What to Expect
What to expect from your initial contact
Your first meeting with your lawyer may be in person, but your lawyer may not be local to you, so your first contact might be by phone, post or online, e.g. by email. Make sure your lawyer fully understands what your legal matter is about and what you expect him or her to do for you. Never be afraid to ask about the type of work your lawyer might be able to do for you and how much that work might cost.
Your lawyer will make sure you know what:
- They understand you want them to do for you.
- They will be able to do for you.
- Documents you need to provide.
- Action(s) you need to take.
- The timescale is for doing the work.
- The likely costs are for doing the work.
What to expect from your lawyer
After your first meeting your lawyer will provide you with a letter which sets out their terms for carrying out work for you. The letter should include the following details:
- Name of the lawyer dealing with your case.
- Name of the person supervising your lawyer, if there is a supervisor.
- Information you gave to your lawyer.
- The work you want done.
- Your lawyer’s advice to you.
- The work your lawyer will do for you.
- The action(s) you need to take.
- Timescale for doing the work.
The letter should also include a detailed account of the likely costs, including:
- An estimate of the costs for doing the work for you.
- How your costs will be worked out, for example, a fixed fee or an hourly rate.
- Details of other costs (often called disbursements), for example, court fees or a fee for an expert’s report.
- Whether or not VAT will be charged in addition to the costs.
- Extra charges, for example, charges for late payment or for paying your bill by credit card.
Finally, you should receive details about the entity’s (firm, business or practice) complaints procedure, including:
- How to complain.
- The name of the person to contact if you need to complain.
- The time it will take for your complaint to be dealt with.
- How to contact the Legal Ombudsman if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint.
- How to contact CILEx Regulation.
- The entity’s Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) details.
What to expect during your case
Whilst your lawyer is working for you it is important to make sure he or she fully understands the work you expect to be done for you. In return, your lawyer should clearly explain the details of the work they are doing for you.
Your lawyer should keep you regularly informed about the progress of your case and any changes to the costs or timescale they originally gave you for completing your case.
There may be times when what you want your lawyer to do for you is not legally possible, or your lawyer may advise you against taking the action you would like to take. If this happens your lawyer should guide you on the best action to take.
Always make a note of the names of the people you meet with, or have telephone conversations with, at the lawyer’s office. Make notes of what you say and what is said to you.
Always make a record of everything you give to your lawyer or others, for example, documents, papers, correspondence and possessions. Wherever possible, keep copies of these for yourself.
You should keep all letters and electronic communications you have with your lawyer, anyone from their office or other people connected with your case.
Make sure you understand the letters and other communications you receive from your lawyer or his or her office. If you are unsure about anything always ask for clarification from your lawyer or ask someone else for help.
Ensure you understand the actions you are asked to carry out. Let your lawyer know immediately if, for any reason, you are unable to carry out a particular action.
Further information about what to expect from lawyers is available on the Legal Choices website.