Frequently Asked Questions

Visiting Smith & Little LLP

Where is the closest parking?

Calgary Parking Authority Logo

Rates (GST Included)                     Daytime Mon - Fri (06:00 - 18:00) $3.25 per 1/2 hour to maximum of $23.00 (Minimum purchase $3.25)

Lot 54 (Zone 9054) Centennial Parkade

Impark Logo

Rates

Hourly:  $8 per hour
Daily:   $23 early bird enter before 9 am.
                  $28 max after 9 am.
Rates expire 6pm

Manulife - Lot #470

Can I travel by transit to your office?

Calgary Transit Logo
 

6th Street SW Station

What are your hours?

We are open weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

We are closed on all statutory holidays.

Is your office wheelchair accessible?

Yes

Are there washrooms for clients?

Yes.  There are washrooms in the lobby on the 24th floor outside of our office suite.  You will need to ask our staff for the washroom codes.

Can I bring my children to my appointment?

Our office facilities are not child-friendly.

We encourage our clients to carefully consider their childcare arrangements when booking appointments with us.  For clients with school aged children it is often best to plan to see us during school hours.

Our staff cannot provide childcare services.

In addition, it can be very stressful for children to visit a lawyer's office, especially if the nature of your matter involves your children.  We will not openly discuss these types of legal matters with non-infant children in the room.

Can I bring my mother/best friend/new partner to my appointment?

We understand that your legal matter can be very stressful and overwhelming.  Some clients prefer to have another trusted adult attend meetings with them in order to: offer them emotional support, remember or take notes of important information/advice discussed with the lawyer, or make sure they have not forgotten to mention any key details.

Our clients may ask these other adults to attend at their appointments.  However, in some situations having another person in your meeting can affect the solicitor-client privilege that you are entitled to.  If you wish to have another person attend with you at your meetings, one of the lawyers will always privately discuss this issue with you at your first appointment prior to allowing others to join the meeting.

We can only accept instructions to take steps on your matter from you, the client.   We will not accept instructions from your mother/best friend/new partner even if they attend at all meetings with you.

Do you accept drop in clients?

All meetings are by appointment only

What do I need to bring with me for my first meeting?

  1. Your photo ID
  2. Any court documents you may have regarding your matter
  3. Any contract you have regarding your matter, such as prenuptial agreement, separation agreement, business contract
  4. Information about any upcoming court dates

Contacting Smith & Little LLP

What is your phone number?

403 999 1650

What is the direct number for the lawyers?

The lawyers do not have direct numbers.

What is your address?

Suite 2410 645 7th Avenue SW

Calgary, AB  T2P 4G8

How do I email Smith & Little LLP? How do I email Christine N. Little? How do I email Kelly Elizabeth Smith?

assistant@smithandlittle.ca

What is the best way to contact you?

If you are a new or potential client please contact us by phone so we can get all of the pertinent details about your situation.

If you are a self-represented party and we are the lawyers for the opposing party, please send us an email.  It is our policy to have all communication with self-represented parties in writing.

If you are an existing client, another law firm, or have a simple question, email or phone during regular business hours are both great ways to reach us.

What is your fax number?

Please send us an email.

No, really, I want to send you a fax. It's really important that I fax you because the documents I want to send you are legal documents.

No, really, please send us an email.

We are a modern forward thinking law firm.  Faxes are inefficient and produce poor quality documents that are hard to read and sometimes cut-off or incomplete.

We accept service by email for all court files on which we are the lawyer of record.

It will make my communication of this important letter to you more official if I send it to you by both fax and email; please give me your fax number so I can show the judge that I really definitely sent you this letter.

Please send us your letter by email.  We will not deny that you have sent us a letter.  We do not practice law that way.  If you are a law firm and have sent us something that is very important and urgent, we have not responded and you expected we would have and you are concerned about this issue, we invite you to phone our office to make sure we received your letter.

How can I leave a voicemail for one of the lawyers? Your staff have offered to take a message and they seem very nice but I would really just rather leave you a voicemail and I'm told that is not possible.

