How do I find a good lawyer, and what kind do I need?

Sigh… I cannot tell you how much I hate this, but…

We need a lawyer to find out where we stand with the possible abuse (on the university’s part) of the FML, and what, if anything we can do about it.

In short(ish), MrDrsaje has been out on FML since mid Feb,injured. He was told the other day that when he comes back to work he’ll be out of sports entirely. He is a fellowship trained and board certified sports Med guy with primary care as his secondary focus. He was hired originally as Ass’t Director for the Sports Med Fellowship, but took over the whole shebang when the then Director resigned the first week he was there. He said he would do it and that in the meantime they’d look for a replacement director so he could go back to the Ass’t position. That was all hunky dory. Well, he found and hired his replacement who of course has taken over a bit earlier than intended since his accident.

Now suddenly he’s told that he’ll be out of sports entirely and just doing regular clinical work, and that he’s not even to wear the university Sports Med shirts he was given. And, when he pressed for more information, they fell back on “we can’t talk about this right now while you’re out on FML!!!1!”

He’s pissed, I’m pissed (and terrified and so tired of this crap after all these years - but that’s another whine) and we think it’s time we talked to a legal eagle of some sort.

Help? Googling gets me ambulance chasers, mostly.

In this specialized area some of the ambulance chasers may be what you want. In general I would suggest finding someone you know who has a trusted lawyer who can be asked for a reference in this specialized area of law.


I assume FMLA, Family and Medical Leave Act.

Oh sorry, yes, Family Medical Leave. Which I believe mandates that you are to return to the job you left, or a comparable one.

I wish we knew more people in this area, word of mouth seems generally the way to go with these things.

Such a frustrating PITA.

I know worker’s comp isn’t the same as family medical leave but I think they’re in the same neighborhood and you see a lot of lawyers whose specialty is worker’s comp.

You need a good employment/labor attorney. I agree with **TriPolar **that your best bet is to ask the people you know, especially attorneys. The attorneys at my law firm often receive referrals from other attorneys. In fact they make a special effort to help clients who come in as referrals from other attorneys.

Beyond that, your State Bar should have a website or a phone number which can direct you to employment attorneys in your area. You could also try AVVO.

I defend these types of cases for a living.

You want a plaintiff-side labor/employment attorney, and a good one.

Large institutions typically over-comply with FMLA, as well as any applicable state law. That’s certainly how I advise.

There have been a couple of times I needed a lawyer. I started with someone I know and trust and respect, either a lawyer or a trusted person (friend, family). Make sure you respect that person. Then, go from there, ask that person if they know a lawyer that they trust and respect, working your way to a recommendation to someone in the field of practice you need.

Each time you talk to someone in that chain, mention who led you to them. Ensure they know (at least recall) that person, and read their body language / tone of voice to check for any red flags in that connection (between who you’re talking to and who referred them).

And when you do this, actually talk to the people in the chain. In person, optimally, or at least over the phone. Briefly explain your situation, or not if you prefer disretion. Don’t write an email. Emails can be for follow-ups, not for establishing the chain to get to THE lawyer you need. Once you have a good recommendation do a little checking on them.

I prefer this method to what I call the Russian Roulette approach of picking someone out of Yelp or another list. There’s probably a more succinct way to describe this approach. (yeah - word of mouth!) Apologies for the length. This approach has worked very well for me the 3 times I’ve needed a lawyer.

In the end, hopefully it will work out well for you, and remember to thank the folks along the chain. Good luck.

In Australia, I’d find out which lawyers are used by the trade unions in the area. I know that trade unions are not as important in the US, but they do exist, and they presumably use lawyers for difficult cases. The OP could seek out local trade union officers, and ask them which lawyers they use.

I’m a little confused. The tone of your OP suggests a level of desperation on your husband’s part and yet you describe him as a medical doctor specializing in sports medicine which in the US is typically a 200,000 to 300,000+ a year job category not too many years out of the gate.

I don’t get the “terrified” in most cases in the US a specialist doc can make well into the 6 figures anyplace he chooses to go. If he’s getting treated poorly and jerked around why not just look elsewhere for a job? It sounds like a not great place to work.

You are way off in your assumptions. The big bucks go to surgeons, my husband is not a surgeon, he is an educator. And until this bizarre move by the University he has really enjoyed his work and his working environment. We also like where we live, have just gotten things set up the way we like and don’t want to move again. The terrified comes in because I hate the uncertainty. Not all doctors are rolling in dough - we live well of course but there are extenuating circumstances (besides the stack of medical bills since the accident) that I don’t need to go into.

I don’t suppose you have anything useful to add to the other helpful folks’ advice?
To everyone else, thank you. I’m a bit less panicked, I know his is always employable but I want him to be happy in his work, not just doing a job. We’ve got a contact or two and he’ll be asking questions and determining the best avenue to take. Thanks for your input, I appreciate it.

Well… he might want to polish his resume and look elsewhere. The national income stats for sports medicine doc incomes are exactly what I said they were. If (as you indicate) he is getting paid way less than this, and if (as you indicate) the work environment is uncertain and oppressive spending serious money on an attorney to go to war to keep this (apparently) relatively poorly paid and uncertain position would not seem to be the best use of your time and resources vs simply moving to a better paid situation elsewhere.

I’ve known docs (and even dated one) that went to war with their hiring institutions. It never ended well.

Look, I’m not going to discuss why or why not he’s making what he’s making. It’s convoluted. All I wanted was a suggestion or two on how to find an employment type lawyer to bounce thoughts off of, and figure out where we stand.

Thanks for your thoughts on the matter.

Only for an absence up to 12 weeks. Beyond that, there is no requirement to maintain your position.

12 weeks from mid-February would the end of next week, thereabouts. How soon will your husband be ready to return to work?

Today, if he had to, but he needs to be cleared by a couple of specialists first. One app’t is tomorrow, the other is to be determined by the group he works for. I think his Leave ends May 11th.

Pick someone from this organization. They’re reputable.

Avoid saying anything like this:

While I share your opinion of much adverting lawyers do, the term “ambulance chasers” is a slur that will offend even the classy members of the bar.

I understand your frustration, but the quality* of lawyer you get may depend on the amount of money at stake and the strength of your case. The best labor/employment law attorney in your area may not touch your case if it is worth peanuts. He didn’t become the best and be able to afford that nice house because he scrapes for crumbs.

As others have recommended, talk to the lawyer you trust and see who he recommends. But don’t necessarily discount using that lawyer; sometimes the lawyers who are the most eager and hungry are the small operations (like mine :slight_smile: ). Other firms might just churn you through the system.

*I use the word quality, but preface it with the statement that the little guy may nonetheless be the best for you. It is much like how people bemoan having a public defender. Sometimes the best lawyer in your circumstance might be the public defender who is young, up and coming, and takes a special interest in your case.