You should expect quite a lot. A lawyer is both a professional, licensed in Ontario by the Law Society of Upper Canada, and a business person. As a professional, a lawyer has a number of duties and obligations to you. Some of those duties include:
Your lawyer should be knowledgeable and professional and provide a quality service. Talk to your friends, neighbors and associates about their experiences with their lawyer. Many lawyers will meet for an initial consultation at no-charge.
Meet and make an assessment before you retain your lawyer.
Confidentiality and Privilege
You should expect that confidential information that you disclose to your lawyer remains confidential. Almost everything that you tell your lawyer is protected by lawyer-client privilege, which means that nobody can force disclosure of the contents of any communications between you and your lawyer, subject to very limited exceptions.
You should expect your lawyer to be responsive to your communications. Your lawyer should promptly return phone calls and emails, or arrange for a time to meet where appropriate.
You Lawyer also Runs a Business
This means that fees are charged to you cover off the costs of operating the business, paying rent and assistants and providing a fair return for the lawyer. Your lawyer should have an open and frank discussion with you regarding fees and disbursements at the time of engagement. While it is not always possible to provide certainty regarding the fees that will be charged, your lawyer should be able to provide to you an estimate or range based upon that lawyer’s experience in similar matters.
A signal characteristic of the relationship between a client and lawyer is that of trust. A lawyer is obliged to act on your behalf with complete fairness, honor, honesty, loyalty, and fidelity. Above all other qualities, you should expect, and obtain, full and complete trust in your lawyer.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This publication is the first installment of our firm’s Legal Matters series, which answers a reader’s question every week. If you have a general legal question that you would like to have addressed please send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org