We make it a point of law to guide you

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1 We make it a point of law to guide you Lawyer/client relations

2 Table of contents 3 Your lawyer is your ally 4 Choosing a lawyer q Referral services 6 You ll be more effective if you re well prepared 6 Clear communication serves to establish trust 7 How much do lawyers charge? q Fee types q Average costs for certain legal services Québec /Atlantic region Your lawyer is your ally Why wait for a situation to escalate into a legal dispute before consulting a lawyer? Members in good standing of the Québec Bar will give you information on laws and regulations, advise you on legal matters and represent you in court should that prove necessary. Because when it comes to asserting your rights, you have other options besides going to court or trial. For example, you may wish to utilize the participatory justice system. That way, you and your lawyer could work out how to prevent or resolve a dispute without going to court, e.g. by using mediation or conciliation services. Your lawyer is there to help you find the best way to resolve a dispute or prevent one from occurring. Above all, consulting a lawyer in a timely manner could help you avoid a wide range of problems and reduce financial losses. q Lawyers average hourly rates by field of practice 9 Tips for a better relationship with your lawyer Aim for a team-oriented lawyer/client relationship based on honest and open communication 2 3

3 Choosing a lawyer Certain organizations or associations offer referral services enabling you to find a lawyer with the appropriate experience near your home or place of work. Some 2,200 of the Québec Bar s 24,000 lawyers are voluntarily registered with these services. Most of these organizations will provide you with contact information for lawyers who offer an initial 30-minute consultation for only $30 or sometimes for no charge at all, depending on where you live. Referral services Greater Montréal region To obtain a lawyer referral by field of practice, call or A $30 fee is charged for the initial 30-minute consultation. Québec City, Beauce and Montmagny regions To obtain a lawyer referral by field of practice, call or fill out the form available on the Barreau de Québec website. No fee is charged for the initial 30-minute consultation. Other regions of Québec To obtain a lawyer referral by field of practice, call (toll-free) or A $30 fee is charged for the initial 30-minute consultation. Another referral service is also available in Longueuil: Phone: Fax: A $50 fee is charged for the initial 30-minute consultation. To resolve a business, family or civil law dispute, you can also find a lawyer/mediator by consulting the Québec Bar s website. If you are arrested, you are legally entitled to call a lawyer. If you do not know a lawyer, the Québec Bar runs an emergency lawyer service, called Urgence avocat, that is free of charge and available 24 hours a day. Getting a recommendation from someone you know is another good way to find a lawyer. However, be sure to contact the Québec Bar to verify whether any such individuals are actually authorized to practice law, whether they have a prior disciplinary record and whether they re insured under the Québec Bar s professional liability insurance program. Simply call (no fee is charged for these enquiries). An initial meeting with a lawyer is not binding on either party. However, if you decide not to entrust the case to the lawyer, you are still required to pay for the consultation. If the lawyer refuses to take on your case, you are advised to request a letter from him confirming his decision, listing the reasons for the refusal and stating that he has not kept any documents. Make it a point of law to assert your rights 4 5

4 You ll be more effective if you re well prepared You and your lawyer should be engaged in a team effort. Ensuring that you re well prepared prior to your initial meeting will make your business relationship much more effective. Get your relevant papers in order and bring them with you. Write down any questions you may have. Write down the sequence of events in the order they occurred and describe them in detail. Also write down the names and addresses of any potential witnesses. Determine what your expectations are with respect to your lawyer. Potential questions for your lawyer include the following: q Do I have a case? q Can the matter be settled out of court? q How long will the process take? q How much do you think it will cost? q What will happen if I lose? If I win? Clear communication serves to establish trust An atmosphere of trust can usually be established if both client and lawyer are clear about the mandate and the costs and expectations involved. These issues should be discussed right from the outset. Under the Code of ethics of advocates, lawyers are required to inform their clients of the approximate and foreseeable cost of their services, even if they are unable to predict the total exact cost of settling a dispute. Code of ethics of advocates The Code of ethics of advocates sets out rules governing lawyers conduct in their dealings with clients, colleagues, members of the judicial system, etc. You can consult the code on the Québec Bar s website. How much do lawyers charge? Lawyers fees are based on their experience, the time spent on the case, the complexity of the case, the level of responsibility assumed, the need for specialist expertise or expedited services and the results obtained. Therefore, it is recommended that a written agreement be drawn up describing the nature and scope of your lawyer s responsibilities and specifying the fee amount and calculation method. Fee types Hourly rate Percentage of settlement Fixed price Hybrid billing The hourly rate is based on the lawyer s experience, the complexity of the case, the need for expedited services and the results obtained. The lawyer will charge you a percentage of your settlement if a ruling is made in your favour. If the lawyer is paid out of the settlement, you will also be required to pay any external costs incurred during the process (legal stamps, experts fees, stenographer, bailiff, etc.) The fixed price (or flat fee) is determined in advance. The lawyer should specify from the outset what is included. Hybrid billing is a combination of the above methods: hourly rate plus a percentage, fixed price plus a percentage, etc. 6 7

