Retaining a labour lawyer – Recent changes to ICBC have led to personal injury lawyers masquerading as employment, labour, and human rights lawyers.

Retaining an experienced employment, human rights or labour lawyer is often one of the most critical decisions you will make. Unfortunately, if you’re making this decision in BC, you should make this decision even more carefully than before.

Because of the recent changes to the Insurance Commission of British Columbia (ICBC) that were introduced by the BC Government, a number of plaintiff-side personal injury law firms are now masquerading as employment, labour and human rights law firms.  In other words, many personal injury lawyers (often derisively referred to as “ambulance chasers”) are attempting to mitigate the loss of personal injury plaintiff clients by claiming to have expertise in employment, labour and human rights law.

Before you retain a lawyer to help you with your employment, labour, or human rights matter, ask your prospective lawyer how much experience he or she has, and his or her firm has, in these areas of law. Employment, labour, and human rights law are unique areas of practice. Lawyers practicing in these areas with little experience can miss precious opportunities to advance their clients’ interests, or stumble into a various pitfalls.

Before retaining labour lawyer to help you with your employment, labour, or human rights matter, consider asking that lawyer the questions below.  Their answers to these questions, and gauging their comfort level while answering them, will help ensure that you’re paying for the experience and knowledge you need.

Employment Law

  • How many years has the firm and the lawyer been representing clients in employment law matters?
  • Has the law firm/ lawyer previously practiced law in plaintiff-side only personal injury cases?
  • How many wrongful dismissal claims has the lawyer handled?
  • How many wrongful dismissal claims has the lawyer settled before commencing legal proceedings?
  • How many wrongful dismissal claims has the lawyer represented an employee at trial? What kind of trial (Judge alone; Jury; or Summary Judgment)?
  • Can they provide you with citations to the wrongful dismissal cases that have gone to trial?
  • How many Employment Standards Complaints has the law firm handled before the Employment Standards Tribunal?
  • How many Employment Standards Complaints has the lawyer handled?
  • How many Workers Compensation cases has the law firm handled?
  • How many Workers Compensation cases has the lawyer handled?

Labour Law

  • How long has the law firm and the lawyer been practicing labour law?
  • Has the law firm/ lawyer previously practiced law in plaintiff-side only personal injury cases?
  • Which labour relations boards have the law firm and lawyer appeared before?
  • Which unions or employee associations have the law firm and the lawyer represented in legal proceedings that resulted in a decision? Will they provide you with copies of some of the resulting decisions?
  • Has the law firm and lawyer argued a grievance arbitration involving a human rights issue?
  • How many certification applications has the law firm and lawyer handled?
  • How many unfair labour practice complaints has the law firm and lawyer handled?
  • How many labour arbitration boards have the law firm and lawyer appeared as counsel? Will the firm provide you with citations to those arbitration awards?
  • What are the names of the labour arbitrators that you could contact to confirm the firm’s experience and lawyer’s experience in conducting labour arbitration cases?
  • Has the law firm and lawyer handled applications for review or reconsideration under the BC Labour Relations Code? Will the firm provide you with citations to those decisions?
  • Has the law firm and lawyer handled an application for judicial review of an arbitration award or labour relations board decision? Will the firm provide you with citations?
  • How many duty of fair representation complaints has the law firm and lawyer handled?
  • In BC, can a person sue the union for breach of the duty of fair representation?
  • What union clients have the law firm and lawyer advised for the purposes of collective bargaining?
  • Has the law firm or lawyer had any experience in interest arbitrations to resolve collective bargaining disputes?
  • Has the law firm and lawyer had any experience in collective bargaining mediations? If so, what are the names of some of the mediators that could verify the law firm and lawyer’s experience?

Human Rights Law

  • How long has the law firm and lawyer been practicing law in human rights law?
  • Have the law firm/ lawyer previously practiced law in plaintiff-side only personal injury cases?
  • Which Human Rights Tribunals has the firm and lawyer appeared before?
  • What grounds of discrimination has the law firm and lawyer had experience?
  • How many human rights complaints has the law firm and lawyer resolved without commencing legal proceedings?
  • How many human rights complaints have the law firm and lawyer filed with a human rights tribunal?
  • How many mediations has the law firm and lawyer participated in with respect to human rights complaints?
  • How many human rights complaints were resolved by the law firm and lawyer without proceeding to a hearing?
  • How many human rights complaints has the lawyer handled that went to a hearing before a human rights tribunal?
  • How many judicial review applications has the law firm and the lawyer handled with respect to human rights matters?

 

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article, and this website generally, is not intended as legal advice and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.  To provide legal advice on your problem, a lawyer must first understand your specific situation.

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