Because you need a lawyer...
Facing a lawsuit? Going through divorce? Launching a business? Hurt in a car accident?
In any of these situations, you will want to hire a lawyer to guide you through the process and represent your interests.
But before you hire a lawyer, here are 5 things you should know:
1. Barrister or Solicitor:
While many lawyers are both barristers and solicitors, some are not. A ‘barrister’ is a litigator; they will represent you in a high-conflict negotiation or take your case to court. Meanwhile, a ‘solicitor’ does all their work sitting at a desk, drafting agreements or handling real estate transactions.
2. Areas of Expertise:
Most lawyers have one or a couple of areas of the law where they are ‘the expert’. You are always best served by a lawyer who has expertise with cases like yours, and has guided other clients through a similar process.
3. Know your Lawyer:
You should feel comfortable talking candidly with your legal counsel. You may want to speak with more than one lawyer before you make a decision about who you will retain. At the first meeting, the lawyer will discuss your situation, and the lawyer will let you know your chances of success, and the timeline for getting the matter resolved or the work completed.
4. Working with your Lawyer:
Once you are ready, the lawyer will ask you to sign an Engagement Letter and pay a Retainer. The Engagement Letter is a contract between you and your lawyer, and it sets out your obligations as a client, like giving your lawyer all the information they need to run your file, and your lawyers commitment to dedicating time to your file as necessary to represent you.
The Retainer is based on the number of hours that the lawyer has estimated will be required to conclude your matter or reach the next milestone, like attending a Judicial Case Conference for family law matters. The lawyer will track all activity on the file, such as emails, phone calls, meetings and file reviews, and will issue a bill. The bill will be paid from the Retainer.
The lawyer may ask for more Retainer, if more work is necessary, or refund any unbilled portion of the Retainer if the file is complete.
Some files are handled ‘on contingency’. This means that the lawyer gets a percentage of whatever money you receive once your case is resolved, less costs incurred by your lawyer to properly represent you, like expert reports. At the first meeting, the lawyer will determine if your case suitable for this arrangement.
5. Client Satisfaction:
Lawyers are always dealing with stressful and difficult situations. They make every effort to serve each client dutifully, no matter the challenge. When you are pleased with the results you receive, let your lawyer know.
Unfortunately, lawyers can’t guarantee results. It is difficult for a client who has spent money on legal representation find that their situation did not get resolved or that they didn’t get the result they expected.
To avoid any misunderstandings over the course of your representation, it is important to have open and on-going communication with your lawyer about the steps to be taken on your file and the services being provided to you by your lawyer.