Hiring a lawyer, particularly, a criminal defence lawyer, is an important decision that requires careful consideration and research. We understand that this is a daunting process, especially, during a challenging time in one’s life. We thought we would share some helpful, simple, and practical tips to get you started.
Let’s bite the bullet and address one of the most stressful concerns upfront. Your first thoughts may be, how much will this cost? And can I even afford a lawyer? It’s no secret that legal fees are costly. Lawyers joke all the time that they can’t afford to hire a lawyer. How do you overcome this financial hurdle?
Some sole practitioners and firms including Aitken Robertson offer free consultations. This is an opportunity to openly discuss your legal issues with a lawyer. During the consultation, a lawyer can provide you with basic legal information, clarify your rights and obligations, assess whether they can assist you and or point you toward other resources or options if they are unable to take on your matter. The Law Society Referral Service is a free resource that helps connect individuals with lawyers who offer free 30-minute consultations.
Additionally, depending on your financial circumstances and your criminal matter, you may be eligible to receive free or subsidized legal assistance through Legal Aid Ontario. Should you obtain a legal aid certificate you can find a number of private lawyers who accept legal aid clients.
When researching whether a criminal lawyer is the right fit for your legal and financial needs, you can also inquire about unbundled legal services also known as limited scope retainers. If a lawyer offers unbundled services, this means that it is possible to hire them for only part of your matter which may allow you to save some money.
From a practical and cost effective consideration, you can agree to allow junior lawyers or students to do part of the work on your file. You still obtain quality legal services supervised by senior lawyers yet you will be charged at a lower hourly rate for their services. Moreover, explore your employee benefits. Some companies provide employees with access to legal services, such as the opportunity to chat with a lawyer for summary advice over the phone.
Now that you have learned how to choose a criminal lawyer that may be more affordable, how do you choose a criminal lawyer that is equipped to deal with your matter?
Why not use tools that are readily available to you? Start with a basic google search. Law firm websites are often packed with help information. Typically, you may be able to find answers to important questions just by reading a firm’s website. Whether you peruse or thoroughly review a law firm’s website, here is what you may learn:
- about the firm, when the firm was established, the practice areas, whether the firm has won awards or litigated specific cases successfully;
- bios on the legal team this can help you determine how many years the lawyer that you are profiling has been practicing law and whether this lawyer has been designated a Certified Specialist from the Law Society of Ontario;
- legal information, some websites provide legal information, in the form of videos, blogs, and hyperlinks to resources;
- reviews, you may also be able to read reviews and testimonials from previous clients;
- fee structure, understand how you will be billed for services provided.
This information can help you determine whether a particular firm is the right fit for your needs. Also, don’t be afraid to ask a criminal lawyer a few basic questions, such as “have you dealt with matters like my matter before”? or “will I get charged every time I send you an e-mail or call you?”
Remember, you are in the “driver’s seat” and you deserve to get the optimal possible legal defence that you can find and afford. So ask the questions that you need and do as much background research as you can. When you choose a criminal lawyer or a firm to represent you, you should feel confident in their ability to advocate a very effective defence for you or your family member.
If you have questions about the services that we provide at Aitken Robertson call our firm to set up your free 30-minute consultation. A member of our legal team will be happy to answer your questions. We want our clients to be fully informed about not only the legal services that we provide but also what to expect as a client when you work with us.