Friends, colleagues, neighbors, or even newspaper
or other media accounts are traditional lawyer
referral sources. Advocacy organizations also almost always make referrals. Potential
clients can learn about an attorney from
what he or she (or the law firm) has posted
on the internet, as well as attorney listings
(such as the linked Martindale-Hubbell or
West legal directories), certifications or
memberships, and word of mouth (other individuals
as well as the attorney's own). Remember,
labor law is specialized. Many experienced
lawyers prefer the ordinary regional federal courts to the MSPB's arcane procedures , as well
as the secrecy and unfavorable climate of
the Federal Circuit, MSPB and OSC.
The MSPB and Federal Circuit regulate practitioner
quality even less than other courts. They
almost never name attorneys accused of incompetence
or misconduct, although both regularly name
employee whistleblowers. The National Lawyer
Regulatory Databank will check an attorney's
name against its list of completed disciplinary
actions, although attorney-client problems
are often not even reported to such bar programs,
much less found meritorious. Mostly, legal
self-regulatory organizations discipline
attorneys convicted of crimes, abusing various
substances, or embezzling client funds. Even
where ethical violations are found, clients
are rarely made whole--that's the function
of the malpractice cause of action. However,
finding an attorney willing to handle an
attorney malpractice case may be difficult.
Incomplete knowledge is, quite simply, par
for the course.
Limited attorney appointment or pro bono
Hiring an attorney costs money. The only times a civil servant whistleblower
does not pay are if an attorney (or agent)
at the OSC or EEOC or a union representative
is assigned. OSC and EEOC employees maintain
primary loyalty to their agency, and union
representatives to the union. The MSPB does
not appoint lawyers; ditto with the Federal
Circuit (unlike its regional counterparts).
The Constitution only requires courts to
appoint lawyers to assist actual or potential
criminal defendants, never in a civil case, although
the regional federal courts have limited pro bono appointment programs.
Remember: all government investigators and
attorneys have large case loads. Current
law does not require them to pursue any individual's
charges. Unlike criminal prosecutors, who
prosecute crimes even against criminals,
the OSC has long cherry-picked its cases.
It basically pursues only matters private
attorneys or unions find profitable (i.e. the strongest cases). Plus, the agency in
most cases ultimately pays for or directly
defends managers accused of retaliation.