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Working with your lawyer

This fact sheet offers tips to help you to develop and maintain a positive and productive relationship with your lawyer.

  • Check the cost of the initial consultation and how long it will take.
  • Check that the lawyer has experience or specialises in the area of your legal matter.
  • Write down the details of your legal problem; what happened, when it happened and who was involved.
  • Make copies of any documents that may be relevant to your legal matter.
  • Write down the questions you want to ask the lawyer.
  • Write down the outcome you hope to achieve in your matter.
  • If you feel it would be helpful, arrange for a friend, relative or support person to go with you to the first meeting.
  • Arrange for an interpreter to be available, if you need one.
  • Ask about costs (or legal aid if you need financial assistance).
  • Take notes of what is said to you.
  • Give your lawyer a copy of the notes you have prepared and the documents you have copied.
  • Respond clearly to the questions your lawyer asks you.
  • Ask your lawyer questions if you don’t understand something or want to know what you need to do.
  • Ask your lawyer for a definition of any legal terms that you do not understand.
  • Ask your lawyer what options exist to deal with your legal matter.
  • Tell your lawyer of any concerns you have about your personal safety.
  • Ask your lawyer what happens next and how long it may take to deal with your legal matter.
  • Take notes of what your lawyer tells you.
  • Keep these notes and all letters and documents your lawyer sends to you together in a file or folder.
  • Tell your lawyer if any of your personal details change.
  • Ask your lawyer questions if you don’t understand what has happened or what will happen next.
  • If the legal problem involves a court case ask your lawyer what it means to agree to ‘settle’ your legal matter instead of going to court (as well as what this means for legal costs).
  • Ask your lawyer if costs are likely to increase from the original estimate
  • Raise your concerns directly with your lawyer or your lawyer’s managing partner.
  • Change lawyers (please note however, the lawyer can retain your file until his/her legal costs are paid).
  • If you are unable to resolve the matter, contact the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner to discuss your concerns.
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