Frequently Asked Questions:
- Are you taking new clients? Yes, we gladly welcome new clients and referrals. Please complete the Potential Client Form and email or fax it to us. We look forward to helping you!
- What type of law do you practice? We practice environmental law. This includes many aspects of climate change and renewable energy. If your case relates to another area of law (e.g., family, wills, real estate, etc.) that does not involve environmental questions, we are unable to assist you. For names of lawyers who can assist you with other areas of law, contact the Law Society of Upper Canada.
- I’m not certain that I want to retain you. Can I come in for a free consultation before I retain you? We offer an initial consultation with no ongoing obligations, but it is not free. You are welcome to peruse our website and our blawg (blog) to evaluate our expertise and the kind of work we do. Our website is located here at www.envirolaw.com. We provide references upon request.
- Can you give me a free preliminary opinion as to the merits of my case? We cannot discuss your legal issues with you or provide a preliminary opinion before we have been retained. We cannot give legal advice to anyone other than our clients.
- Can you work with my existing lawyer/ consultant? Yes, we are glad to work with your team.
- How do I become a client? To avoid conflicts of interest and misunderstandings, we request a written summary of your case (not including confidential information) in order to decide whether we can help you. One way to do this is to complete and send us the New Client Form. Once we have received your completed form, we will evaluate whether we can take your case. We will get back to you as quickly as possible. Please indicate urgent dates on your form and we will make every effort to respond to you right away.
- How will you determine if you can take my case? Based on the information provided to us in your completed New Client Form, we will determine if we can take your case by assessing:
- (a) our current workload and availability;
- (b) the complexity and timing of your case and of the work that you wish for us to do on your behalf;
- (c) whether your case is within our area of expertise, and
- (d) the possibility of any conflicts of interest.
- What is a conflict of interest? A conflict of interest may arise whenever a lawyer acts for more than one party on a related matter. If your case involves a dispute or a transaction involving other parties, we must first determine if we have a past or existing relationship with the other party or parties and, if so, whether that relationship would give rise to a conflict of interest. If there is a conflict of interest, we would not be able to take your case.
- Once you have decided that you can take my case, how do I retain you? Once we have determined that we are able to take your case on, we will send you a retainer letter that sets out the terms and conditions of our relationship. We will also request that you provide us with a deposit (a “retainer”) that will be held in our trust account. Once you have reviewed, signed and returned the retainer letter, and provided us with the deposit, we will contact you to schedule a meeting.
- Why do you require a deposit and how is it used? As this is a very small firm, we require all clients to supply a deposit. This amount is held in trust as security for the payment of your account. In accordance with the rules of the Law Society of Upper Canada, this deposit does not earn interest. If accounts are not paid promptly, we may draw on the security deposit to cover the outstanding balance. Any portion of the deposit that is not used will be returned to you upon the termination of the retainer.
- How much do you usually require as an initial deposit? The amount of the retainer depends on the complexity and extent of the work that you wish for us to do on your behalf, and is usually based on our estimate of one month’s fees, disbursements and taxes.
- I would like to know exactly how much your legal services will cost me. Can you provide me with a flat fee or precise estimate? We will work with you to provide as much certainty as we can. Our fees are based on time spent in relation to your matter, computed at our hourly rates. Please contact us either by phone at 416-962-5009 or by email to inquire about our current hourly rates. Whenever appropriate, in order to minimize your total bill, clerks or junior lawyers, whose hourly fees are lower, will assist Dianne Saxe. We will also charge you for all disbursements that we incur on your behalf, such as long distance telephone, photocopy and fax costs, travel expenses, etc.
- It is extremely difficult to determine in advance how much our services will cost. The amount of work that will ultimately need to be done will depend on a number of factors that are not under our control, including the complexity of your case, how organized and responsive you are, what work has already been done, how cooperative the other parties are, etc. We can provide you with a best estimate, but it is only that – an estimate.
- We can discuss financial arrangements that provide you with greater payment certainty. For example, we could arrange a set monthly pay schedule or a total cap on our legal fees. However, under such fee arrangements, we cannot guarantee that all work required or requested can be done for the prearranged amount.
- What can I do to minimize legal fees? Our colleague in the INBLF, Gary Hodder, has some great suggestions here.
- I’m using Explorer on a PC, and I’m having trouble with a download/link. Sorry, we have not been able to figure out all of these quirks, but they don’t seem to happen if you use Firefox. Or a Mac.
- Where are the photos from? Dianne took many of the photos. They are from all over the world: British Columbia, Patagonia, Ellesmere Island, Lake Huron, the Alhambra, Angkor Wat, Israel, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, China, etc. Many of the vantage points were reached by bicycle, foot, kayak or ski. Others are from iStock.
- Why didn’t my comment get posted? We greatly appreciate comments that are thoughtful and relevant, whether they agree with us or not. We strive not to post comments that are anonymous, rude, libellous, irrelevant or shamelessly self-promoting. Our blog is a demanding child, always wanting attention and the next post, but we love it anyway; it is fast, flexible, and effective.
Why did we switch from a newsletter to a blog?
Our old newsletter came out once a month, if we were lucky. With a blog, if we have time and something to say about today’s events, (e.g. introduction of the Green Energy Act; important court judgment overturned), we can publish it today. This allows us to be part of the conversation when things happen, rather than playing catch-up a month later.
For us, a blog is easier to write than a newsletter. For one thing, we no longer spend hours on page layout, trying to make articles fit on a single page. Blog posts can be any length, short or long. Blogs are also more flexible in terms of media – we can attach almost anything to a post: a photograph, a presentation, even video or sound. The blog doesn’t get out of date, like a website, because we are always adding new content. We even get to use our favorite travel photos. The software we use, WordPress, is free and constantly upgraded.
Blogs let every reader customize their experience; our old web site could never do that. Readers can read our posts online, by going to envirolaw.com directly or through referrers, such as Mondaq or Lexology. You can subscribe through RSS (Really Simply Syndication) and get each post fed to a computer or smart phone. You can have posts emailed, immediately, daily or weekly. You can easily search the site, or filter it for blogs on water pollution, contaminated sites or green energy. You can also join the conversation, posting comments and queries, and can link your own sites to particular posts that interest you.
Our blog is an effective way of introducing ourselves to potential clients and referrers, and keeping in touch with existing clients. We love watching our blog readership grow, from nothing to more than 12,000 hits a month. The “About Us” section of our blog gets an astonishing number of hits. The blog stays interesting to readers because it is always has new content. The blog posts show the breadth of our expertise, and answer Frequently Asked Questions. We also use the blog to add value to our profiles on social networking sites, such as LinkedIn.
Another great thing about blogging is feedback. We hear from knowledgeable people across the country and abroad. Some post comments and questions, publicly or privately. We also learn a lot from the search statistics- who knew people were so interested in, for example, lighting pollution? And we love having an audience with whom to share our latest discoveries, in environmental case law, statutes, science and other curiosities.
So, welcome to our envirolaw blog, and we look forward to getting your feedback.