How to Choose a SolicitorPosted: 7th December 2016
You can tell if they are pleasant and come across as competent. You can tell if their approach rings true and fits in with how you see things. You can tell if their offices are situated somewhere convenient. Whether they are good in their field and can deliver the result you want; whether they will treat you honestly, making sure that you are aware of potential pitfalls; whether you will be able to get hold of them when you need them – all those things are almost impossible to fathom at a first meeting, much less on a comparison website. Entrusting your sensitive personal affairs to a professional can feel like a leap in the dark, but here are some ideas as to where to start.
- Get it clear in your own mind why you need a solicitor. The answer to this may be straightforward, e.g. you are buying a house or your Will is out of date, but it may not be so clear: you may be in a situation which seems “legal” and you are starting to feel out of your depth. Think about what you want the solicitor to do and why you want them involved. Make a list of what is important to you e.g. good price / sympathetic and understanding / knows how to solve my problem / easy to get to the offices and/or park.
- Personal recommendation is best – but remember that all lawyers have specialities. The solicitor who was your friend’s rock in her divorce may not know how to set up a small business or deal with your dodgy builder.
- Have a look at the Law Society’s Find a Solicitor page: http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ and generally on the internet.
Arrange a meeting or a telephone call. You are looking for:
- Someone you are comfortable with and who feels right.
- Someone who is straight with you about what the cost will be (but bear in mind for complex work, they may not be able to give you an estimate right away).
- Someone who has previous experience of the type of work (but if your instructions aren’t complex, then for a junior person to be involved under supervision or as a first point of contact is a good way of keeping the price down).
- Someone who makes you feel listened to.
- The solicitor needs to know what you are looking for at this stage. Do you want them to roll up their sleeves and get involved, or do you just need advice and information?
- Make a list of questions to ask, or bring a friend or family member.
- Do you have a budget you need to work to?
The law doesn’t look at situations in quite the same way most people do! It may be that the things you feel are most important don’t fit in with the paperwork, or a court can’t make exactly the order you want. It’s the solicitor’s job to bridge this gap and to explain the law to you and you to the law. It’s your job to be open to what they tell you.
Hopefully you will find someone that you trust and that you can work with. Don’t forget to keep the lines of communication open!