How to find a lawyer in Ontario – the initial email

This article lists the key things that should be included in an initial email to a civil litigation / civil trial lawyer.

Here is what should be included in the initial email:

  1. Your name and telephone number.
  2. A brief, non-legal description of the case. This should be short; 1-2 sentences in length is good.
  3. The names of all other parties to the litigation. This is for conflict check purposes.
  4. Information on the status of the case. For example, has a lawsuit been started? If so, what stage is the lawsuit at: pleadings, discoveries, mediation, pre-trial or trial?
  5. Any upcoming Court dates or deadlines you are aware of.
  6. The best method to get in touch with you and the best time to do so.

You should not include details about your case or attach any documents. The goal of the initial email is simply to identify key things that a civil litigation / civil trial lawyer needs to know in order to decide whether or not it makes sense to have a consultation and/or make potential retainer arrangements.

Here is a sample initial email for a case not yet started:

My name is John Doe. My telephone number is 123-456-7890. I want to sue my former employer for wrongful dismissal because I was fired 6 months ago. The name of my former employer is ABC Inc. No lawsuit has been started yet. I’d be happy to send a short summary of what happened if that would be helpful. I can be reached by email throughout the day or a phone call in the afternoon would be convenient.

Here is a sample initial email for a case that is underway:

My name is Jane Doe. My telephone number is 987-654-3210. I am the plaintiff in a shareholder dispute concerning XYZ Inc. with another shareholder John Doe. A lawsuit has been started and there is a pre-trial conference 6 weeks from now on [insert date]. I would be happy to send a copy of the pleadings if you’d like. I can be reached by email or a phone call between 10 am and 12 pm or after 5 pm this week would be ideal.

This email gives a very short synopsis for the lawyer so they can decide if your case is appropriate for them to move forwards with, therefore making efficient use of your time and their time.

If you would like to have Mick Hassell, Trial Counsel consider your potential or active case, please send your email to

Beyond the initial email, law firms have somewhat different intake processes, but generally they may involve a fee quote, retainer agreement (contract for services), payment of a monetary retainer (money for services to be performed) and a review of documentation as well as meetings and/or telephone calls to get the lawyer up to speed so they can make informed recommendations.

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