Choose carefully: PB Employment Law
A former client finally settled her personal grievance after 2½ years of litigation. The key (money) terms was that she received $20,000 and her employment advocate received $65,000. I kid you not!
Naturally, she is very upset at this outcome and wonders if anything can be done. The short version is no. She signed the record of settlement, a legally binding and enforceable document.
Had she used a lawyer, she could ask the Law Society for “costs revision”. The society has statutory authority to review/amend or even cancel any invoice from a lawyer. This includes investigating a complaint that a lawyer has used litigation and/or a dispute for their own personal benefit, by charging fees disproportionate to any benefit gained by the client. The above situation sounds exactly like that.
As my former client used an advocate, there aren’t many options. If the advocate was a member of the Employment Law Institute of New Zealand (disclaimer: I am on the Executive), they can investigate complaints and impose sanctions – provided the advocate chose to remain a member.
I am not saying that lawyers are necessarily better than advocates, however a key difference is the consumer protection offered to lawyers’ clients by the Law Society.
Choose your legal representation very carefully.
If you are an employee, ask (in writing) for your representative to let you know if legal fees are likely to be above any money or settlement paid to you as the client. Employers should start with a quote or estimate and then obtain regular updates on fees, as matters progress.