So it’s often the case that people want an answer. Good. Quick. Cheap. Unfortunately, you often get what you pay for. And a little ounce of prevention can end up saving a pound of pain. I’ve had lots of clients who have horror stories about receiving bad advice or the wrong advice from professionals – be they lawyers, accountants, trustees in bankruptcy, consultants. The bottom line is that the starting point for practically any matter is GETTING A LAWYER TO REVIEW YOUR SITUATION AND RENDER YOU AN OPINION.
What is a legal opinion? Well, it’s basically a memo that reviews the facts, cites the applicable law and tries to build conclusions (e.g. what grounds can you sue on, what is your best defence, what risks are you exposed to, etc.). There can also be practical suggestions built into the legal opinion, such as when and where to take certain action (e.g. suing, contracting, etc.). There can also be an element of strategy, which lawyers deal with on a day to day basis.
Many, many people looking for a lawyer simply expect lawyers to know the law off the top of their heads without understanding the full facts and then render a legal opinion. It seems like these people only want to hire a lawyer after they’ve received the advice! But no lawyer worth his or her salt would be willing to give advice or an opinion without first reviewing the full facts. This could entail sitting down with and interviewing the client. Looking over paperwork. Making some phone calls and sending out some letters. This is the investigative stage. You can’t jump straight into negotiating or suing or defending without knowing the facts and where you stand legally.
So do lawyers charge for a legal opinion? You better believe it! Lawyers charge based on their time (typically). A lawyer cannot pay their bills or earn a living without spending their valuable time thoroughly reviewing your situation and giving you the advice you need in a timely manner. That advice could say something like “here is your whole case…” or “you shouldn’t proceed with this because…” or “here are some legal issues to consider…”, etc.
So my overall point is that you should, in any legal situation, start off with KNOWING WHERE YOU STAND. No lawyer worth his or her salt (note: this depends on what practice area is involved) will do this for free or quickly. You need your lawyer to do a good job. You need to know where you stand. Spend the money. A typical legal opinion generally costs between $1,500-$3,000.
Many posts which appear on Dynamic Legal Forms come from everyday folk who are confused as to where they stand. They need a lawyer, but don’t know how to proceed. So here I am (a GTA LAWYER) telling you what you should be asking for: A LEGAL OPINION!
Save yourself aggravation, time, and wasted money: get an opinion first from a competent lawyer before doing anything more. Be strategic and think about it clearly. You are the driver but you need to know the rules in order to be on the road. Your lawyer will show you the rules and the way, but you’re in control (always) of the car. Remember that…