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Getting a Second Legal Opinion: Essential or Superfluous?

The frequency of those determined to seek a second legal opinion from another lawyer is certainly more the exception than it is the rule. Of course this is somewhat of a bold statement. Other determining factors such as the particular circumstances of the action and the type of law in question could vary this standpoint. To put this in comparable terms, a second legal opinion is sought the same way a patient undergoing surgery seeks a second opinion from another doctor (Taylor, 2009). There are two prevalent reasons why someone would want to seek a second opinion. First, one might not like the initial opinion given by the first lawyer. Second, one might want to be doubly sure that a particular course of action to be taken is in line with what another lawyer would have advised (thus affirming and reinforcing the validity of the initial course of action). Lawyers are a proud bunch and it is very likely that a lawyer will not be overly agreeable to another lawyer qualifying their opinion. With that being said, a lawyer will not restrict a client from proceeding to procure a second opinion where the client so desires. Now that it is clear on what a second legal opinion is, the remainder of this paper addresses implications surrounding said secondary legal opinions.

In relation to Criminal law, it is not unreasonable to understand a client’s desire to have a lawyer predict a particular outcome, especially if a possible outcome of the course of action could take away one’s liberty. Clients do need to recognize that predicting outcomes in law is a skill obtained over many years of legal experience. Many lawyers often prescribe advice or a rate of success via a percentage. For example, a lawyer could indicate that there is a 40% chance of acquittal, 20% chance of the Crown withdrawing the charges, and a 40% chance of conviction. It is important for clients to realize that there are no absolutes in law, take for example where the crown and the defence have agreed to a plea bargain, it remains up to the judge to decide whether to accept said plea bargain. The judge could very well believe that the plea bargain is not equitable in law and could render a wholly different outcome. The point of this section is to relay that in the right circumstances a second opinion may be of value and that it is impossible for any lawyer to offer a legal opinion in absolute terms.

At this point, one should now comprehend the usual method and terms that a criminal legal opinion is typically prescribed in. The predominant motivations for seeking a second opinion are mentioned above, and further, Mitchell (2015) postulates that clients also seek second opinions due to the belief that their lawyer seems overwhelmed, their lawyer is not prompt or punctual, their lawyer should be fighting harder, or their lawyer is too expensive. In citing these motivations, Mitchell (2015) draws on the human element of the legal system in that each lawyer will have his or her own strong points as well as weak points. In any case, before seeking out a second opinion, it is advisable to address your particular concerns with ones lawyer (so as to remedy them immediately), to then indicate to him or her that you will be seeking a second opinion, and to do so, so that he or she will not be blindsided by another lawyer. Taylor (2009) indicates that one should always ask the additional lawyer whether they would provide a second opinion, as many lawyers do not.  Please note that one is not obliged to indicate to one’s lawyer that a second opinion is being sought, this is simply a matter of etiquette and good form. This is to say that one does not have to fire the first lawyer if one is only seeking validation of the initial legal opinion. However, if one chooses to proceed on the advice of the second lawyer, one would likely have to retain said lawyer, and intimate a termination of the previous solicitor-client relationship. Before such steps are taken though, consider that voicing ones displeasure with the legal services provided will likely have the effect of remedying the issue.

Though lawyers are typically regarded as possessing keen intellect based on the rigorous process of becoming a lawyer as well as subsequent experience on the job, it is logical to assume that some lawyers are better than others. One may prefer a lawyer who specializes in criminal matters to another who operates a general practice. Regardless of their specialty, one can expect that a lawyer will advise on a course of action to the best of his or her ability, and if said ability was seemingly insufficient, than perhaps a second opinion is necessary. Taylor (2009) posits that obtaining a second opinion can actually be a win-win, as the first opinion will either be affirmed as valuable, or the client may part ways with the first lawyer (which likely wastes less time for all involved).

The Aitken Robertson Advantage

There are certain types of legal practices that make the notion of a second opinion redundant. At Aitken Robertson Professional Corporation clients benefit from a team-oriented approach to every case taken on (Aitken, 2015). This is to say that if you hire one of our lawyers, you are actually receiving the advice of up to six lawyers for the cost of one. The lawyers work together on files and advise each other so that the client gets the best and most accurate advice possible. This approach saves the client money as it encompasses up to five other legal opinions on one specific matter, one could call it, ‘built-in validation’. With over 100 years of cumulative legal experience, the six lawyers at Aitken Robertson make the notion of a second opinion superfluous.

To conclude, in determining whether a second opinion is superfluous, it really depends on your level of confidence with the lawyer’s quality of work, and whether you are dealing with a one-off opinion or an opinion derived from a number of lawyers. Each particular case will bring with it it’s own facts and circumstances and as such, there is no universal indication as to whether a second opinion should be sought. It is posited that the best method here is to attempt to work the matter out professionally with all the lawyers involved, and proceed on what is in ones best interest.

 

References

Aitken, R. (2015) The Aitken Robertson Advantage. Accessed July 6 2015,

available: www.fightthecharges.com.

Mitchell, C. (2015) Second Opinion Lawyers. Accessed July 6 2015,

available: www.secondopinionlawyers.com.

Taylor, S. (2009) “By All Means, Seek a second Legal Opinion”.

Abbotsford News. Canadian Periodicals Index Quarterly.

Accessed July 6, 2015, available: http://go.galegroup.com.

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