Updated: March 12, 2019
These questions are our most frequently asked concerning consulting services. Though we try to provide as much information as possible, you may have a question not included here. Please feel free to contact us.
Do you offer a free initial consultation?
Yes. We provide an initial no cost and no obligation consultation. This no obligation consultation typically lasts less than one half hour and is conducted telephonically. The objective of this consultation is to determine 1) if the services we provide are applicable to your situation, 2) if the services provided would be cost-effective, and 3) whether you would be better serviced with obtaining legal counsel for complete end to end representation. Requests for free consultation can be initiated by clicking here (fasted method). We would ask that you send us pertinent documentation in advance of the initial consultation. For example, the agency proposed action in a disciplinary or adverse action matter. In the case of an EEO Complaint, you may not have anything to send us in advance.
How Available Are Consultants to Clients?
Our consultants are perhaps the most available you will ever encounter. Each client receives a direct phone number to their consultant’s mobile smartphone dedicated specifically for client use twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week during the active period of a retainer. Texts and short emails are typically responded to within minutes and voicemail within a few hours at most. Our consultants respond after hours and on weekends (that is when most actually clients prefer).
For our federal employee clients overseas, we will make arrangements for alternative times to include very late at night or early morning as needed.
Will You Work with My Union Representative?
Yes. We appreciate working with union representatives already assisting you. Often, this arrangement can result in cost savings and expedite our entry into your case. We have received feedback from unions that the experience was appreciated by the union representative.
Don’t I Need An Attorney or Union Representative?
Attorneys are not required in cases involving personnel matters, though you may prefer an attorney. In fact, you can even have a friend, family member, or coworker represent you directly or indirectly since you are most likely dealing with an “administrative matter.” It is a common misconception only attorneys or the union can represent you. For example, you can hire a consultant to assist you before the MSPB, EEOC, or even at arbitration because we are consultants, not representatives. In some cases, you may want to hire a consultant to handle every aspect of your case. To save even more money, you can retain a consultant to consult with you or just prepare your MSPB appeal, write a grievance response, write your response to a proposed action, review your documents, prepare your post-arbitration brief, etc.. If it is determined by the consultant at anytime you need an attorney, you will be advised accordingly.
Why Should I Hire a Consultant and Not Use a Union Steward?
In short order, we do what unions cannot. While we are all strong union supporters, and some of us were once union officials, it has been our experience most federal unions at the local level of operations are simply incapable at representing members in serious matters such as adverse actions (removals and suspensions greater the fourteen days), EEO complaints, serious investigations, non selection matters, and disciplinary actions. This is particularly pertinent now as federal unions recently lost their Official Time under Executive Order 13837. Though portions of the Executive Order were overturned, most union officials had already retired or given up their positions. There are rare exceptions. However, chances are your union is not the exception. Our consultants receive top-level third-party training throughout the year and have significant academic and professional credentials. They practice in this field on a daily basis, a requirement to be in our group. Regardless, we would like to work with your union in representing you if at all possible and many unions will even pay our fees or reimburse you for our fees (InformedFed provides detailed invoices).
Who Will Provide the Consultation?
Consulting is provided directly by senior level federal labor and employe relations consultants who provide executive level consulting services. These consultants practice before the MSPB, EEOC, FLRA, arbitrators, and the FMCS and are certified mediators. For example, they typically have a Masters degree in some area of business or law with a Bachelor’s degree in Labor Studies or Industrial Relations. Some have attended the National Labor College and were once union officials, having attended every training course offered by both unions and agencies.
Will My Union Pay Your Fees?
Sometimes. Some Unions will even contact us on your behalf or seek telephonic consultation (i.e.; initial or second opinion) regarding your situation. Usually, the more serious the issue, the more likely they will either pay your fees directly or reimburse you. Nothing prevents any union from paying consulting fees on behalf of members or reimbursing those fees to members (more common). The more aggressive unions seem to do this.
Do you provide legal services?
No. Consultants do not provide legal services. Consultants provide specialty consulting services in the wide area of federal personnel matters. We also provide transactional services including written appeals, discovery requests, preparation of motions and responses to motions, evidence preparation, crafting of EEO complaint claims and bases, affidavit support, etc.. These areas include discipline, adverse actions, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), retirement, personnel action coding, administrative investigations, FOIA, Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) appeals, Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) actions, arbitration, document reviews, union representation oversight, and a variety of other matters.
Is a Consultant Less Expensive than an Attorney?
In every case, without exception, yes. Our recent experiences indicate an initial retainer for an attorney to represent you in an EEOC complaint is $10,000 and an MSPB initial retainer can be as high as $15,000. Attorneys typically bill out (low end) at $300 an hour plus expenses and we have seen some as high as $400 an hour. A $10,000 retainer would thus provide no more than 34 hours of attorney time at $300 an hour. For $15,000 you get 50 hours. Compare this to hiring a consultant to assist you, “paying as you go.” In a recent example, our consultant charged a client $1,200 to assist in the filing of an EEO complaint (including informal and formal stage), assist him at mediation discussions, help direct the ROI (Report of Investigation), review ROI findings, assist in filing the Complaint, and respond to the EEOC Acknowledgement Order.
At What Stage Should I Hire a Consultant?
The earlier you hire a consultant, the more money you are likely to save. We prefer to take a preventative approach rather than a reactive approach to problem solving. For example, during a proposed removal stage, your response to the deciding official is absolutely critical. This is your chance to end the proposed action and return your life to normal without further administrative litigation. If you fail to convince the deciding official he or she should mitigate the proposed removal, your next stop is either arbitration (if union approves) or the Merit Systems Protection Board. In some cases you may elect to file an EEO complaint (Mixed Case complaint).
Can a Consultant Just Assist Me and Not “Take my whole case”?
Yes. This is actually our preferred method. We prefer you retain control and save money by doing as much as you can with our assistance only as needed. We can provide advice, research, second opinions, write your responses, prepare you for deposition, assist you in discovery, write your discovery motions, and anything else case related. By using us in this way, what could have cost you $15,000 may only cost you $1,200. We call this Indirect Representation. It is the least expensive, yet still effective, method for clients in nearly every situation.
Is a La Carte Consulting Effective?
Yes. Very. You only hire a consultant as needed. However, a retainer guarantees the availability of a consultant. There is never an obligation to continue with services.
Do I Designate the Consultant as My Representative?
No, unless specifically directed to do so by your consultant.
Are Consultants Employees of InformedFED?
No. Consultants are associated with InformedFED as contributors or advisors but they are not employees. If you retain a consultant, the transaction is between you and that individual consultant. We merely provide a referral service. Consultant availability may vary widely at times.
How do I Pay the Consultant?
All payments are made via PayPal for security reasons though individual consultants may accept check payments at their discretion. You will be invoiced to the e-mail you provide us. This invoice will detail the service agreement or arrangement. All invoices are payable in full on date received. Consulting services are not secured until payment is made. You will be e-mailed a document detailing what hours were spent on your case and how they were used.
Are Your Services Tax Deductible?