Your Lawyer's Job is:
- To help you with your legal problem. Your lawyer will only be able to help you with the legal matters approved in your application for legal aid.
- To explain your rights and the laws that relate to your problem.
- To discuss the options of your case, possible outcomes and risks. With your lawyer's assistance, you will choose the option that is best for you, and your lawyer will then take the necessary steps to help you resolve your legal problem.
- To give you an estimate of how long it will take to resolve your legal issue.
- To explain the limitations of your legal aid coverage (i.e. letting you know how many hours they are allowed to spend on your case)
- It is your responsibility to contact your lawyer and make arrangements to discuss your case.
- Be completely honest with your lawyer. Lawyers respect your right to confidentiality and can help you better when they know everything about your case.
- Read everything your lawyer gives or sends to you and ask questions if you don't understand something.
- Your lawyer has a limited number of hours they can work on and bill Legal Aid Alberta for your case, so be respectful of how you use your lawyer's time and be willing to take an active role in your case. In doing so, you can avoid paying a higher legal aid bill.
- You must notify your lawyer and Legal Aid Alberta of any changes in your financial situation or personal contact information.
What if I Disagree with my lawyer?
Always start by taking to your lawyer about the issue, advice or instructions that you are unhappy with. Often, misunderstandings may be about legal rules or court processes with involve strict and time consuming steps that your lawyer MUST follow in order to resolve your legal problem.
It is also important for you to understand that your lawyer is bound by the rules of the Alberta Law Society and the Code of Professional Conduct, and cannot do anything that is unreasonable, unethical or illegal.
If after talking to your lawyer you are still unable to agree, call Legal Aid Alberta and ask to speak to the Legal Aid Office/Interviewer who took your application. The Legal Aid Officer will listen to your concerns and try to assist you in resolving them. You may be asked to write LAA a letter outlining the problems you have been having with your lawyer. A template that can be used to help write this letter can be found in Helpful Resources. After reviewing your concerns, LAA may (in some circumstances) decide to appoint a new lawyer to act for you.