Questions - Your Lawyer and You


F.A.Q.s - Your lawyer and You
  1. What type of lawyer should I look for?
  2. How do I know if the lawyer is right for me?
  3. How do I find out about the lawyer’s practising status or discipline history?
  4. I am meeting a lawyer. What should I do?
  5. How should I prepare for my meeting?
  6. How can I make the best use of my lawyer's services?
  7. What can I do to help my lawyer?
  8. How much will it cost?
  9. I am trying to locate a retired lawyer’s file on my relative’s will. Can the Law Society help?

F.A.Q.s - Your lawyer and You
  1. What type of lawyer should I look for?

    You should look for a lawyer who has experience dealing with the kind of legal problem you have. You will need a real estate lawyer if you are buying or selling a house; a family law lawyer if you are separating or getting a divorce; a litigation lawyer if you are suing someone whom you feel is responsible for an accident in which you were injured; or a criminal law lawyer if you have been charged with a criminal offence. Some lawyers have a general practice and work in several areas of law.

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  2. How do I know if the lawyer is right for me?

    Call a few lawyers and ask them if they will take your case. How much will they charge? Most lawyers will spend time talking to you so that you can get to know each other. If you are not satisfied, you may want to look for another lawyer.

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  3. How do I find out about the lawyer’s practising status or discipline history?

    Please call the Law Society's General Inquiriesnumber if you are looking for information about a lawyer's practising status or discipline history. See also Current Hearings and Lawyer Orders and Dispositions.

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  4. I am meeting a lawyer. What should I do?

    At your first meeting you need to tell your lawyer what has happened. You will want to find out how the law applies to your situation and what kind of legal options you have. You should also find out how much it will cost to hire the lawyer to work for you.

    Your goal is to decide if you want to hire the lawyer. If you do, your first meeting is the beginning of a working relationship.

    Please note: It is a good idea to ask the lawyer whether you will be charged for your first meeting. If this meeting has been arranged through the Law Society Referral Service, you are entitled to a free consultation of up to ½ hour. However, the consultation does not include legal work. If you ask the lawyer to do any legal work (even during the consultation period), there may be a charge involved.

    Questions you can ask your lawyer when you meet

    About your legal options  

    • How does the law affect my situation?
    • What choices do I have?

    About your case  

    • How long will my case take?
    • What will you do next? When will I hear from you next?
    • What should I do next? Is there anything I should not do?
    • Are my expectations realistic?

    About fees  

    • What is your hourly rate? How much will your services cost?
    • Will I have to pay for anything else?
    • What could change how much your services will cost?
    • How much is your retainer? (the amount to pay before a lawyer starts work on a case)
    • Can I pay with a credit card? on a monthly basis?
    • Is there anything I can do to keep costs down?

    About your lawyer's office practices  

    • How will you keep in touch with me?
    • Can someone else in your office give me information about my case?


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  5. How should I prepare for my meeting?

    • Gather together all the documents that you have about your case.
    • Think about what you want to say. Be ready to tell your lawyer your story in a clear and logical order. You might want to write down dates and important points you want to tell your lawyer.
    • Make a list of questions you want to ask.  See Questions to ask your lawyer when you meet.
    • Be prepared to talk about fees. Your lawyer will need some money - a retainer - so that he or she can begin working for you right away.
    • Legal Aid clients should bring a Legal Aid Certificate to their first meeting. You can apply for one at your local Legal Aid Office. See the Legal Aid Web site for more information.


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  6. How can I make the best use of my lawyer's services?

    Your lawyer's role is to listen to you and take time to explain the law and your options to you. Your role is to listen carefully to your lawyer's advice before you make any decisions. A good working relationship with your lawyer is a good investment.

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  7. What can I do to help my lawyer?

    • Be prepared for your conversations and meetings with your lawyer. Bring any documents your lawyer requests to see.  If you have questions, write them down so you are ready to ask them.  
    • Read the letters and documents that your lawyer sends to you. Make a note of your questions. Decide if you must speak to your lawyer or if a secretary or law clerk can help you.
    • Keep all the letters and documents about your case in one place - a file folder or box - so that you can find them easily when you need them.
    • Respect the pressures that lawyers usually work under. Come to your appointments on time. Call if you will be late or cannot make it. Understand that your lawyer may be in court or tied up with an emergency and may not be able to answer your telephone calls right away.
    • Get to know the other staff in your lawyer's office. They may be able to help you. Call your lawyer only when it is necessary.
    • Have reasonable expectations. You may not be able to get everything you want. The justice system is not perfect. There may be delays and disappointments.
    • See Questions to ask your lawyer when you meet.


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  8. How much will it cost?

    Every legal problem is different, so we cannot tell you how much it will cost you to hire a lawyer. You and your lawyer need to talk about fees the first time you meet.

    Lawyers have different ways of calculating their fees. They may charge a fixed fee for doing a specific task, like writing a will. Or, they may set their fees according to the amount of money or value of the property involved in your case.

    In other cases, lawyers will keep track of all the time they spend working for you and charge you for it using an hourly rate.

    You will also have to pay for things like the cost of photocopies of documents, long distance telephone calls, courier service, getting copies of court documents, filing documents in court and hiring an expert to work on some part of your case. These expenses are called disbursements.

    You may also be asked to sign a Retainer Agreement, which is a document that sets out costs and other terms.

    Your lawyer should be able to give you an estimate of the fee and how much disbursements are likely to cost. You can ask your lawyer to put this estimate in writing and you can ask your lawyer to get in touch with you if something happens to change the estimate.

    See Questions to ask your lawyer when you meet.



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  9. I am trying to locate a retired lawyer’s file on my relative’s will. Can the Law Society help?

    Please call the Client Service Centre to be put you in touch with someone at the Law Society who may be able to help if you are looking for the location of a certain lawyer's files - for example if you are trying to locate an original will and the lawyer who prepared it has retired.

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