Whether you need a will drawn up, are buying a home, or need the full force of the law on your side to deal with a divorce, a solicitor is sometimes essential. But the law is complex, and not all solicitors are equal. So how do you go about choosing the best solicitor for your case?
Type of Legal Assistance
Firstly, you need to define what type of legal help you require, as areas of the law solicitors practice in can vary. Some firms cover all areas of law, while others specialise in certain areas. Individual solicitors most commonly specialise in just one or two areas of law. If you’re trying to dispute a divorce settlement, then a solicitor who specialises in conveyance won’t be a lot of help!
Are they Qualified?
All solicitors must hold a certificate issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This tells you that your solicitor is qualified to practice and operates within the rules set out by the Law Society. However, a certificate to practice is unfortunately no guarantee that your solicitor will provide a good service. While there are many excellent solicitors, there are also a number of rogue solicitors who mistreat their clients by charging extortionate fees, failing to carry out work properly, and causing damage through unacceptable delays. If in doubt, you can check with The Legal Ombudsman who publish decisions about complaints made against solicitors on their website.
It’s always best to choose a local solicitor, most especially in cases where conveyance or property work is concerned. For example, if you’re involved in property in Hampshire, using a Hampshire based firm such as Abels Solicitors who offer residential conveyancing or property development services is advisable. A solicitor with a good knowledge of local leases and laws will be of far more help to you then a solicitor unfamiliar with the local area. Click here for more information.
Most solicitors offer a free first consultation, so you can explain your problem and find out how much their help is likely to cost. However, it’s generally a good idea to ‘shop around’ as solicitors fees can vary quite considerably. Many of them charge by the hour, so always find out how many hours worth of work they anticipate working for you will involve, and request that they inform you should they go over this limit.
If you cannot afford legal help, then legal aid exists to help you pay for it. Legal aid is free, provided you’re either on benefits or earn no more than £2,657 per month and have less than £315 per month in disposable income. You must, however, find a solicitor who provides legal aid, and have a problem that qualifies you for legal aid help. If you have over £315 in disposable income then you’ll have to pay something towards your legal costs. To apply for Legal Aid, your solicitor will advise you on eligibility, provide the forms for application, and advise you on how much you have to pay (if anything).
Wendy Lin is a successful female entrepreneur, freelance artist and writer. She started her first business at aged 20 and is currently the CEO of 2 businesses.