As in any lawsuit, success or failure in a wrongful dismissal case is predicated on a combination of the facts of the claim, the prevailing law, the financial and psychological stability of the parties, the relative strengths and strategy applied by the counsel and some luck.
Just as these factors will influence the decisions your lawyer will make during the course of your case, the most important decision rests in your own hands: Selecting the proper lawyer. With countless factors to consider and a pool of nearly 60,000 lawyers in Canada to choose from, finding the ideal lawyer to navigate your case is a difficult, if not overwhelming, task.
- Don’t go with a dabbler. Most lawyers are still generalists, balancing an assortment of legal files. But employment law is specialized. Success requires a comprehensive understanding of workplace law and a battle-tested background. Inquire what percentage of the lawyer's time is spent on employment law matters — and don't end up paying for his or her education.
- Don’t be fooled by advertising. A lawyer's search engine rankings are not indicative of his or her success. Internet-based advertising allows lawyers to snatch up rankings on Google or other search engines, which is not reflective of the quality of the lawyer, their firm, or the actual number of visitors to the site. Similarly, there are few limits to how lawyers can refer to themselves on their websites and in the media. The Ontario's Law Society does not restrict family law and immigration lawyers from advertising expertise or proficiency in employment law, but this does not mean that they possess it.
- Schedule a consultation. Some lawyers advertise “free consultations.” This is their opportunity to assess whether you have a case, but not your opportunity to learn about the risks and costs of proceeding with one. While an initial consultation fee may seem daunting, lawyers who charge one will stand behind the advice they give.
- Consider the costs. If asked, a lawyer should predict to the best of his or her ability the potential costs of your case. You should also review the lawyer's retainer agreement and discuss billing practices. Many lawyers offer a variety of billing methods for the legal fees, and flexibility can be an advantage.
- Ask for references. The best references are former clients or other lawyers practicing different areas of law. You should ask to speak with references who can comment on the lawyer's reputation and trustworthiness.
- Common sense. Does your lawyer listen to your concerns and understand the problem and the law? Are you confident your legal issue will be solved in a cost effective manner? Your instincts are usually your best self-defence.
Daniel A. Lublin is a Toronto employment lawyer practicing exclusively in the law of wrongful dismissal. He can be reached at email@example.com through his website www.toronto-employmentlawyer.com.