Absolutely. Lawyers are subject to a strict duty of confidentiality (subject to certain exceptions) which is set out in the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, to which all lawyers in BC are subject.
We recommend that you consult with a lawyer whenever there is or will be a change in the nature or status of your employment. When you call our offices, our experienced intake staff will help you connect with the appropriate resource for your legal issue. Depending on your situation, we may suggest that you consult first with the Employment Standards Branch, for example, before setting up a meeting with one of our lawyers.
Our primary focus is employment law and related areas. However, if your case raises issues in another area of law, we may retain the services of a lawyer outside the firm to advise on those issues. For example, if you suffered an injury outside the workplace which resulted in your dismissal, you may have a claim for personal injury (in addition to any employment law-related claim) and, if you wish, we can work with a personal injury specialist to assist you with that claim.
In the case of some employment law matters, yes, they will be. For more information regarding the possibility of deducting legal fees, see CRA Interpretation Bulletin IT-99R5 (Consolidated) and consult your accountant.
If your case goes to court and you are successful in your claim, the judge will typically order that your ex-employer pay you a portion of the cost of your legal fees. The exact amount you will be able to recover is determined according to a formula set out in the rules of court (which are established by government regulation). If we are able to resolve your case without going to court, you may also be able to recoup some of your legal costs as part of any monetary settlement reached with your ex-employer.
The short answer to this question is that it depends…on many factors, the main ones being the complexity of your case and, again, how willing you and the other party are to discuss settlement. Once we meet with you and get a sense of the legal issues involved in your case, we will generally be able to estimate for you the scope (and therefore cost) of the work involved in representing you. It is our practice to be as transparent as possible up front about the legal fees and other costs that a client can expect to incur if they hire us – and as always, if you have any questions about cost we encourage you to raise these with us. It is also our practice to invoice you monthly for our services so that there are no surprises.
Many clients are hopeful that they will be able to settle their dispute without having to go to court, and in such cases, we will endeavour to make this happen. We are often able to help clients resolve their employment law issues in a few months (sometimes even weeks) without having to resort to formal litigation. At the risk of stating the obvious, however, the likelihood of a settlement often hinges on the willingness of the parties involved to negotiate. Having said that, in our many years of experience, it is only a small minority of our clients’ cases that actually end up in court. In any case where we believe a settlement to be a viable and desirable option for our client, we will work actively with you and the other party to make this happen.
At our first meeting, and throughout our relationship with you, we will work with you to develop a plan that suits your employment situation and that is designed to achieve whatever your objective is in retaining our services. A frequent first step is to help you communicate your position to the party you are in dispute with, for example, by writing a letter on your behalf, or by coaching you before an upcoming in-person meeting.
We will occasionally work for clients on a contingency fee basis – that is, agree that you will only pay us for our services if your case is successful. This is something you can discuss with the lawyer during your initial consultation.