|Popular Inquiries||Twelve Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Lawyer|
|Obtaining the Services of a Lawyer||Reporting Concerns|
1. Can the Law Society refer me to a lawyer?
The Law Society regulates the legal profession; therefore, we cannot refer you to a lawyer or offer legal advice. However, there is a Lawyer Referral program that may be of assistance to you. Please note that Lawyer Referral has one operator who manages a large influx of calls so you may be required to call multiple times before you can successfully get through. It is best to phone in the morning. Thank you for your patience.
2. I have the name of a lawyer. Can you provide me with his/her contact information?
Please visit our Lawyer Directory. Our Lawyer Directory contains the name, business address, phone number, year of call and status of lawyers and students-at-law.
3. I would like to provide the Law Society with information concerning a lawyer. Who do I contact?
In order to effectively do our job, we rely on others to share information about their experiences with lawyers. The information you provide is important and ultimately contributes to ensuring lawyers maintain the high standards demanded of the legal profession. Learn about our intake and assessment process.
4. Can my document be notarized by the Law Society?
The Law Society cannot notarize documents for the public. Please contact a lawyer or Notary Public.
5. I need a document that authenticates my Notary Public’s signature for my embassy or consulate. Can you help?
You require a Certificate of Authentication, which is issued by the Deputy Provincial Secretary’s office in Edmonton. Contact the Registrar, Official Documents and Appointments at 780-427-5069 or 310-000 (toll-free). Learn more.
6. Can I advertise a career opportunity for a lawyer on your website?
The Law Society does not advertise for external positions; however, the Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch has an online job board.
1. When do I need to see a lawyer?
You would likely want to consult a lawyer for advice and assistance on:
- separation or divorce;
- criminal charges;
- buying or selling a home or a business;
- drafting a will;
- dealing with an estate;
- incorporating a business;
- employment issues;
- personal injury or motor vehicle accident matters;
- suing or being sued.
You may also refer to our listing of legal education resources.
2. What legal services can a lawyer provide?
Lawyers are able to do many things and engage in a wide range of activities in order to meet their particular client’s needs, but they also have ethical obligations and specific obligations to clients. A lawyer’s principal responsibility is to see that each client obtains the benefit of his or her legal rights and is aware of his or her legal obligations. In approaching this duty, lawyers have three fundamental obligations. Lawyers must:
- serve clients competently;
- be completely loyal to clients; and
- keep client communications confidential.
In addition to the three fundamental obligations described above, lawyers are also required to provide a certain quality of service. The Law Society of Alberta’s Code of Conduct includes descriptions of the services lawyers should provide.
The services lawyers can provide include:
- answering legal questions;
- helping clients find an answer;
- appearing in court on a client’s behalf;
- mediating disputes;
- counseling clients;
- planning estates and administering wills;
- drafting contracts;
- structuring private deals;
- lobbying government to change laws;
- drafting legislation;
- writing letters and opinions;
- taking steps to avoid litigation;
- negotiating settlements; and
- providing advice about clients’ legal problems and possible outcomes.
3. How can I determine my lawyer’s practicing status?
You can check your lawyer’s status with the Lawyer Directory service.
4. What if I cannot afford a lawyer?
If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to find one who is paid through a legal aid service or will help you free of charge. If you qualify for legal aid (e.g., do not have enough money of your own to pay the lawyer), a legal aid office may provide a staff lawyer or pay a private lawyer to help you. Even if you do not qualify for legal aid, the legal aid offices may be able to give you advice or information about where to get help. Most legal aid offices have brochures describing their services in more detail.
On Knowledge, Skill and Experience
1. How long have you been in practice? How many matters like mine have you handled before?
2. How long have you practiced at this particular firm?
3. In what areas of law do you practise?
4. Are you a partner or an associate?
5. How much of your practice is devoted to my particular problem area?
On Time and Accessibility
6. Do you have enough time to deal with my problem quickly?
7. How quickly can I expect resolution?
8. When can we meet?
9. How do you charge for your services?
10. Approximately how much will your services cost me in total?
11. Do you provide your clients with a detailed written statement of fees?
12. Do you charge anything for the first meeting?
1. What if I have a dispute with my lawyer concerning fees?
If you think that your bill is not reasonable, you should first discuss it with your lawyer. Since many problems with bills are due to genuine misunderstandings about the work done or about how the bill was to be calculated, it is always best to discuss the bill with your lawyer. Rarely will a lawyer intentionally try to charge you more than what you agreed.
Generally the proper course of action is a Fee Review and Assessment through the Courts. The Law Society may consider the ethical issues underlying a lawyer’s fees, but generally fee review is the first step. Please note that there is a limitation period for reporting concerns about fees.
2. What do I do if my lawyer does not return phone calls or update me on the status of my file?
Lawyers are obligated to keep clients informed about their file in a reasonable and timely fashion, but are not expected to be available to you at any given moment. There is an established legal process for every kind of matter, so it is wise to let that process occur and communicate with your lawyer throughout. If you have concerns, raise them.
Co-operation between client and lawyer is essential for a successful outcome. The client should be prepared to listen to his or her lawyer carefully – good and bad advice – and write out detailed instructions. Be honest. If you feel uninformed, ask your lawyer about ways to enhance communication without incurring significant costs associated with that time. Do not harass your lawyer. You are entering into a working relationship that requires both parties to act responsibly.
In order to effectively do our job, we rely on you, whether you are a member of the public, another lawyer or a member of the business community, to share information about your experiences with lawyers. Read more about how to provide information concerning a lawyer.
3. What do I do if I suspect that my lawyer isn’t licensed to practise law?
If you suspect that someone who is representing you as a lawyer is not qualified to do so, you are encouraged to report the details to the Law Society of Alberta.