There’s no doubt that unemployment process can be intimidating for both individuals and businesses trying to navigate the system of filings and hearings.
As you research the requirements and try to piece together everything that you need to do in order to file a claim or attend a hearing, you may ask yourself -- do I need to hire an attorney?
In a word: no. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
Hiring an attorney to represent your unemployment compensation claim is never a bad idea. Skilled employment attorneys understand the law and are able to tailor specific arguments that will help you win your case. In essence, an experienced employment attorney may catch things that the average claimant or business representative would likely miss throughout the unemployment process. Additionally, the cost associated with hiring an unemployment attorney, in many cases, is more affordable that you might think.
However, if seeking counsel isn’t a practical option, individuals and businesses are able to represent themselves in unemployment compensation proceedings. Whether it’s a hearing before a UC Referee, the filing of a claim, or a meeting before a Board, self-representation is permissible. Beyond that, a non-attorney advocate of your choosing may attend the proceeding as a representative. This means that both claimants and business representatives are permitted to bring along a trusted representative, even one that’s not an attorney, to assist in the hearing process.
Despite the fact that no legal training is required for representation, unemployment hearings are semi-formal proceedings which follow a specific process. Witnesses are presented, evidence is entered into the record, and testimony is made. It is important to treat unemployment hearings seriously and respectfully. Both parties should expect to be asked direct questions from the UC Referee who oversees the hearing. Each party will be afforded an opportunity to ask questions of the opposing party regarding evidence and testimony entered into the record. At the conclusion of the hearing, the UC Referee will close the record and begin to consider the evidence before issuing his or her ruling.
If you want to hire an attorney to represent your unemployment claim but have concerns regarding cost, you may qualify for assistance through a variety of outlets. To find out if you qualify for free legal assistance, contact your local bar association referral service. This option is generally only available to individual claimants.