14th August 2013
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Lethbridge and Fort McMurray family and divorce lawyer Kurt Schlachter discusses the value of obtaining proper legal advice.

My colleague Gayle Hiscocks recently wrote an article about the importance of obtaining proper legal advice. I could not agree with her view on that subject more. Lately, I have been coming across more and more cases of clients being prejudiced by the assistance or “services” of what I will call pseudo legal professionals. There are several examples of such professionals out there, some of whom are government employees, and some of whom are not. Those who are not should be avoided entirely. Those who are should be utilized with caution.

What any party to a potential legal dispute needs to understand is that government employees who are not lawyers, yet are made available to assist parties through the Court process (and in some cases to provide what is tantamount to legal advice), have one purpose: to help you achieve a quick resolution of your dispute and keep you out of the system in order to conserve Court resources. These individuals are not tasked with protecting your interests the way legal that counsel is. Although there is nothing wrong with achieving quick resolution of any legal dispute, you should always have appropriate advice from a lawyer before doing so. That advice will include recommending to you a process option for resolving your particular matter, which may not always involve going to Court. However, in some cases Court intervention is simply the only suitable option, and as a resident of this Province who no doubt pays taxes, you are entitled to access that system if you need to.

Recently, I have been called upon to assist with multiple matters in which parties were encouraged by a pseudo legal professional to initiate a Court proceeding that was not advisable, or in which parties were encouraged to enter into Agreements or Consent Orders without first being fully informed of their legal rights and entitlements, or the potential implications of their decisions. In each of those cases, the client was prejudiced significantly, experienced much grief, and incurred far more legal fees than would have been necessary had they simply obtained proper legal advice from the outset. Don’t make the same mistake.

You should at least consult with a lawyer prior to proceeding with any legal dispute, and certainly before entering into any consent resolution of that dispute, regardless of whether or not you choose to retain that lawyer to represent you. A consultation fee is minimal compared to the value of the advice you will receive, which in many cases could spare you a great deal of difficulty and save you a great deal of money down the road. To put this into a proper context, our consultation fees are in the range of what it costs to get an eye exam, and less than what it costs have your teeth cleaned.

You can theoretically administer your own dental work or give yourself an eye exam too, and you can even hire someone over the internet to advise you on how to do so, but should you make that choice and subsequently fail, cleaning up the resulting mess is going to cost you. Legal matters are no different.

If you need advice specific to your legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact myself or any other member of our firm for a consultation.

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Written by Kurt Schlachter