First meeting with a lawyer

Often lawyers are willing to speak to you (either for free or for a fixed fee) before you ask them to carry out work for you. This might happen either in person or over the phone.

Before the meeting, make sure you:

  • know whether the conversation will be free and if not, the price of the meeting; and
  • find out how long the discussion will last for.

Questions to ask when you first meet with your lawyer

When you first meet with your lawyer, make sure you find out:

  • what is going to happen
  • what your lawyer is going to do for you; and
  • what you will need to do

Ask questions and be open and honest about what you want to understand.

Below are some questions you might ask. Click on the “+” for more detail.

How many times can I meet with you face-to-face?

Lawyers work in different ways. There are many reasons for this such as the type of legal work or service offered.

 

It is best not to assume that you will be able to meet with your lawyer whenever you want to. Find out how many times you can I have a face-to-face meeting with them and how else you can contact them.

 

Alternatively, you might not be expecting to meet your lawyer face-to-face. Find out if they will need to meet with them in person and where.

Who will do the work on my case?

You might like the lawyer that you meet and be confident that they can work well on your case. But sometimes other members of staff will also work on a case, and this might include junior staff.

 

Find out if:

  • they will do all the work themselves
  • anyone else will do work on your case, and which parts
  • any other legal professionals from outside the firm will do some of the work
How can I contact you?

Lawyers communicate with their clients in different ways. If several people will work on your case, ask for the name of the person you should contact.

 

Find out how:

  • best to contact them – phone, email, letter
  • to contact them if there is an urgent issue
  • quickly they will respond to you
How often will you update me on my case?

People sometimes say that they would like to hear more often from their lawyer. But it can take time for a case to progress.

 

Find out:

  • how often you can expect an update on your case
  • if your lawyer is likely to send an email or phone you
  • who to contact if you need information
How many documents will I have to deal with?

Most legal work includes some documents. The type and number of documents will depend on the kind of legal work.

 

You may be asked to read or fill in some documents.

 

Find out:

  • how many documents there will be
  • if you will have to fill out documents; and
  • how much help you will get from your lawyer to read or fill in these documents
  • what to do if you do not understand anything
What will I have to pay?

Legal costs are charged in different ways.

 

Some firms set a fixed fee for a specific service.

 

Other legal services may be charged on an hourly basis.

 

For some legal work, a no-win-no-fee arrangement can be offered.

Legal Aid might be available for limited types of work

 

Occasionally work may be offered pro bono, and there will be no costs or minimal costs.

 

Find out:

  • how your costs will be charged
  • the total you will have to pay
  • if your costs might increase and why
  • if you will have to pay VAT
  • when you will have to pay the costs -up front, at the end of the case, or is there a payment plan
  • if you will have to pay anything to anyone else, such as a court fee, expert report, or tax like Stamp Duty
Do you have experience with my type of case?

Understandably you will want reassurance that the lawyer has experience with your type of legal problem.

 

Find out about this – hearing from an experienced lawyer can put your mind at ease.

Do I have a case?

You think you might have a case, but you should check your lawyer’s opinion.

 

Find out:

  • how often people with similar cases succeed
  • if it is worth taking your case forwards
  • what the possible costs are
  • how long your case will take
What will happen and when?

Most legal work has a number of steps and timescales for each step.

 

Find out what will happen and when, so you can get an idea of what to expect and how long it will take.

 

If your case might go to court, or tribunal, there are rules that set out what should happen and when. Find out what will happen, when and what you will have to do.

Who will represent me in court, or at a tribunal?

There are different types of court and tribunal hearings, and your lawyer may represent you at them. But sometimes your lawyer may ask another member of staff or a barrister from outside the firm to represent you.

 

Find out who will go to court, or a tribunal with you.

What do these legal words and phrases mean?

Legal words and phrases can often sound like a different language. Lawyers who use these every day sometimes forget this.

 

Always ask your lawyer if you do not understand – a good lawyer will be happy to explain.

What happens now?

And finally, if you do not know what will happen next, make sure you ask.