Marketing of legal services is a tricky business. The Law Society of Ontario says that it is improper to advertise yourself as the best or that you specialize in a certain area of practice, as these claims are not bona fide and could be misleading. This is to protect the consumer of legal services. That’s all well and good, but the average person will only shop for these types of things maybe two or three times in their life (with a little luck), so it is difficult to know what you are looking for. Reading reviews online is an excellent start, but you should really take advantage of free consultations in an attempt to start to get to know potential representatives. Below you will find some important factors to consider before making a decision on hiring a legal rep in Kingston.
Are they knowledgeable?
The vast majority of provincial offences are charged to motorists under the Highway Traffic Act. It goes without saying that a paralegal or lawyer you hired to represent you should be very familiar with this Act, and the most accessible and effective defences to its various sections. There are some hidden nuggets of information that an effective representative will need to possess that maybe aren’t so apparent. Things like:
- where and how to file tickets in various jurisdictions,
- how to request the disclosure of evidence,
- how to go about filing a motion to reopen or appeal, or
- the easiest and most convenient way to get a car out of the impound,
are all important aspects of dealing with a highway traffic matter that you definitely want your paralegal to be intimately familiar with.
Do they know the key players and do the key players know them?
Now, I am not saying that one should swoon if a potential representative name-drops every local justice of the peace or the entire Kingston provincial prosecutors’ office when you have your consultation, but you should be wary of anyone who can’t name at least one. The system is adversarial, meaning that it is your representative versus the prosecutor, but they should have a good working relationship.
Are they in good standing with the Law Society of Ontario?
The Law Society makes it very easy to look up your potential representative on their public website. This is a very easy way to illuminate possibilities, if not make a final decision.
Do you trust them?
A legal representative makes their living by retaining clients, and they want to retain you. There are many things that a paralegal is not allowed to say, and of course many things they are allowed to say, to get you to do just that. Beware of anyone who uses the word “guarantee”, as this is inherently misleading. No one can guarantee you an outcome. Judge their style and comfort. It is a good sign if they encourage you to have a number of consultations to ensure you have the right fit. Write down what they say with a pen and a paper so you can fact check, if it will make you feel better.
Do they have a good track record with your particular charge?
As with any professional skillsets, legal representatives have their strengths and weaknesses. Ask them how many times they have defended your particular charge, be it stunt driving, careless driving, driving with no insurance, or driving with a hand-held device. Ask them how many times they have been successful in that defence. How many rimes have they done so in Kingston? Again, write it down so you can check it out later.
If you have been charged with a provincial offence in the Kingston area, make us here at Aitken Robertson one of your first calls. We’d love to audition for you!