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Employment dispute-typical costs

Not being a lawyer, I am trying to understand what might be the average range of legal costs for a potential employment suit against a former employer. I am owed about $70K, with at least $50K not even in dispute by the company, they just won't pay it.
What might be a reasonable costrange (in California) to engage some employment law firm, and take an issue like this through to some type of settlement short of an actual trial. How many lawyers or associates could I reasonably expect to have work on and bill toan issue of this magnitude. Is there any good way to limit my legal costs so that whatever is settled on does not wind up totally in my lawyers pocket? If it's a $70K settlement, is it typical that a large majority of that might end up with the lawyer? The employer is a very small company, less than 10 people with no in house legal.

posted 2006-12-15 17:34:42

Dear JoeM,

I’m not sure what a reasonable price range for your action would be, but I am sure of a few other things. Primarily, any number of lawyers could work on a case like this, from a single attorney to five. What is more likely to determine something like that is the reason your former employer owes you money. A good way to limit your costs is to negotiate a contingency fee, if that’s possible. That means that the lawyer that you retain will accept a percentage of whatever settlement you receive as his fee. I’m not sure about California, but I know that employment attorneys in other parts of the country often work on contingency fees. The most important thing you can do to limit your costs, as well as to make sure you recover from your employer, is to make sure you find an experienced, trustworthy lawyer to represent you. I get the feeling you aren’t so familiar with the whole process of suing people (which is probably a good thing, as long as you’re not a civil litigation attorney). Ask around and see if you can get a reference from someone, and/or check with the California Bar Association.

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