Get legal advice as quickly as possible to learn about your rights and responsibilities before committing to any settlement or agreement.
Prepare for the first appointment
Bring a summary of the case, in writing if possible.
Bring relevant documents (see point 8).
Have a list of the relevant events in date order.
Have a list of full names and addresses of all people and companies involved, if possible.
Have an idea of the desired outcome.
Help your lawyer help you
Be very clear about what you are seeking and what your priorities are.
Listen to what your lawyer tells you, even if you do not want to hear it. Your lawyer does not want to upset you; they are providing legal advice.
Be prepared to compromise, negotiate, and mediate.
There may be many ways to achieve your desired outcome.
Be prepared to accept that your desired outcome may not be legal or practical
Keep your lawyer informed
Give your lawyer all the information you have and keep your lawyer informed about events throughout the course of your matter.
Tell the truth. If you give your lawyer incorrect information, your lawyer will give you advice based on the wrong information.
Do not keep things secret.
If you hide something from your lawyer, it could be to your detriment and could ruin any chance of success.
If you acquire new information, let your lawyer know as soon as possible, as it may change the action that needs to be taken or changing documents.
Ask questions as soon as you have them
Ensure you understand what is being planned and the possible consequences.
Respond promptly to requests
The quicker you provide information, approve documents or give instructions the more efficiently your lawyers can work.
This will mean documents can be prepared more efficiently, without incurring the extra expense of contacting you or requesting extensions of court dates.
Read draft documents carefully
Unfortunately, draft documents can contain errors. We may have misheard or misread information, you may have become aware that you have given us incorrect information. Let us know as soon as possible.
Make a note of all the questions you need to ask or the information you require.
Do you really need to speak to your lawyer, or can you leave a detailed message with our receptionist.
Would an email be more efficient as your lawyer can read it and give considered advice?
Use email efficiently
It might be useful to set up a separate email address to use when communicating. This means that all relevant emails are in one place and do not get ‘lost’ among personal emails.
With email you have a record of what you asked or information you provided and the lawyer’s response.
Writing out your instructions, questions or responses, helps clarify them in your mind.
It is often useful to draft an email and send it the next day. This gives you a chance to review it, ensure it is concise and includes everything you need. Sometimes, reviewing an unsent email will clarify the information and you may not need to ask that question.
If you have a series of questions or pieces of information, organize them in a clear numbered list.
Scan and save documents with a meaningful name that includes a date, then send them as attachments.
If your lawyer sends an email with a list of question, respond with your answers embedded below each question.
If you do need further clarification, a follow-up phone call may then be more appropriate.
Do some of the work yourself
Ask your lawyer what you can do yourself to reduce your costs. This may be as simple as
Obtaining, photocopying and scanning documents
Contacting third parties to obtain information.
Preparing your responses to questions in electronic format, so they are easily inserted into documents.
Provide all relevant documents in an organised manner
Organise documents into relevant groups, e.g. court documents, letters from the other side, invoices, bank statements, etc.
For each group of documents, put them in date order. This way you can quickly find out if any are missing, and organize to get replacements.
If we have to do these two things, you will be charged.
Once you have organized the documents, scan or make photocopies to keep for your records, so you know what you have supplied.
If you want to make notes about information on specific documents, do not write on the original in pen – make a copy and write on that to draw attention to an entry. You can use a post-it note – but these can come loose.
Provide new documents quickly, when you receive them.
Read your Letter of Engagement and Cost Agreement
Ask questions if you do not understand them
Sign and return these quickly as the lawyer cannot start work without them.