How do you find the best solicitor?
When choosing a solicitor you will need to consider a number of factors ranging from cost, service, results and expertise.
There are hundreds of firms vying for your business and all promising to do a great job. But how do you know if you have found the best solicitor for your situation before you enter in a contract?
Whether you need a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing on your home move, to represent you on a work injury claim or for any other reason, there are a few general points to consider:
Checklist - All types of case
1. Insist on fixed Fees
Typically the primary concern for anyone instructing a solicitor is how much it will cost.
Historically solicitors have charged by the hour leaving clients with no way of knowing how much the service will cost them.
More recently, fixed fees are increasingly being offered by solicitors for most types of consumer legal services. Fixed fees are preferable to open ended changing structure. Fixed fees give clients the ability to know exactly what they will have to pay for a given service from the outset.
Whether you are making a road accident claim or moving home, poor solicitor communication will add enormous stress to the process. Worse still, poor client communication is likely symptomatic of an overworked solicitor. You need your solicitor to be fully focused on your case.
If the solicitor has been slow to communicate during the pre-instruction phase, things could go downhill once they have secured your business.
3. Ask about the solicitor's specialisation
There are solicitors who will ‘turn their hand to anything’ - e.g. a work injury solicitor taking on a conveyancing case. Generalists are best avoided. Look for a solicitor with a proven track record in your specific type of case.
4. Track record
Ask your solicitor if they have handled any claims like yours before an what the outcome was. This is particularly important if the case is contentious or adversarial e.g. a personal injury or an acrimonious divorce,
5. Size of firm
Bigger is not necessarily better. Ultimately you will have an individual solicitor and perhaps an assistant looking after you. Your individuals solicitors service and expertise are what matters - not the number of employees the firm has.
BUT - you should make sure that there are enough people in the firm to provide holiday cover - a particular issue with conveyancing matters.
6. Solicitor location
You may find it reassuring to know that your solicitor is just around the corner
When making a claim you would not normally need to visit a solicitor’s office. As with many professional services, legal services are carried out by phone, post and email.
More important is the service you receive, the expertise of the solicitor and, above all else, the results they deliver.
7. Do you like the people you have spoken to?
If you are thinking of instructing a solicitor, you will be entering into a professional relationship that could last months or even years.
Even if you haven’t yet spoken the the actual individual who will handle your case, ask yourself what was the attitude of the people you have dealt with at the firm? If they were helpful, friendly and professional, the chances are this attitude is echoed in the culture of the firm as a whole.
Checking online reviews is a quick and easy way to confirm that your prospective solicitor offers the sort of service you are looking for. Look out for comments about communication and proactivity in particular.
Checklist - Specific types of case
Legal services differ significantly depending on the type of case. Drafting a will, for example, can be completed in days, is usually not time critical and is a step by step process. Making a medical negligence claim on the other hand can be a complex adversarial process that takes years to complete.
Case specific checklists
For advice on finding the best solicitor for specific case types, see:
Read more about choosing the best solicitor for your personal injury claim.