Prepa­ra­tion vi­tal when deal­ing with your lawyer

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION/NEWS -

Some peo­ple do not need to see their lawyer of­ten. It may only be for a will or house trans­ac­tion ev­ery so of­ten.

Oth­ers, need to get ad­vice and as­sis­tance far more of­ten.

If you need ad­vice, it pays to be pre­pared.

Do­ing the prepa­ra­tion your­self will save time and money.

If you en­gage a lawyer, you should make the most of your ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion.

Prepa­ra­tion will help you get all your is­sues on the ta­ble, and en­sure your lawyer gets the in­for­ma­tion needed to ad­vise you prop­erly on the law, your rights, and your op­tions.

We sug­gest you write a brief sum­mary of what’s hap­pened (in­clud­ing key dates and events), ques­tions you have, and your goals.

It is also use­ful to write the names and con­tact de­tails of the peo­ple in­volved in your le­gal is­sue.

It is use­ful to bring as much in­for­ma­tion to your con­sul­ta­tion as pos­si­ble, in­clud­ing copies of court doc­u­ments, con­tracts, or letters about your mat­ter.

At your con­sul­ta­tion, ex­pect your lawyer to ask lots of ques­tions.

Your lawyer will want to fully un­der­stand what has hap­pened and the le­gal is­sues in­volved.

Ev­ery­thing you tell your lawyer is treated in con­fi­dence, so feel free to talk frankly.

Once your lawyer has enough in­for­ma­tion, he or she will usu­ally talk to you about the le­gal is­sues in­volved, what the ap­pli­ca­ble law is, and your op­tions.

If your case is com­plex, your lawyer may want to do fur­ther re­search be­fore ad­vis­ing you.

By the end of the meet­ing, you should know:

If your lawyer needs any fur­ther in­for­ma­tion from you

What your lawyer will do next (if any­thing)

What you should do next (if any­thing)

Also, pos­si­bly how much you can ex­pect to spend in le­gal fees for the mat­ter or next stage of the mat­ter.

What will you need to in­vest in your le­gal is­sue?

The in­vest­ment you need to make de­pends on how im­por­tant it is to you.

Some things you can do your­self, such as be­ing fully pre­pared for meet­ings or dis­cus­sions – or­gan­is­ing the pa­per­work into a log­i­cal or­der etc will make it quicker and eas­ier for your lawyer to give you ad­vice.

The num­ber of times your lawyer will need to meet with you, or meet with wit­nesses and ap­pear in court to re­solve a le­gal prob­lem is of­ten hard to ini­tially es­ti­mate.

There are of­ten sev­eral le­gal op­tions for try­ing to re­solve your le­gal prob­lems with dif­fer­ent costs, so it is im­por­tant to dis­cuss the pros and cons of all op­tions and es­tab­lish a plan you feel com­fort­able with.

Lawyers can charge for the ser­vices they pro­vide in sev­eral ways.

Some­times it is at an hourly rate for the time they work for you.

You can dis­cuss how the lawyer pro­poses to charge and pay­ment op­tions.

At other times there is a set fee for a par­tic­u­lar type of mat­ter.

Lawyers may charge for spe­cial ex­per­tise or ur­gency.

Some­times a bill is made up of sev­eral dif­fer­ent types of charges and there are many fac­tors to be taken into ac­count in set­ting a rea­son­able fee. You will need to pay GST as well. You will also usu­ally need to pay all pay­ments (dis­burse­ments) the lawyer makes on your be­half.

Usu­ally your lawyer can give you an idea of what they will be, but some­times they are not known un­til fur­ther down the track.

Items will de­pend on the sort of mat­ter in­volved, but can in­clude court fil­ing fees, travel costs (such as air­fares and ac­com­mo­da­tion), toll calls, ser­vice agents’ fees, and ex­perts’ costs (valuers, sur­vey­ors, engi­neers).

Your lawyer will tell you how of­ten and un­der what cir­cum­stances you will need to pay fees and usu­ally will let you know regularly what the costs on your mat­ter are so you can as­sess the level of in­vest­ment you are mak­ing and bud­get for the costs.

He or she should also dis­cuss your pref­er­ences in re­la­tion to the re­port­ing they do to you, so they fit in with sys­tems you may have. Some clients need monthly re­ports. Oth­ers pre­fer them quar­terly etc. Be­fore any sub­stan­tive work is done, lawyers are re­quired to set out to clients the terms on which they will act. Dis­cuss these with your lawyer to en­sure you are happy with what you agree to.

All lawyers are re­quired to have an in­ter­nal dis­putes res­o­lu­tion process, so if you are not happy with some­thing (eg, a bill) you can raise the mat­ter.

If you are not sat­is­fied with the out­come you can also raise is­sues with the New Zealand Law So­ci­ety.

It can in­ves­ti­gate mat­ters (in­clud­ing bills), so no clients should feel they have been over­charged and have no av­enues to ad­dress that is­sue.

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