Generally, your best course of action would be to contact your local bar association and request names of attorneys that practice employment law.
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You should not expect a pro bono attorney for this sort of case. But you may be able to get help anyway. Here's the thing about pro bono work:
Many attorneys will offer free consultations. Some will offer reduced rates for clients of limited incomes. But handling an entire case pro bono is another matter entirely. This is an issue that comes up a lot on this site, and this is what I always tell people:
Pro bono work is an important part of the legal tradition. I should know that if anyone does: I served on the Oregon State Bar's Pro Bono committee for three years, and was its chairman in 2011. I have handled several recent pro bono cases, including one ongoing case of great complexity. So I don't mean to discourage people from seeking out such help, and I certainly don't mean to discourage lawyers from providing it. That said:
The public often has highly unrealistic expectations for pro bono cases. People often think that if they're in trouble, they're entitled not only to complete redress, but also to free help getting it. This is almost never true. For one thing, pro bono work is generally reserved for cases with a larger social impact beyond the immediate effect on a single client.
Even pro bono cases are likely to cost a bit of money. This is because litigation has considerable expenses that have nothing to do with paying your lawyer. There are costs for postage, copying huge numbers of documents, hiring court reporters and investigators. There are filing fees and other court costs. There are often expert witnesses and other professionals (who generally do not have a pro bono tradition, and don't work for free). Oregon's ethics rules prohibit attorneys from paying these costs unless they have a reasonable expectation that they'll be reimbursed. So even pro bono clients will need to advance some money up front.
And there's another reason that an attorney might want a client to do this: In my experience, people don't value what they don't pay for. A lawyer can put a lot of work into a case, but if they're working all for free, the client may get fed up or frustrated when things don't go their way, and quit, or fail to appear for court, or stop following the lawyer's advice. This wastes all the lawyer's work and can make them look like an idiot before the Court. I am speaking from excruciating personal experience. Litigation is very slow and time-consuming and rarely works out perfectly - this is especially true in child custody cases, which often end in some sort of compromise. You may be free to walk away at any time without an investment, but your lawyer is not. Our ethics rules require us to meet certain conditions before we withdraw. If you aren't committed to it, you can subject us to a ton of trouble.
It also bears mention that many lawyers today don't have as much money as you may think. The typical law school graduate today has over $100,000 in student loan debt. We have to pay Bar license fees, extremely expensive malpractice insurance premiums, and CLE (ongoing education) costs. Lawyers are not near the bottom - we are THE bottom, dead last, in terms of available jobs for professionals. It takes a new law school graduate an average of about two years to find a job, these days. So salaries are dropping for firms, and many self-employed solo and small firm practitioners (like myself) make less than minimum wage. So we get a bit vexed, at being asked to work for free all the time. With the possible exception of medicine, no other profession so often has people demand that it work for free. But unlike doctors, lawyers don't have big institutions like hospitals to support us and try to collect payment for us. If our clients don't pay, we don't survive. You wouldn't want to do your own job for free, however badly people needed it to be done.
That said, a lot of employment lawyers take cases on a contingent basis, so if you have a claim, you may not need to lay out a lot of money up front.
Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br> Jay Bodzin<br> Bodzin Donnelly Mockrin & Slavin, LLP<br> 2029 SE Jefferson Street, Suite 101, Milwaukie, OR 97222<br> <br> Telephone: 503-227-0965<br> Facsimile: 503-345-0926<br> Email: firstname.lastname@example.org<br> Online: www.bodzindonnelly.com
I am not licensed to practice in the State of Oregon but like in California, your local bar association should have a referral panel of attorneys who specialize in employment law. You can "google" key terms: Oregon employment lawyer, or use other online resources such as Yelp.com to find an attorney in your area. If you qualify for legal aid services, you could try contacting your local legal aid organization for additional resources: http://sites.lawhelp.org/program/694/index.cfm?pagename=homepage
The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
Mr. Bodzin really puts this issue into perspective. Well said, sir. I sat on the pro bono panel for the Southern District of New York for a few years. I was stalked by a client after a successful result--he had a taste of victory, so he came up with contrived case after contrived case. He finally went to jail.
I also had my life credibly threatened by an inmate who brought a civil rights case in federal court based on his being deprived of proper dental treatment. He had a legitimate case, as his abscesses were allowed to gro to the size of large marbles with no treatment while his teeth fell out. I travelled from NYC to Albany, paying out of my own pocket for train fare or gas, and a hotel room, more than a couple of times so I could depose the multiple defendants. I secured a good recovery for him after spending thousands of dollars (I needed to retain my own dental and criminal justice experts). He got out and decided he didn't get enough money. It went on for a long time after he was released. That was my last pro bono case.
I am a co-author of WEITZ ON AUTOMOBILE LITIGATION: THE NO FAULT HANDBOOK. The opinions expressed in this answer are not legal advice. These opinions are based on New York practice. We have no attorney-client relationship. conducting a conversation with me through the avvo comments section does not create an attorney-client relationship. I may be contacted at 212-553-9300.
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