There a numerous organisations that offer independent specialist advice, so many people think, “Why should I choose a solicitor?”
The simple response to this question is that although specialist organisations are able to offer generic or commercial advice, advice on the law should always be sought from those whom are qualified. Laws and regulations are lengthy and complex and often apply to situations in ways, which the untrained mind would not be able to spot.
The danger in seeking advice from non-legally qualified body is that you will not be protected when you make a decision based on the advice given and are subsequently penalised by the law. All practising solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (‘SRA’), the SRA produce a set of rules (currently Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007), which govern the professional behaviour of solicitors extremely tightly. Rules such as these are specifically made for the purpose of protecting the client and are absent in many other commercial organisations. Taking advice from a solicitor on the law affords you a protection that no other advice body can give.
Another benefit of seeking legal advice from a qualified solicitor is that they are normally not only educated in the law, but they are active businessmen and woman and therefore have the ability to consider relevant commercial factors into any advice they give.
How do I go about choosing a solicitor?
Firms of solicitors often practise in many different sector areas and within these areas they have numerous specialist fee earners. Therefore it is no longer as simple as searching for a solicitor, which practices in the area of law you have a problem. Finding a solicitor will depend on the type of advice you require, along with your location. Please see the following as some examples:
• The Internet. More than ever before, most modern solicitors have a full website. Go online and search for solicitors either in your local area, or for the type of legal advice to a seeking – preferably both. Have a good look at the websites – if it up-to-date, full of helpful information and shows a clear awareness of client needs, then that’s a good place to start. It’s amazing how much you can tell from the firm’s website – if they don’t have any e-mail addresses clearly evident, or if the website has little helpful information or worse still, the site hasn’t been updated for years – that’s the kind of law firm to avoid
• You need a quick bit of advice on a personal issue at work or home – many high street firms offer ‘legal surgeries’, which in essence offer free legal advice to those who come through the doors. Look to your local high street firm’s websites to see if such a service is offered.
• You are purchasing or selling a property – your estate agent is always a good place to start to seek a recommendation for a firm dealing with property. However, be aware that some estate agents may charge referral fees to firms. So do not be afraid to ask your estate if this is why he is recommending this particular firm to you. Shop around your local firms to find a good price for a conveyance. Remember cheapest isn’t always best. Value for money is one thing – cheap advice and poor quality client care is quite another. Avoiding firms with only one or two conveyancing lawyer as the work can often be slow.
• You are selling or acquiring a business – depending on your location and size, there are larger firms which have considerable merger and acquisitions /corporate teams which will specialise in these type of transactions. Use the firm’s website to analyse their latest deals and find the appropriate fee earner to contact for a transactional quote.
To conclude, a good solicitor should always be flexible and helpful. If for example, due to a personal injury, you need a home or hospital visit, your solicitor should be able to accommodate this. Do not be afraid to ask for a same sex solicitor if your case is of a personal nature. If you are unhappy with your solicitor’s performance, then all firm’s irrelevant of size will have an internal complaints handling procedure which you should be able to obtain and follow accordingly.