5 Average costs for certain legal services Québec /Atlantic region* Average cost Civil dispute Civil action, two-day hearing $12,056 Appeal of a civil judgment $22,850 Criminal law Summary proceeding, one-day $2,429 hearing Bail hearing $1,250 Criminal offence, one-day $3,000 hearing Family law Uncontested divorce $1,633 Contested divorce $5,417 Separation agreement $1,286 Child custody/support $1,283 *Source: - June 2099/Issue 24 Lawyers average hourly rates by field of practice** Family law $155 General civil law $171 Criminal and penal law $162 Labour law $190 Business law $232 **Source: CIRANO socio-economic study of Québec Bar members (2008) Legal insurance is designed for you! Legal insurance protects you against the hazards of day-to-day life for as little as $4 a month. This coverage includes unlimited telephone assistance in most fields of practice. In the event of specific disputes, it also includes financial aid to defray the cost of hiring experts or a lawyer (defence or prosecution) of your choice. Find out more from your insurer or broker! Tips for a better relationship with your lawyer Right from the outset q Provide your lawyer with all the information you have so he or she can give you preventive advice or determine which information is most relevant. You can do so with complete peace of mind because your lawyer is bound by professional secrecy. q Find out whether the matter can be settled using the participatory justice system e.g. via mediation or conciliation services without going to court. q Enquire about how your case will be handled, including which options and procedures are available to you and how much they will cost. This will enable you to choose the most appropriate options/procedures based on your needs and your budget. Professional secrecy Professional secrecy is a fundamental right that many professionals, including doctors, notaries and lawyers, must observe. Within the lawyer/client relationship, professional secrecy is a privilege that ensures that any information you provide to your lawyer is kept confidential; it also applies to verbal or written opinions provided to you by your lawyer. Under professional secrecy, your lawyer is forbidden from revealing this information, even if questioned before a judge. Professional secrecy is enshrined in Québec s Charter of human rights and freedoms. It plays a fundamental role. It serves to create trust between you and your lawyer. It also means that you can entrust your lawyer with all types of information, even things you wouldn t tell your best friend! As with any rule, certain exceptions apply. For example, if a lawyer has reason to believe that one of his or her clients might commit suicide or another person might be seriously injured, he or she is authorized to disclose confidential information. 8 9

6 q Make sure you clearly understand what is discussed. Don t hesitate to ask questions if necessary. q Ask your lawyer to keep you regularly informed about any new developments. q Obtain your lawyer s undertaking to seek your approval if any further steps must be taken that could result in additional expenses. q Discuss the various fee options and agree on the formula that s right for you: hourly rate, fixed price or percentage of the settlement. q Determine the billing dates and frequency that are right for you. q Insist on detailed fee statements: number of hours worked and by whom, description of steps taken, disbursements made, etc. While your lawyer is handling your case q Both of you should be realistic with regard to what steps should be taken to win your case (e.g. it makes no sense to spend $2,000 to recover $1,000). q Except in an emergency, write to your lawyer instead of phoning. q Prepare your questions and documents in advance before phoning your lawyer s office. q For general updates on your case, contact your lawyer s secretary rather than phoning your lawyer directly. Trust accounts When a client pays a retainer to a lawyer, it is deposited into a trust account on behalf of the lawyer or the law firm. These funds will only be used to cover the lawyer s fees or case-related expenses. When you receive the fee statement q If you do not understand the fee statement, seek clarification as soon as possible. q If you are questioning the fee charged for the services provided and are unable to come to an agreement with your lawyer, contact the Québec Bar within 45 days of receiving the fee statement in order to avail yourself of the Bar s conciliation/arbitration services. Requests for conciliation should be submitted within 45 days of receipt of your lawyer s latest fee statement. The statement will be examined in detail and, if need be, the Bar will contact your lawyer and ask him or her either to clarify the steps taken or to take corrective action. Contact the Québec Bar if you would like to: q Find a lawyer or a mediator by field of practice/region. q Verify whether a lawyer is a member in good standing of the Québec Bar. q Find a lawyer in the event of an emergency (e.g. if you have been arrested). q Obtain contact information for referral services and pay only $30 for a 30-minute consultation (in certain cases, these initial consultations may be free of charge). q Benefit from fee arbitration/conciliation services. q Consult the register of wills and mandates in case of incapacity. q Find out more about legal insurance

7 You have the right to know The TV series Le Droit de savoir, co-produced by the Québec Bar and Télé-Québec and broadcast on Canal Savoir, devotes a segment to the initial meeting with a lawyer. You can listen to the segment on the show s website: Maison du Barreau 445 Boulevard Saint-Laurent Montréal, Québec H2Y 3T8 Phone Toll-free Revised February 2012

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