There are many situations where hiring a lawyer is in your best interests. If you are not sure if you need a lawyer, it’s not a bad idea to at least contact one to see if he or she can help (in most cases a first consultation is free). If you feel that you can’t afford a lawyer, you can look into legal aid resources that might be able to help you with your particular situation.
In these instances, hiring a lawyer is essential:
- You could go to jail
- You might lose a lot of money
- You are involved in litigation and your opponent has a lawyer
- The case involves bodily injury
- You are involved in a complicated or messy divorce
- You are doing comprehensive estate planning or need to administer the estate of someone who died
- You want to adopt
- A contract is needed
This is just a sample of situations that should point you toward finding good legal counsel.
A first step that many of us take is to do an Internet search, like searching “saanich lawyer” or “law office victoria bc”. You’ll of course be presented with a plethora of websites, and you’ll want to check out some of them. In addition to assessing the overall feel of the site (and hence the law firm itself, since the website is its virtual “storefront”), ask yourself if the site easy to navigate; can you quickly find what you’re looking for? If you select this law office you will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time on the site, so make sure it doesn’t frustrate you now, or you will regret your choice later.
Hiring a lawyer involves the communication of a lot of information, and in most cases this is best accomplished with face-to-face meetings. Unless you have a reason to hire a lawyer in a different location than where you are (if so, ask if they can conduct business via video calls, for example Skype) you’ll want to look for a lawyer that is convenient to get to.
Is there easy parking close by, and is it free or low-cost (metered)? How long a drive is it, and how easy a drive is it? If you live outside an urban center (like Victoria, BC), will you have to drive all the way downtown or is there a satellite office in a rural area (like our Cordova Bay law office)?
If you have any difficulty with stairs or any other accessibility concerns you should also confirm what accessibility features the location offers. For example, the Velletta & Company law office has full-width doors, wide hallways, ample light and no steps.
Does the firm handle the specific type of legal advice or representation that you need? Some firms are very narrow in their scope, while others have a large team of lawyers with specific domain expertise covering a wide gamut of legal issues. You obviously don’t want to hire an attorney specializing in real estate law for your personal injury case.
How long has the firm been in business? Keep in mind that every law office is a business, and like other businesses, they won’t last long if they don’t provide good value (if you haven’t noticed, the competition is stiff).
Will you be able to meet with your lawyer at a convenient time for you? For those who work, after-work appointments are the only viable option…does the office have typical “banking hours” or do they close late? Can they accommodate evening and weekend consultations? Can home or hospital visits be arranged?
Once you’ve created a shortlist of firms, the best thing you can do is schedule a one-on-one consultation with a lawyer there (either someone you select based on what you learned from the website or whoever is recommended by the firm based on your needs). How you feel about them on an interpersonal level will be the last deciding factor. It’s important to feel good rapport and can freely and easily communicate with them. As there may be lots at stake, you will be putting a lot of trust into not only the lawyer and her or his entire team. Make sure you feel comfortable that you will be getting the best advice and legal representation you can.