In the 7 weeks since I opened Hirji Law Corporation, I have met several new clients. On a few occasions, people have asked me before our first meeting, “What should I bring with me?” – which is an excellent question, especially if you’re meeting a litigation lawyer for the first time.
Whenever a client or potential client asks me that question, I have an urge to say “everything!” even though that is neither the right answer, nor is it very helpful. Instead, I typically tell my clients or potential clients to think carefully about the issues that they want to discuss, and bring the following with them to our first meeting:
- A list of all the people involved.
- A chronology or list of what happened, and when it happened.
- If the dispute involves a contract, bring a copy of the contract.
- If there is a letter or an email that is at the heart of the dispute (or that you think is very important), bring a copy. If there are many emails or letters, collect them all, and bring the ones you think are most important.
- If the other party in the dispute has already hired a lawyer or you’ve received demand letters from a lawyer, bring copies of those letters.
- If you have pictures that relate to the dispute, bring those as well.
- If a lawsuit has already been started, bring a copy of the Notice of Civil Claim and any other documents that relate to the lawsuit.
If this is the first time that you’ve had to deal with the court process, you will no doubt have many questions. Write them down! That way we can review them in order, and you will have a place to make notes, write down answers, or write down follow up questions.
After our first meeting, I will take some time to review what we have discussed, and then I will let you know whether I can take on your case. Similarly, you need to be satisfied that I can handle your case, and that we can work together. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Perhaps the most important thing to think about before your first meeting with a lawyer is how would you like to see your business dispute end? What would you like the result to be? Is that result reasonable?
It is easy to say that you are right, and the other party is wrong, and so you are entitled to a judgment in your favour, with all of your costs covered. The reality of business disputes is rarely that clear. But what is most important is that you think about the result that you would like, so that we can discuss it during our meeting.
What should I do next?
At the end of the meeting, both of us will have a list of things to do next. It is important to understand both what you should do next, and also what you should not do. If you have questions or concerns about what to do next, ask them – not only will you get answers to your questions, but it will allow me to understand better the concerns you have and the areas where my advice will be most useful.