Employees FAQ For Employment Law
We’d rather tell you how we’re different:
- Our business is employment justice. The desire to empower you with an understanding of your rights is what brought us together and why we love our jobs.
- Our firm culture is unique. Our lawyers do not have billable targets. This means our focus is not on filling out a time sheet; our focus is on you. We are committed to identifying your goals and resolving your legal issues as efficiently as possible.
This is a bit like asking how long a piece of string is. Each situation is different. Many of our clients only need 1-3 hours of our time in order to resolve issue. How much does that cost? Well, we keep our rates within standard range for the industry which means that our lawyers bill out at between $225 and $425 per hour, depending on years of experience. We also send work down to a lower level when feasible, to help our clients save money. That means that if certain types of work don’t have to be done by a fully trained lawyer, it can be done by a lawyer in training, a paralegal or a legal assistant. These individuals bill between $80 and $180 per hour.
For more information on our fees, please click here.
There’s no doubt that there is an expense to seeking legal advice in employment issues. However, think of it as an investment or insurance. If you are negotiating an employment agreement and we are able to get you a higher income or bonus, more vacation, better working conditions or more advantageous termination conditions, it’s likely that cost of obtaining that advice will be a small portion of your possible return on investment. If you have been terminated and we can assess and possibly improve your severance package, it’s likely that will more than cover your legal fees.
If you are considering making a human rights or bullying/harassment claim, or have lost your job, engaging a lawyer may make a significant difference in the outcome – protecting your future, or properly compensating you for any losses.
Some people are nervous about seeing a lawyer – particularly for something as personal as a workplace issue. It helps to have a sense of what the first meeting will look like, and to have an opportunity to prepare whatever materials might be needed to make that meeting as effective as possible.
What Happens at the First Meeting?
Your first meeting will last approximately one hour. When you arrive in our offices you’ll be greeted by our receptionist and invited to relax until the meeting is to start. At the appointed time, your lawyer will come to the reception area to greet you and take you into either their office or a boardroom.
The lawyer may know a little about your circumstances from your initial contact with the firm, but they’ll want to hear about your issue in your own words and ask you any questions they might have. In many instances, they will be able to provide you with advice on the spot. Our lawyers have been practising for many years, are very familiar with legislation and case law in a wide range of areas, and usually have a very good idea of what is and isn’t possible, fair and appropriate.
In some cases, your circumstances might be sufficiently unique to require that they do some research and get back to you with their advice. If this is the case, they may suggest a later connection by phone or in-person. Both during the meeting and in subsequent points of communication, you will have an opportunity to review your rights and obligations, consider your options, and determine how to proceed. This might result in no further contact with the firm, or you may wish to have us act on your behalf. At each stage, our lawyers will ensure you are aware of your options, and await your decisions and instructions accordingly.
What should I bring?
To organise your thoughts and help the first meeting run as efficiently as possible, we recommend that you bring a chronology of dates and events to help outline your story, as well as any specific questions you have. It is also useful to think about your end goal. This may be something as straightforward as asking: ‘Is the severance package offered fair?’ Or perhaps you want to know: ‘Is the non-competition agreement I signed at the outset of employment enforceable?’ or even: ‘I am in a poisoned work environment and want to leave as soon as possible, what are the implications?’
Please bring a copy of your recent T4, your termination letter, any written agreements or letter of hire, any communications (email, letters etc…) between you and the employer that are connected to the issues you would like us to address, as well as any other documents, company policies etc… that may be relevant.
How much does our first meeting cost?
Our lawyers bill by the hour, at ranges between $225 and $425 per hour. The cost of your first meeting will depend on the hourly rate of the lawyer you are working with. During your initial call, a member of the firm will help to determine the appropriate lawyer for you. This determination is based on how simple or complex your legal issue is; and the type of legal issue you have. For example, some of our lawyers have specific knowledge of WorkSafeBC, non-competes, or certain industries. Although some lawyers charge more per hour than others, it will always be more efficient to work with someone who has expertise in the areas applicable to your case.
We get it. Free sounds pretty good. But what sounds “free” sometimes comes with a hefty price. While we will discuss taking cases on a contingency fee basis, sometimes … in fact often … it might not be in your best interest to do so. We have helped some clients reach substantial settlements while staying in the background and taking our hourly rate only. A contingency fee sometimes results in a large portion of the settlement (30%, 40% or even 50%) coming to the law firm for a relatively small time investment. That might be in HHBG’s best interest, but our job is to act in your best interest, not ours. Sometimes a “free” consultation is actually very expensive for you. We are focused on you, not our bottom line.
As outlined above, our lawyers are experienced in handling employment law matters, and are bringing their knowledge and skillset directly to bear on your unique situation. While they are meeting with you and learning about your case, they are developing strategies to deal with your legal problem. After they have gathered the pertinent facts, they will explain the law to you and identify potential claims that you might have. In addition, they will provide you with a road map for moving your case forward, and provide tailor made strategies that best address your goals and the law. If a contingency fee arrangement is appropriate, we will advise you after the initial consult.
At HHBG Lawyers, we pride ourselves in acting in your best interest and sometimes that means providing you tools that move your case forward without the need for ongoing legal fees. If that is the best approach we will tell you. If your case is more complicated and requires a lawyer to step in on your behalf, we will tell you that too. Either way, you will emerge from an initial consultation with a better understanding of the law and your rights, and with one or more strategies on how best to proceed given the circumstances of your case.
Our initial consultations are not free because we focus on learning about your case and delivering the best legal strategy to help you make informed decisions. You want knowledgeable and accurate advice that helps you and those you support. That is exactly what we will provide.
No. If your employer’s offer is a fair and reasonable one, they should be ENCOURAGING you to seek legal advice, speak with your spouse, etc. And many do, but that doesn’t mean that they have put the best possible deal on the table. The role of HR is to save their company money. Your job is to ensure you are being properly compensated, and we’re here to help you. In fact, your employer doesn’t even have to know you spoke to a lawyer. When dismissed and handed a package, it is generally within your rights to request some time to consider the offer. Use that time to give us a call. We can meet with you quickly, help to assess your situation, and provide you with advice on what is an appropriate severance package in your circumstances. In many instances, this takes about an hour.
No. The first stage of working with us is about information sharing and decision-making. We’re here to help you understand whether the offer you’ve been given is a reasonable one. Buying an hour of a lawyer’s time helps you to make sense of what’s happened, and can provide you with some degree of control over your situation. We give you information and advice about your rights and options in order to guide you through this transition. You will leave our meeting armed with the information you need to better decisions. From there, the process usually occurs in steps. You take action and wait for the results. We help you determine next steps based on the response. There are MANY steps between your first meeting with a lawyer and potentially ending up in court. Our goal is to help you resolve things before it gets that far. But if it needs to go that far, understand that we will fight for you as if you were a family member.
That is a tough question to answer. Sometimes, we (or you!) are able to negotiate a settlement within a couple of weeks or even days. Sometimes, it will take longer. Unfortunately, we are not able to control the response of your former employer. If they won’t put a reasonable offer on the table, you can chose to walk away and get on with your life, or instruct us to proceed with a legal action. It will also depend on how big the gap is (between your legal entitlement and what the company has offered) as well as your ability to obtain alternate employment. We have settled cases at all stages of the process: from the very outset, to after an action has been commenced, to halfway through trial or even on the courthouse steps.