The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal and state laws provide for equal treatment under the law and prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. If you think your rights were violated, here are five qualities to look for when hiring a civil rights attorney.
Laws affecting civil rights can be amended or reinterpreted by the courts, including the United States Supreme Court. An experienced civil rights attorney knows how recent changes in the law could affect your case. Your lawyer should have a history of representing clients in the same types of cases as yours.
Some civil rights attorneys have expertise in several areas of civil rights law, such as race or sex discrimination in employment, police misconduct, or housing discrimination.
The most effective civil rights lawyers have a passion for defending and upholding fundamental rights and for fighting against discrimination and unequal treatment under the law. Look for a lawyer who is passionate about causes like yours.
Effective communication between attorneys and their clients is critical to achieving a successful outcome in a civil rights complaint or lawsuit. Your lawyer should be someone with whom you can confide and who explains legal concepts clearly without being patronizing.
Listening is even more important than talking. Choose a lawyer who you feel genuinely listens to you and who has compassion for your situation. If you meet with a lawyer, and they’re constantly interrupted by phone calls, responding to texts, or checking their email, you should leave.
Lawyers have a duty to gather all the facts and evidence and inform themselves about all sides of the story. In other words, expect your lawyer to listen to your story, but also to check out the details. It’s their responsibility to advise you on their best assessment of your likelihood of success in the case and to inform you of potential obstacles that may arise in your pursuit of a just remedy. That way, you both will be prepared and less susceptible to surprises as you press your cause.
Your lawyer should take your calls or return them promptly. If you sense your attorney will pay greater attention to their next attention-grabbing case, to the detriment of pressing your cause, look elsewhere.
Ask your prospective lawyer if you will work directly with them or if you will be assigned a less experienced associate.
Tamara N. Holder is an experienced civil rights attorney who has represented victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and those treated unfairly by the criminal justice system. She embodies all of the five qualities to look for when hiring a civil rights attorney and more. Call Tamara Holder to discuss your case today.