The lawyers and staff do not have voicemail boxes.  We have one general voicemail box and we strive to have a staff member answer all calls during business hours.  Most calls should only go to voicemail outside of business hours.

One of our defining principles is that we practice law differently.  We try to work as efficiently as possible in order to eliminate or reduce the time spent on routine tasks that do not add value for our clients.  This allows us to focus our time on tasks that are highly valued by our clients such as:

  1. Meeting with clients
  2. Attending court/mediation for or with clients
  3. Drafting complex legal documents
  4. Negotiating with other lawyers on behalf of our clients
  5. Discussing legal strategy for our clients' matters

The problems we have observed with individual voicemail boxes are:

  1. The lawyer has a very busy day and the voicemail sits unchecked for hours while the lawyer is away from their desk/the lawyer doesn't see the voicemail blinking on their phone for hours or until the next day.
  2. The voicemail lacks sufficient detail to allow the lawyer to prepare an appropriate response resulting in a game of phone tag where the lawyer tries to get the missing information from the caller, then has to schedule a time to speak with the caller again later to answer the question after the lawyer has had time to consider the question or perform research.
  3. The caller is seeking some basic or simple information or a document which request can be completed easily by the staff or another lawyer in the office.

By speaking with and providing a detailed message to our highly trained telephone staff, your message will be answered more quickly and more efficiently than by leaving a voicemail for a specific lawyer.  Not only will our staff generally obtain all information the lawyer requires to carefully consider your question on the first call, but they can best manage the workflow in the office to ensure your message is seen by a lawyer in a priority manner.

I'm worried about discussing sensitive information with your staff who are not lawyers.

All of our staff are given extensive training on confidentiality.  We trust that our staff will keep your information confidential.  It is extremely difficult if not impossible for us to give you outstanding service and respond to your questions and concerns in a timely fashion if you do not leave detailed messages with our staff and answer any follow up questions they may have.  This information allows us to carefully consider your inquiry and perform research or consult your documents if necessary in order to formulate a complete response to your concern prior to returning your call.

You seem to make it very difficult to contact the lawyers at your firm. I can't email or phone Christine or Kelly directly and you refuse to publish your fax number. In addition, I've phoned your office only to be told that the lawyers aren't available to speak on the phone - this doesn't sound like very good customer service. If I hire your firm am I going to get any opportunity to actually meet with or speak with the lawyers?

Absolutely!  We meet with and speak with existing clients, prospective clients, and other callers almost every day.

We admit that it can be difficult to get Christine or Kelly on the phone if you just happen to call our office.  This is because we have a very busy practice and we are usually in the middle of activities that are highly valued by our clients such as:

  1. Meeting with clients/speaking on the phone with clients.
  2. Attending court/mediation for or with clients.
  3. Drafting complex legal documents.
  4. Negotiating with other lawyers on behalf of our clients.
  5. Discussing legal strategy for our clients' matters.

We do our utmost to return messages as soon as possible and usually within 1 business day.  If you read our testimonials and reviews you will see that our current and former clients do not find us difficult to reach or unavailable.  Once our clients come to understand the Smith & Little difference and the way our office functions they appreciate our efficient workflows.  Leaving a detailed message and setting a time when we will phone you back or meet with you also has the advantage of allowing us to carefully consider your question and perform research or review your file where necessary to ensure that we have a detailed response to your concern prior to returning your call.

Our centralized email and telephone system allows us to most efficiently control the workflow within our office.  Part of the Smith & Little difference is that you get two lawyers for the price of one.  Christine and Kelly work together on every file and have the unique ability to pick up where the other has left off.  What this means is that our clients and other lawyers can speak with or correspond with either of the lawyers interchangeably.  By having one centralized place where all calls and messages are received, we can divide our workflow or redirect messages while one of us has an extended absence due to vacation, illness, or simply a long trial, mediation, or other out of the office meeting.  Our clients and other callers don't need to worry about knowing the details of our schedules or which lawyer is available at any given time; we manage all of that within our office and the result is that messages and letters get answered more quickly and by the team member with the best ability to answer them.

Smith & Little LLP Client Experience

I'm worried about discussing sensitive information with your staff who are not lawyers.

