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If you have never hired a lawyer, you are probably wondering how the process works.

Life events that trigger the need for a lawyer like separating from your spouse, losing your job, or administrating the estate of a loved one who has passed, can be incredibly stressful.

We understand. It can feel like an intimidating process, even more so when you are going through a difficult time in your life.

Our goal is to simplify the legal journey, eliminate the unknowns, and provide you with as much information about the process of working with us as possible. Here is what to expect when hiring one of our team members:

1. Get in touch

2. Speak with an intake clerk

  • Our intake clerks will collect key details about your situation and help you understand your options. This first discussion with our intake team is completely free of charge.

3. Conflict search

  • With the information you provide, we run a search in our database to make sure we have not represented the “other side” of your case. For example, if you are seeking a divorce, we want to make sure we have not or are currently not representing your spouse. This would be a conflict – and if it happens, we refer you to another highly qualified firm.

5. First consultation with your lawyer

  • Before this meeting, your lawyer will become familiar with the details of your situation and be able to give you advice to clearly understand your options.
  • For serious personal injury cases, your first consultation is free of charge.
  • For the rest of our practice areas, if you decide not to retain our services, you will only pay for this first consultation and the preparation time. Sometimes, the first meeting with your lawyer can provide enough information to resolve your issue

5. Retainer Agreement & Ongoing services

  • Think of a retainer agreement as our “terms and conditions”. The agreement will outline scope of work and our fee structure.



If you decide to move forward, you will be asked to pay a retainer. Retainers are a type of deposit that is used as a credit towards our services. The amount of the retainer depends on the complexity of the case.


We have 3 billing types that depend on the type of service provided:

  • Hourly rate
    • Most cases will be charged by your lawyer’s hourly rate. The costs for these cases depend on your lawyer’s rate and how much time is spent on the case, and you will be billed at the end of each month.
  • Fixed fees
    • For services that are more routine, we may be able to quote you a fixed fee in advance.
    • For example, certain lawyers may charge a fixed fee for an employment contract review.
  • Contingency
    • Also known as a “no win, no fee” arrangement, if nothing is recovered, you will not have to pay any legal fees. This type of structure is most common for personal injury cases.

If you have any questions about the process of hiring a lawyer, give us a call. We’re here to help.

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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