Consultation Policy


"A lawyer's time and advice are his stock in trade."  Abraham Lincoln

We pride ourselves with being accessible and providing easy access to affordable legal representation.  However, please respect that our time is valuable and limited, and due to the present volume of work and demands upon us, we no longer offer unlimited time free consultations.

Consulting with an attorney can be a daunting experience for various reasons. One reason should not be ambiguity over the attorney's charges, we therefore have created this policy to set forth our payment practices with respect to our free consultations. 

Potential Employer Clients

  1. Potential employers seeking representation.  We will provide a gratis consultation to a potential employer, absent any existing conflicts of interest.  This gratis consultation is no greater than one hour, and it is intended to identify any key issues, and assist the potential employer-client with its determination whether our Firm is an appropriate fit with their interest.  Conversely, because we seek to only represent reasonable employers and provide value as part of our legal services, we will determine during this time whether the employer's goals and interests can be best served by our Firm.
  2. If you require more than 1 hour consultation.  If at the potential client's option more time is needed, a $500 flat fee is charged for consultations that last over 1 hour.  

Potential Employee Clients

  1. All Potential Employee Clients Receive A Free Consultation of 10 minutes or Less.  Depending upon the demands for our time, and so long as there is no conflict, we will consult with you for 10 minutes or less.  This consultation is like hospital triage.   Aside from checking for conflict and making sure that it is the type of case that we might handle, we will ask questions and attempt to quickly assess whether you might have a "case," and whether we are interested in exploring the issues with you further (and on what terms).  Similarly, you will receive some direction and information from us.  This time is not available for individuals who may be calling for career advice, such as those persons who have not been terminated but who are looking for advice to navigate career challenges.  Unlike many law firms, this consultation is with a licensed lawyer and NOT an intake coordinator who may not have a legal degree.  This consultation does not create an attorney/client relationship, but the information shared will remain confidential.  We want to respect your time and we hope you will respect our time as well.
  2. Wage/Overtime/Tips Claims.  All employees who have wage or tip related questions may contact us directly for a gratis, no obligation consultation, provided there is no conflict of interest.  Typically, this consultation will be no greater than 1/2 hour, and is intended to identify any key issues and determine whether we can assist you.   If we deem it necessary to engage in further legal research to aid our conversation, we will conduct that legal research at no charge to you.
  3. If you require more than 10 minutes of consultation.  If at the potential client's option more time is needed, a $300 flat fee is charged for consultations that last over 10 minutes.  This policy pertains to all practice areas other than unpaid wage and overtime cases. We reserve the right to waive this policy where appropriate.  This extended consultation may be scheduled for a more appropriate time in our schedule, and we will ask you to pay the consultation fee in advance.  You will receive up to an hour of consultation time. 

We receive a lot of inquiries, and all consultations are limited to prospective clients.  In other words, we do not provide free legal advice or legal analysis to non-clients, particularly if they are not interested in ultimately hiring us to perform work.  We cannot answer calls from callers who just have a "quick question" or "need a quick answer."  Those calls are typically neither quick nor result in the Firm being engaged. 

We charge a nominal consultation to employees who have non-wage related issues and questions, for two principal reasons. 

First, we are a professional services firm and as such, our time is extremely valuable to us.  There are many more employees who are terminated, disciplined, or believe that they "have a case" than we can possibly provide free consultations.  Generally, in the jurisdictions where we practice (Maryland/DC/Virginia), the rule is "at-will" employment - meaning an employer can terminate you at any time, for any reason, even a demonstrably unfair or unwise reason, so long as it is not illegal (offends the public policy of the applicable jurisdiction).  This means employees must be able to point to facts that will make it plausible that their employment rights, as limited as they may be, have been offended.  We simply cannot a "free consult" with every employee who requires some advice navigating a difficult boss or has been terminated unfairly - but legally.  Similarly, discipline, severance, and disability issues are often fact intensive and we cannot provide an expert analysis without charging some reasonable fee for our time. 

Second, we charge a consultation to employees because it demonstrates that the employee is serious about pursuing their rights.  For example, many employee questions concerning unlawful discrimination can be first learned by reviewing the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's website.  We are not a legal clinic and we cannot spend excessive time providing free consultations to the public about their rights.  By charging a consultation fee, we intentionally limit our time spent to those who are serious about seeking legal representation, and have done some research to determine whether they have a case.  

Notably, even though we charge some employees for an extended consultation, that does not guarantee an employee with representation.  We only seek to represent reasonable employees, in situations where we have a reasonable likelihood of assisting you.  You may be reasonable but your goals may not be achievable.  We reserve the right to decline representation for any reason. Relatedly, just because we charge a consultation fee does not mean that we will charge an employee an hourly fee for their representation. 

With respect to employee representation, the terms of our representation are extended on a case by case basis, taking into account the needs of the case, the potential outcome, and the desirability (or lack thereof) of the case.  We reserve the right to decline representation to employees, even if they otherwise would agree to pay an hourly rate.  This may occur if the employee's aims are not reasonable or the Firm is fully committed at the moment.  Our letter of representation will identify the pertinent terms of representation. 

