How to Find a Lawyer
by Sheila Gibb and Renu Mandhane
A. There are some things that can be handled without a lawyer, such as writing a will, going to Small Claims Court, getting a variation to child support, and dealing with a minor traffic charge.
For some more serious family law, criminal law, or immigration matters, a lawyer may be necessary.
In deciding whether you need a lawyer, consider the following questions:
If you are dealing with an abusive partner
or ex-partner, it is very important
Q. HOW CAN I FIND A LAWYER?
A. Call the Lawyer Referral Service:
You will get the name of a lawyer who will provide a free half hour consultation. Please note that if you tell them that you are calling regarding domestic abuse or from a shelter or jail, there will be no charge for the call. Otherwise you will have to pay a $6.00 fee for making the initial call.
A. Some lawyers charge for their services on an hourly basis. Your bill will depend on the amount of time they spend working on your case.
Other lawyers charge a flat rate, meaning that they charge a certain fee for a certain type of work, such as a will, regardless of the amount of time they spend working on your case.
Most lawyers charge a retainer fee, which is a deposit towards your final bill that you must pay in advance. Usually, a lawyer will not start working on your file until you pay the retainer fee.
Some lawyers may bill clients on a sliding scale, which means that they will charge you less money if you have a low income. You can ask local community legal clinics or women's organizations to recommend such a lawyer.
Some lawyers may allow you to pay your bill in monthly installments.
Ask your lawyer to estimate how much your case will cost, including all fees and expenses. Find out how your lawyer will bill you and what methods of payment your lawyer will accept.
A. A Legal Aid certificate allows you to get legal help without cost. You may be able to get Legal Aid if you have little or no money left after you pay for basic necessities, like food and housing, and if your legal problem is one that Legal Aid covers.
The types of problems Legal Aid may cover include:
This is not a complete list. Please talk to your local Legal Aid office about your specific case.
To apply for a Legal Aid certificate, go to a local Legal Aid office and fill in the application form. Bring proof of your financial eligibility; for example, bring in pay stubs, monthly bills, medical expenses, etc.
If you are accepted for a Legal Aid certificate and you already have a lawyer, Legal Aid will mail the certificate to your lawyer.
If you are accepted for a Legal Aid certificate and you do not have a lawyer, Legal Aid will provide you with a list of about ten lawyers who accept Legal Aid certificates. You can meet with one of those lawyers. If you do not like the lawyer at the first meeting, try another lawyer. Legal Aid will send your certificate to a lawyer you choose.
If you decide later on that you do not like your lawyer, you can apply to change lawyers at Legal Aid, but this is a difficult process.
It is important to note that many lawyers do not accept Legal Aid certificates.
A. Look for these qualities:
Most importantly, make sure that you feel
comfortable with your lawyer.
Q. WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES?
A. You should...
your instincts. If you do not feel comfortable
Q. WHAT SHOULD I FIND OUT DURING MY FIRST MEETING OR PHONE CALL?
A. Here are some things to consider:
Ask some of the following questions:
A. Talk to your lawyer about any problems.
Get a second opinion from another lawyer
If the problem is serious, complain to the Law Society
If you use Legal Aid, apply to change lawyers. If you do not use Legal Aid, you can change lawyers at any time