All of our staff are given extensive training on confidentiality.  We trust that our staff will keep your information confidential.  It is extremely difficult if not impossible for us to give you outstanding service and respond to your questions and concerns in a timely fashion if you do not leave detailed messages with our staff and answer any follow up questions they may have.  This information allows us to carefully consider your inquiry and perform research or consult your documents if necessary in order to formulate a complete response to your concern prior to returning your call.

Can I trust information given to me by your staff?

While our clients will have extensive contact with our staff, it is important for clients to understand that every step taken by our staff right down to the messages to be conveyed by telephone to the client are directed by either Christine N. Little or Kelly Elizabeth Smith.

We prefer to have our staff communicate simple messages or work with you to obtain simple information or documents.  Having efficient workflow in the office allows the lawyers to focus our time on tasks that are highly valued by our clients such as:

  1. Meeting with clients
  2. Attending court/mediation for or with clients
  3. Drafting complex legal documents
  4. Negotiating with other lawyers on behalf of our clients
  5. Discussing legal strategy for our clients' matters

Clients also appreciate the cost-savings benefits from these efficient workflow arrangements on their legal bills.

Financial Matters

What forms of payment do you accept?

Email money transfer, debit card in person, credit card in person, credit card by phone, bank draft, money order, and business cheques for corporate clients.  Due to law society rules, we can only accept a limited amount of cash.  We do not accept personal cheques.

Our preferred method of payment is email money transfer.

What is a retainer?

A retainer is money provided up front by the client to secure payment of the lawyer's services.  The retainer is held in the lawyer's trust account until services are performed and a bill has been sent to the client.  The money remains the property of the client while it is held in the lawyer's trust account subject to the lawyer's entitlement to be fairly compensated for services already rendered.  Any money that remains in the lawyer's trust account when the client's matter is closed is returned to the client.

A lawyer's trust account in Alberta is subject to extensive reporting and auditing requirements monitored by The Law Society of Alberta.

You will be giving me a refund of my retainer money or a settlement payment, can you credit my credit card or wire the money into my bank account?

No.  Unfortunately money to be disbursed from our trust account is by cheque only.  We will generally ask you if you prefer to stop by to pick up your cheque or have it mailed to you.

How much of a retainer will you need for my matter?

Our retainers vary on a case-by-case basis.  The factors which will influence the amount of retainer required are: the legal issues involved, the complexity of your case, the services we anticipate your matter will require, and the timing and nature of any upcoming court dates.

After we have spoken with you and obtained sufficient details to determine an appropriate retainer in your case, we will discuss the amount with you prior to you making any decision about hiring us.

Will you start work on my file before I have paid my retainer?

No.

Is the amount of retainer you have requested reflective of the total legal fees I will incur?

Not necessarily.  We will discuss this with you in the particular context of your case during our initial discussions. 

Generally if you are requesting our services with respect to one or two particular issues which will be happening soon, we will request a retainer which will cover all of your anticipated legal fees.  A good example of this is a client who wants to retain us to represent them in a trial which will be happening in two months.

If your matter is of a more ongoing nature, we will generally request a retainer that will cover your legal fees for the first 2 - 4 months and which will allow us to make a good start on your file and see where it might be headed.  After that, we will periodically request that you top up your retainer as funds are used to cover legal fees incurred.

 

Can my mother/best friend/new partner pay my retainer?

Yes.  You can make any private arrangements you wish to pay your retainer.  We will accept payment and credit cards from third parties on your behalf.  However, we will only ever report to you, the client about your matter and any payments made.

We are not responsible for, and will not become involved with, any repayment arrangements you make with a third party. 

I can't afford a retainer right now but I am entitled to a settlement. Will you help me either on legal aid, on credit, pro bono, or on a contingency basis?

We are sympathetic to clients in these types of situations.  We will sometimes take on these types of arrangements and we will work with the client to work out security for payment of our legal fees in a mutually satisfactory manner.  For any such arrangements, it is necessary for the client to provide a retainer to cover, at a bare minimum, our out of pocket expenses.  However, we are extremely limited in the number of files of this nature we can take on at any one time.  Generally it will not be possible to accept these types of files.

