Do I Really Need a Lawyer?

Do I Really Need a Lawyer?

One of the most common questions I get from prospective clients is “Do I need to hire a lawyer? Can I do it myself?” The simplest answer to that question – is “it depends”.

Obtaining legal advice from the outset is an absolute must no matter how you decide to proceed. Only lawyers can provide legal advice. Ensure you have a thorough understanding of your rights and obligations and what the process will entail. The law is very nuanced and sometimes what seems like the “right” answer, and what google may have said is the “right” answer, may not necessarily be the “right” answer due to your unique circumstances.

Once equipped with legal advice, you are ready to make some decisions. It may depend upon your own level of understanding of the court and court processes. It may depend upon the complexity of your particular legal issue. It may depend upon the amount of time and resources you have available to you. It may depend on what’s at stake and whether you want to “risk it”. For some issues, such as providing independent legal advice on a separation agreement – a lawyer is absolutely necessary. That is, without a lawyer you don’t have a binding deal. For other issues, a lawyer may be optional – but always beneficial.

The truth is that the law is supposed to be accessible to the common man.

You aren’t required to have legal counsel to appear before court. That being said, the value that lawyers can add has to do with having an in depth understanding of the law, legal processes, and perhaps most importantly – legal strategy – the ability to put all of those parts together. The Alberta Rules of Court are lengthy – with cross references to other sections and as many exceptions to the rules as there are rules. Do you have the time to familiarize yourself with these rules? And even once you do – will you truly understand what they are saying? Do you know where to look for case law to provide further insight into how to interpret the rule?

The reason that many individuals self-represent is usually due to the cost of legal representation. It can be challenging, stressful and time consuming to choose that course of action however from some, they have no other option. That being said, there are ways to receive the benefit of legal representation while still managing costs.

Having an understanding of the lawyer’s method of billing and utilizing your legal counsel appropriately can help you to manage those costs and still have the benefit of legal counsel. For example, you may not wish to copy your lawyer on every single email you send to your former spouse. We have to read everything you send us – which means we are probably billing for it – but not everything is really relevant. It may be better to save the emails so that they can be easily accessed at a later date, if required. A discussion with your lawyer at the outset of the file about how best to utilize your lawyer will undoubtedly result in a lower final bill to you.

We offer team based billing

Where our junior lawyers perform less complex tasks at lower rates and more senior lawyers assist with the more complex issues. You get the benefit of full service representation at an overall lower cost. We also find that the quality of our representation is improved as there are a number of lawyers providing insight and ideas into how your matter should be best handled.

We also offer unbundled legal services – where a client can hire our firm to assist with specific parts of their legal matter. For example, we might prepare an application and affidavits, provide the client with relevant case law, and assist with court preparation – then a client may act for themselves in Court.

In some cases, we can offer flat rate services. This is not on every litigation matter – however uncontested desk divorces, or the preparation of Wills and other estate planning documents – are examples of services that we can provide on a flat rate basis.

For services such as mediation, you may decide to attend with your spouse and the mediator independently of your lawyer – then utilize your counsel throughout that process to ask questions and get legal advice. Then, once you and your spouse have a deal, bring the lawyers in to finalize the agreement. For less complex matters, I often suggest this is a course of action.
In short, there isn’t a one size fits all answer to that question. It is one of choice – and one that I will undoubtedly discuss with each new client during the initial consultation.


Our Practice is Dedicated to Family Law

Our Practice is Dedicated to Family Law

Let us be your greatest asset during times of family transition. Ellis Legal Group takes a client-centered approach by educating our clients on family law, guiding you through a range of legal options, and customizing solutions to meet your unique needs. Being client-centered also means we do everything in a caring and supportive manner and with the utmost professionalism and integrity. Serving Calgary, Okotoks and surrounding areas.

Get Started Today With a Free Consultation

Divorce, separation, entering a marriage or common-law relationship, and planning your estate are significant, and sometimes traumatic, life transitions. Let us provide you with the information and support you need to plan for your best future. 

Call us at (403) 879-1635 and book your free consultation today.

Have Questions? Call Today At