One of the most difficult aspects when choosing a solicitor is having trust and confidence in them. Where do you start and how do you make the right choice?
Clients tend to find searching for a solicitor a daunting process. An internet search will often reveal at least 10 firms of solicitors that deal with the issue that you need help with. Choosing the right solicitor and getting the right advice is paramount and key to the success of your case. Choosing the wrong solicitor can make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful case.
So, how do you decide?
As solicitors, we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (commonly known as the SRA). It is our duty to explain everything to our clients, for example; what will happen, the overall estimated costs of dealing with a matter; what could happen if our client is not successful and the costs implications of that. It is important that this is done in a clear, easy to understand language that our client can understand.
So, what should you expect?
Good communication – You want and need a solicitor that not only listens to you but also provides you with the answers you seek and gives you the opportunity to walk away to think about your options.
Understanding of the law – Naturally, a solicitor who specialises and deals with the same sort of problems a client has will be able to say “We can help with this and this is how.”, not “I don’t really know, but we will see what happens and hope it pays off”. No solicitor can give their client a 100% guarantee, but they can and should be able to say whether they can help or not and provide details of the options available.
Cost Implications – When seeing a solicitor for the first time and explaining your problems to them, you want to know what the overall costs will be. Again, a solicitor cannot give you a guarantee or exact figure for costs as there are different things that could happen in a case, but they do have to give you an estimated value, which not only includes costs, but VAT and disbursements, such as court fees or requiring the additional help of a Barrister.
It is important that you have trust and confidence in your solicitor and you will usually be able to decide this at the first meeting. Solicitors should treat you fairly and provide for any special requirements you may have; give you all the information you need to decide what service you require; tell you how your problem will be handled and the options available to you; give you adequate information about likely costs; keep you informed of progress and any changes; tell you about your right to complain and how to make a complaint [i].
Cost is often a major factor for clients, however caution must be exercised when a solicitor is not charging as much as their competitors. As solicitors specialising in professional negligence claims, we often see cases that have gone drastically wrong when a solicitor has cut corners or not carried out the work with the skill and care they should have used. This usually costs the client more to put right.
Therefore, choosing a solicitor comes down to whether you are successful in your claim or unsuccessful in your choice.