How to hire a lawyer

Fortunately and unfortunately, the Kuwaiti market is saturated with lawyers – the good, the bad and the ugly, as well as everything in between. So when I decided to start my own law firm, my lawyer friends didn’t think it was a good idea. “Surely Fajer, you can join one of us,” was the repeated refrain by them with care and love, but I didn’t want to.
I had a different vision then – I wanted my firm to be approachable (and affordable) by anyone and at any time, whether you are a blue collar worker or a CEO. I wanted people to feel welcome when they walked in. I am not a fan of unnecessary formalities and I like to keep the law simple. Of course, this does not mean that there are not lawyers with more experience than me in the market or who are more efficient, and so on. There are many great lawyers that I have had the pleasure to work with (and still do) who love what they do and want to make Kuwait a better place. Today I will be answering questions that are common, especially from expats or people that never needed to see a lawyer before and have concerns.

‘Perfect lawyer’
Question: How do you choose the perfect lawyer?
Fajer: Choosing a lawyer should in my opinion be like choosing any other craftsman – do your research and weigh your options. I suggest you go to three different lawyers and see who you are more comfortable with. Do not go for cheaper or more expensive though, because how much they charge is not going to make a difference on how well they do. Always ask your lawyer for past experiences with similar cases. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

Question: What should you ask for or what should you avoid?
Fajer: Always ask for a contract between you and the lawyer, either in English if you do not speak Arabic, or if they cannot provide you with an English contract, ask them for time (even if it is just a few hours) to get a friend to read the Arabic and translate. Or you can take a photo of the contract and do not sign it until you understand everything written in it. If you do end up signing it, ask for a copy of the contract you signed. Make sure you know if your lawyer will appeal for you, pay the court fees, pay for any translation fees and do any execution on your behalf (I will talk more about execution of court verdicts in the next question).

Power of attorney
Question: When I got a POA for my lawyer, I was asked by the ministry if I wanted my lawyer to have the right to obtain money on my behalf (execute a verdict on my behalf). What do you suggest?
Fajer: First, let me explain what a POA is – it is a power of attorney that gives your lawyer the right to continue on your behalf any legal processes required. Some POA will give the lawyer the right to obtain money on your behalf. Let me give a common example – let us say you sue your previous employer for not giving you your indemnity, your lawyer wins and your indemnity is KD 15,000. If you gave your lawyer the right to obtain money on your behalf, then they could take the amounts and then transfer them to you. This is something you should discuss with your lawyer, because there are positive and negative consequences. Positive being that it is less work for you to execute the verdict and it is only negative if you are having difficulties trusting your lawyer. So I suggest you understand this point carefully.

Question: What are the common charges for lawyers?
Fajer: I get this question a lot and really it depends on the type of case and the type of proof required (what documents you have and what documents are missing). It is a service industry and therefore every lawyer has a different way for charging their clients. One thing to keep in mind though is only trust lawyers who studied your case before they provided you with a quotation. I personally do not trust lawyers that give quotations without seeing the whole picture.
I wish you all good luck and always, always, always ask your lawyer to negotiate before going to court. You will be surprised how much money and time you could save yourself, your lawyer and the country! Since I have answered questions about how to hire a lawyer and things to keep in mind, my office will refrain from answering any questions about your case if you already have a lawyer, because it is not right for us to interfere with our colleagues’ work.
For any legal questions or queries, email ask@fajerthelawyer.com.

By Attorney Fajer Ahmed

This article was published on 05/02/2017