Law Office Of Michael G. O’Neill, The Types of Cases We Handle

Our Belief

Does your attorney handle both sides?

You'd be surprised how many times a defendant's lawyer sheepishly tells me "You know, I usually represent plaintiffs," as if apologizing to me for representing a defendant. Well, she should apologize, not to me, but to her clients. Employment discrimination law is one of those areas of the law where you really have to decide whose side you're on.

Just last week I was in federal court in a disability discrimination case, and my adversary told me he represented both employees and employers. In my case, he's arguing that my client's disability is not a disability within the meaning of the federal disabilities act. [note: the Americans with Disabilities Act has been so narrowly interpreted by the courts as to be almost useless for a high percentage of disabled people.]

What's wrong with this? What if he persuades the Judge that my client's disability is not protected by the federal law. Not only will my client be out of court, but it will make it more difficult for other disabled employees to find protection in this law in the future.

But there's something much worse about this situation. What if this lawyer were representing an employee with the same condition in another case in front of a different judge? Which case does he believe in? How would his client feel knowing that her lawyer is arguing in some other case that her same condition is not protected by the law? How would you feel?

Lawyers who represent corporations do so for the money. What other reason is there to have a corporation for a client? But in my opinion, it's a dangerous thing to bend one's beliefs to make a buck. One way to avoid this is to stick to one side of the equation. Plus, when you want to take on your employer, you're going to want someone who really believes in what he's doing. You'll never be able to match the resources of a huge corporation, and the one thing that can level the playing field for you is a lawyer who believes with a passion in what he's doing.

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