Preparing to meet your lawyer

To get the most out of your meeting with your lawyer, you should:

    ​Do so​​​​me research

    Doing some research about your legal problem may help reduce the time you need to spend with your lawyer. It can also help you understand the advice your lawyer will give and guide you to ask specific questions, saving you time and money.

    You can start researching by looking at:

    Organise an interpreter (if you need one)

    Before meeting your lawyer you should organise an interpreter if you need one.

    If you are meeting a lawyer at Legal Aid NSW or a Community Legal Centre (CLC) they will organise an interpreter for you for free. However, you will need to tell them before your appointment. Make sure you give them enough notice so that they have time to arrange an interpreter for your appointment.

    If you are meeting a private lawyer, you may have to organise and pay for an interpreter yourself. You can do this by contacting:

    • Translating and Interpreting Service
    • Community Relations Commission
    • National Relay Service
    • Sign Language Communications NSW/ACT.

    Ask the lawyer first, as they might arrange the interpreter for you.

    For more information, see Interpreters.

    Gather and organise your documents

    It is important that you take all relevant documents to your appointment. Spend some time thinking about the documents that you have and then:

    • organise the documents in chronological order (from oldest to most recent)
    • make copies of the documents. Store the originals in a safe place where you will not lose them, and give the copies to your lawyer. Take the originals to your appointment with you, as the lawyer may want to see them.

    By organising your documents before your appointment, you will be able to find them more easily when speaking to the lawyer.

    If you are not sure whether you should bring a particular document, bring it anyway. It is very important that you give your lawyer as much information as possible. This will help your lawyer give you the correct advice and assess your chances of winning your case or resolving your problem in your favour. 

    Checklist: Checklist: Things to take to your meeting

    Prepare a chronology

    A 'chronology' is a timeline of events. It should have the dates of relevant actions or events, a short description of what happened on each date and any documents you have relating to that date.

    Preparing a chronology of all the events relevant to your legal problem will help your lawyer to quickly understand your problem. It will also help you refresh your memory.

    You should try to be as accurate as possible when preparing your chronology. Make sure you include the relevant dates, what happened on that date, the names of all the parties involved and the names of any witnesses. Your lawyer will ask for these details so having this information handy will allow your lawyer to spend more time discussing other issues.

    For more information, see Managing your case in the 'Getting ready for court' section of this website.

    Check the cost

    Legal Aid NSW offers free legal advice services across NSW. If you need ongoing help or representation, you will need to apply for a grant of legal aid. A grant of legal aid is not free. You will usually be asked to pay:

    • some money towards your legal costs at the start of your case
    • some or all of your legal costs at the end of your case.

    For more information, go to the 'Find a Legal Aid NSW legal advice service' section of the Legal Aid NSW website.

    If you are meeting a private lawyer, you should ask them:

    • how much they will charge you for their services
    • if your first appointment is free (while some lawyers will offer a first visit free, others will not)
    • how long the appointment will be
    • if your appointment is for a set amount of time, for example one hour, you should ask how much you will be charged if you go over time.

    At the appointment after you and your lawyer discuss the case, you should confirm how much it will cost for the lawyer to act on your behalf. You should ask your lawyer to put the agreement in writing. This is called a 'costs agreement.' This can help you avoid a dispute with your lawyer about their bill later on. It can also help you decide whether you can afford a lawyer.

    For more information, see Legal costs.

    For more information, see Meeting with your lawyer. ​