I’m often asked to review severance agreements offered by employers who have just terminated people. To do this, there’s several things that I have to do. It’s not quite so simple as just reading the document and saying “Yes, the money is worth it for you.”
When you hire me to review the severance agreement, we’re going to need to have a fairly significant consultation to discuss things about your former workplace, your plans for your future, and a lot of other things. I’m going to need to research things beforehand based on what I know and may need to research them more after we’re done to follow up on things we’ve discussed.
I’m offering a service for this — initial research and consultation — for a flat fee of $500. For that, I’ll set up a consultation and review and research the proposed severance in advance to advise you on your rights and possibilities.
It’s sometimes the case that after a consultation, a terminated employee decides that the proposed severance isn’t worth it and they want to sue. If it’s the kind of lawsuit I want to be involved in, I will apply the $500 fee towards a contingent fee, so you won’t be double-paying me.
Why don’t you do a no-charge initial consultation? Because this is how I make my living, and my time and experience are valuable and being used at the request of, and for the benefit of, the terminated employee. Sometimes, after the discussion, I don’t believe contingent fee litigation is appropriate (for any number of reasons, every case is different) and won’t be involved in further representation, and it’s also sometimes the case that the terminated employee chooses to accept the severance agreement after the consultation (again, for any number of reasons). In those cases, there isn’t any subsequent litigation in which I might earn a fee. So if I don’t charge for my time in a scenario like this, I’m working for free. You probably like being paid for your work, and so do I.