Tips for talking to a lawyer

Vanessa Friesen

Many people are nervous about speaking to a lawyer. Some might worry that they don’t know what to say to a lawyer. Here are a few tips to help you know what to say, help things go smoothly, and to get the most benefit out of working with a lawyer.

1. Keep it short and simple.

Simply introduce yourself with your name, contact information, and area of law you need help in. I am required by the Law Society to conduct a conflict check before I receive confidential information. Once I know that I am not in a conflict of interest, I will ask you to tell your story in more detail.

If you don’t know the area of law you need help in just say what happened in one simple sentence, like “I got fired” or “my landlord is trying to evict me”.

2. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Legal actions and various pieces of paperwork must be submitted within certain deadlines and limitation periods. The deadline varies depending on the circumstance and can be as short as a few days. If you think you might need help from a lawyer, contact a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you don’t miss a deadline. Also, your lawyer will greatly appreciate having time to give your case the attention it needs, without having to delay working on other files or staying at the office all weekend to work on your case.

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3. Use regular words, not “legalese”.

Technical legal terms are only necessary when a lawyer is speaking to another lawyer or to the Court. When you’re talking to your lawyer, just use regular words to describe what happened and what you need.

4. Save money by formatting your documents.

The more time I spend on your file, the higher your bill will be. This means that you can save money on your legal bill by making sure documents you send to me are in a format that is ready for me to read so I don't have to spend time formatting or asking you for clearer documents. Make sure that:

1) all the pages of each document are combined into one file rather than sending each page as a separate file; and

2) if you need to email a document you only have on paper please SCAN the document, don’t take a picture and send the picture. A picture of a document is often too dark or blurry to read. Scans can be done anywhere that offers a photocopier for public use, like the library or a printshop.

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