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. You may also call (202) 642-1287 to speak with a consultant at Informed Fed.
Don’t I Need An Attorney or Union Representative?
Not in most cases of personnel matters. 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 (with permission of union for arbitration). 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. 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.
Who Will Provide the Consultation?
Consulting is provided 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 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. The more aggressive unions seem to do this.
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 $250 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 40 hours of attorney time at $250 an hour. For $15,000 you get 60 hours. Compare this to hiring a consultant to assist you, “paying as you go.” In a recent example, our consultant charged a client $1,125 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. 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.
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, legal 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 $1,000. We call this Indirect Representation. It is the least expensive, yet 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.
Do I Designate the Consultant as My Representative?
No, unless specifically directed to do so by your consultant.
Are Consultants Employees of Informed Fed?
No. Consultants are associated with Informed Fed 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. At the end of each month, you will be e-mailed a document that details what hours were spent on your case and how they were used.
Are Your Services Tax Deductible?