What should I bring to my first meeting with my lawyer?
In short? Everything that may be relevant.
Your first meeting with a lawyer is supposed to give you an understanding of where you stand, what your problems are, and what your options are. Ideally, we aim to provide our clients with the clearest and most beneficial information in the shortest amount of time. In order for us to accomplish that, it is helpful to see all relevant documents.
So, what’s relevant?
Relevant documents can range from the obvious (employment contract, CSST correspondence, etc…) to the unexpected (emails from several years ago, old memos, old sales figures); it all depends on the situation you are facing. Our view is that when you are in doubt, you should always bring the document (if possible). If it is relevant, the document will help us determine an accurate portrayal of your position and help us to determine what steps you should take next. If the document is not relevant, then we will ignore it and focus on what is. There is no harm in bringing it. The better informed we are about your situation, the better the solution we can provide for you will be.
I’ve already seen another lawyer but I’m afraid to tell this one. What should I do?
Tell them anyways, there is nothing to be afraid of. It is important to always be upfront with your lawyer. You should not be rude or discourteous, but do not omit information in order to spare their feelings either. You should never omit information. It is important that lawyers act and serve their clients professionally. You are paying them to do a job. It is a fact of the legal profession that clients may want a second opinion or dislike the advice they were given. There is no need for a lawyer to be offended by this. We always advise our clients to tell us if they have consulted with another professional or if there is another professional in the file; this enables us to provide more accurate and better quality services to our clients.
I don’t believe I have a good case. Should I even waste time and money seeing lawyer?
Yes. Seeing a lawyer is not a waste of time or money, it is an investment in determining your position. Without seeing or hearing the details of your particular case, we can simply say that in general many clients have come to us with cases that were far better than they realized and many clients have come to us with cases that were far worse than they realized.
Your job when you see a lawyer is to give them a full idea of the result you are seeking and all the facts that surround the problem you are facing. Your lawyer’s job is to listen to the facts, your problems, and what you are hoping to achieve. They then use that knowledge and their own experience to help you find a solution. It is the lawyer’s job to assess your case using their knowledge of the legal system. This is not something that you should have to determine for yourself.
It is important to see a lawyer so that you know where you stand. Once you have been properly informed of your situation and your options, you can then take appropriate steps. Seeing a lawyer simply ensures that you will not make a wrong decision based on lack of awareness.
With what frame of mind should I consider the advice I have received from my lawyer?
Unfortunately, lawyers cannot always give our clients good news. Sometimes the situation is not desirable and significant problems need to be addressed. What OLS does is to provide our clients with the best and most accurate advice possible so that they can achieve the best solution possible. More often than not, when there is a problem or a negative situation, we will identify it for you and work with you to find a way around it. Rarely, there is no solution and the only thing that can be done is to find the course of action that is least damaging to you. Sometimes the best advice we can give is that the problem is so minor or so impossible to address that trying to fix it would only be a waste of your time, money and resources. We do not tell you what you want to hear; we tell you what you need to hear so that you know what you have to know and can move forward in the best way possible.
It is true that it would be far easier for us to tell you what you want to hear. Instead, we will always tell you what you need to know so that you can move forward the best way possible. Our job is not to cater to what you wish were true regarding your situation. Ultimately, our job is to give you honest and accurate advice that allows you to not only find the best possible solution but also to have confidence in the steps you are taking to get there.
What can I hope to achieve by seeing a lawyer?
Every case and client is different, so by consequence what you can hope to achieve varies as well. However, we can say the following: In general, our clients want to gain a better understanding of what their legal situation is, what their problems are, and what their options are. These points are something you should try to fulfill when first meeting with your lawyer.
There are things about my case that I don’t want to tell my lawyer. What should I do?
Always tell your lawyer. It does not matter whether it’s personally embarrassing or whether you think it will negatively impact the case. Your job is to give your information you have; it is not your job to edit your story or to omit damaging information. While many clients withhold information because they think that if they tell their lawyer everything the lawyer will not be able to offer as many options or take an assertive approach the truth is precisely the opposite. Despite what many clients believe, when there is negative or damaging information it is virtually inevitable that the other side will find out. The only real question left for the client is: will my lawyer’s find out first or will they be blindsided by the other side later?
It is only when a lawyer knows the whole story that they are truly able to offer their clients the best possible solutions. If they are not given this information, the initial options they give you are frequently no longer possible. There is very little that a true professional cannot find a way to work around, if they are warned in advance.