You get what you pay for.  Consultations with an attorney are no different.  Free consultations, particularly those provided by non-lawyers, provide very little useful information.  On the other hand, payment for an extended consultation will provide you with important perspectives and legal information.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Schedule A Consultation? 

Consultations are by appointment only.  We may schedule your consultation during the initial conference.  Alternatively, you may call or text us at (301) 251-3752 to schedule an appointment.  Appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.

What Will My Consultation Include?

Prior to your appointment, you may send us any documents you would like us to review in advance attorney (please provide at least one business day in advance).  We provide you with an initial assessment of whether you have a "case," your options, and answer any other questions.  When appropriate, we reserve the right to perform legal research to answer particularly challenging questions, but we will not separately charge you for that.  Also, we may refer you to an attorney in a different practice area or geographic location.

What Information Will I Need to Have Available When I Schedule the Consultation?  

You must provide your full name and contact information, the full name of the opposing party (if the matter is a dispute or potential dispute) and a brief description of the matter.  You must provide us with all requested information in order to schedule a consultation. Note any receptionist or support staff that schedules the consultation is not an attorney and therefore cannot give legal advice.

Will My Information Be Kept Confidential?   

Yes. The information that you provide during the consultation will be kept completely confidential.

Why Do You Need to Know Who the Other Party Is? 

Legal ethics rules may prohibit us from speaking with anyone regarding a legal matter where we may have a conflict of interest.  Prior to your scheduled initial consultation, we will review your information to determine whether there is a potential conflict of interest, and if so, refer you to another attorney or local bar association for a referral.

What Is A Conflict of Interest?

Conflicts of interest typically occur when one of the parties is already a client of the firm or as otherwise provided the firm with certain information where the Rules of Professional Conduct create a conflict.

What Happens If The Other Party Has Already Contacted Hoffman Employment Law? 

Prior to your scheduled initial consultation, we will review your information to determine whether there is a potential conflict of interest, and if so, refer you to another attorney. In such cases, we will cancel your consultation appointment and refund your consultation fee.  Please note that in order to maintain client confidentiality, we cannot provide any specific information about any potential conflict of interest.

Will My Consultation Be with an Attorney?

Your consultation will be with an attorney.

What Can I Expect During My Consultation? 

To make the most of your consultation, please try to keep your questions and descriptions as brief as possible. During the consultation, we ask that you be reasonably free of distractions and that you be available to talk when we call or meet. Please try to be in a location where you have reliable cell phone reception. If the consultation cannot be completed due to poor cell phone reception, interruptions or other reasons, the call may have to be terminated and it may not be rescheduled or the fee refunded.

How Do I Retain The Firm ?

Before taking on new clients, we require the initial consultation. If, at the conclusion of your initial consultation, we believe we can assist you, we will outline what we believe the next logical steps are, and provide you with hourly rates and a proposed retainer amount. If you decide to retain us to represent you, we will send you a letter of representation, which is our contract with you that says what we will do and how much it will cost. We will not perform substantive work on a matter without receipt of the signed retainer agreement.

Will You Be Able To Answer All Of My Questions?

Maybe.  But we cannot guarantee any potential outcome, and we certainly do not know what the opposing party (typically an employer) might have to say in response to your allegations.  Our consultations will provide you with reasonable specific yet still generally broad information about your issues, your legal prospects, and we will - to the extent reasonably possible - seek to outline various potential outcomes and strategies.

I Have Not Been Terminated - Can You Still Help Me? 

Yes.  We provide assistance to employees who are having trouble navigating complicated career issues.  Oftentimes, those issues do not present legal issues.  However, we can assess the situation and assist you with how to best address a difficult workplace, even if the boss has not broken any laws. 

What If You Can't Help Me?

If, during the consultation, an attorney determines that we cannot assist you further, we will explain why that is the case, and try to provide you with a referral to another attorney.  In some cases, we may not have an appropriate referral, and we will provide you with suggestions for finding a qualified attorney in your area.  For some matters, it may not be cost-effective to hire an attorney at all, and when we believe that is the case, we will so advise you, and try to provide you with other suggestions.

What Kinds of Cases Do You Typically Take And Are There Cases that You Don't Handle?

We handle all employment related litigation, except we do not handle federal employee claims, worker compensation matters, and our representation of employees with respect to employee benefit matters is exceedingly limited.

What If I Need Follow Up Advice After My Consultation?

If your matter requires additional attorney time, you will need to formally retain us.

What If I Need to Reschedule My Consultation?

If you call at least 24 hours in advance to reschedule your consultation, we will be happy to reschedule your consultation at no charge. No-call, no-shows for consultation appointments will not be provided a refund, as the attorney's time was reserved for the appointment.

If you wish to move forward with a consultation consistent with this Consultation Policy, please contact us for payment instructions. 

"Best Of The Best"

"Mr. Hoffman is definitely the best of the best. He is the "Seal Team Six" in his field. He is respected and feared among his colleagues due to his vast knowledge and experience."

— Posted by "Troy," on View All Testimonials

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