Seeing a lawyer for the first time

When you are choosing a lawyer, you might want to look for a lawyer or community legal centre who specialise in, or who has a greater knowledge of, the area of law applicable to your problem.

Seeing a lawyer for the first time might make you feel nervous or uneasy – that’s a fairly normal reaction, but the lawyer is there to try and help you with your problem, so don’t be worried.

If you are nervous, it’s easy to forget to say all that you want to say, so you can prepare for your first appointment by writing down lists or notes about things that you think are relevant to your problem.  A list of dates and events (a “timeline”) can be very helpful. Don’t be afraid to include things in your notes, as it’s better to have more information than not enough. Your lawyer will be able to help sort through what is relevant and what is not.  You should also take any paperwork that you might think is important to the matter (for instance birth or marriage certificates, letters, court orders or summons, bank or superannuation statements).

If you do not understand something that your lawyer is telling you, make sure to ask for them to explain it again in a different way, and always make sure you completely understand anything that you are asked to sign.

Whatever you tell your lawyer is completely confidential – your lawyer cannot tell anyone else, unless you consent to them doing so.  You should know that other people in the law firm will have contact with your file, but they are also bound by confidentiality rules and laws, and cannot tell anyone else what your file says.