How to Hire Law Firms With Ease

Legal matters are something that strike the fear of God in most people’s hearts, because of the complications involved, not to mention the astronomical legal fees one can incur. Legal matters, however, can happen anytime, anywhere and while people know that they must be prepared for anything, it doesn’t erase the fact that it can be quite a daunting prospect and as such, something to be avoided as much as possible.

However, fears of anything new and unfamiliar can be conquered with a proper understanding and learning of the matter. Once you understand the ins and outs of hiring law firms you’ll find that there was actually nothing to be apprehensive about. You need to hire lawyers who are well-versed in the language of litigation.

First of all, determine all the possible reasons why you need to hire a law firm. Of course in addition to wanting your tough legal problem solved, you may also want to hire a law firm because you want to augment the legal team you already have in place to increase your chances of winning your case and at the same time let your adversary know that you are determined to win it. Hiring the best law firm also increases your confidence about winning the case because you have a lot of legal experts behind you. And more importantly, you want to be able to win your case without causing too much of a dent in your bank account.

The next thing you need to do is research. Start with legal directories that will help you shortlist the best lawyers within your area complete with phone numbers and background information. You can also try researching online for law firm rankings, that rank the best law firms according to practice, diversity and region. Of course this will all depend on what type of case you have and the details involved.

A law firm’s expertise is based mostly on the fact that they hire the best graduates from top law schools. Since a lawyer’s core worth is based on his intelligence, knowledge and experience, you will increase your chances of winning your case since they will be updated on all the latest nuances of the law and be able to keep up their end of the defense with facts and figures relevant to your case.

While price is a major consideration, remember that the costs you incur will depend on the size of the law firm you need and want to hire. Solo practitioners usually entail lower costs and fees, small firms usually entail lower costs and more personal interaction, mid-size firms usually have more legal resources and therefore the ability to address your legal issues more effectively and large firms are what you need for larger and more complex legal concerns. When you go online, the best legal websites will have all the necessary information posted.

You will also need to check if the websites have posted their accreditation and certification and have very thorough information about their lawyers’ specialties. There are law firms that allow you to download reports and white papers on very popular legal topics, ones that their previous clients have been through so you can get more insights on your particular case and how it could turn out. The more information you have, the more empowered you feel so go for sites that also offer tips and advice on going through difficult legal matters and how to deal after the smoke clears.

And lastly, go for law firms that are able to explain things in a language you’ll understand. Forget about law firms that go technical, it is important to find one that provides personalized service and are very responsive – one who will actually return your calls because they understand time constraints and value your time as much as they value theirs. While most law firms put on an impersonal fa├žade that they mistake as professionalism, a true indication of a competent and able law firm is one that shows the human side of the legal profession. Clear cut and straightforward about the law but at the same time, showing a sympathetic side.

It is easy to feel daunted or intimidated when you enter a legal situation where you need to hire law firms to get you out of it. As long as you know what you need and want and what to expect, hiring lawyers to champion your cause won’t feel so challenging.

Scots Law Explained

The law in Scotland is commonly known as Scots Law and has it’s roots in Celtic law. Around the mid tenth century however, it was revised and influenced by canon law and feudal law. Later King David I instigated the use of sheriffs and other institutions along with other facets of Anglo-Norman law. In certain situations thereafter even Roman law was used where Scots law was deemed inadequate.

In more modern times Scots law has been brought more into line with the laws of England and Wales, but retains it’s fundamental differences. The treaty of Rome has also meant that European laws now influence Scots law as it does the rest of the United Kingdom.

The Scottish Parliament has powers over certain areas of the Scottish legal system such as environment, education, health, local government and criminal justice, but Westminster (the UK parliament) retains power over such areas as defence, economic policy, international relations, drug laws etc.

The criminal court system in Scotland comprises District Courts, Sheriff Courts, High Courts and Supreme Courts, the court to be used depends on the severity of the particular case. All qualified Solicitors in Scotland are registered with the Law Society of Scotland. One such member being Ewan Sheriff, a very highly experienced and respected man, Ewan has recently moved his operations to The Middle East.

Civil cases in Scotland are covered in Sheriff Courts, the Court of Session and Supreme Courts depending upon the severity of the case in question. There are also special courts in operation for cases such as children’s hearings.

Time for a Career in Law for You?

Unlike my friends in Europe, who have to decide on what career they want to have early on in their school path and such, we are lucky here in the United States. We can make life and career changes at the drop of the hat. They live in a much more regimented structure.

I was unhappy with my career, so, I went back to law school. It was a bit risky, since I was going to have to run up quite a large student loan debt in the process, but I thought it was worth it. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it and was worried about failing out. I know quite a few lawyers and they all warned me against it, but I showed them in the end.

The first year of law school was amazingly difficult. The professors were out to get students in class and humiliate them, as they are trying to weed out the weak. You also need to learn how to read in an entirely different way and also to think in a logical way that is unique to the law. It is not what you would anticipate.

