By Jacquelyn Stevens

There are many reasons why you may need to seek the advice of an environmental lawyer. Perhaps you need advice about the sale of your dry cleaning business and/or your property. Or perhaps you have had a visit from a provincial or Environment and Climate Change Canada inspector or investigator. Or, maybe you have been served with a lawsuit. Whatever the reason for your meeting, it is important to make your time with your environmental lawyer productive.

But, what if you have never met with an environmental lawyer before? How do you make the most of your initial meeting?

Before you meet with your environmental lawyer for the first time, you should consider some basic questions your lawyer is likely to ask and what documents to bring with you.

Below are categories of information that will help your environmental lawyer understand your case and advocate on your behalf.

Information About your Dry Cleaning Property

Who owns the property? Bring documents about the ownership of your property, including any agreements of purchase and sale.

  • Is the property leased? Do you have tenants or are you a tenant? Bring documents about any leases for the property.
  • What insurance do you have? Bring a copy of any insurance policies for the property, both current and former, as they may provide relevant coverage.

Information about your Dry cleaning Operation

  • How long have you been operating? Were there previous operators? Bring any documents about the dry cleaning operation.
  • Do you own the business? Bring a copy of the corporate minute book.
  • What chemicals are used on-site? Who supplies the chemicals? Bring any order forms, receipts and reporting documents for dry cleaning chemicals.
  • How old is your machinery? Is it in good working order? Bring any documents about the type of equipment, and any repairs and maintenance completed.
  • What is your training program like? Bring documents about your training program and who has received training, either by you or through programs offered by other organizations.

Information about What Brought you to your Environmental Lawyer’s Office

  • Is there a civil claim or a potential civil claim against you? Bring a copy of any demand letters or statements of claim.
  • Have you been ordered by Environment and Climate Change Canada or your provincial Ministry of Environment? Bring a copy of the order and any correspondence with the regulator.
  • Have you been charged by Environment and Climate Change Canada or your provincial Ministry of Environment? What is the charge? Do you have any evidence of due diligence? Bring a copy of the charging document and any correspondence with the regulator. Bring any documents that demonstrate how you manage your day-to-day operations. Bring any photographs of your operations.
  • Has there been a spill? Bring a copy of any environmental reports, sampling results and other documentation that shows what happened, including photographs.
  • Are you thinking of buying or selling a dry cleaning property or dry cleaning business? Bring any corporate documents, agreements of purchase and sale, and correspondence with the interested party.

Of course, your best protection is to consult with an environmental lawyer before you actually need one. Your environmental lawyer will help you be proactive and ensure that you are in compliance with federal, provincial, and municipal regulatory requirements, such as the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, required annual reporting and handling of waste products, and avoiding spills or other events that may lead to regulatory enforcement. Your environmental lawyer will also help you investigate your property and your operations to determine any potential civil and regulatory liabilities, and provide guidance to prepare for purchase or sale.

Whether you’re preventing a legal issue, or responding to one, your environmental lawyer will help you to put your best foot forward and navigate the steps to a resolution.

Jacquelyn Stevens
Jacquelyn Stevens

Jacquelyn Stevens is a Partner and Specialist in Environmental Law Certified by the Law Society of Ontario, Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP. Prepared with the assistance of Anand Srivastava, Associate, and Amanda Spitzig, Student-at-Law, Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP.

For more information or to set up an appointment, please contact Jacquie by telephone at 416-862-4828 or by email at

Document #: 160750

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