COLUMN: Consult with a lawyer before navigating the legal system
Legal-Ease by Sheri Yakashiro
Often, in our first meeting with a client, we discover that they have been attempting to navigate the legal system on their own.
Often they have become too overwhelmed to carry on, or in some cases the judge has requested that they retain legal counsel before continuing with their claim.
Why do clients see us when many times it’s too late? There are a number of reasons why, but it’s often because of one of three reasons: They don’t believe they can afford a lawyer; their “friend” went through the same problem so they just do what their friend did, or; they looked up the answer online. Unfortunately everyone’s situation is different, and the law is an ever-changing creature.
Part of our role is to offer practical advice. As an example, we have clients who attend our office regularly with claims that fall within the small claims jurisdiction ($25,000 or less). Unfortunately, in most cases, you cannot recover your legal fees and so the cost of retaining a lawyer to represent you can often exceed what you might recover. Clearly it wouldn’t make sense to spend $10,000 on a lawyer to recover $5,000, but we can offer options, such as helping prepare you for court without appearing on your behalf.
The best investment anyone can make is to spend an hour with a lawyer. This will generally be at a cost, but you are not required to hire that lawyer on the spot. Ask them all the questions you might have and determine what your options are before getting started.
Overall the cost in having these initial steps assessed by a lawyer can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars by having the proper evidence, law and other resources at your fingertips.
Your first step should always be to see a lawyer. By doing so, you can know that your next step into the legal arena is done properly and with confidence.
Sheri is an associate lawyer with RDM Lawyers LLP in Abbotsford. She practises in the areas of labour and employment law, civil litigation, real estate, business law, and wills and estates law. Questions or comments about this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.