Questions to Ask Your Lawyer
Obtained from LawyersBC, Canada
When you see a lawyer for the first time, you might not know what to expect. Can you ask about the lawyer's experience? Is it proper to ask details about fees and expenses? How will you be kept informed about your case's progress?
Here's a checklist of questions to ask before you hire a lawyer. Print it out and take it with you; it may help you feel more comfortable asking some of the questions. If the lawyer is listed with Lawyers-BC, check out his or her biography.
About the Lawyer
Do you have a firm brochure or website with your biography?
How long have you been practicing law?
What is your experience in this practice area?
Have you handled any cases like mine? What was the outcome?
About Your Case
What are the possible outcomes of my case, and the chances of success?
What are the procedures involved in my case, and a rough time schedule for the different steps?
Approximately how long will it take to finalize?
What complications can arise in my case, and can they result in additional fees?
About Legal Fees
Do you have a written retainer letter or agreement?
Do you charge by the hour, by the case, by a percentage, or a combination?
Will your rates change while you are handling my case? If so, how much notice will you give me?
Will any junior lawyers or legal assistants be working on my case? Do you charge for the legal assistant's or legal secretary's time?
What kind of disbursements will there be?
Assuming that there are no complications, what is the range of the possible fees, disbursements, and taxes? Can you give me a firm quote for fees and/or disbursements?
When will you bill me?
About the Work on Your Case
How will you keep me informed about what is happening on my case?
Will you send me copies of letters that you receive and send out?
Will you return my phone calls the same day?
Do you use email or fax to communicate with me?
Who else in the office will be working on my case? Can I call them if I can't get hold of you.
Meeting with A Lawyer
Preparing for Your First Meeting with A Lawyer
Your first meeting with a lawyer is like a blind date. You're not sure how the relationship will work, whether you want to go ahead; but you're willing to give it a try. In hiring a lawyer, you want to be sure that:
The lawyer can handle your case.
The fees are reasonable, and you can afford them; and
You are comfortable working with the lawyer.
The lawyer also needs to consider whether or not to take your case. If he or she doesn't have the experience for the case, or the case doesn't justify the kind of fees that the lawyer would normally earn, or if the lawyer werenÕt comfortable working with you, he or she wouldn't want to take the case.
Time Is Money
Many lawyers give an initial consultation of about 20 to 30 minutes at a reduced rate, or in some cases for free. If well planned, this can help both of you assess whether the relationship will work, and know what to expect from each other. If you don't think it's going to work, then you don't need to hire that lawyer.
Exchange of Information
In the first meeting, there needs to be an exchange of information between the lawyer and you. You can expedite this three ways:
Do background research before the meeting:
The law: Lawyers-BC has much fee information in different areas of law. By reading this before your meeting, you can save the time for specific discussions about your cases.
The lawyer: If the lawyer has a profile with Lawyers-BC, you can review that profile. Ask the lawyer if he or she has a website, which you can review before your meeting.
Fees: Check the Fees section in the Practice area on Lawyers-BC website, to get a range of what fees to expect, and how they are charged. This will give you perspective about your lawyer's fees.
Written Background to your case:
Most people read better than they hear. Lawyers are the same. If you can write down a summary of your case ahead of time, you can make sure that you give your lawyer all the details, so that he or she can make a better assessment of your case in a shorter period of time. Different kinds of legal situations require different kinds of facts. For example, the information a lawyer needs to handle a divorce case is different from what is needed for an ICBC case, and different again from a house purchase. Lawyers-BC has developed different "Backgrounders" for different practice areas; these will help you give the basic background to the lawyer to assess your case in your practice area.
20 Questions to Ask Your Lawyer:
Many people don't know what to ask when they meet a lawyer. Sometimes they may feel itÕs not appropriate to ask certain questions. Lawyers-BC has developed 20 questions to ask your lawyer at the first interview. By taking these 3 steps, you can make the process of hiring a lawyer much more efficient, for both you and the lawyer.
Provided by GASP of Colorado www.gaspforair.org