Legal Insights / Fees / Litigation Initial Consults: Frequently Asked Questions

Litigation Initial Consults: Frequently Asked Questions

Feb 17 2024

What is an initial consult?

The initial consultation is your first meeting with one of our lawyers or articling students to discuss your legal matter. This meeting allows us to understand your situation, provide initial advice and determine if and how we can most effectively assist you. We typically charge $300 plus tax for our initial consults and it covers up to one hour of time with a lawyer or articling student.

The hourly rates of our litigation lawyers range from $200-$500. We believe it is important to set clients up with the right lawyer for the matter rather than have cost be the primary consideration, especially at this stage of initial assessment. If at the consult we assess your matter to be more simple or more complex than initially thought, we may refer you internally to another lawyer or articling student (under the guidance of a lawyer) who is appropriately equipped to address your concerns.

What can I expect during the initial consult?

We will listen to your concerns, ask questions to understand the situation more fully and provide legal advice where possible. We will also discuss potential strategies and the next steps in your case, as well as options for fee arrangements if you were to open a file with us.

Please note that our ability to answer questions will depend on the nature of the dispute. While it is possible we will be able to answer all or most of your questions, it may be that we need to investigate the matter further in order to do so. We want to ensure we provide you the right advice, which may depend on reviewing various records, talking to witnesses or reviewing how like cases have been decided in court.

Will our conversation be confidential?

Yes, all of our communication during the initial consult is confidential and covered by solicitor-client privilege. This means anything discussed during the consult will remain confidential, even if you decide not to retain our services.

What should I bring to the initial consult?

It is helpful to bring any documents you believe are relevant to the legal matter, including contracts, correspondence or court documents. If your consult is taking place virtually then you may send these records ahead of time to the intake assistant. We may not be able to review all of these documents during the consult, but it is helpful to have them available.

Will you review documents ahead of the initial consult?

Before reviewing documents, it is generally more efficient for us to meet with you to understand your version of events, obtain your commentary on the documents and know what your goals are. There may be an option to pay an additional fee for review of documents ahead of time or shorten the consult to provide for document review time which can be discussed when scheduling the consult.

What happens after the initial consult?

If you would like to open a file and we agree, the next step would be signing a retainer letter (which sets out your contract with us) and providing a retainer (fee) if required.

How much of a retainer will I need to pay?

This amount varies significantly based on the facts of the case, what stage the matter is at and what type of service you are retaining us to provide. For example, if we are providing “unbundled services” then the amount may be relatively low as it is for a specific task or specific number of hours. If we are going on record with the court, we will generally request a retainer of $2,000-$10,000.

Some tasks we will undertake on a flat-fee basis, meaning it is a set amount. We also take some litigation files on “contingency”, which means we are paid a percentage of the judgment or settlement amount. What arrangements make sense for your matter should be discussed during the consult.

More information about billing can be found here:

Does a consult guarantee I can hire RDM to take my file?

We will only do consults where we expect to be able to help you further, but it is only at the consult that our lawyers can fully assess our capability and capacity to effectively represent you. We are committed to ethical and responsible legal representation, meaning we will only take on cases where we can provide meaningful assistance. We will not take on claims outside our expertise, or where expectations are not aligned relating to merit of the claim and timelines.

What if I have more questions after the consult?

Generally, after the consult the next step is formally opening a file with a retainer. It may be that we are able to answer a quick follow up question, but often it isn’t as simple as it may seem and more input or dialogue is required. It is important to note that we conduct consults everyday so the more time that passes the harder it is for us to recall the specific details of your matter. Opening a file is generally the most cost-effective option as time is then charged in six-minute increments (aside from flat-fee arrangements), however it also may be an option to do a follow-up consult at the flat fee of the lawyer’s hourly rate.

Need to Schedule a Consult?

Please reach out to our Litigation Intake Team at 778.666.3723. We will ask you some basic details regarding the parties involved and the nature of the dispute in order to complete a conflicts check and determine which lawyer to schedule you with. We are typically able to schedule you to meet with a lawyer or articling student within a week.

What’s a Conflicts Check?

Lawyers are required to maintain a duty of loyalty to their clients which includes maintaining confidentiality and avoiding conflicts of interest. What this means in practice is that we must maintain undivided loyalty to our clients and cannot use information received when representing them against them in the future. A conflict may arise where we have acted for one of the parties related to the dispute in the past or where the conduct of any of our team members may come into question. Before meeting with any of our lawyers, we must first perform a conflicts check to confirm we are able to represent you.

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