Your lawyer is your adviser and your representative in the proceedings you are undertaking. Remember that you have selected a lawyer in order to benefit from his or her expertise in the field. Also remember that your lawyer must act on your behalf according to legal rules and professional ethics and cannot stoop to certain dubious tactics that you might be tempted to use.
The quality of the advice that I give you depends mainly on the quality of the information that you give me and on the documentation that you make available. If you lie to me or conceal important information, your case could be affected or even put at risk.
Your demands have to be realistic and reasonable. Excessive or unrealistic demands will be viewed adversely by the Court and will be contested by the opposing party, causing long and expensive hearings in Court. Furthermore, you can be ordered to pay the other party’s fees if you have been abusive.
It is important to keep me fully up to date about your situation and that of your family. You should also give me whatever documentary evidence you have in your possession. You should not omit any information or evidence, since you will not know whether or not it is relevant or if the evidence is admissible. It is not in your interest to give me false information, firstly because it might make my subsequent advice inappropriate, and secondly because a little lie risks undermining your whole credibility and might even cause you to lose the case. Do not forget that all our conversations are confidential and that I am there to help you, support you and guide you – not to judge you.
Ask me for any information and explanations regarding your rights and obligations. Do not hesitate to ask any question that comes to mind and if necessary make notes. Information is fundamental in order to permit you to make an informed decision with full knowledge of the facts of the case. It reduces fears and worries and enables us to correct things if need be. The decisions you take will impact many areas of your life and you must be well informed.
I inform you of your rights and responsibilities and your chances of success. Then, I explain the main steps of the proceedings, so that together we can make the necessary choices and take the right decisions.
I help you to understand the likely outcome of your actions and decisions and supervise the gathering of information, the preparation of appropriate procedures and the decision as to what motions to present in Court, all in a view to finding a fair and cost-efficient solution to your legal concerns.
A good professional relationship requires a clear and precise understanding regarding the legal fees.
When you give me a mandate and I accept it, we sign a document called an Agreement on Fees, which clearly spells out our arrangement.
Lawyers are paid according to an agreed hourly rate. Invoiced time consists of all the work I undertake on your behalf including, meetings, telephone conversations with you or any other person, drafting of procedures, correspondence, preparation for Court, examinations, meetings for settlement, appearances in Court, etc.
During our first meeting, I will give you an estimate of the cost of my services and related services (stenographer, expert, appraiser, etc.). However, it is often difficult or even impossible at the very start of the mandate to give you a precise figure because the length and cost depend on several factors over which I have no control (motions from your ex-spouse, proceedings undertaken by the opposing party, a change in your situation such as loss of job, an opportunity for settlement, etc.).
I keep you up to date with the actions I take and their outcome, and discuss with you the various options open to you. In addition, my invoice is very detailed and includes dates, a description of the work undertaken and the amount for each item.
It goes without saying that if you are willing and able to work with me on the preparation and gathering of information, it will help reduce the cost of fees. Also, if there are tasks that a junior lawyer can carry out at lower cost, I do not hesitate to give you the option, which will also reduce the amount of the invoice.
When my mandate is confirmed, I ask you to pay in advance a mutually agreed amount, depending on the nature, length and complexity of the file. The advance is deposited in my trust account. This advance will be applied to the first invoice.
My invoice is payable on reception. I do not have the resources of a bank and cannot finance your case, nor can I wait for the final outcome before receiving payment. You must do whatever is necessary to obtain the financing for my fees. Payment by Visa is possible. Please note that it is forbidden for a lawyer to charge a percentage of the final settlement obtained in a family law file.