There are times when no matter how resourceful you are, your legal problem is so complicated or distressing that it makes sense to hire a lawyer to help. Everyone knows that lawyers are expensive, but what most people realize is that you can maximize your lawyer's help and minimize your legal bills by heeding a few simple tips:
- Get focussed. Let’s be honest - people usually see a lawyer when something bad has happened. Divorces, bankruptcy, criminal charges, foreclosures. When a legal problem arises it’s natural to be emotional, scared or confused about what to do next. But before you reach for the Yellow Pages, take a deep breath, sit down, and consider your goals. People usually call a lawyer without doing this mental homework first, which results in a lot of wasted legal fees while the lawyer tries to figure out the client’s bottom line. Try to be realistic and about your legal problem and consider the financial, emotional, short and long term costs of various outcomes, not only to you, but also to your family. Write down your best case scenario, your worst case scenario, and the middle ground which you could live with if you had to. Now find a lawyer, and take this piece of paper with you.
- Get a referral. Finding a good lawyer is like finding a good pair of shoes. Good client/lawyer matches are a walk on a cloud. Bad matches chafe, blister and eventually make you trip. So try a couple on for size before committing. One excellent way to do this is through the Canadian Bar Association (B.C.’s) Lawyer Referral Service, which provides a referral to a lawyer near you who has experience with your kind of legal problem. The referral gives you a 30 minute appointment for a nominal $25 fee. Take the opportunity to ask the lawyer about her experience, her approach, and her take on your problem.
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