An employment law firm should be one of the first things you look for when you have, or think you have, a legal matter regarding your current or former job. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the validity of your claim and what your options are, as well as develop the strongest case possible should you need to go to court.
You should plan to talk to three to five different firms to find the one that you feel most comfortable handling your case. If possible, get a few recommendations from people you trust. You can also look at online reviews, though these may not be fully reliable as more people will make the effort to complain than to compliment, skewing the results.
If you don't know anyone who has experienced a situation similar to yours, you can talk to community services (like therapists, support groups, and advocacy groups) about who they'd recommend. Referral services are also available. These simply provide a listing of qualified attorneys in the area.
Most firms will meet with prospective clients at no charge. This is good business for them because it brings more people in. Call ahead to make an appointment or to ask what the best time is to come by. Be prepared with information about your situation. You won't go into a lot of detail at first, but you should outline your case so the attorney can make an initial judgment about its suitability.
Look for a firm which has experience with the kind of case you are planning to bring. Many law firms have expertise in a wide range of employment law topics. Often, in larger firms, different attorneys specialize in different areas. Newly appointed lawyers have all the same qualifications, but experience can often make the difference in winning a case or getting the maximum settlement you are due.
Find out about the fees that you will be expected to pay. Many firms work on a contingency basis, which means that no fees must be paid until the case is won, at which point they're pulled from the settlement. If you will be liable for any fees or expenses up front, be sure that you find out.
Ultimately, you should choose the firm with which you feel a good rapport, whose methods and practices align with your own philosophy, and which provides the best value. The combination of these factors which clicks isn't the same for everyone, which is why it's a good idea to talk to multiple firms, even if you have a glowing recommendation for one or another.
If you find yourself in a situation on the job which you believe is illegal - even if you aren't sure - it is worthwhile for you to talk to an employment law firm. You'll find out if you have a good case and, if you do, what your next steps should be to get the compensation you deserve.