What you need to know before  approaching an attorney
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Attorneys are there to assist you and offer you advice. You should view your attorney as a guide and adviser - providing expert assistance on the law and the legal system. You should approach your relationship with your attorney as a team effort, like any good working relationship.

Choosing the right attorney
There are many reasons for choosing a particular attorney, e.g. you may want:

  1. an attorney who specializes in a particularly complex area of law.
  2. a firm that is close to where you live or offers home visits.
  3. a firm which will take on your case on a 'no win, no fee' (contingency fee) basis
  4. to talk to someone of the same sex/age as yourself.

One should remember that cost is always a factor to consider when instructing an attorney to act on your behalf. The proverb, “you only get what you pay for” is also applicable when instructing a professional such as an attorney.
The services that you require from an attorney will most likely determine which firm of attorneys you will instruct.


Attorneys are professional persons who are devoted to serving their clients, whilst acting according to a strict code of ethics. Proper, open and honest communication between an attorney and client will most likely have the consequence that all instructions received by attorneys can be finalized and clarified without any problems.

Your consultation with your attorney will be private and privileged. Take your attorney in your trust and disclose all facts openly and honestly.




The consultation

Once you have chosen a firm of attorneys, make an appointment for a date and time that suits you.
Come to the consultation prepared. See that you have all the relevant documentation available. In most instances the original documentation will be required by the attorney. In such an instance, make copies for yourself and keep a duplicate file. If the matter involves witnesses, make sure that their full particulars, contact numbers as well as their full particulars, contact numbers as well as addresses are available.
Make sure that the attorney that you consult understand you correctly and grasps your legal problem. At the end of the consultation enquire about the following:

  1. Details of the action the attorney will take and how your problem will be approached.
  2. An anticipated timeline for solving the problem, if possible.
  3. Expected outcome of the attorney's actions.

Attorneys' charges

The determination of an attorney's fees can sometimes be intricate. In litigation matters it is possible, in terms of the law, that the losing party will have to pay the winning party's costs. Make sure that you understand the difference between party and party fees and attorney and client fees.

Clarify all terms and conditions and fees applicable in relation to attorney and client fees in order to prevent a misunderstanding or surprise when the matter is concluded. Anticipate that an attorney will most probably require a deposit from you to ensure that his fees and disbursements are covered. Clarify the details of expenses and the costs thereof to prevent a misunderstanding.

It is advisable that a fee agreement be put in writing and signed, which would also refer to all possible expenses. If possible, enquire whether your account will be debited on a monthly basis or upon completion of the matter.


It is advisable that the frequency and form of feedback be determined during the first consultation. One should keep in mind that an attorney can only act according to instructions from his/her client. An attorney can never decide what to do without consulting his/her client.

Whilst the attorney is still under your instruction, please advise him/her of any change of address, telephone number, e-mail address or other contact details. Failure to do so could, at a later stage, create a misunderstanding which could have far reaching consequences and lead to further costs.


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