Sometimes, you may find yourself in a dispute with another party. You decide to seek legal advice on the matter. And you ask, "What do I need to do before I approach a lawyer?"
FIND A LAWYER WHO HAS DONE SIMILAR WORK
It is always good to get legal advice when you have a dispute with another party. Make sure the lawyer whose advice you seek has done similar work in the past. If the lawyer has not, you should ideally find a lawyer who has done equivalent or similar work.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PREPARATION
You should make the best use of the lawyer's time when you first meet the lawyer. Usually, the first meeting enables the lawyer to make a general assessment about the strength of your case and to also provide you a quote for the work that the lawyer will undertake. Depending on the lawyer, the first meeting may also be complimentary. To make best use of the lawyer's time, you need to go into the lawyer's office prepared.
PREPARE A FILE FOR THE LAWYER
It will therefore be useful to put a comprehensive file together before you meet the lawyer. Such a file will help a lawyer better understand your case and provide a more accurate quote for his or her legal fees.
The file should contain:
1. A list providing the identities of all the parties involved in the dispute, including information about your identity.
2. All the documents relevant to the dispute, especially correspondences that you received and material that you have signed or agreed to. If you are not sure if a document is relevant to the dispute, flag it up but include it in the file. Let the lawyer make an assessment if the document is relevant.
3. A chronology of the events leading up to the current state of affairs. This is like a milestone chart and will enable a lawyer to get a snapshot of the dispute.
4. A statement containing your side of the story. This will be useful in helping the lawyer to understand your dispute. Be as concise and precise as possible. Use headings and bold or underline parts that you think are important. Recall in detail particularly any verbal meetings you had with the other parties involved in the dispute. Do feel free in your statement to make references to the material you have prepared in (1) - (3) above.
5. A list of questions for your lawyer to address.
6. Your objective, that is what you want to achieve from the dispute resolution process. This will help the lawyer understand your expectations.
Before going to meet the lawyer, make two copies of the file. One for your lawyer and the other for your own reference.
Finally, update the file as the dispute progresses. This will be useful if you decide to change lawyers later.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
The Law Society of Singapore offers more insights into Seeing Your Lawyer. You may find it useful too in preparing for your first meeting with your lawyer.
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