Most often when we are looking for recommendations for services we will ask a friend. It might be we are looking for a plumber, a mortgage broker or a lawyer.
This can quite often result in the perfect choice for you and a service that’s done well and at a good price.
However, when it comes to dealing with legal matters, and in particular those that are emotional and potentially complex, finding the right lawyer is important so that you can create a relationship with them where you are comfortable and can trust them.
So whilst the lawyer that your friend has suggested might have been perfect for them, they may not be the right fit for you.
Here are 5 topics that you may want to think about and make sure your lawyer ticks the boxes for:
This is always one of the first and most important questions people ask and a lawyer should address.
Whilst on the face of it some lawyers may seem to offer cheaper deals, you need to understand whether that cost includes all the work that you need done and whether there are any extras.
Irrespective of which lawyer you choose, they should be able to clearly explain to you and you should understand the basis on which they are charging and the estimated fees that you might have to pay for your particular matter.
- Area of law
Some lawyers have a general practice where they might deal in a number of different areas of law. For example, they might do wills as well as criminal matters and family law matters. If you have a matter that is complex or you would prefer somebody that practices in one area of law, you should make enquiries with a lawyer who has the skills and knowledge to deal with your matter.
It might be that your matter has a cross over into various areas of law. For example, if you have a family law settlement you may also need a law firm that can help with the transfer of a property into your name or commercial lawyer who will prepare a trust deed. You should make those enquiries with your lawyer.
Understanding when your lawyer will and will not be available is important for both of you.
If your lawyer is a sole practitioner then you will need to find out who will be dealing with your matter when they go on leave. If there is a team of lawyers dealing with your matter you will need to understand which lawyer is dealing with which aspect of your matter.
Whilst technology can make communication much easier, you should establish if your lawyer will be available to deal with your matter after hours and on weekends and if they do, whether there’s an extra cost for that.
Generally once your friend has made a recommendation most parties will jump online and google that lawyer to find out what their experience is. Understanding their background and their skills may be helpful to you in choosing your lawyer. If in doubt, you should be able to call up the lawyer who you thinking about using and have a talk with them about your questions before agreeing to use them.
Some lawyers may have other unique or extra training eg, training as a mediator or being an accredited specialist. For example: I have previously practiced as a family lawyer in South Africa, so have the benefit of understanding how family law works in South Africa and am able to explain similarities and differences between South African law and Australian law for any South African clients who instruct me.
Yes lawyers should be friendly. Gone are the days when lawyers are viewed as someone to be scared of; you shouldn’t be nervous about meeting or talking with your lawyer. You should feel comfortable with your lawyer and you should be able to communicate openly and honestly with them so that the work that you do with them can lead to a positive outcome and good experience in dealing with your legal matter.
Feeling comfortable with your choice of lawyer is important
Joelene Nel is a Senior Associate Family Lawyer at McLaughlins Lawyers. She is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.
For trusted legal advice about family law or any other legal matters we invite you to contact the friendly team at McLaughlins Lawyers on (07) 5591 5099.
Author: Joelene Nel
Director: Sophie Pearson
Date: 15 July 2019