Are you trying to find a lawyer? If the answer is yes, it’s likely that you’re in need of help navigating a legal system that is less-than-friendly to those without a law school degree. Chances are that if you’re looking to hire a lawyer, you’re in trouble or in a bind you can’t get out of on you own.
Finding a lawyer can be stressful and difficult, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of hiring a lawyer. Competent legal representation in any number of situations can mean the difference between collecting on debts or going unpaid, seeing your kids and getting adequate child support, or holding an employer accountable for firing you without cause after subjecting you to a toxic work environment.
Finding a good lawyer, in other words, is an essential step in protecting your interests whether in a dispute with an ex-spouse, a former employer, or even government agencies whose overreach can be financially and mentally devastating to those they come up against.
What Does a Lawyer Do?
A lawyer’s job is to help you resolve your legal issue and make your life easier with sound advice to advance and protect your interests both inside and outside a courtroom. Dealing with a legal issue isn’t fun, but if you find the right lawyer it will significantly improve your situation and your chances for success in holding another party accountable for any number of misdeeds that get put to judges and juries every day in courthouses across the world.
So if want to find a lawyer, you’ve come to the right place.
When you embark upon the task of finding a lawyer, it is important to always check their background. You should know whether the lawyer’s license is currently valid and whether there are restrictions on his/her practice.
Provincial Law Societies
Provincial Law Societies are tasked with regulating the Canadian legal profession and one must be a member of a law society in good standing to practice law. You can contact the law society in your province to check the background, experience, and disciplinary records of their members of before you hire a lawyer.
Once you’ve researched an individual lawyer’s background and looked into their law firm’s specialties, the next step is to sign a retainer agreement, which can vary in size depending on the legal issues at hand. A minor criminal matter may cost around $5000, for example.
Some firms’ retainer agreements are known as engagement letters, which form the contract between you and the law firm and/or lawyer. Engagement letters are meant to explain what the lawyer is going to do for you and how much they will charge. Hourly rates for lawyers vary wildly from firm to firm and from case to case.
Retainers, however, are not to be confused with the retainer agreement. Retainers are an upfront fee the lawyer charges to take on your file. You can consider it as a deposit, which will be used to pay your invoices. This is normally around $2000. Some firms charge $2500. If you have a litigation matter that requires the lawyer to go to court, the retainer could be $5000.
Meanwhile, lawyers also charge for disbursements, which are miscellaneous expenses incurred by your lawyer when they work on your file. This may include court filing fees, government fees, courier costs, photocopying fees, etc.
It could also be the third-party service fees such as accountant reports, private investigators, expert reports, etc.
Here are some common reasons why people hire a lawyer:
- Going through a divorce or separation.
- Buying or selling your property.
- Starting a company or purchasing a business.
- Dealing with an employment law issue including wrongful or constructive dismissals.
- Probating a will and being sued.
- Being accused of a crime.
- Injured in a car accident.
If you find yourself in any of these situations, contacting a lawyer is an essential step toward eventual resolution. Of course, you don’t want to hire just any lawyer; you want a good one who is competent, responsive, and patient. You want a lawyer who will go to bat for you and care about you as a person in a potentially bad situation rather than just a potential paycheque.
Find a Lawyer and Book a Consultation
A consultation is the first conversation you’ll with a lawyer. It’s important to discuss your legal issue with them and ask them questions. The more details you can provide about your situation the better, including specific dates, names, locations, and any other pertinent information about the nature of your legal issue.
If you were injured in car accident for instance, the lawyer will need access to all documents related to medical expenses and dealings with your insurance company. If you were wrongfully terminated from your job, a lawyer will want to know how long you held the position and the purported reasons behind your firing.
You want to make sure the lawyer understands your situation before the consultation. You do not want to waste time when filing deadlines and limitation periods may be looming, such as in personal injury lawsuits where an injured party has two years to file a claim.
Therefore, when you reach out to us, try to provide as much as information you can and explain your situation in detail.
What Questions To Ask a Lawyer?
There are many important questions you can ask a lawyer before deciding whether to hire them. Do they have experience in similar cases? What are their availabilities and how much time will they be able to dedicate to your case?
Do they have enough time to take your case and be responsive? What are the possible outcomes and how much are the estimated fees? Do they require payment upfront or can they take the case on contingency, where they only get paid contingent upon winning the case?
