Saturday, April 24, 2010

UNEMPLOYMENT HEARINGS - PREPARATION FOR HEARINGS

Back to more comments on some of the statements made on the Appeals Board FAQ website on hearings. The next FAQ is as follows:

"Do I need an attorney?

No, but you have the right to be represented by an attorney or representative of your choice. An attorney or representative of a claimant cannot charge a fee unless the claimant is successful and the amount of the fee has been approved by the Appeal Board."

In these economic times, sometimes your situation will prohibit you from retaining an attorney but you should have one. The problem of course is that few deal in this area because attorneys can only collect a fee if successful and then only in an amount approved by the Appeals Board. Usually, the amounts approved by the Appeal Board (which can take several months) do not equal the usual attorney rate...in other words, many of these cases are not financially feasible for attorneys. Plus, there is the problem of collecting fees....the client is on unemployment: it is difficult for them to afford to pay the attorney the approved fee.

But assuming the Claimant is successful in obtaining an attorney and the attorney is confident that the Claimant will pay the approved fee, I highly recommend retaining counsel for many reasons some of which I will mention here:

1. An attorney (and I am assuming it is one familiar with these issues) can properly prepare you. Much preparation is needed, questions asked, documents sought, etc. and an attorney can properly evaluate your case.

2. Although the Administrative Law Judge is independent and impartial, does not represent either the DOL, the Employer or the Claimant, and will ask probing questions, there may be information missed that your attorney can bring out.

3. A hearing can be intimidating, especially if the DOL is also objecting to your request - under those circumstances, it is the Claimant versus the tag team of the DOL and Employer.

4. Your case may involve other issues, discrimination rights, union rights, breach of contract rights, and an attorney can advise you of them.

Now I have consulted with Claimants and they have successfully been able to win at their hearings without my direct representation. But For all the reasons listed above, and for more not mentioned here, my answer to the question "Do You Need An Attorney" - well it couldn't hurt to speak to one (just remember the rules on fees though and if you know of an attorney who is violating those rules, notify the Appeals Board)

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