Questions to ask your Lawyer
If you are looking for a lawyer to provide you with unbundled legal services or you have booked your first conversation with your unbundled lawyer, here are some questions that you can consider asking:
Before the meeting:
Review the lawyer’s profile on the Roster
Review the lawyer’s website
Look for articles, materials or checklists on the lawyer’s site relevant to your matter – review them
Gather and organize all your documents including any court documents and correspondence from your ex-partner
Consider preparing a brief list of key facts and events in order of date (a chronology)
Fill out any intake form provided by your lawyer
Take everything to the first meeting.
Ask for an “initial consultation” during your first session which will provide you with key information, applicable law, options for you to consider and a roadmap for what happens next.
Unless it is clear from the lawyer’s profile or website, ask how much experience the lawyer has doing family law and providing unbundled legal services to families.
Ask who else at the firm will be involved in your matter and what exactly they will be doing. Consider the pros and cons of having a paralegal or junior lawyer doing part of the work (at lower cost).
Ask for contact information for all of those people; ask who you should contact, especially in an emergency. (Sometimes the lawyer’s assistant is best!)
Ask to see a draft of the retainer agreement that the lawyer uses for unbundling (also called “limited scope legal services”).
Ask to go through that agreement in detail.
Ask to review the scheduled list of tasks and discuss who will do what in your matter.
Explain to your lawyer what role(s) you want to play and what activities/tasks you want to do. Identify those activities/tasks that you do not want to do. Seek your lawyer’s advice about how best to allocate tasks between you. Review the “Questions to ask yourself” guide in the Client Toolkit.
Make sure that all decisions are recorded in writing.
Don’t be intimidated. Ask questions if you do not understand or are not clear; do not go away with assumptions that might be incorrect. And if you think of other questions later, follow up with your lawyer.
Ask for information about how the lawyer’s fees will be calculated and paid.
Ask whether a flat fee / “pay as you go approach” is available.
If the lawyer uses hourly billing, ask about the rate for the lawyer and anyone else at the firm who will be involved in your matter.
Ask whether you can pay using e-transfer, credit card etc.
Ask about the cost of expenses/disbursements that the lawyer will incur and pass along to you. Discuss what kind of expenses are likely, and what role you will have in approving such expenses in advance.
Ask whether the lawyer’s services can be provided using technology (to save time and effort for both of you). Consider using phone, email, web-conferencing or shared platforms if they are available.
Ask your lawyer what you can do to keep costs down (example: gather up your questions and make one call to ask them all).