How to Hire the Best Employment Lawyer in Toronto

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What should be your goals or objectives when engaging with the judicial system? What qualities should you look for in an employment lawyer?
These questions are answered here in a client-focused manner.

This lecture is taught by Amer Mushtaq, LL.B., M. Engineering , B.Sc. (Hons.), who is the Principal and Founder of the law firm, Formative LLP. Through his YouTube channel, YouCounsel, Amer shares practical advice from his years of legal experience to help anyone access justice and achieve their goals. Subscribe today to learn more.


Show Notes:


Lecture Slides:

Machine Transcription:

Welcome everyone.  This is Amer Mushtaq from YouCounsel.

Today we’ll talk about some of the things that you must consider when you need to hire the best, the topmost employment lawyer in Toronto.  The principles that we will discuss, I believe, are equally applicable if you intend to hire a lawyer—let’s say in a family law area or a criminal lawyer.  The examples in this lecture all focus on employment law.  Before we begin we have the usual disclaimer that this course is not legal advice.  If you have any specific questions, please contact your own lawyer or your paralegal.

Let’s start by asking these questions: what is the function of the lawyer? What does a lawyer do for his or her client?  We respond to this question as follows: a lawyer helps clients achieve his or her goals in the shortest amount of time by spending the least amount of client’s money.  Now this principle seems to be rather straightforward but from our experience, and you will notice from experience of others, is that oftentimes parties lose sight of this basic principle when they’re engaged in legal process and it happens all the time when parties are spending unnecessary time in a legal process and it’s not helping them out. So, let’s unpack both of these terms one by one.

Let’s talk about the shortest amount of time.  We know that time equals money.  Time is valuable when you’re talking about time in the legal system/the judicial system.  What are some of the things that you want to keep in mind?  You want to get in, you want to get what you want out of the legal system and you want to get out.  Essentially you do not linger in the judicial system.  I can assure you that the longer a party stays in the judicial process the more it loses.  This will apply to every single case.  I have seen it happening to every single case.  I can assure you that if you do research on this issue you will find the same. 

There is a reason why parties who are successful at trial (who have won their cases) don’t walk out happy at the end of the day.  It’s because they end up losing a lot more by spending unnecessary time in the judicial system.  You will hear arguments against this principle.  One example I can give you, is let’s say you are a company and an employee or a former employee sues your company.  The lawyer may give you advice to say: let’s drag out / drag on the judicial process making the plaintiff’s / the other party’s life difficult—make that person bleed time and money and cause this person stress and that’s the best strategy.  I can assure you that it doesn’t work – it doesn’t work in the sense that when you as a company are making the other side suffer or you as a party are making the other side suffer, you are doing it at your own cost as well.  You are bleeding money and time as well.  You are focused on a fight that is unnecessary.  Also, at the end of the day when somebody else / when the other party is losing time and money, that does not necessarily translate into your success.  This argument that staying in the judicial process for long may help you in some way is not correct and you should not buy it.

With respect to cost, I think it’s important to keep in mind: what are your true costs in the judicial process?  We have, sort of, defined it for you.  Cost equals (1) the money you have received or saved in the judicial process, (2) less your legal fees and (3) less lost opportunities to earn money elsewhere.  This third point is often neglected.  It’s not a philosophical point.  We have actually seen it happening in many cases that we dealt with.  Especially in the employment law world, where an employee loses a job and he ends up or he has some other grievance against the employer and he sues the employer,then continues the fight just to sort of prove a principle or just to get the dollar amount that this person (this client) wanted to get out of the company because he or she believed that they were entitled to that amount of money.  In that process these clients/these employees lose focus on other things in their life—whether it’s the relationship with family or friends, whether it’s to focus on finding another job whether it is to find other courses, whether to start a business and all of those—because you’re so entrenched in your legal action that your mind, your focus stays with that until the process is completely over.  There are a number of lost opportunities where you can focus on.  You don’t end up doing that and that’s a significant harm.  That is something that must be taken into account when you’re engaged in the legal process.  That is not to say that you should not engage in the legal process but my point is that there is a purpose; there is a reason why you engage in the legal process and you should not have unrealistic expectations out of it.  You get what you want and then you get out.