We never work on a contingency basis and generally do not accept new legal aid retainers.

Working at Smith & Little LLP

Are you hiring?

I have been invited to take part in a testing session, what should I study?

We ask those candidates whose application packages are selected to write a written test for most positions with Smith & Little LLP.

We do not expect any substantive knowledge of the law or legal issues to successfully complete the test.  The tests are designed to gauge basic attributes and skills which we have found are important to success in the role you are seeking.

No studying is required prior to completing the test.

Our staff cannot offer you advice or tips prior to your testing session.

I have been invited to take part in a testing session, what should I bring with me and what can I expect?

We will provide all materials you need to complete the test such as pens and paper.  You should bring any materials you would bring for an in person interview as sometimes interviews are held immediately following the testing session.

We ask all test takers to hand in their cell phones during the testing session in order to protect the integrity of the testing process.  You will generally write the test in a group of anywhere from 1 to 8 candidates.

You will be advised of the maximum time allowed for the specific test you are writing.  In our experience this is an outside maximum and many candidates complete the test early.  If you are finished before the end of the allocated time you may hand your test in and wait to hear from us or wait to see if interviews will be offered the same day.  We do not offer any preference to candidates who are available to stay for an interview the same day.

Due to the busy nature of our office, interviews are often either offered the same day or not solely based on the schedule of the lawyers/staff who will be conducting interviews.

I came to write your test but was told I would not be interviewed that day, have I failed the test?

Not necessarily.  Due to the busy nature of our office, interviews are often either offered the same day or not solely based on the schedule of the lawyers/staff who will be conducting interviews.  We do our best to schedule testing sessions for times at which we expect to be available to interview successful candidates immediately following the testing but sometimes our schedules change with very short notice.  Other times we have a large number of successful tests and it is more respectful of our candidates' time to reschedule them for an interview at a set time in the future than to have them wait several hours for us to conduct all of the interviews.

I have been invited to your testing session but I am not available on any of the dates listed/I confirmed my testing session but a family emergency has arisen - have I lost my chance to get a job offer?

No.  We understand that candidates have other commitments/pre-existing appointments/current jobs/temp jobs/family emergencies, etc.  We hold our testing sessions on a semi-regular basis (articling sessions are held less frequently and are harder to schedule on a one on one basis due to the nature of some parts of the test).  Provided that you have communicated your problem with us in a reasonable fashion, i.e. in a way we would expect our employees to communicate with our clients, where possible we will reschedule you for another testing session.

I attended a testing session with many other candidates - am I really competing with this many people for 1 job?

Smith & Little LLP is a great place to work.  Positions are competitive at our firm.  However, we only invite those we feel could be a fit for our office to our testing sessions and we carefully review and consider each test package and its results.  We do not limit ourselves to hiring 1 or a specific number of candidates.  Wherever possible we will extend a job offer to every candidate who successfully completes the testing and interview process.

What does it mean to successfully complete the testing and interview process?

Our standards for work product, legal services, and customer service are very high.  We expect to see that reflected in the recruitment process.

We have minimum results we require from your written test.

In the interview process we are looking to assess four main factors:

  1. Do you embody our core values?
  2. Do you have the skills or aptitude to learn the skills required for the particular role you are seeking?
  3. Does your personality fit with our office culture?
  4. Do you have a genuine interest and passion to work in the legal field and at Smith & Little LLP in particular?

Do you have any tips to improve my application and chances of success?

DO:

  1. Prepare and submit your application package in accordance with the instructions on our careers page.
  2. Proofread your application package.
  3. Include a cover letter.
  4. Tell us in your cover letter why you want to work here; this is especially important if your resume does not show any obvious connection with legal work.
  5. Carefully read and follow any instructions that we send you.

DON'T:

  1. Show up late for your test.
  2. Forget to put your name on your test.
  3. Show up for a testing session if you have not scheduled your attendance in accordance with the instructions provided.
  4. Be rude to our staff.
  5. Phone our office about your application.