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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

‘It’s Tantamount to Legal Extortion’

Jamie Stein Firm: LightGabler, Camarillo Jamie Stein specializes in employment law. She has worked as an attorney for 18 years. Why employment law? I began my practice in employment law on the plaintiff’s side. That experience provided me with a unique insight and understanding of the differing roles and challenges faced by my opposing counsel, which lends itself to obtaining the best results for my current clients as a defense attorney. Biggest challenge with employment cases: Advising my clients that they may need to pay money to a plaintiff when my client did nothing wrong. The fact that plaintiffs’ counsel typically take cases on a contingency fee basis fosters an atmosphere where plaintiffs assert frivolous claims with little to no risk to the plaintiff. This fee arrangement, coupled with the fact that employment law claims are typically covered by one-way attorney fee statutes that only favor the plaintiff, creates a very high-risk scenario for the employer to defend a case through trial. It’s tantamount to legal extortion in certain cases, when employers are forced to settle with plaintiffs simply to avoid the risk of incurring plaintiff’s attorney fees on top of their own fees even when they have valid defenses to the employee’s claims. Role within the firm: Senior litigator. Personality traits of a power lawyer: I enjoy investigating the minute facts of a case, which provides insight into the plaintiff’s motivations and can break wide open the available support for successful defenses. I also become very passionate about each of my cases, which gives me the drive to aggressively pursue and obtain a favorable resolution for my client. Rewards of the work: I have the pleasure of working with a stellar team of attorneys, for clients who care about their employees and are consistently grateful for our services. Our firm’s advice and counsel section supports our clients when they have questions on policies and practices, as well as keeps our clients updated on the ever-changing landscape of California employment law. Our litigation team is there to defend our clients in the unfortunate situations when litigation cannot be avoided. The members of our firm, as well as the clients, make the practice very rewarding for me. Favorite out-of-office activities: I love hiking. Much of a lawyer’s life is spent behind the desk. I take any chance I can get to stretch my legs outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature. It puts things into perspective and I often develop my best case strategies while on the trail. How law is changing: One of the biggest changes I’ve experienced in the practice of law is the impact that technology has had. Technology has increased the ability to keep clients informed about new cases and legislation as well as the availability of marketing opportunities through the use of social media connections, but also allows me to be more connected to my cases and my clients when I’m out of the office. One legal rule/practice that needs changing: The one-way attorneys’ fees statutes that favor plaintiffs. The statutes unfairly administer a harsh punishment to employers in a manner that may be completely disproportionate to any technical wrongdoing – while further serving to create a situation that provides plaintiffs with incredible, and often unreasonable, bargaining leverage. Advice to prospective lawyers: Go for it! If you’re considering the practice of law, you’re halfway there, because that means something about the field is appealing to you and you have a desire to be of service to your clients.

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