4 Questions to Ask Before Retaining a Family Lawyer

How many cases like this have you handled?

When hiring any lawyer, you want to know that they have experience handling cases like yours. Even if you hire a junior lawyer, you can ask this about their principle – the lawyer who will be overseeing their work. That way you know that you are in experienced hands.

Who will be doing the work on my case?

Lawyers often have junior lawyers, paralegals and clerks working under them to complete a variety of tasks from writing letters to doing research. If the person you are meeting with is not doing the strategizing for you, or they are not the ones appearing in court on your behalf, then the lawyer you are retaining should be able to explain why this is the case.

Have you ever been sanctioned by or had accusations against you brought before the Law Society?

Lawyers are held to a high moral and professional standard in Canada. If your potential lawyer has been a bit naughty and crossed the line in the past, the Law Society may have tried and sanctioned them for their misconduct. This can include:

  • misleading clients,
  • acting in bad faith,
  • treating other lawyers poorly,
  • and more.

Lawyers who have been suspended or disbarred in Ontario can be viewed on the Law Society of Upper Canada’s web page. You want your lawyer to have a good reputation with other lawyers and especially the judge who will be hearing your case – this might impact the outcome of your matter. If your lawyer is particularly hard to work with it may hurt your chances of a quick and favorable settlement.

What alternatives are there to trial?

In Ontario, family lawyers are ethically bound to offer alternatives to going to trial. They cannot push a matter to trial just to raise their own profits. Options can include:

  • mediation,
  • arbitration,
  • private domestic contracts,  and
  • settlement.

Going to trial is expensive business, and the Courts are busy so they want to limit the number of cases that need to be heard. If a matter can reasonably be settled outside of court, then your lawyer ought to make that a priority.

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