Advice from our very own Paule Seeger B.A. LLB
Choosing a lawyer is a difficult process that I’m sure none of us every want to have to undertake. Generally when we are having to choose a lawyer, especially a family lawyer, it’s in the most difficult and emotional time of our lives and that adds a whole new dimension to the process.
My advice to people who meet with me is to choose someone who has similar views as yourself and that you could see yourself working with. Because this could be a really, REALLY long relationship. Very important, choose someone that you TRUST. You are going to be sharing lots of information with this person, probably information that you haven’t shared with anyone else.
Remember, your lawyer is like your priest – we are bound by rules of the law society which require us to protect our client confidences. There are very few exceptions, other than the age old –“ I’m planning on killing someone.” Obviously that isn’t kept quiet! But other than that, there is little you can tell us that will surprise us or send us running to report it. We have seen and heard lots of interesting things and we take those things with us to the grave!
Also remember that if you initially retain someone and it just isn’t working out, you can change lawyers. You are well within your rights to terminate your relationship with your lawyer – we do work for you. However I would say, have a chat with him or her first. Sometimes a good chat about where the file is going and your expectations will set the relationship right back on track. If it doesn’t – well at least you tried. Move on and find another person who you do feel you will work well with. My other recommendation is to meet the lawyer in person. Most of us do free ½ consultations – these are to help us and you determine if we want to work together.
I had a friend who chose not to meet with a lawyer I consider to be an excellent advocate. When asked why she stated she had read a bad internet review. DON’T LET BAD INTERNET REVIEWS BE YOUR FINAL DETERMINANT! I have found negative reviews on the internet about many lawyers I respect (and I have not emerged unscathed either). Unfortunately, unhappy people are more likely to take the time to write a horrible review than a happy person (remember that unhappy person tells 10 other people and a happy person tells 2 statistic they used to roll out when cautioning you about good customer service?). Read the reviews and consider them, but remember that they are only one person’s opinion (good or bad).
Finally, when the file is done – let us know what we could have done to make the process better and tell us what helped. We can always learn and sometimes we are too busy to remember to ask.