Another point that I wanted to make is answering this question: should you come to the legal system, should you engage in the judicial process to fight for principles?  The straight answer is no—absolutely not.  I think the important thing to keep in mind is, the judicial system is fundamentally about awarding money if you are harmed in any way.  The role of judicial system really is to consider that harm, monetize it in some way and award you that money.  Peripherally you can have success on some principles.  That’s not essentially what the court does.  Keep that in mind.  My advice is do not fight for principles in court, if you do not believe or your client does not, or your lawyer does not believe that there is significant money that you will get on top of that. By all means fight for principles,if you have excess money—you have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around—and you can’t imagine a better purpose then to prove your point in the judicial system by all means do so.  For ordinary people, for everyday people who are involved in the day to day grunt work of life, who have bills to pay, who have financial obligations—just the fight for principles is not a good way to spend your money and time.  If you really want to be a person who wants to fight for principles, I think you should become an activist—there are other avenues, but  coming into the judicial system is not a recommended course of action.

We talked about some of the things (the goals) that are practical from a judicial system and how you accomplish those.  It was an important discussion because once you are clear about your own objectives what is that you want out of the judicial system you will be in a better position to hire the lawyer that meets your objectives or helps you get to your objectives. 

Now we’re turning our focus on hiring the lawyer and the basic point I want to make is that you know lawyering, or a relationship with the lawyer is essentially a relationship of trust and it’s no different than your relationship with any other service provider.  It’s not specific to lawyers.  If you hired a plumber, if you hired an electrician or you go to your doctor or an accountant – these are all service providers.  You hire them because they have certain expertise that you don’t.  At some point you will have to rely on that expertise, and you will have to vest your trust in that person. So, when you’re dealing with a lawyer, when you are talking to a lawyer to see if you want to hire that person, you must get an understanding from your own, you should ask the specific question to yourself: whether this is the person that you would like to trust and you will put your legal issues in his or her hands.  The other part that you want to keep in mind is that a good lawyer must be the right fit for you, and it’s important because oftentimes people think that once you hire a lawyer and you have given your problem to the lawyer, you are hands off,  the lawyer is now going to do everything that needs to be done, to get you what you want.  That’s not how it works.   Lawyering, and the fight in the legal action is a collaborative process.  There are a number of things that a lawyer will be needing from you.  He/She may be needing evidence, may require documentation or may require your input—your testimony.  It’s  collaborative work and if you are a right fit and the lawyer is a right fit for you then you will be more efficient and more productive.  It’s an important thing to keep in mind.


With that background, what are some of the qualities that you must look for in a lawyer? 

We will suggest that your lawyer must have the expertise in that area.  This is an important one.  Let’s say you know a great criminal law lawyer who has helped you in your criminal matters and was very effective.  That does not mean that you should hire that lawyer for your employment law matter or vice versa because law is a specialized field like many other fields.  You will not ask your family doctor to do your gallbladder surgery because that’s not where his expertise lies.  Similarly, you should not ask a criminal lawyer to represent you in an employment law matter or   an employment law lawyer to represent you in your family law matter.  Expertise in that area of that specific legal issue is important. 

The lawyer must have integrity.  You should feel when you have met that lawyer that this lawyer will consider, will put your interest over and above his or her own interest.  Integrity is essential. 

Finally, the lawyer must be responsive. And I am using this responsiveness term in a broad sense—responsive to your questions, educating you on your issues, working with you in a timely manner and with a collaborative effort in achieving the goals of your issue.  These are all the things that the lawyer must be responsive to.  All of these qualities you must keep in mind when you’re engaging a lawyer. 

I want to leave you as conclusion with a quote that I recall from my Navy days.  This code was inscribed on the bridge of a ship that I used to work on.  It read as follows: “A Superior Sailor is one who uses his Superior Judgment to keep out of situations requiring the use of his Superior Skills.”  This applies to law as well and to a lawyer.  Your best lawyer is the one who has superior judgment and who uses that superior judgment to get you the results that you need—whether you need to go to trial or whether you need to settle.   That’s what you’re looking for

Hopefully, we provided you some insight about how to select a good lawyer and we look forward to your comments on the channel or send us an email or contact us.  Our contact information is provided here.  Thank you for watching.

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