At OFRM we love developing good relationships with our clients, although we also hope that most only need to use our services a handful of times during their lifetime.
Those times may be a couple of houses purchased and sold, making your will then updating it a couple of times. A loved one or two's estate or even a family law matter. If you own a business, or your employment requires you to oversee legal matters, you will probably clock up a few more visits, but for most people there's only a few legal issues that crop up.
It is therefore understandable that having to pick up the phone to make an appointment to see a lawyer and walking in the door may be a bit overwhelming.
So how do we OFRM make seeing a lawyer less intimidating and more comfortable?
At OFRM what happens varies a little for the different types of work we do but the usual process is for you to call and make an appointment.
You would then speak with our receptionists Sharon or Emma who will have an initial confidential conversation with you to make sure you can meet with the right lawyer for you.
Sometimes you will find it useful to have a quick chat with the lawyer before confirming the appointment. That can calm your nerves about the appointment, explain why you should not worry about something troubling you before we meet, and also make sure you will have all of the right information (and sometimes documents) to bring on the day.
It might be that we can't have that chat with you right then but if that's the case we'll phone you back later that day. For some matters we have an information pack we will send you before the appointment.
In some circumstances, that initial chat over the phone might be all you need. It might be a situation where we can point you in another more suitable direction or we might suggest you follow up a few other things before coming back to us.
Can you begin to see how we differ from those TV and movie lawyers? No doubt, some of the reason why people are worried about seeing a lawyer is all the jokes and fear-mongering out there about legal costs. The important thing to know is that you are in control of what you want to spend. We will give you our advice of what we think you should do and our estimate of how much that will cost. We will work with you to figure out how you will pay those costs.
For our Family Law matters there is an initial appointment fee and you get value for the time you spend at that appointment — we will discuss your matter with you in depth and give you realistic and specific advice. Other lawyers might offer a cheaper alternative for that initial appointment — but you get what you pay for and often those free or cheap appointments are just for 15 to 30 minutes where you will be told "yes you have a legal issue, come back and see us another time and we'll give you the specific advice".
It can also be hard to turn up and meet someone for the first time and then tell them your life story. That is why we take steps to prepare you as much as possible for our first meeting. I recently had a medical appointment where I had to tell the doctor my life story — I was a blubbering mess for most of the story telling! It was interesting to see the doctor use all the approaches I do with my clients to calm them down, make them feel better and be empathetic. If you are worried about telling your story or you are concerned you will forget to pass on a vital detail, write it down beforehand. You may even want to email that to the lawyer you will be seeing before you meet. It is also a good idea to jot down the questions you want to ask.
Once you do arrive on the day, you'll see that when we designed our new offices at 35 Queen St as well as our website, we were really keen to make sure that both were light, modern and the least intimidating as possible. There's no walls of old law reports or scales of justice and I keep the wig and gown hidden in a back cupboard. I was even really vigilant to make sure we didn't do the usual trick of hanging our degrees and admission certificates on the wall — although my grandmother would hate that as she used to sit in doctors' offices and jot down the details and years from those framed items.
So, hopefully that makes it a bit easier to pick up the phone and make an appointment to begin resolving your issue because sometimes delaying the call can make your situation more difficult.