Hiring an attorney may seem unfamiliar and stressful, no matter how familiar you might be with the Canadian legal system. After all, the lawyer hired will be representing your issue, so it matters who that person is as well as how capable he or she will be as a legal advocate for you. In any situation, doing some background research and having a consultation with at least a few attorneys is always recommended before choosing a particular lawyer for your case. Not only do these early interviews help shape your issue and the type of representation needed, the meetings also give you a clear idea what your own obligations will be in hiring legal help to go forward.
The first step is to realize there's a need. Legal assistance for yourself or a business involves bringing in objective help to can look at the situation using expertise in order to determine the best course of action through the legal system. It can be hard to admit help is needed; however, it's the right thing to do when it comes to legal matters. There are plenty of stories about how people and companies that were in the moral right and still lost their proverbial shirts. Letting go personally and realizing experienced legal help is needed is the best thing to do when starting out.
The second step is to think about what kind of a lawyer is needed. There are a variety of practice areas, and many attorneys in Canada specialise in a particular area versus practicing as generalists. Common legal areas include:
With a good idea of what legal service category to start with, it's time to start considering a good attorney who is available to provide the desired service. Law firms and attorney offices are not in short supply, but they can be stratified and sorted. If your company needs legal help, there's a difference between hiring a firm and a single-office attorney. However, it doesn't mean that one is necessarily better than the other. The initial gut reaction might be that a full firm would have more resources and would be the better choice. Yet the opposite can often turn out to be the better path. There are some very accomplished single-office attorneys who can be worth entire law firms because of their individual expertise and knowledge depth. So size isn't usually a solid, default predictor when it comes to legal capability.
Finding the right attorney also takes time and the patience to understand who is available. Ideally, one should have a consultation with each candidate. That said, in some cases, that may not be practical or possible. Time constraints, costs, pressing matters and even personal demands can dictate otherwise. This is where a qualified selection service provides a viable advantage. This type of asset helps bring down the number of possibilities to those that truly match the specifics of a given case or legal need. Instead of having to decide the short list among 100 attorney offerings, a hiring party can choose among a handful who are truly the best options for the work that is needed.
You may not even need an attorney for a problem right now. Attorneys don't just provide advocacy in court and disputes, although it is a major part of their role. They also help people and companies protect themselves before issues occur in the first place. Picking the right one for a given set of circumstances can produce a long-term beneficial relationship that can last for years.
An attorney should not be considered a stopgap resource at the last minute. Ideally, both individuals and companies can benefit greatly from incorporating the guidance of an attorney on a regular basis. It's advantageous to think of the benefits a lawyer can provide as similar to those of a local town doctor, but for legal matters. With regular maintenance and checkups ahead of time, a client can avoid a significant number of headaches that would otherwise cause angst and financial losses. This sort of preventative approach is often the best way to utilize legal help, thereby avoiding far bigger challenges down the road.
What will I be charged for services provided?
Attorneys in Canada generally provide their services under one of two types of pay models: contingency and retainer agreements. With contingency, an attorney agrees to provide legal services if the client agrees to give the attorney a share of the financial recoveries involved. This is usually a third or more of the gross recovery, and it usually applies to personal injury or tort cases. Under retainer, the attorney is paid a monthly fee for a set amount of services, which the client may decide to exercise and use or not. It’s a flat-rate approach that can provide savings from hourly billing if the work is regular, but it still gets charged if no work is performed. There are also fee charges for specific one-time work, like drafting a will or a last testament.
Is there a difference between legal work and litigation?
General legal work can involve everything from communication to settlements prior to a lawsuit being filed. Litigation involves actually filing the lawsuit and carrying the case through hearings and finally to trial. They are two different types of practice. Many lawyers do both, but they will require different levels of pay for each, since litigation often involves far more work and preparation.
Do I have to hire an attorney?
In most issues, a party can represent himself or herself as an individual, but it’s highly recommended to hire an attorney. The Canadian legal system is so technical, most people trying self-representation often make critical mistakes and lose their cases entirely.
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