How Can I Discuss and Clarify Fees with My Lawyer?
During the first appointment with your lawyer, you should openly discuss the following:
- the type of fees to be charged;
- an estimate of the total costs, if possible;
- whether you are eligible for Legal Aid;
- whether there will be other costs (disbursements) such as court reporters' fees, witness fees, registration costs, photocopying costs, expert fees, transcript fees, etc.;
- the lawyer's payment policies;
- whether other lawyers or assistants in the firm will work and/or be billed on the file
Whatever you agree upon, get it in writing. Lawyers often will provide a retainer letter to clarify the terms of the client retaining their services. Then both you and your lawyer will know exactly what you have agreed to and it will avoid disputes later.
You should discuss fees and costs at all stages ofthe proceeding. Your fees may change fromthe initial estimate for the following reasons:
- You may find your case was much more time-consuming than was originally estimated.
- This happens in some cases because not all the material that was needed was available from the beginning of the case.
- The two opposing sides may not have come to an agreement easily.
- Your legal needs or instructions to your lawyer may have changed from your first meeting with your lawyer.