In British Columbia, the Law Society of B.C. lays out several different means and methods of payment when dealing with its members. There are fixed fees for legal services involving, say, incorporating a company or buying a home.
Being billed by the hour, meanwhile, includes time spent dealing with claims by phone, in-person meetings, legal research, document preparation and correspondence in addition to court appearances.
“Hourly rates usually reflect the lawyer’s skill and experience – senior lawyers charge more per hour than lawyers who are just starting out in practice,” according to the Law Society of B.C.
As mentioned above, contingency fees are what a lawyer collects if their client is successful in court. If they lose the case, in other words, they don’t get paid. Lawyers’ fees are also subject to federal GST and provincial sales taxes.
Find a Lawyer and Confirm the Fee
You need to know what you will be charged for legal services, but sometimes a higher rate does not indicate competence to properly resolve your issue. For its part, the Law Society of B.C. recommends several ways to keep costs down and avoid unnecessary charges.
“Getting to know your lawyer’s assistants can also help you save money. If a secretary, paralegal, articled student or junior lawyer can help you, contact that person instead of the most senior lawyer,” the society’s website advises. “Making the right decision the first time will be less expensive in the long run than frequently changing your mind. You should also consider whether your expectations are reasonable.
Make sure you and your lawyer agree on your plans and priorities and that they are likely to lead to the outcome you want. Above all be realistic. Don’t spend $1,000 to recover a $500 asset.”
Talk to Several Lawyers
Lawyers all have different strategies and personalities, and that is why you should talk to several lawyers before choosing one. With dozens of firms and hundreds of lawyers to choose from, the difficulty in making a decision is no doubt compounded by the abundance of options.
You want to hire a lawyer that you can feel comfortable with since hiring them could mean a years-long relationship depending on the nature of your legal issues. Furthermore, you want a lawyer that is amazing at communication and responsive to your needs, and of course, you want to compare the fees. Law societies regulate the profession but have no control over fees.
“For lawyers, much like other professional advisors, fees are a market issue,” according to the Law Society of B.C. “There is no fee schedule for legal services, and the Law Society has no authority to control what lawyers charge other than setting maximums for some contingency fees.”
Lawyers Need to Be Transparent
However, the law society adds, lawyers are obligated “to be fair and transparent in the fees they charge.” The law society doesn’t regulate lawyers’ fees and “cannot order the lawyer to reduce his or her bill.” Fee disputes can be resolved through mediation or by filing a review in B.C. Supreme Court. Both lawyers and clients can have the court review a bill under the Legal Profession Act.
For clients, fee reviews have to be filed within three months of being paid, while lawyers have a year to file for a review if the bill goes unpaid. Billing disputes can also escalate into lawsuits, but hopefully, it doesn’t get that far and any dispute with your lawyer can be settled without the need to set foot in a courtroom.
To avoid the potential pitfalls of hiring the wrong lawyer, or potentially being scammed, verifying that the lawyer is authorized to practice in your particular area is as easy as it is important. Most law societies publish disciplinary actions and decisions online.
Find A Lawyer and Search For Unauthorized Practitioners
As well, in the case of British Columbia, you can search a database of people cited for practicing law without a licence in the law society’s Unauthorized Practitioners Database. With the explosion of information available online, provincial law societies also warn against “deceptively realistic websites” that collect personal information or offer fraudulent services.
Canadian law firm websites, for example, shouldn’t feature what the Law Society of B.C. calls “Americanisms,” such as depictions of wooden gavels, which aren’t used in Canadian courts. They also shouldn’t refer to lawyers as “attorneys,” a term not used in Canada either.
If you qualify for legal aid, you can reach out to us once you have a certificate and we will connect you to a lawyer who accepts it.
Qualifying for legal aid requires an intake assistant to verify your income and assets and determine whether or not your legal issue is covered by the rules, including criminal charges, mental health and prison issues, child protection cases, and immigration and refugee matters.
Find a Lawyer Near You
For people facing “serious and complex criminal charges,” they may be denied legal aid while still being unable to afford a lawyer. Those in this situation must apply to the court to have a free lawyer appointed to their case, known as a Rowbotham application, at which point the decision is up to a judge.
