Ask a lawyer: Common FAQs


If you’ve ever watched a legal drama on television, you might think that you have a pretty good understanding of what lawyers do and how they work. However, fact is often different to fiction. Here are the answers to some common questions people ask about working with lawyers.

How much does it cost to work with a lawyer?

Different lawyers charge different rates, depending on the types of clients they work with. For example, a top-tier firm that specialises in corporate mergers and acquisitions will charge very differently to a suburban practice that specialises in conveyancing, wills, and estates.

Many lawyers offer a free consultation, which means you can sit down for an introductory chat free of charge to determine whether they’re the right fit for you. During this meeting, you can find out if they’re able to assist you, what experience they have, and what they charge.

There are also free advice services available for people from disadvantaged and low-income backgrounds, such as Legal Aid NSW and Community Legal Centres NSW.

Do I really need a lawyer or can I do this myself?

Australians have the right to represent themselves in all legal matters. If you have a good understanding of the relevant areas of law, you can confidently navigate the relevant procedures, and you’re aware of the risks involved, this could be a good option for you.

However, the law is complicated, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer. Seeing a lawyer will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your case early, to maximise your chance of getting a good outcome, and they can help you find alternatives to going to court. 

A lawyer will also help you understand your legal rights, responsibilities, and options. They’re experts at challenging evidence and working with witnesses and they will make sure you don’t make administrative errors like missing key dates or forgetting to file an important form. 

Are all lawyers the same? Do I need to see a specialist?

Lawyers all start their careers with a general law degree. This can be either a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Juris Doctor (JD) degree, followed by completion of a Practical Legal Training program. Once they begin practising, however, lawyers typically specialise in a particular area of law.

This could include criminal law, commercial law, employment law, environment and planning law, family law, immigration, intellectual property, litigation, and many more. If you’re looking to work with a lawyer for the first time, you can use this helpful Find a Lawyer tool.

What’s the difference between a solicitor and a barrister?

Solicitors are generally the first port of call when you’re facing a legal matter. They can give you advice, take care of legal paperwork, and help you explore your options, and guide you through the process. If your matter ends up going to court, a solicitor will prepare all the documents. 

Solicitors can also appear in court and make your case, however, if your matter is complicated, they may advise you to retain a barrister. A barrister is essentially an expert advocate who will ensure your matter is put to the court in the strongest and most persuasive way possible.