Jordan Peterson’s recent best selling “12 Rules” provides a blueprint for navigating through life’s obstacle courses. But, when choosing your criminal or traffic offence lawyer for that critical time you need one, a 400 page book is not required, these 400 words and 3 simple rules will suffice:
- YOUR LAWYER MUST BE YOUR CHOSEN LEADER
In the court process, your lawyer is your best, and often, only friend. In our adversarial criminal justice system, the Police and Crown Attorney are not on your side, only your lawyer is. They are the person you are choosing to lead and advise you. You must ensure your lawyer and their firm’s team have the necessary knowledge and experience to successfully guide you from start to finish. When initially meeting and communicating with your prospective lawyer, you must assess whether this is the person and firm you want quarterbacking your case.
When choosing your lawyer, ensure you are confident of their knowledge, experience and leadership abilities.
- YOUR LAWYER MUST COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY
Three of the biggest complaints about lawyers are:
a) “I never hear from them, I don’t know what’s going on with my case.” Your lawyer and his office must communicate effectively and in a timely fashion with you with in person meetings and by telephone, email and / or text. It’s your right to know what’s going on.
b) “They never explained the various options available to me”. Many lawyers have tunnel vision and guide your case the way they want it to go, irrespective of your input or what best suits you. Remember, you are the client and the final decision-maker. You should be making an informed decision based on the best information and options your lawyer has worked to provide.
c) “They speak legal-ese, not English”. Many lawyers use complicated legal terms and big words when communicating with clients. This is intimidating and confusing. And unnecessary.
When choosing your lawyer, ensure they will communicate simply and effectively.
- YOUR LAWYER MUST BE AFFORDABLE – O.J. Simpson reportedly spent $50,000 per day on his “dream team’ legal coverage. Assuming that’s not realistic (but if it is, call me right away!), you must retain a lawyer with fees that are reasonable and affordable. But, don’t confuse that with hiring the cheapest lawyer. With a court case, very important issues are often at stake – your liberty, criminal record, future ability to work, travel, drive, etc. You are not shopping for tooth paste or toilet paper, but rather someone who is going to represent and protect you in the best possible manner in this rare and critical stage of your life. Some lawyers demand high initial retainer payments by cheque or cash, but others don’t. Ask about flexible methods of payments (credit card, e-transfer, debit) and monthly payment plans.
When choosing your lawyer, ensure their fees and payment plans are affordable.
Follow these 3 simple rules, and you’ll be one of the rare ones who can say, “I love my lawyer!”. Ok, that may be stretching things a bit too far …