When people visit a law office, it is usually to tend to a real estate deal or a will. Knowing the basics of how a law office is managed can help client and lawyer get the best results possible.
Many legal services are billed at an hourly rate, so saving your lawyer time can save you money.
It is important to be prepared. Have the full names of the parties involved, with correct spelling, addresses and other relevant information available for your lawyer.
If you’re making a will, have an idea of who you would like as executors, guardians and beneficiaries. That will help speed things along.
Have you considered granting a power of attorney or creating a living will? Raise such questions with your lawyer.
If you are in a dispute with someone and want to talk to a lawyer, consider your goals.
A lawyer can give you a better idea of what options you may have to achieve those goals.
Try to paint an accurate picture of what has happened. Remember, everything is confidential. Leaving out facts that you feel embarrassed about or think hurt your case will only cost you time and money when they inevitably come up later.
It is not about convincing the lawyer of your case. You are providing information to help them help you. A fair assessment of your chances in court can help you weigh your options.
Only about two percent of Canadian civil cases make it to trial, and of those that do, most are family law cases involving divorce or custody of children. Most cases settle.
Most provinces have mandatory mediation and/or case management conferences run by judges to encourage settlement.
Keep this in mind when you visit a lawyer and be open to the idea of a negotiated agreement.
Many legal problems take more time than you might expect. A lawyer cannot force another party to reply to a letter.
Court dates take time to schedule. Lack of common scheduling availability can delay a mandatory mediation. Other parties can stall.
You are entitled to be kept informed and, if there is a delay, to be told why.
Brayden Gulka-Tiechko, student at law in McDougall Gauley’s Moose Jaw office, helped research and draft this article.