All About Estates

Solicitor’s Negligence – A Follow Up

I have previously blogged about solicitor’s negligence and the current state of the law with respect to, in part, determining lawyers’ liability and the applicable standard of care. As a follow-up, below is a brief list of some best practice tips to keep in mind:

  • Communicate – keep the client informed of legal options and obligations
    • Provide clients with regular updates, even if there is nothing to report
    • Don’t rely solely on email – call or meet with a client to discuss or review more complex matters
    • Manage client’s expectations – provide a realistic assessment of risk and/or costs involved
    • Have a clear retainer agreement – include what steps you will (and will not) be taking
  • Educate – know your area of law and keep current on new developments
    • Get to know the relevant statutes
    • Familiarize yourself with related areas of law – enough to flag issues and refer client for expert opinions (ex. taxes)
    • Be careful with delegation and supervision of work – the client is relying on your expertise
    • Dabble in other areas of law at your own risk!
  • Investigate – the client’s circumstances and needs
    • Understand your client: What are her needs, concerns, and desired outcome? What legal issues is she facing?
    • Make time to fully investigate the background of a matter – probe your client for details and supporting documents
    • Obtain and review relevant records (for example, title searches)
    • The investigation stage will be unique to each area of law – create a checklist, if possible
  • Document – every step of the file
    • Keep detailed docket entries
    • Confirm client instructions in writing – this also gives the client the opportunity to alert you to any misunderstanding
    • Be clear in your communications with opposing counsel and/or third parties

These are just a few duties and obligations to keep in mind to maintain an effective practice for both you and your client.

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About Joanna Lindenberg
Joanna is an experienced estates, trusts, and capacity litigator at de VRIES LITIGATION LLP. Joanna obtained her law degree from the Shulich School of Law at Dalhousie University after completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at McGill University. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2011, Joanna obtained a Masters of Law at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), specializing in international and comparative law. Joanna's current practice focuses on, in part, will challenges, dependant’s support, capacity, and power of attorney disputes.


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