Our FAQs below will help answer some common questions and inquiries that we receive.
Everyone who meets with a lawyer needs to provide our office with one piece of government-issued identification that contains a photo.
Depending on your matter, we may request that you bring in certain documents. If we have not requested that you bring anything to the meeting, then it is generally helpful if you bring in any of the following documents which may be related to your matter.
- A copy of your present will
- Full legal names and address of next of kin (spouse and any children you may have)
- Full legal names and address of anyone named in the will (executor, trustee, beneficiary)
- Death certificate
- Original will
- Full legal names and addresses of all beneficiaries
- Any assets and debts held by the estate that you know of
- Any documents you have been served with
- Any agreements or deals made with the opposing party
An initial consultation is an opportunity for the client and lawyer to meet so the client can decide whether the lawyer is a good fit for them.
You have to be comfortable working with your lawyer. This relationship requires a level of honesty and trust, as we may be asking difficult questions or delving into areas of your life that are generally private.
When you describe your legal matter for your lawyer to consider, listen to the legal advice, but also listen to the suggestions they lay on the table for how matters will get resolved. Some lawyers are collaborative while others are combative. Some lawyers think outside the box while others are more methodical in their approach. Some lawyers want and expect input from their clients while others only contact the client when necessary. The question is not only whether this is a good lawyer, but whether this lawyer is a good fit for you.
You do not have to decide which way to proceed before you come in. You can meet with our mediator, Jennifer Hubbard, who can advise you of your options and explore which option would suit your needs. If you decide to mediate, she will act as your mediator. If you decide that your matter may involve the courts, then she can help you explore the options available to you.
To prepare you for that meeting, we have summarized the differences between mediation and litigation below.
- Negotiation based on needs and interests
- Neutral third party facilitates a decision
- Procedurally flexible
- Parties assert interests
- Objective is to reach mutual agreement
Mediation allows family members to resolve their own conflicts. The mediator is a neutral lawyer who assists the parties to clearly define the issues in dispute and communicate their concerns and possible solutions, with an aim to reach a final settlement that accounts for everyone’s needs and interests.
The mediation process begins with each side meeting individually with the mediator in an informal office environment, where the mediator describes the process and establishes ground rules for conduct. The parties then meet together with the mediator and review and sign a written agreement to mediate.
The mediator then assists the parties to communicate about the issues and assists them to arrive at an agreement that is crafted to meet their individual concerns and reflects their unique solutions.
The mediator will guide the process to clarify and frame the issues in terms acceptable to the parties, will define an agenda to discuss the issues one at a time, and will explore various solutions with the parties so that the best possible agreement can be reached. The mediator cannot give legal advice to the parties but may provide them with legal information respecting the law in the area in dispute, and might offer suggestions to help the parties develop options on their own to resolve the issues.
Once agreement is reached between the parties, the mediator will reduce the agreement to writing (a separation agreement) and the parties will each be provided with a copy of the agreement. If the parties have mediated without the assistance of legal counsel, they are strongly encouraged to review the agreement with an independent legal advisor before signing. In this way, the parties are assured that the agreement reached is consistent with their independent legal rights and obligations.
All communications, correspondence and information exchanged by the parties is confidential, and if the mediation process fails, nothing said or done in any of the mediation sessions can be used in evidence in a court proceeding, nor can the mediator be retained by either party.
Typically, the cost of mediation is shared equally between the parties, and if both parties are committed to productive and honest discussions, the expense of the separation process, both financially and emotionally, is significantly less than the litigation process. Above all, we have found mediation to be the most successful method, and it is our preference to offer mediation whenever possible.
- Content based on legal rights and remedies
- Neutral third party imposes a decision
- Bound by rules and procedures
- Parties assert positions
- Objective is to win or prevail
Until recently, the usual method for resolving legal disputes was through the court system. While it has been modified over the years to encourage negotiation and settlement, the core of the litigation process is adversarial.
In the litigation process, one party retains a lawyer who files a claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia or the Provincial Court of British Columbia and serves it on the other party. This claim sets out that party’s legal position. Then the opposing party retains a lawyer who files a response to that claim, which is then served on the original party.
This sets in motion a series of procedural steps which must be completed, including exchanging lists of documents. There are also other procedures that may be triggered, such as an examination for discovery, where the opposing lawyer is able to ask you questions whose answers may be used as evidence before the Court. It also allows us to seek orders from the Court to either stop the other party from doing something they should not be doing or to force them to do something that they should be doing.
Starting an action does not mean that it will continue to trial. In fact, very few cases do. While the process continues, the parties often negotiate through their lawyers and will often reach a settlement. Even if your action has started, you can still mediate, which we have found to be the most efficient way of resolving the matters between the parties.
While there are some circumstances which require a trial, it is something we try to avoid whenever possible. It takes the people who will be living with the consequences of the order out of the decision-making process, and hands it to a judge who only knows the parties through the evidence presented in Court. It is also one of the slowest and most expensive ways of resolving a dispute.
With court fees, mandatory attendances in court, time limitations, and documents to be prepared and filed, litigation can be very expensive and time consuming. If matters cannot be resolved and a trial becomes necessary, it will cost upwards of $10,000 or more to each party.
However, in a situation where other options are undesirable or impossible, litigation is sometimes the only way to resolve matters.