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How do I prepare for my meeting with a lawyer or paralegal?

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How do I prepare for my meeting with a lawyer or paralegal?
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Law Society of Ontario
Legal Aid Ontario
Ontario's Family Law Limited Scope Services Project

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How do I prepare for my meeting with a lawyer or paralegal?
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Reviewed: 
October 10, 2018
Answer

Find a lawyer or paralegal that will take your case and you're comfortable with.

Arrange a meeting or phone appointment with the lawyer or paralegal to talk about your legal problem in more detail. Ask if there will be a charge. Some lawyers don't charge for the first meeting.

Ask the lawyer or paralegal questions about their practice or firm. Ask if they have experience with similar cases, and what they think are the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Ask about the options you have to deal with your legal problem.

After your first meeting or phone call with the lawyer or paralegal, you can decide if you want to hire them.

Unbundled services

Some lawyers offer "unbundled services" or "limited scope retainer" services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case. For example, instead of hiring a lawyer for your whole case, you can hire them for one or more of the following:

  • summary advice to learn about your legal options
  • preparing documents like a court application, tribunal application, or a demand letter
  • appearances like a court hearing, tribunal hearing, board hearing, or mediation
  • coaching on the court or tribunal process or how to submit evidence

This can be useful if:

  • you can't afford to hire a lawyer to help with your whole legal problem
  • you hired a lawyer to help with your problem, but need to reduce costs

Some lawyers have websites that say if they offer unbundled services. Others do not, but if you ask them, they may be willing to offer it to you.

You can find directories of lawyers that offer unbundled services on the The National Self-Represented Litigants Project website and Ontario's Family Law Limited Scope Services Project website.

Language Rights

In many cases you have the right to government services and legal proceedings in French, including hearings before French-speaking decision‑makers. If you choose to have your trial or hearing in French, it's important to hire a lawyer who speaks French. Ask them about your French language rights.

Your lawyer can also help arrange for a translator in another language at your trial or hearing if you need one.

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