How To Hire The Right Canadian Lawyer



Natalie Fraser for The Lawyers Weekly

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When people consider hiring a Canadian lawyer, it usually means they are dealing with an issue of substantial significance to them. Therefore, they must select their law firm carefully.

For those without a list of prospective Canadian lawyers, Canadian-Lawyers.ca makes a great place to start. The free search available by using the Find A Lawyer search box, accessible from anywhere on Canadian-Lawyers.ca, provides a list of lawyers by name, location or area of law. (Please see the search box on the right side of the computer screen.)

People should ask friends, neighbours and relatives about the Canadian lawyers on their list. This allows them to receive valuable feedback in respect of the abilities and personality of the Canadian lawyer. However, expectations and requirements regarding Canadian lawyers differ from one person to the next, so recommendations should only represent a starting point. For example, the aggressive Canadian lawyer who suited a spouse involved in a messy divorce may not be appropriate for a couple who are splitting up amicably and have most of the issues worked out already.

Following up by examining a Canada lawyer's website allows people to determine which areas the lawyer practices in, as well as view information about the lawyer's firm When initially contacting the Canadian law firm asking the receptionist questions about the firm's background and history will provide useful details as well as provide insight as to how the firm deals with its clients. If the receptionist doesn't want to spend the time discussing the Canadian law firm's attributes or at least transfer the call to someone who can help, it may suggest a very busy Canadian firm that may not have the time to keep clients aware of the status of their matter.

The size of the firm in which a lawyer practises reveals many important factors about the lawyer and the firm. These can assist clients in deciding which type best suits their needs. Sole practitioners in Canada, practice on their own. They offer personal service to their clients, and usually charge lower fees than other firms since expenses can be kept to a minimum. Clients often feel a high comfort level when they hire a sole practitioner, since they receive individual attention and usually get to know the office staff.

Small Canadian law firms, with two to approximately ten lawyers, have many of the same advantages as sole practitioners. As well, often each lawyer within the firm focuses on one area of law, allowing the firm to offer clients expert advice in those areas. Since lawyers fill in for each other during vacations or other absences, the small law firm can provide full coverage for clients.

Mid-sized Canadian law firms, with approximately ten to fifty lawyers, offer many of the advantages of the smaller firms, as well as providing specialty lawyers in every area of the law. They have the resources and connections to handle cases against major law firms while maintaining some of the individual attention offered by smaller firms.

Large Canadian law firms, with fifty or more lawyers, provide the same legal services as smaller firms. However, they are more likely to take on bigger and more complex cases, having developed a high level of expertise in these areas, and their higher fees reflect this.

Taking special needs into account can narrow the choices when selecting a lawyer or law firm. Some people may wish to retain a lawyer who speaks a language other than English. Others may have access concerns if they use a wheelchair or have difficulty climbing stairs, and should select a law firm with an office that can accommodate them.

Geographic location is a major consideration when selecting a lawyer. Traveling long distances to meet with a lawyer can only serve to add aggravation to the situation. However, there may be special circumstances in which the best choice of lawyer will require out-of-town travel. For example, if a matter requires a specialist because of its complexity or unique subject matter, local lawyers may not be able to assist.

People should usually contact several lawyers or Canadian firms before making a final decision as to who they wish to retain. This will help them narrow down the issues unique to their case, and allow them to have a basis for comparison when making their final selection.

Natalie Fraser practised law in Whitby, Ontario for seventeen years and is now a freelance legal writer. She often writes for The Lawyers Weekly.


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