Before meeting with a lawyer, you should be aware that any communication between you and your lawyer related to getting legal advice is confidential; it 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. A lawyer also has a duty to be loyal to every client. That means that your lawyer must not allow any other interests to impact his or her judgment, advice or action on your behalf.
Who’s who in a lawyer’s office
Some lawyers work on their own while others work with assistants and other lawyers. Before you meet with a lawyer, it will be helpful to the different personnel in a legal office with whom you may be working.
Lawyers have a law degree from an accredited university and complete the Law Society's Admissions Program. Your lawyer may also assign some of the more routine parts of your file to lawyers with lower billing rates to reduce costs.
Legal assistants are specially trained staff who work under the lawyer’s supervision to prepare legal documents or do research.
Articling students are law school graduates who are training to be lawyers. They often do research and conduct interviews. Articling students are also allowed to represent you on certain types of court matters.
Paralegals prepare letters and court documents under the supervision of a lawyer and are permitted to give certain legal advice under the supervision of a lawyer.
Meeting with your lawyer
To get the most out of your appointment with a lawyer, it will help to prepare beforehand, and come to the meeting prepared to provide the all the information the lawyer will need, and to ask the appropriate questions.
Before your 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.