In preparation for your meeting*

Be prepared

Before you speak with or visit a lawyer, it is a good idea to write down a summary of your matter, including questions and the contact details of all parties involved. You may also need to collate any relevant documents and show them to your lawyer. Being prepared will save your lawyer’s time and help to reduce costs.

When making your appointment, some questions to ask questions inlcude:

  • What documentation do I need to bring to the first meeting?
  • Is my first appointment free?
  • Can I change my lawyer?

During your initial meeting*

Use the first meeting with your lawyer to get as much information as you can from them. There is no guarantee this is the lawyer that is right for you. You want a lawyer whom you feel comfortable with, and whose advice you can take with confidence.

It is advisable to take notes of what is said for your own records.

The law can be complex with lots of unfamiliar words and processes. If you are confused or have any questions, ask your lawyer for an explanation as soon as possible. This will minimise the likelihood of misunderstandings further down the track, and ensure the advice you receive is appropriate

 Questions to ask your lawyer

We suggest for you to attend your first meeting with the lawyer with a prepared list of questions to ask. This will assist the lawyer in ensuring that the legal advice you receive in the appointment addresses your matter.

We suggest asking questions such as:

  • What are the costs likely to be? How do I make payments?
  • What if I’m unhappy with the costs?
  • What documentation do I need to bring to the first meeting?
  • How long will my matter take?
  • If I’m taking action against someone, what are my prospects of success?
  • Can I ask for a progress report?

 Additional Questions

If you have time in your appointment, we suggest asking additional questions such as:

  • Does the lawyer have experience in your kind of problem?
  • Can the lawyer begin work immediately?
  • What steps are involved in solving the problem?
  • What are the chances of success, and would it be better to try to negotiate a settlement?
  • Is there anything I can do to cut down the time the lawyer has to spend on the case, and so reduce my costs?

Tell your lawyer if you have any concerns regarding your personal safety.

Before retaining the lawyer

Each Law Practice and lawyer work differently from one another and may have different cost structures. It is important for you as the client, to have discussed costs with your lawyer and how you will be billed. Ensure that you have read the cost agreement carefully before signing it and ask the lawyer questions on anything you are unsure of.

Tips

It is important to bear in mind before you retain the lawyer, that:

  • You make it clear you want to be kept informed of all developments within your matter;
  • If you may be entitled to legal aid, mention this to the lawyer as not all lawyers take legal aid work; and
  • With limited exception, when or as soon as practicable after being retained, the lawyer must provide you in writing with information disclosing costs, including:
    • The basis on which they will be calculated; and
    • An estimate of total costs.
  • The name for a costs agreement or costs disclosure can vary depending on the firm. It can be called a retainer, a costs disclosure agreement, or even a client engagement agreement.

After the meeting

Follow instructions

To allow your lawyer to serve you efficiently, follow their instructions as quickly as possible. For instance your lawyer may request more information or documentation. Use and ask for a checklist of what you need to provide them and when they require it by.

Keep in contact

Legal issues often take a long time to resolve. Your lawyer should keep you up to date with the progress of your matter. Agree with them on how frequently you will be informed and through what method, such as by telephone or email.

Also inform your lawyer immediately if the circumstances of your matter or personal circumstances change. Even slight changes may mean that your lawyer will have to take a different approach.

Trust your lawyer

To practise law in Western Australia lawyers must have successfully completed a law degree and a practical legal training course, and been admitted to practice.

Carefully consider what your lawyer advises you to do. Their advice is based on their years of experience and training. Sometimes the best course of action may not be what you want to hear, but your lawyer, as your advocate, is obliged to have your best legal interests at heart.