Working with a Lawyer

Brochures on working with a lawyer are also available in Chinese, Punjabi and Spanish

Privilege and confidentiality Any communication between you and your lawyer related to getting legal advice cannot be shared with anyone else without your consent. Your lawyer must also hold in strict confidence all information concerning your business and affairs that he or she acquires during the course of your professional relationship.

Conflicts of interest A lawyer has a duty to be loyal to every client. This means that your lawyer must not allow any other interests to impact his or her judgment, advice or action on your behalf.

Your first meeting with a lawyer

Before your first meeting
  • Write out the details of your legal matter, setting out the facts in chronological order
  • Prepare a list of names, addresses and phone numbers of the people involved
  • Take all relevant documents with you
  • Bring government-issued identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.) as your lawyer is required to confirm your identity
During your meeting
  • Tell your whole story, even if it is damaging or embarrassing (remember, anything you tell your lawyer for the purpose of obtaining legal advice is confidential)
  • Talk to your lawyer about his or her legal opinion. Find out about your options and alternatives. Make sure you and your lawyer agree on your plans and priorities and on the outcome you are seeking
  • Talk to your lawyer about fees

Who’s who in a lawyer’s office

Make a complaint about a lawyer

Keeping your costs down

  • Lawyers usually bill by the hour. Keep your communications with your lawyer brief and organized. Don't spend time discussing issues unrelated to your legal matter (more information about fees)
  • Try to make the right decisions the first time - changing your mind all the time can cost you money
  • Get to know your lawyer's assistants. If a secretary, paralegal, articling student or junior lawyer can help you, contact that person instead of the most senior lawyer
  • Find out if your expectations are reasonable. Make sure you and your lawyer agree on your plans and priorities and that they are likely to lead to the outcome you want
  • Above all be realistic. Don't spend $1,000 to recover a $500 asset