Hiring a solicitor can be a tricky process; they all claim to be experts of their fields, never to be bettered. The decision making process is an important one in this situation because hiring an inadequate one is likely to be costly in every sense of the word.
So how do you separate excellence from the inferior? This article will state some of the steps that you can take to ensure that when in need of a solicitor, you know how to find the right one.
How to Find the Right Solicitor for You
The first thing to realise is that there isn’t a one size fits all approach to hiring a good solicitor. All solicitors are experts in different areas and it varies from case to case in regards to which is likely to be the best fit.
The first step everyone should take is to carry out some research. Research is easier now than it ever has been thanks to the prominence of the internet – it really is invaluable.
One of the best resources for research is The Law Society. The Law Society represents solicitors in England and Wales; their purpose is to represent and promote solicitors as a whole within England and Wales. They have a searchable database that gives information on law firms.
Another interesting feature of the Law Society is their accreditation scheme – Lexcel. To receive accreditation, firms must show that they meet high management and care standards. Reaccreditation occurs every year as well to ensure standards remain high. While this is not a guarantee of quality, it can generally be considered a good indicator.
Another website worth looking at is the Legal 500 website. The Legal500 is a collection of legal market intelligence; they also provide information on individual law firms in over 90 different countries including strengths, weaknesses, strategies, sectors and rankings. It can be a great tool to compare firms when deciding which would be best for a job. An example profile from the Legal 500 can be found in the resource box below.
Qualifications and awards are all well and good but can only go so far. Another quality pointer is word of mouth reviews. There are websites out there that collate reviews from people that detail their experiences with certain firms and are well worth looking through. One thing to note though is that often people deal with one specific person throughout a case and their experiences with that sole person is not always reflective upon the whole firm.
Online forums and chat rooms are also good methods of uncovering people’s experiences.
Once you have collated a shortlist, the next step is face-to-face meetings. Ring first as many firms will offer free 30 minute consultations. Do this for a handful of firms and once you have visited them all, use your best judgement to choose.
The Complaints Procedure
Even with all the care and diligence in the world, sometimes you can be unlucky. This rings true when looking for a solicitor. Although 99% of them are professionals, there is still the odd cowboy not worth his (or her) salt.
Because of the money involved when dealing with solicitors, it becomes more important that the correct steps be taken in regards to complaining. Luckily, this procedure has become easier in recent years due to the introduction of the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman deal with complaints from all parts of the legal. The ombudsman make the legal complains procedure transparent, faster and more efficient than in years gone by. The legal ombudsman is free to use for individuals and (very) small businesses.
There is a specific set of valid grounds for complaint. If any of these are met, then it may be worth contacting the Ombudsman.
If there is another issue that you are concerned about though, it may still be worth contacting the ombudsman. It is worth noting however that being unhappy with the outcome of a case is not grounds for a case, no matter how irritated you may be.