WHAT DO LAWYERS DO?
Lawyers help people with a wide range of legal matters, from incorporating companies to settling legal disputes. Lawyers play a critical role in the justice system when they represent their clients involved in court cases.
What skills do lawyers have?
Lawyers are professionals who have studied the law. Before a lawyer can practice law, they must be “called to the Bar” (certified to practice law) in a province or territory of Canada. Law Societies in every province and territory oversee and govern lawyers in their jurisdiction. They are independent governing organizations that protect the public interest in the administration of justice and set professional standards for all lawyers.
Not all lawyers represent clients in court – they do many other things like draft agreements between parties, settle legal disputes, give advice on incorporating businesses, and so on. These lawyers are sometimes called “solicitors.”
Lawyers who appear in court, are sometimes called “barristers” and they have special skills in presenting a client’s case in the best way to the judge in court. They are knowledgeable about the law, court procedures, and how to present evidence in court.
How a lawyer can help you
If you are involved in a dispute that you cannot resolve, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer to find out if you have a legal problem.
The law and lawyers cannot resolve all problems. However, if you have a legal problem, a lawyer can explain the legal issues and how the law applies to your situation. This will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case and what options you have. A lawyer will protect your legal rights and be your advocate (representative) so that you don’t have to resolve the problem on your own. The lawyer will try to settle your case by negotiating with the other party and if settlement is not possible, the lawyer will represent you in court.
You do not have to be represented by a lawyer to appear in court. But, if you represent yourself in court, you might want to talk to a lawyer about the best way to present your case to the judge.
You can find a lawyer by contacting a lawyer referral service in your area. For example, the Canadian Bar Association branch in your province or territory may be able to direct you to a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the law that applies to your case. You may be eligible for government funded Legal Aid, or to pro bono (free) legal services.
Where to learn more about what lawyers do:
Federation of Law Societies
- Before a lawyer can practice law, he or she must be “called to the Bar” (certified to practice law) in a province or territory of Canada. Provincial and territorial law societies oversee and govern lawyers in their jurisdictions.
Canadian Bar Association
- The Canadian Bar Association is the advocate and voice of all members of the legal profession. Its purpose is to serve its members by promoting fair justice systems. The CBA has branches in each of the provinces and territories. The Canadian Bar Association branch in your province or territory may be able to help you find a lawyer.
Where to learn more about getting legal assistance
You can get legal assistance and advice by talking to a lawyer. You may be able to obtain free legal information or legal advice through your provincial or territorial Legal Aid office or pro bono (free) legal clinics.
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may qualify for government funded Legal Aid. The legal services range from legal information and advice to legal representation (a lawyer to handle your case). Use this Legal Aid link to locate the office in your province or territory to find out if you are eligible for legal services.
Free (pro bono) legal services
- If you do not qualify for government funded legal aid, you may be able to obtain free legal information or advice from lawyers who have volunteered to provide assistance. Find out about free (pro bono) legal clinics in your community.