The hardest thing about getting to where I am currently as a practicing lawyer was actually the bar exam. After three years of law school you probably think that you’d be ready for that test, but frankly, I was not. The entire experience is completely exhausting and will take every bit of energy and knowledge you can muster. Plus, the test is just plain odd. You go through law school taking essay tests the entire time, with the proper answer almost always being shades of gray, and then you get to the bar exam and an entire day of the test is multiple choice questions.

After that, I just got truly fortunate. I started from the beginning as a solo practice lawyer, which I do not recommend for people. But in my case, I got a couple good cases referred to me early by some friends of mine and got lucky to get my practice up and running fairly fast. Even then, it was about a three-year slog to get to the point where I was actually making a reasonable amount of money. Personally, I think joining a firm, whether big or small, and learning from other lawyers is the best way to go.

What I do think though is that more people should be considering this for a mid-life career change. It was the best decision I made in my life.

Federal and California Employment Laws: A Review

There is a saying in the California HR-world: if you can manage human resources in California, you can manage human resources anywhere. California has the most employment laws in the country and they continue to increase, year after year. This article provides a cursory overview of both California, and federal, employment laws.

Federal Labor Laws

There are essentially 11 core laws that apply to all organizations regardless of size in the United States. They will be explained briefly below:

1. FLSA – Fair Labor and Standards Act

2 & 3. Wagner and Taft-Hartley Acts (NLRA and Labor Management Relations)

4. Consumer Credit Protection

5. ERISA – Employee Retirement Income Security Act

6 & 7. FICA and Social Security

8. EPPA – Employee Polygraph Protection Act

9. USERRA – Uniform Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act

10. IRCA – Immigration Reform and Controls Act

11. EEOC – Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection

Virtually all employers in the United States are subject to these laws and in some instances, California has added to them.

1. FLSA guides work hours and wages. California has made modifications to FLSA specific to breaks, minimum wage and overtime.

2 and 3. Both the Wagner and Taft Hartley Acts address and regulate union activities. Please note that the NLRA applies to all businesses and the rights of employee behavior, whether a union is present or not.

4. The Consumer Credit Protection act addresses use of credit information and employment. Again, California has added to this.

5. ERISA addresses retirement.

6 and 7. FICA and Social Security are in regards to federal deductions.

8. The use of polygraphs is greatly discouraged and illegal in most instances. There are specific rules involved in the legal application of polygraphs and the documentation required.

9. USERRA addresses the rights of veterans and military people in the workforce.

10. IRCA has recently updated the I-9 form as of March 8, 2013.

11. Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection (EEOC) address the interviewing and hiring of individuals.

Additionally, employers must comply with laws relating to workers’ compensation, child labor Laws, employee safety-OSHA, Independent Contractors, Posters/Notices (Federal and State), and Privacy Laws (Federal and State).

California Employment Laws

In addition to these laws, California has its own extensive list of regulations. The following applies to ALL California employers, regardless of employee size. The explanation of each law is beyond the scope of this article, but it should provide HR professionals a guideline to research any California-specific laws they may be unfamiliar with.

  • Unemployment Insurance (EDD)
  • New Employee Reporting (EDD)
  • Parent’s Leave for Children Suspended From School
  • Crime Victim’s Leave
  • Disability Insurance- PFL/FTDI/SDI
  • Military Leave
  • Volunteer Civil Service Leave
  • Election Leave
  • Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victim Leave
  • FEHA/harassment
  • Kin Care
  • Ralph Civil Rights Act (hate violence)
  • Unruh Civil Rights Act (businesses)

Laws Applicable Based on Employee Size

Neither list of employment laws is exhaustive. Employers are subjected to many other laws and regulations, but they only apply at certain employee thresholds. Below is a list of laws that apply at the following employee counts. California-specific laws are noted with a *.

  • 2 or more employees
    • Cal-COBRA*
    • Environmental Protection Agency
  • 5 or more employees
    • CA Discrimination Laws*
    • Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)
  • 15 or more employees
    • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA/ADAAA)
    • Federal Discrimination Laws (Title VII)
    • Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
    • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act(GINA)
    • Organ and Bone Marrow Donor’s Leave*
    • Civil Air Patrol Leave*
  • 20 or more employees
    • COBRA
    • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
    • Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA)
  • 25 or more employees
    • Drug/Alcohol Rehabilitation
    • Domestic Violence Leave: Medical Treatments*
    • Literacy Leave*
    • School Activities Leave*
    • Military Family Leave*
  • 50 or more employees
    • Affirmative Action (Federal)
    • Military Family Leave
    • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    • California Federal Rights Act (CFRA)*
    • Mandatory Supervisor Unlawful/Sexual Harassment training including abusive conduct*
    • Volunteer Firefighters Training*
  • 75 or more
    • WARN Act (Plant closings and layoffs)
  • 100 or more
    • EEO reporting requirements
  • Leaves of Absence (holiday pay, sick pay, vacation) are not required, but if offered, specific laws apply.

This article was intended to provide a high-level review of the key employment laws in California, and across the nation. It is by no means exhaustive, and a professional HR consulting firm or employment specialist should be contacted with any questions or concerns.

Based in Los Angeles since 1982, CPEhr provides a comprehensive HR solution for small and mid-sized employers in California, and across the country. Contact us to schedule a free human resources consultation.