If you’ve been wrongfully terminated, or you feel you’re the victim of workplace discrimination, harassment, unsafe working conditions, or wage and hour violations, you might want to just let it go—but that would be a mistake.   In recent years, many victimized California employees decided not to let it go, sued their employers, and won multi-million dollar settlements.  To cite just a few examples:

More Employees Are Seeking Justice

The number of employees, in California and across the nation, who are no longer willing to let it go is increasing.  According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, since 2005, the number of wrongful termination lawsuits, for example, has increased “significantly” every year.

To be successful in an employment lawsuit, you need a skilled employment attorney.  Here are 7 tips to find the best employment attorney to meet your individual needs, and help you win in court:

1.  Get Advice from Friends, Family and Coworkers

One of the best sources for the names of skilled attorneys is people you know.  There’s a good chance one or more of them will have experience with an employment-related lawsuit, or know someone else who has.  When you identify someone who’s filed an employment lawsuit, ask about the experience they had with the law firm and their attorney:  did he take their concerns seriously, find time to meet with them when they needed help or advice, and was he upfront about expectations and fees?

2.  Visit Employment Attorney Websites

Use a referral service from the State Bar website, or type “employment lawyer” plus the name of your town or city into a search engine to find websites of employment law firms in your area.  Go to each of the relevant websites.

The best law firms will have websites which provide useful and detailed information—about the firm, practice areas, and current cases and investigations. The website should also provide detailed information about each of the Partners and Associates, including education and background, legal experience, practice areas and memberships.  You should plan to look further into firms that provide this kind of detailed information.  Those that don’t probably aren’t worth your time.

3.  Schedule Consultations

After you’ve narrowed your list down to the top two or three firms, call to schedule consultations.  In preparation for those meetings, you’ll need to do some homework, including research on current law as it applies to your case and gathering together all documents relevant to your case.

4.  Research Current Employment Law

The best employment attorneys stay at the top of their game by reading top employment law journals and studying current case law.  Research recent changes in California employment law (such as those involving the Fair Pay Act) and focus on any which are relevant to your case.  In your initial consultation, ask the attorney how changes in the law might impact your case.  If he doesn’t know what you’re talking about, you probably want to move on to another attorney.

5.  Gather Relevant Documents

Any documents related to your claim constitute evidence in court, so it’s important to have these with you at your initial consultation.  Documentation will differ depending on the nature of your case—for example, past performance reviews, letters from your employer regarding any aspect of performance, severance agreements, relevant memoranda and employment contracts will be useful in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

6.  Be Proactive in Your Consultation

The best employment attorneys will want to collaborate with you every step of the way, since they understand that your contributions will be helpful to winning the case.  In your initial consultation, don’t be shy about asking questions—a good attorney will welcome them—about anything that concerns you, including fees.

After he has reviewed the salient facts of your case and studied relevant documents, you should discuss strategy—how in his view should the case be handled?  What are its strong and weak points?  Good attorneys will be upfront and honest about the outcome you can expect in court.

7.  Be Observant in Your Consultation

A strong attorney-client relationship is built on trust.  That trust can only exist when each side respects the other.  In your initial consultation, observe the attorney’s behavior carefully.  Is he responsive to your questions?  Does he seem detached, or actively engaged?  Does he listen as much as he talks?  Every legal relationship is different—your job is not simply to determine if the attorney you meet with is the best attorney, but also if he is the best attorney for you.


If you’ve been the victim of an employer you feel has treated you unfairly, you probably feel isolated and helpless.  This is when a competent employment lawyer can provide the help you need and empower you.

Aiman-Smith & Marcy, a boutique law firm with expertise in federal and California employment law, are dedicated to helping victims.  We will take your case seriously, work with you, and provide the help you need to protect your rights.  If you need help and would like to discuss your case, contact us today.

8 Responses

  1. I like your recommendations to prepare all the relevant documents beforehand and to be proactive when interviewing the lawyer. This could be helpful because it would show the lawyer that you really want to make sure this case turns out well and you're willing to help. It could really be beneficial in finding a good lawyer as well because if they are just as proactive as you, it could save a lot of time.

  2. I can definitely see why wrongful termination would be an excellent reason to speak with a lawyer about compensation. I have a friend who feels that his place of work happens to be very unfair. I definitely think that he should speak with an attorney about his options in order to get the compensation that he deserves.

  3. My sister was recently fired from a job after she came forward with a sexual harassment claim, and we think it would be good for her to find an attorney. I'm glad you gave some examples of a few companies who have paid out millions due to people having a sexual harassment attorney with a valid case. I think that my sister being able to get compensated for her lost wages and time to find a new job would be great, but we'll see what a sexual harassment attorney can do for her!

  4. What you mention about how being proactive can help is very interesting to me. It makes sense that a good attorney will do anything they can to help you and will be able to answer hard questions. This could be helpful to remember for any sort of attorney, although, it could be particularly helpful to remember for employment due to how sensitive the subject is.

  5. I like that you mentioned to do some homework before you meet with some lawyers. That way, you can have a good bank of information to draw from when deciding if a lawyer knows his stuff. I am looking for a lawyer to help me with a wrongful termination case, and I want to find the best. I will definitely keep these things in mind as I search, thanks a lot.

  6. I absolutely agree with you that a relationship of trust is essential between a lawyer and his clients. My sister really wants to become a lawyer one day and she is one of the most honest and loyal people that I know. Just like you said, observing the attorney's behavior and mannerisms is a great way to see how professional or trained they are. Thanks for the advice!

  7. It is a great suggestion to research the current laws regarding employment and discrimination before looking for a lawyer. Figuring out which ones are relevant to your issue and reading up on them seems like a really smart idea. It will give you the opportunity to ask potential attorneys more specific questions during your initial consultation. You can get a good idea of which lawers really know their stuff based off of their answers.

  8. I like how you suggested being observant and proactive in your consultation. My brother has an attorney for his wrongful termination case. Thanks for the tips on getting a lawyer for your case.

Leave a Reply

Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986