Initial Consultations: The Rundown

Initial Consultations: The Rundown

If you have never seen a lawyer before, an initial consultation can be intimidating.  It may help to ease your nerves if you know what will happen at the initial consultation before booking and attending the meeting.  Here is a rundown of what you can expect:

  1. Setting Up the Appointment

Once you have picked a lawyer you want to meet the first step is to contact the firm and set up the initial consultation.  Be ready to provide your full name, your spouse’s full name, and the names of any other parties involved.  The names of the interested parties are required for the law firm to run a conflict search.  All law firms are required by the Law Society to run a conflict search to ensure that they have not acted for either party in a capacity that will cause a conflict of interest.  This step needs to be completed before any lawyer can obtain your personal details about the situation and give any advice. 

Sometimes the conflict search can be completed over the phone and sometimes it requires that the firm calls you back shortly after completing the search.  Either way, after the conflict search is complete, you will be able to set up an initial consultation at your convenience.

  1. Attending at the Appointment

Before your appointment, make sure to gather all the relevant documents that you have in relation to your matter.  For example, if you are dealing with property, make sure to bring items like bank statements, investment reports, pension statements, and property valuations. Alternatively, if you are dealing with support issues, bring in your income tax returns.  Don’t worry, if you forget something or if there are additional documents, you can also provide them to your lawyer at a later date. Just make sure to at the very least have a rough idea about the values of these items.

At the appointment, you can expect to spend about 30 to 60 minutes talking with a lawyer.  A significant portion of the time will be spent explaining your situation to the lawyer and going through the details of your matter.  The more information you can provide the better.  You will discuss items such as any children of the relationship, important dates in the relationship, employment information for both spouses, and details about any property owned by you or your spouse. 

Once you have provided details about your situation, the lawyer will give you an overview of the law in relation to the relevant legal issues and how they impact your matter.  It will be difficult for lawyers at this stage to give you an exact picture of how the matter will unfold or results.  However, they will be able to give you a good idea of the options to resolve your dispute, the estimated costs, and how long it will take.  The lawyer will give you an idea of the strategy they would take and their hourly rate.

At the end of the appointment, if you are happy with the lawyer’s strategy and rate, you can discuss retaining the lawyer.  The lawyer will then have a retainer agreement drafted for you to sign outlining the lawyer-client relationship.  This agreement may be signed at the consultation or at a later date depending on the circumstances.

Before leaving, make sure to ask any final questions that you have for the lawyer.  We want you to leave satisfied with your initial questions answered.