When you see your Advocate
Updated: April 2017
Words you may need to know
Advocate - An Advocate is a Jersey Lawyer. An Advocate can represent you in any of the courts including the Royal Court but a Solicitor can only represent you in the Petty Debts Court. You can also represent yourself.
Represent – here, act for
Up Front - This means in advance. ‘Up Front’ money means you have to give money before the person will start any work.
Letter of Engagement - This is a legal agreement between you and the Law firm. It means you are "instructing " them on your behalf. Instructing means asking them to do work for you.
Advocates are very busy and very expensive so you can help yourself and them by being well prepared for any meeting.
Before you meet them, think about what you want to say and what information you want from them. Write it down so you don't forget!
Take paper and a pen with you so that you can write things down. It also helps to take someone else with you in case you don't take everything in.
- Ask clear questions. If you don't understand the answer, ask again. Keep asking until you are sure you understand.
- Always listen carefully to what the Advocate says. They are there to help you.
- The advice they give you might not be what you want to hear. They are not there to agree with you but to explain and give you information and options.
- You don't have to accept the advice the Advocate gives you. You could ignore it but things may not go your way if you do.
You could go to someone else for a second opinion, but that will cost you more money and they may give you the same advice as the first Advocate. If you ignore the advice, make sure you are clear as to what might happen.
- Ask the Advocate what work you can do by yourself. Not only will this keep down the costs, but it also makes sure that you are kept informed and involved about what is going on.
- Ask to be kept up to date about how the case is getting on and, definitely how much it is costing at each stage.
- Do not use the Advocate as someone to tell all your problems to. They are not trained to give you support in that way and you will be paying for their time. Trained Counsellors are qualified and cheaper.
You will be charged for all the time you spend with your Advocate or the law firm. Sometimes a junior Legal Assistant or other employees will do some of the work to keep costs down.
When your case is taken on, you will be given a ‘Letter of Engagement’. This will tell you how much each person is charged out at and what other charges there might be.
You may have to pay money up front on a monthly or weekly basis. Make sure you get from your lawyer some idea of the fees they are going to charge or the likely cost of the case/ action.
In some, but not all circumstances you might qualify for what is called Legal Aid. That is a service provided by the legal profession in Jersey under which people who can't afford a lawyer, or who are unable to get one, can do so.
Legal Aid does not mean that it is free. The service is "means tested" and you are charged what it is believed you can afford to pay or might be able to pay in the future.
For more information on how to apply for Legal Aid
Please ask for the leaflet - A Guide to Legal Aid in Jersey
See Legal Aid 4.3.2