Why do I Need a Solicitor?

There a numerous organisations that offer independent specialist advice, so many people think, “Why should I hire 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. Regulations such as these are developed in order to protect the interests of the client and are not present in many other 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 illustrations below:

– The Internet

More than ever before, most modern solicitors have a full website. Search the internet for local solicitors or for solicitors specialising the relevant area of advice – preferably both. Have a good look at the websites – if it is 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 – this is the type of firm you should 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. But do remember cheapest isn’t always best. Value for money is one thing – cheap advice and mediocre client care is totally different. Consider avoiding firms with only one or two lawyers as the work can often be slow.

– You have incurred a personal injury

Many firms now offer conditional fee arrangements ie no win no fee cases. If you have suffered a personal injury look at firms in your area, which offer these types of arrangements. Hiring a solicitor on a no win no fee basis might save you huge amounts of money in legal fees if you end up losing your claim. Do always read the small print to any conditional fee arrangements.

– You are selling or acquiring a business

Depending on your corporate location and size, there are larger firms which have considerable merger and acquisitions /corporate teams which will specialise in these type of transactions. Look at a firm’s website to find out if they have any special offers currently running, and contract the relevant fee earner directly for a quote.

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.

About the Author:
Bonallack and Bishop are Salisbury Solicitors with particular experience as specialist medical negligence solicitors. Tim Bishop is senior partner at the firm, responsible for all major strategic decisions. He has grown the firm by 1000% in 12 years and has strong plans for its continued expansion.
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