In summary, finding a lawyer that’s right for you and your situation requires careful consideration of a multitude of factors beyond the financial aspects of often costly and lengthy legal disputes. The most expensive lawyer in town might be too rich for your blood.
The most experienced lawyers might also be out of reach, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope as you seek recourse, resolution, and ultimately, justice.
ClearWay aims to connect you with the right person for the job who can shine a guiding light as you walk through the fog and darkness and unknowns of the legal system, a daunting task for anyone inexperienced and unfamiliar with court rules and procedures and legal precedents.
When it comes to finding a lawyer many are filled with daunting questions and emotions. However, this process should never feel difficult or scary.
With plenty of lawyers out there it may feel overwhelming to find one that is best suited for you and your needs, whether it’s divorce, car accidents, business, or more, there is a lawyer for you. Here you can find simple practices to find the best lawyer.
“Nothing beats getting a referral from a friend. Arguably the best way to find a good lawyer is by word of mouth. Ask around your friend group to see if they recommend anyone because it is good to know about people’s experiences before you go ahead and book a lawyer.
Of course, you could look for a billboard on the side of the freeway to find a lawyer, but you would feel a lot more comfortable working with a lawyer that has already worked with someone you know and trust. So it is highly recommended to talk to people you know and see if there are any highly recommended lawyers before you go searching online.”
Himanshu Agarwal, SVP of Solutions at WorkBoard
Find A Lawyer Using Your Network
“If you know a lawyer already, but they don’t work in the area of law that you are seeking legal help in, they are a great starting point. Whether you have worked with this lawyer before or know them mutually, they have a network of trusted layers they could refer you to.
You can reach out to them to discuss what area of law you need a lawyer in, and you can trust that they will connect you with a lawyer that is well versed in the field. Once they have given you several connections, you can begin contacting them and establishing who will work best for you.”
Chris Hunter, CEO, and Co-founder of ServiceTitan
Find a Database
“With a quick google search, you can find several trusted lawyer databases that can help you narrow down your search as to what kind of lawyer you’re looking for. There are sites such as Legal Shield, Exact Data, or UniCourt.
You can also find ratings and reviews to ensure that you use trusted databases. You can search by city, area of law, reviews, and disciplinary records. After your search, the databases will pull qualified lawyers that best match your search criteria. Once you have narrowed down your options, you can begin connecting with lawyers and finding the best match for your needs.”
Adrian Pereira, Co-Founder & CEO of ecopeaco.com
Of course, you can use Clearway Law’s lawyer database. Just go to our home page and find a lawyer near you.
Utilize Your Company’s Resources
“It’s possible that your company has a lawyer that they use or recommend, and they might even be able to get you a discounted rate. Some companies offer discounts with Rocket Lawyer or other similar websites. Finding the right lawyer for your needs can be a difficult process, so it’s important to do a thorough search before choosing someone.
Word of mouth or company recommendations are a great start to finding your best legal match. In addition, if you ask but they do not provide you with a lawyer, some companies will help you search for one or ask their company lawyer if they know of anyone. Either way, it won’t hurt to reach out and see what resources are available to you.”
Tom Mumford, Co-Founder of Undergrads
Finding A Local Lawyer
“If you’re someone who prefers to meet with their lawyers in person and on the regular, heading into town or finding a local lawyer through Yellow Pages can be beneficial if you’re looking to have an in-person connection.
Finding a readily available lawyer at a moment’s notice can save a lot of the stress and hassle of dealing with a lawyer, such as waiting on emails, calls, or documents needed to be scanned. Having a local lawyer can also compensate for the time it takes to travel into a city at a set time just to meet up.
Asking local businesses or looking up online reviews are other ways to find a local lawyer that will suit you.”
Megan Jones, Community Outreach Manager at NutraSweet Natural
Legal Aid Services
“If you’re running low on money, there are several legal assistance programs that offer free to low-cost legal services for those in need. There are tons of ways to search for these programs online, such as “legal clinics,” “legal aid,” or “legal advice” to help get you matched with a lawyer or program that’s best for you.
These programs have special eligibility guidelines based on family size, income, and location. By thoroughly looking at their website and who they cater to, you can reach out to them and see what they can do to help you and your situation.
If you are unsure if you fit in this category, you can always contact them and see if they will work with you or offer advice on who else to reach out to.”
