Why wait until a situation deteriorates into a legal dispute before consulting a lawyer? A lawyer who is a Barreau member in good standing informs you of the laws and regulations, advises you and, if necessary, represents you in Court.
The great majority of lawyers most often act as advisors to prevent and resolve problem situations, or as mediators and conciliators to avoid having their clients enter into long trials or equally complex and costly procedures before the courts. In fact, 90% of disputes are settled before going to Court, but often not before substantial costs have been incurred.
Above all, your lawyer is there to seek the best solution with you to get you out of a problem situation. When you entrust him with a mandate, ask him whether the situation can be settled by means of participatory justice before resorting to the courts. Consulting a lawyer in good time may avoid you many problems as well as much loss of time and money. Establishing a relationship based on trust and frankness from the very outset is therefore of the utmost importance.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer to manage your entire case, you may also briefly consult a lawyer to determine how much it would cost for him to represent you, whether for only part or for all of the dispute. You may discuss possible arrangements with him with regard to the payment of his fees.
The meeting with your lawyer
Do you know how to save time and money in preparing your meetings with your lawyer? Here are a few tips:
First, carefully prepare your file. For example, gather all information and documents that you have in your possession and that are related to your situation. Take note of the events in the order that they occurred and describe the facts in detail. Also write down the names and addresses of potential witnesses, if any, and draw up a list of questions to ask the lawyer. At your meeting, clearly state your expectations.
Here are a few questions that you could ask your lawyer at the first meeting:
- Can the problem be settled other than before the courts?
- What are my rights and obligations?
- Is my case defendable?
- How long will the process take?
- How much do you think it will cost?
- How long do you think it will take?
- What court do I have to address?
- What are all my recourses?
- If I go to court, what will happen if I lose? Or if I win?
Trust and communication
Trust and communication are the two most important aspects in a lawyer-client relationship. Here are a few questions to ask yourself in this regard:
- Do you feel respected, listened to and considered by your lawyer?
- Do you feel that your lawyer is teaming up with you?
- Does he make an effort to clearly explain what he is doing for you?
- If you leave him a message, does he phone you back within a reasonable amount of time?
- Are you able to follow the progress of your file?
If, during the course of the mandate, something makes you feel ill at ease, quickly discuss the matter with your lawyer to maintain this relationship of trust.
Going before the courts requires good knowledge of yourself and the consequences that this experience may have on your financial situation, your health and those around you. With your lawyer, determine your client profile, which can help you see clearly and find the dispute resolution process that suits you.
If you change lawyers during the process, the new lawyer will need time to carefully study your file. Moreover, perhaps he won't be able to take over exactly where you left off with your previous lawyer. Bear in mind that your file belongs to you and that you can take it back at any time. Nevertheless, you will have to pay for the services rendered to you up to that time and, depending on where the process is at the time, there may be costs.
Consult the Lawyer/client relations brochure, published by the Barreau du Québec, to learn more about the client-lawyer relationship and how a lawyer can help you.
For more advice about how to prepare well for the first meeting with your lawyer, watch Rencontrer son avocat pour la première fois in the Le Droit de savoir series (in French).
Can all lawyers give me advice about the services related to participatory justice?
Yes. Under the Code of Professional Conduct of Lawyers, it is their duty to advise their clients about the best ways of resolving a situation. However, not all lawyers are certified mediators or practise collaborative law. Nevertheless, it is your lawyer's duty to inform you and, if necessary, he can refer you to an experienced lawyer specializing in the dispute resolution process that suits you.
How to choose your lawyer?
Refer to the section Finding a lawyer or mediator.