Finding The Right Lawyer: What to Look For in your Legal Advisor
By LawyerLinx,
July 17, 2014

Irrespective of what your legal needs are, working with the right lawyer is critical. Not only will your choice of lawyer impact the outcome but it will also affect the related costs, time and your overall experience through what can be a very stressful time.

Despite the real consequences of choosing a lawyer, finding the right lawyer, one who specializes in the relevant area of law or industry, one who is efficient and effective and responsive to your goals and interests, is not an easy task. Looking at the phone book, advertisements or speaking to your friends or family is insufficient in today’s highly specialized legal profession. These traditional modes of searching for a lawyer do not provide you with sufficient information to allow you to make an informed decision.

Legal Expertise

Ensure the lawyer devotes a significant amount of his or her practice to the area of law concerning your legal needs. For instance, if you are making plans for your estate and drawing up a testament, ensure the lawyer practices in wills and estates. This ensures the lawyer has the requisite expertise and experience to provide the highest level of legal service.

Adequate expertise may also reduce the time required to provide the advise or service as, in the example, a wills and estates lawyer will be well versed in the area and any recent developments that can impact the outcome.

Location

In Canada, lawyers are provincially licensed. An Ontario lawyer, for example, is governed by the Law Society of Upper Canada and can practice law in Ontario.

While not appropriate in some instances, some legal services can be provided by lawyers who are within your province but outside of your immediate geographic location. Consider whether given your particular circumstances and legal services required using a lawyer in a smaller city or town. Using a lawyer outside of major urban centers may incur lower fees. With the technological advancements, working with a lawyer who is physically in another part of the province may be an appropriate alternative.

Of course, in matters involving prolonged litigation and court appearances, working with a local lawyer has clear advantages.

Industry Specific Experience & Business Acumen 

If your legal needs relate to a specific industry, you should consider searching for a lawyer with industry specific experience. This will allow the lawyer to provide you with proactive and industry specific legal advice rooted in the understanding of the inner workings of a particular industry.

For example, if you are opening up a new hotel or restaurant business and are looking for a business lawyer to incorporate a new company for this purpose, you would be wise to find a business lawyer with prior experience within the hospitality industry.  This lawyer will provide you with value-added legal advice based on their experience and knowledge of the risks associated with operating such a business and will be able to better arrange your legal affairs in order to minimize your risks.

Other Factors

In addition to the expertise, location and industry knowledge, the following are other factors you should consider when deciding on the right lawyer for you:

  • Are you comfortable with the lawyer (For example, if you are looking for a family lawyer to represent you in an amicable divorce, you would be more aligned to seek out a collaborative family law lawyer). Ensure the lawyer’s style and approach to practicing law is aligned with your goals you have for the service.
  • Is the lawyer responsive to your communications?
  • If English is not your first language, would you benefit from working with a lawyer who speaks your primary language?
  • Will the lawyer be doing all or the majority of the work on your file or will some of the work be delegated to other lawyers and law clerks? Ask the lawyer to give you an approximate plan for providing the legal service to you.

***

This article should not be relied upon as legal advice - the comments may not be applicable to you and may not be up to date. If you have any questions, you should contact a lawyer.