Jason Brandt, Customer Success Director at Podopolo
Research Case Studies
“If you’re struggling to find a lawyer, try reading case studies from lawyers in your area. Depending on confidentiality agreements, you’ll be able to learn about the cases they’ve worked on and how successful they were in their approach. It might be a tedious process, but it could be a great way to really understand the person you’ll be working with and set expectations.
Not only that, but most case studies are tied to a testimonial, so if you want to go above and beyond, you can reach out to the person who wrote the testimonial and ask them first-hand how they enjoyed the services. Case studies and testimonials give you the most accurate information on your potential lawyer.”
Sam Rogers, Outreach Manager at Ziebart
Research your local bar association
“Your county should have a bar association that you can find – with a quick internet search. Once you find it, there’s likely a database of specialized lawyers in your area. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the website, you can always give them a call and ask for help finding what – or who – you’re looking for.
Luckily your local bar association will narrow down your searches to all qualified lawyers in your area. From there, you can go onto their website, learn more about them, and reach out. Or, you can compile a list of lawyers and visit them in office and see if they are suitable for you.”
Will Armitage, Co-founder of BestOdds
Find A Lawyer Utilizing Online Resources
Most successful lawyers have created an online presence. If you have no lawyers in your network, it is good to conduct a few internet searches. The number of results can be overwhelming, so you may consider moving to social media platforms and searching for business pages instead.
Either way, you should be able to find a specialized lawyer within your budget. You can find these lawyers through google search or social media. However, most law firms tend to have a social media page that isn’t as active as other companies, so try not to judge a book by its cover, but it would be worth jotting them down and doing further research.
You can also read into their blogs and see if they have written on any topics relating to your case so you know for sure they have a lawyer for your need.”
Kevin Mako, President and Founder of Mako Design + Invent
Find A Lawyer Using the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory
“This is a resource that is surprisingly not very well known! Easily and readily available at your local library or law library, this directory of lawyers is a fantastic authoritative resource for information on the worldwide legal profession.
The Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory also offers an online lawyer locator service which contains a database of over one million lawyers and law firms in 160 countries. If you’re interested in finding a lawyer, you can search by practice area or geographic location.
This is a resource that many people should try and utilize more because it is easy to comprehend and straightforward. Not to mention, this is something you can do at the tips of your fingers or make a quick stop to your local library.”
Jonathan Finegold, Sr. eCommerce Manager at Medcline
Get a Business Referral
“You may be able to find a lawyer through a business referral. This can be done by asking around in the legal area you are interested in pursuing. For example, if you’re looking for a lawyer specializing in small business law, you can ask around bankers, insurance agents, and real estate agents.
These are people who constantly work with lawyers in their respective fields and are excellent references to point you to a lawyer.
Every company has their set of lawyers so it will be a huge advantage for you to see which ones each company uses, organize their pros and cons, and then you’ll be left with potentially the best business lawyer for your needs.”
Jacob Dayan, CEO of Community Tax
Ask a Lawyer
“If you have a lawyer that you trust, but is not in the specific area that you require help in, then you should still utilize them in finding the right lawyer. Lawyers often have many professional relationships that they have built throughout their time in court or law school that they can use to find the right referral for your specific case and situation.
These kinds of recommendations are invaluable because they have the experience and insider knowledge not only to find the right area of law your potential lawyer may require expertise in, but also the overall best lawyer for you.”
Brandon Brown, CEO of GRIN
Assess the Depth of their Support Network and Resources
Whether you pick a small, medium, or large firm depends on the nature of your legal problem. A larger firm may have more capacity to handle complex caseloads and numerous offices to handle matters in different country regions.
A more prominent firm may also have more depth or breadth of experience than a smaller firm. A larger firm may have more resources to assist you, yet a smaller firm might have the chance to have more personnel with you when it comes to details.
All firms will have an information retrieval system, and it might be helpful to know what you have to assess once hiring the lawyer.
Sacha Ferrandi, CEO and Co-founder at Source Capital
When looking for the right lawyer for you and your goals, the first step is to understand what advice you need and what services you provide. Seek lawyers with reputable credentials and make sure they place their clients’ interests above their own.
When looking for one online, you can input the search terms and narrow down the advisors in your ZIP code who have the right credentials and appropriate billing structure to meet your needs. Nowadays, many firms work with clients remotely.
