required to provide documents pertaining to your case, answer written questions under oath, and give deposition testimony. In depositions, you, defendant(s) and witnesses will be required to testify oath before a stenographer. You will be accompanied by an attorney at your deposition to insure that your rights are protected.
After the discovery phase of your case, the defendant(s) may attempt to have some or all of your claims dismissed. In the vast majority of cases we handle, these attempts fail, and your case will then proceed to trial.
Throughout this process, there will be numerous opportunities to discuss a negotiated resolution of your case. These efforts will only be undertaken with your authorization.
There are no typical cases. Every case has different parties, facts, attorneys and judges. Often cases will settle before a formal claim has been filed, but sometimes not until the day of trial. For a case to proceed all the way through trial general takes one to three years.
Mediation is an attempt to resolve your case without going to trial. Typically, the parties and their attorneys meet informally with a neutral third party -often a former judge, professional mediator, or attorney in the field- and attempt to resolve the case. At all times you will have the final say as to whether to accept a settlement or not. The mediation is confidential and nothing said at the mediation can be used at trial. The non-binding aspect of a mediation means that the mediator can only suggest settlement terms, not impose them. A settlement would need to be agreed upon by all parties.
Arbitration, on the other hand, is a process similar to a trail. The parties agree to an arbitrator who will decide your case after a trial-like proceeding.
Beware of any attorney who attempts to give you specific answers to these questions. Every case is different and consists of a myriad of variables, making it virtually impossible to answer these two questions, especially at the commencement of a case or during an initial consultation. We will, however, do our utmost to give you a frank assessment as to the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Depending on the circumstances of your case and what services we agree to provide, fee arrangements can consist of contingency fees in which we would be entitled to a percentage of the proceeds of your case if successful, hourly fees, flat fees, or a combination of one or more of these. The written fee agreement will clearly explain the particular fee arrangements in your case.