The First Meeting With Your Lawyer or Paralegal
 
When you first meet with your lawyer, here are some simple steps to ensure you get the most out of your legal representation:
 
1. Explain your situation – Provide as much detail as you can. It is crucial to share with your lawyer everything that is related to your matter. Often people share information that supports their side of the story. As such, it is important that you provide complete and relevant facts so that your lawyer will be able to accurately assess your case at its present stage. Sometimes, it is difficult to determine what information is relevant and what is not, but your lawyer will help you sort this out.
 
2. Be sure to be prepared - Bring all original and copies of important documents with yourself. Your lawyer will want to examine your documents and all the details important to your case. As well, it is very useful to draft a summary of your matter, that includes names of any potential witnesses, and dates that certain events occurred. You should keep in mind that a limitation period may apply to your matter which will require your lawyer to take certain immediate steps to protect your legal rights. For instance, in Ontario, most limitation periods are governed by the Limitations Act, so it is important to inform your lawyer of the exact date of when specific events occurred.
 
3. Questions - Write down questions you want to ask your lawyer. You want to know of your options and remedies available to you; the documents you need; your expectations from your lawyer and potential costs.
 
4. Discuss strategies – Keep in mind, not all disputes can be resolved by taking legal action. As such, you may want to ask your lawyer of your options for resolving the dispute out of court. You should also ask your lawyer about the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and what the likely outcome will be if you pursue your matter through the means of the court.
 
5. Communication - Ask about methods of communication and how often you should expect your lawyer to communicate with you and what is the preferred method of communication – email, phone or an in-person meeting.
 
6. Fees - Usually a lawyer or paralegal requires a retainer fee so that they can begin working on your case. You should ask about the retainer fee, and whether your will be charged a set fee or hourly rate.