Are you facing problems at work? Or perhaps you just got fired? A lot is at stake, and you may need a lawyer. But you want to be smart about it, and you have a few questions.
How do you get your questions answered without paying an arm and a leg?
Read on, my friend.
Know the Right Questions to Ask
Even if you only spend 10 minutes, do a bit of research on your issue to see whether you can find out what legal terms might apply to your situation.
Questions like “Do I have a case?” or “Can I get fired for standing up to my employer?” are good but too broad to get a meaningful answer, especially if you are starting with a Google search.
A question like “Does the motor carrier exemption apply to truckers?” will yield more specific results than “Can I get overtime pay?”
Read About the Law
Online, you’ll find a number of good legal resources written for nonlawyers.
- Nolo Law for All provides educational material on a range of legal topics. You can count on Nolo’s guides to be accurate and helpful, and they include employment law books and articles.
- Justia.com provides comprehensive guides and articles on many areas of the law, including employment law.
- Though a bit more technical, JD Supra provides articles and legal briefs written by attorneys on many legal topics, including labor and employment.
Get Your Specific Employment Law Question Answered at No Cost
Sometimes you need individualized attention from a lawyer even after you’ve done your research; however, this often comes at a price. A consultation with a highly qualified employment lawyer can be a good investment. But it is helpful to have as much information as you can before you schedule—and often pay—for a consultation with an attorney.
Avvo provides many legal resources, including information about individual lawyers. (You can find my listing by clicking here.)
Avvo also allows you to post a question for lawyers to answer at no cost to you. You’ll notice on the homepage a section at the bottom left that says: “Q&A Post a Question for a Lawyer.”
Just type in your question, and lawyers from all over the country are eligible to answer.
Importantly, asking a question does not mean that the attorneys will get your contact information. So don’t worry that asking a question will result in a bunch of spam or unwanted calls. You can contact attorneys who answer, but that is left solely up to you.
What’s the catch? There’s really not much of a catch, except perhaps a bit of “buyer beware.”
Just because an attorney answers your question doesn’t mean that he or she is the most qualified or knowledgeable. And sometimes you’ll get a lame response like, “Well, you need to see a lawyer. How about me!”
But you are just as likely to get a substantive response that may point you in the right direction.
How do you know whether the lawyer answering your question is any good? You won’t know for sure, but you can look at the attorney’s Avvo profile or private website to see whether he or she focuses on your area. Another way to gauge the quality of the answer is to see whether other lawyers rate the answer highly, which is a nice option that Avvo provides.
Why would a lawyer take time to answer questions? Simply out of the goodness of his or her heart.
A lawyer will answer these questions because doing so raises his or her profile on Avvo, which can result in more potential clients calling the attorney. (I don’t get any benefit from recommending Avvo’s services to you here.)
I wouldn’t make Avvo the end of your legal search, but it’s one of the best places to get a no cost, individualized response to any legal question that you might have.