Choosing the right solicitor is not like buying a new car or a new pair of shoes because there will not be an opportunity for you to have a test drive and you cannot try on as many as you like for size and comfort before taking the plunge on your final choice. So how do you find or choose the right solicitor when the time comes?
The first point to note is that you are no longer limited to choosing the only firm of solicitors on your local High Street or around the corner, and it is not uncommon to find a client in one part of the country happily instructing a solicitor hundreds of miles away. Email, Skype, conference and video calling, all make it much easier to increase your reach when trying to find the right solicitor for you.
However, you have to start somewhere when looking to choose a solicitor and seeking recommendations from friends or family can be a good starting point. Although, it may be dangerous to simply follow a recommendation, which means that no matter how much you trust some else’s opinion, you should always undertake your own due diligence for further peace of mind.
Therefore, undertaking your own research is a step that every prospective client should take and, given how freely and readily available resources are online, this is always where you should begin your search.
Checking with the Law Society to make sure that any potential solicitor is duly registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“the SRA”) (http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/) is a given. Equally, if the person you are looking to instruct is a Legal Executive or Licensed Conveyancer, you should check that they are duly registered with either the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (https://www.cilex.org.uk/) or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers (https://www.clc-uk.org/consumers/find-a-licensed-conveyancer/).
Next, almost all law firms will have their own website, which you can look at to see in which areas of law they specialise and which solicitors work there. Individual solicitors will likely have their own biographies also, indicating which areas they can assist with, articles they may have published and potentially some client testimonials; although do be aware, bad client feedback is unlikely to be advertised by anyone!
You might also be able to find independent online reviews for the particular solicitor or their firm, for example see review websites like www.reviewsolicitors.com or you can check for reviews on Google or Facebook.
As a final point, and returning to the buying a new car or a new pair of shoes analogy mentioned above, the likely fees you will be charged by your solicitor will be at the front of your mind. If your matter relates to a low value dispute, there may be limited benefit in choosing an expensive firm of solicitors to act for you as it could be disproportionate. Conversely, when purchasing your home (which some people may consider this to be relatively un-complex and straightforward) the chances are this will be the biggest financial investment you ever make, so why take a gamble on simply selecting the cheapest option?
From 6th December 2018 the SRA required all law firms to publish transparent pricing in certain areas of law in which they deliver legal services, making it much easier for prospective clients to obtain upfront fee information.
The key thing is to ensure you find someone you trust. The relationship between solicitor and client is one of mutual trust and respect, therefore it is worth taking your time to find the right match for you.
This article originally appeared in Flat Living Magazine in April 2019