That allows you to pick a lawyer based on expertise rather than location if you don’t need to meet face-to-face if that is something of interest. It is also within your rights as a potential client to ask an attorney for references from past or present clients.
Daniel Kane, Founder at Ridge
Find A Lawyer By Asking Your Parents!
“One of the best groups of people you could ever ask for lawyer recommendations is your parents or family. Any situation can be thrown at you in life, some good and some bad. For unfortunate or accidental events that may require legal action, you will always need someone you can trust with your case.
Your parents, or older relatives, can be a great resource as they could have run into tight, legal situations in the past as well and have found an excellent lawyer that was successful and continues to be successful in what they do. You can also even ask these lawyers your parents recommend to you about other lawyers they are acquainted with that could be a better fit for the job.”
James Burati, SVP of Sales and Marketing at 1-800-Pack-Rat
Be Prepared to Ask Questions
“Even after finding some potential candidates for lawyers, the search isn’t necessarily over. It’s worthwhile to delve a little deeper and ask your potential lawyers questions to ascertain whether they’re the right fit for your needs or not.
For example, ask them how long they’ve been practicing in the field relevant to your case. Depending on the nature of your needs, a lawyer’s experience could very well make or break your case. Other good questions are asking what their typical client looks like and how often they’ve represented a case similar to yours.
This gives you a better idea of their usual field of work and how familiar they are with cases similar to yours, which can help inform whether you should proceed with them or not. Overall, it’s best to be prudent and dig deeper into the experience of a lawyer, even if you were referred to them from a trustworthy source.”
Bill Lyons, CEO at Griffin Funding
Read more about the type of questions you should ask a lawyer.
Find A Lawyer By Examining Client Reviews
“The simplest way to learn whether a lawyer is good for your case or not is to look for online reviews left by past clients on sites that the lawyer in question doesn’t maintain.
Testimonial from people who have worked with the lawyer in question will provide insight into the experience of working with them more than material from their websites or blurbs would. However, there are some caveats to this approach that you should keep in mind.
One negative review shouldn’t be enough to give you pause, and it’s worth examining the content of any negative reviews you see to determine whether these grievances are legitimate or not.
Additionally, positive reviews that sound overly promotional should also be taken with a grain of salt. As useful as client reviews are, they should only be one of several metrics you use to determine whether a lawyer is a good fit for you, so be sure to corroborate any information gleaned from reviews with other sources.”
Kate Lipman, Sales & Marketing Consultant at embrace Scar Therapy
Leave Reviews For Lawyers
You can leave reviews for lawyers using Clearway Law. Go to our home page and find the lawyer you want to read about. Look at their star rating, and then leave them a review once you have worked with them.
Learn more about how to rate your lawyer properly.
Schedule Meetings First
“You do not have to commit to a lawyer outright, and you have the option to shop around and find the best fit lawyer for your situation. Schedule meetings with a few lawyers and ask them about their experience, their thoughts on your specific case, as well as their legal fees.
Online reviews and personal recommendations are a great way to find a solid lawyer. Still, to find the right lawyer for you, you need to be able to trust their abilities and experiences. These scheduled meetings are the best way to figure out which lawyer is the right fit for you.”
Joe Spector, Founder and CEO of Dutch
Find A Lawyer Utilizing Advertisements
“Looking at advertisements can definitely be a good way to start your search for a lawyer. There is nothing wrong with finding a lawyer through a newspaper or internet ad, as long as you are willing to do some additional research on them.
It is always a good idea to find out as much as you can about your potential lawyer’s previous experience, expertise, and overall credibility, especially if you find them through an ad. In doing some additional research, you may even come across lists of other potential lawyers.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the lawyers you find through ads will most likely be based locally if that is something important to you when searching for a lawyer.”
Gregg Dean, CEO and Co-founder of Layla Sleep
Take The First Step
With the above tips, I hope you find ease, comfort, and clarity when it comes time to find a lawyer. Whether it’s advertisements, word of mouth, or referrals, taking the first step will go long. Not to mention, the first lawyer you meet might recommend you to someone they know.
With taking the first step of reaching out and knowing what questions to ask, you will be ready to meet with your first lawyer.
Author: Alistair Vigier, CEO of Clearway