Construction Disputes

When you meet with your lawyer for the first time in relation to a construction dispute, you should have on hand some basic information to assist in making the meeting as helpful and productive as possible. This includes:

    1. Copies of all relevant documents including any estimates, contracts, written communications between the parties, copies of invoices or cancelled cheques, photographs, et cetera.
    2. Details of all parties involved including names and addresses.
    3. Information about witnesses to important events.
    4. A (preferably written) chronology of key events. Timing issues are very important in certain types of construction litigation, for example, builders lien disputes, and a precise chronology of important dates can be very helpful.
    5. Be prepared to fully explain the events leading up to the construction dispute. These events are often complex and occur over a considerable period of time. It is helpful to prepare before the meeting by writing out notes to assist you in recalling details.
    6. If you have specific questions you wish to have answered, write these out in advance so none are forgotten.
    7. Be prepared to discuss the type of assistance you require from the lawyer whether it is summary advice or full representation in relation to ongoing or anticipated litigation.

Be prepared to discuss fee arrangements and anticipate discussing a budget for legal expenses.

Employment Law

To save time and expense when first meeting with your lawyer, and to ensure that your lawyer has an accurate and detailed understanding of your case, you should prepare and accumulate the following documents and information to bring to your first meeting with your lawyer:

For Both Employers and Employees:

    1. Determine if the employment situation is subject to a collective agreement or involves a master/servant relationship. This determination will have a significant impact on the procedure and remedies available to you or your business.
    2. Prepare a chronology of significant employment events from hiring to termination
    3. If possible, prepare a written statement outlining in detail the history of the employment relationship and the nature of the issue for which you require legal advice
    4. Locate any employment agreement, or other documents or correspondence that refer to the terms of employment. If the employment relationship is subject to a collective agreement, bring a copy of the entire collective agreement, including any previous versions of the collective agreement that may have existed from the commencement of the employment relationship to the present
    5. Locate and bring any written document containing a job description of the employment position involved.
    6. Locate and bring any employee policy manuals applicable to the employment relationship.
    7. Locate and bring any performance evaluations or job reviews conducted concerning the position in question.
    8. Locate and bring any documents or payroll records that relate to the salary and benefits for the employment position for at least 2 years prior to the meeting with your lawyer.
    9. Locate and bring documents or other details of employee benefit packages applicable to the employment position; Identify any possible witnesses that would have evidence relevant to the matter, whether they are helpful to your position or not. Provide the name, address and phone number for any potential witnesses.

Personal Injury Claims

To save time and expense when first meeting with your lawyer, you should provide preferably in writing, a statement outlining in detail exactly how the accident and your injuries occurred. This would include the following:

    1. The date, time and location of the accident.
    2. If a motor vehicle accident, details about the vehicles and parties involved and any names, addresses and telephone numbers of all persons who may be witnesses.
    3. Obtain helpful evidence such as statements, sketches, photographs and a Police Report if one was made.
    4. If injured be prepared to provide your lawyer with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all persons involved in your care.
    5. Have prepared a detailed statement of what injuries were sustained by you and what effect, if any, they have had upon your lifestyle and the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any persons who can confirm the problems you have.
    6. Be prepared to provide information on your pre-existing health and whether or not you have had any similar problems pre-accident to those you are now experiencing post-accident along with names, addresses and telephone numbers of those persons who attended upon you for any pre-existing injuries.
    7. If you have had any wage loss the name, address and telephone number of your employer and, if appropriate, a letter from your employer setting out the days missed and the wages lost with your employer outlining when you were first employed, your position, your hourly, weekly or monthly income and the duties of your job.
    8. If you are self-employed the effect upon your business and whether additional employees were hired to replace yourself. If relevant, obtain full particulars of your income loss including business records relating to productivity.
    9. Be prepared to discuss the effect these injuries have had upon your domestic and recreational activities and specifically if there are activities that you are not now able to do that you were able to do prior to the accident.
    10. Bring with you any expenses related to the accident including all prescriptions, taxis, lost memberships or any out of pocket expenses paid as a result of this accident.
    11. If any services were provided by family members or friends, provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers of those persons and the hours expended on your behalf along with their hourly rate.
    12. If you have disability insurance and have received any benefits be prepared to provide this information, and
    13. Write down a list of all prescribed medications taken by yourself both before and after the accident.

These are just a sample of what would be helpful for you to take to your initial meeting with your lawyer and will certainly expedite the prosecution of your claim.

Insurance Disputes

When you meet with your lawyer for the first time in relation to an insurance dispute, you should have on hand some basic information to assist in making the meeting as helpful and productive as possible. This includes:

    1. Copies of all relevant insurance documents including the relevant insurance policy and any correspondence with the insurer, brokers and/or agents.
    2. Details of the incident or matters giving rise to the insurance dispute including a list of all parties involved and their addresses.
    3. Information about witnesses to important events.
    4. A (preferably written) chronology of key events. As in most types of litigation, timing issues are very important and can affect your ability to successfully advance or defend a claim. A precise chronology is an important component of any litigation file.
    5. If you have specific questions you wish to have answered, write these out in advance so none are forgotten.
    6. Be prepared to discuss the type of assistance you require from the lawyer whether it is summary advice or full representation in relation to ongoing or anticipated litigation. Be prepared to discuss fee arrangements and anticipate discussing a budget for legal expenses.

Family Law

To make your first meeting with your family lawyer productive, you should prepare an outline of important facts, including the following:

    1. Full name, including maiden name, dates and place of birth of you and your spouse.
    2. If there are children, the full names and dates of birth of each of the children.
    3. Date of marriage (if married) as well as place of marriage and/or the date that cohabitation began. If you have the marriage certificate that was issued by the Province or other jurisdiction in which you were married, bring that along.
    4. Date of separation, if that has occurred.
    5. Information for both you and your spouse as to your income (annual, before tax) and the sources of income. Make copies of your income tax returns as well as your spouse’s for the last several years (at least three).
    6. Prepare a complete list of all assets in your and your spouse’s name. Try to find out if those assets are held individually or jointly. Include assets that are held on behalf of either you or your spouse but in some other person’s name. Make copies of documents related to those assets (for example, tax assessment notice for real estate, bank statements, employment pension statements, financial statements for any business, investment statements, including for RRSP’s). If you have a safety deposit box, prepare an inventory of its contents. Make copies of any documents (such as savings bonds, wills and so on) and take photographs of items such as jewellery or other valuables.
    7. Make a list of all debts and the amount that is presently owing. If possible, make copies of mortgage statements, credit card statements, promissory notes.
    8. Reflect on what you believe to be the best parenting arrangements for your children and note any concerns that you have about your children (special talents to be fostered, special needs, safety concerns and so on).
    9. Make a list of any expenses relating to your children such as extracurricular activities, daycare costs, private school costs.

A sample Questionnaire is included for assistance. Click Here to download

In addition to preparing for your first meeting, you should also consider the following:

    1. Ensure your privacy by having mail sent to an address other than your family home.
    2. Be familiar with your spouse’s business interests.
    3. Do not transfer or sell any asset or move out of the family home without first discussing it with your lawyer.
    4. Keep any separate funds, such as inheritance or personal injury damages, separate and do not use those to pay family expenses or debts or to make family purchases without first discussing it with your lawyer.
    5. Do not create additional debts or make large purchases without discussing it with your lawyer.
    6. Try to make sure that you have some money set aside to meet your needs if you have to move out of the home or stop receiving financial assistance from your spouse.