We are a niche law firm and offer a specialist service in various areas including ICT Law, Commercial Law, Privacy Law, Civil Litigation, Wills, Trusts and Estates as well as Conveyancing and Notarial Practice.
As there are some fields of the law that we do not offer services in, we often provide clients with tips on what to keep in mind when briefing an attorney if we cannot assist you.
DO realise that different attorneys specialise in different fields of law, as we do. Take this into account when considering which attorney to approach. If you have a criminal matter for instance, approach a criminal law attorney. We can, for example, assist you with IP Law but for specialist patent registrations, you need a patent attorney.
DO window shop! An attorney delivers a service and just like any other service, there is choice and you don’t simply select the first one that appears when you search on Google.
DON’T assume that only the Director of a law firm has the experience to deal with your problem. In most general cases, the junior attorneys have the necessary know-how to assist you and they bill at lower hourly rates.
DO ask if your first consultation with an attorney is billable or a free scoping exercise for both parties, as some attorneys do have fees payable from the get-go. Make sure you have clarity in the first consultation on what your attorney’s hourly rates are and if you work with more than one attorney (perhaps a junior and senior attorney), clarify if you are going to be billed for both of them attending a meeting.
DON’T forget to read the fine print. It is important to take time to study your potential attorney’s engagement letter and understand all the fees that might be charged. Ask questions upfront and be clear about your expectations when you scope the situation.
DO know what your problem is and DON’T be shy. You should clearly explain your situation to your attorney who must be made aware of everything even if you think it’s irrelevant information or an unnecessary document – rather too much than too little. If you do not pass on all the information, the attorney will be unable to give you the right legal advice or prepare the correct way forward.
DON’T forget that the Small Claims Court handles all civil claims under R 15 000. It is a fast, affordable and simple way to fight a small claim without using an attorney to represent you in Court. Although, it is possible for an attorney to assist you with the necessary preparation of your case to ensure a good outcome. Bear in mind that companies cannot use the Small Claims Court to settle disputes.
DO consider approaching the Legal Aid Board of South Africa or the UCT Legal Clinic if you are struggling to afford legal assistance.
REMEMBER – it is always better (and cheaper) to go to an attorney before your problem even arises. If you have the right information and documentation from the start, you may not end up having a problem at all, and if you do, it will be easier and more cost effective to fix it.