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Questions you should ask your lawyer

If legal aid is not available to you and you are looking for help from a private lawyer, you should read this first.

Is my first appointment free?

Some private lawyers provide the first appointment free. Ask about this when you make an appointment.

Is the lawyer experienced in this area of work?

After you have explained your legal problem, ask the lawyer what experience they have had with this type of problem. Many lawyers specialise in particular areas of law. Also find out who will actually be doing the work. Ask to be told if your work is referred to another lawyer in the firm.

What options do I have to resolve my problem?

Ask the lawyer to outline what options are available to you to try to resolve your legal problem. This should help you choose the option/s that suit you best. If you don't understand something, ask the lawyer to explain. Ask about ways to solve your problem without going to court.

What are my chances of success?

Ask the lawyer about your chances of success. Discuss what you would consider to be a successful result. Take time to think things over.

What work will the lawyer be doing?

Make sure the lawyer understands what you want to achieve. Ask them to explain how the work will be done and the steps involved. Also ask about how you will be informed about the progress of your case.

How long will it take?

Ask if anything can be done to speed things up. Ask if there might be delays and how they can be avoided.

How much will it cost?

Shop around, and remember, you can negotiate. Cost is not the only factor in choosing a lawyer. In most cases a lawyer must advise you in writing how much the work will cost or, if that is not possible, how costs will be calculated.

Ask if they will take the case on a 'no win, no fee basis', and if so, what this means. 'No win, no fee' does not mean completely free – you may need to pay the other side's costs if you lose, and also 'disbursements' like the cost of medical reports.

Ask what else you might have to pay and if you have to pay anyone else's legal costs if you lose the case. Tell the lawyer you want to be kept informed about costs as the case progresses.

Don't sign any agreement about fees unless you understand it and are happy with it.

When do I have to pay?

In most cases your lawyer must advise you in advance and in writing how and when you will have to pay. You are entitled to receive a detailed bill before you pay. You may need to pay some money up front. Some lawyers will agree to wait until the matter ends before you pay them. Remember how and when you pay can always be negotiated.

What if I have a problem with my bill or my lawyer?

You should first try to resolve the problem with your lawyer. You are entitled to have your bill reviewed if you are not happy with it. Contact the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner for advice about this or any other problems you are having with your lawyer.

Need general information?

LawAccess NSW 1300 888 529 or 1300 889 529 TTY

For legal information, referrals, and in some cases advice

Looking for a lawyer?

Law Society of NSW Solicitor Referral Service
T: 9926 0300 or 1800 422 713 (country callers only):
E: ereferral@lawsocnsw.asn.au

Do you have a complaint about a private lawyer?

The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner 9377 1800 or 1800 242 958 (country callers only)
Email: olsc@agd.nsw.gov.au

 

 

This information is intended as a general guide to the law. It should not be relied on as legal advice and it is recommended that you talk to a lawyer about your particular situation.

At the time of updating, the information shown is correct but may be subject to change. If you need more help, contact LawAccess on 1300 888 529.

A print copy of this brochure may be ordered online.

July 2014