You want to get the most out of your time with your lawyer, and that’s what we at Cunningham Swan want too! Remember: if you are billed by the hour, use the time efficiently. Here are some pointers about how to do that.
- Before the meeting, have the relevant documents collected and in order. Your lawyer will often have told you what you need to bring, so take a minute to check that you have those documents before you leave for the meeting.
- And have it organized. If we need to see financial information, gather those income tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, etc., and make copies. Group the documents by type and put them in chronological order. Bringing in a bag of miscellaneous papers may seem easier, but do you really want to pay the lawyer to sort it for you?
- Write out the names and addresses of any person who is directly involved in the matter.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR MEETING
- When you meet with the lawyer, stick to the facts. Give all of the facts, even if you think they are not favourable. Sometimes what looks bad can be helpful, but even if it really is a problem, your lawyer needs to know about it in order to help you.
- Prepared a list of questions in advance of the meeting. Also, your lawyer will have questions for you – try to answer them as clearly as possible. Don’t worry about trying to justify yourself – your lawyer is already on your side!
- Turn off your cell phone! You probably don’t want to pay us to listen while you make dinner plans with your daughter.
- Anything you share with us in a solicitor-client meeting is held in confidence, so don’t hold back. If you tell us your company’s secret recipe or your bank balance, that information stops with us.
- We love to chat with you, but when you are paying by the hour, you probably want to stick to the matters where we have expertise. For example, you may want to vent about your spouse, the other side’s lawyer, or the system. We’re not therapists – just lawyers! You might feel better after venting, but you won’t when you get your bill.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
- The more legwork you do, the less we have to do. Often you can fill in forms, draft narratives of what happened, or find information available on websites.
- We will tell you if we think what you propose is wasteful, or likely to result in higher fees. We do not serve you well by being a “yes man” or simply taking dictation, or just telling you what you want to hear.
- Don’t call or email more often than necessary. Sometimes the answer to your question is in material that you already have. Sometimes it can be answered by an assistant or a clerk.
- If your lawyer is trying to get in touch with you, respond! Keeping the other side at bay when we don’t know your position or the answer to a question wastes time and money.
- If you are part of a corporation or a board, decide who will communicate with the lawyer. Don’t copy us on all your correspondence and emails, and don’t have all the board members calling to discuss matters with the lawyer.