There are several points to think about when choosing a lawyer, and the most important one is to select a lawyer with experience in the right area of law. Solicitors are usually highly specialised professionals. For example, you may feel you have been unfairly dismissed from work because of your ethnic origins. It may be a good idea, therefore, to consult a solicitor who is not just an employment lawyer but a specialist in the law concerning unfair dismissal. If you can find someone with a good track record of handling race discrimination claims at employment tribunals then so much the better.
If you have been involved in a road accident, to take another example, and want to claim for compensation, then you should ask if the firm has a department specialising in that particular area of law. If they don’t, then you may want to look elsewhere.
Fitting your lawyer to your legal problem as precisely as possible could improve your chances of success. It could also save time and money, since the lawyer will have experience of handling problems just like yours. Using the LawyerLocator site to search for lawyers is an excellent place to start.
You are also advised to check for membership of professional groups. Family lawyers are likely to be a member of Resolution, formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association, while personal injury lawyers will be members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil). Membership of such groups, which organise conferences and lectures on the latest legal developments, is a sign that the firm’s solicitors will be up on the latest trends.
It’s always a good idea to check the law firm’s website. Nearly all law firms have one these days, and they will probably provide background details such as how long the firm has been practising, who the partners are, how many offices it has, and whether it has won any awards or accreditations.
You could look, for example, for the Lexcel kitemark. This is a mark of quality conferred by the Law Society. It certifies the law firm has been independently assessed, and has met certain standards of quality in such as areas as client care and risk management. Other awards are likely to be flagged up on the firm’s website.
A general internet search is also advisable, as you may find articles written by the lawyers or news items on cases they have worked on.
Once you have chosen a law firm, use your first meeting with the lawyer to assess whether you want to carry on using them. If they treat you like a piece of furniture or keep you waiting for ages, forget them. While law firms can be hectic places at times and generally face a heavy workload, the solicitor should give you their undivided attention during the meeting, and should explain all jargon used. Never be afraid to ask questions. The solicitor should—and in fact is professionally required to do so—explain clearly what their fees are and what funding options are available, what the next step is, whether they have any conflicting relationships with other companies or individuals that could affect your position, and who to make a complaint to in the event of your being dissatisfied. If the solicitor does not do this, then be on your guard.
Last but not least, use your intuition. Your lawyer is there to help you. He or she should answer your questions, and should have a reassuring and professional manner.
LexisNexis LawyerLocator complies with the Solicitors Regulation Authority's Code of Conduct 2011 regarding referrals published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and any solicitor to whom we refer you is an independent professional, from whom you will receive impartial and confidential advice. You are free to choose another Solicitor. In the event that you instruct a solicitor, LexisNexis LawyerLocator will be paid a referral fee of up to £40 per solicitor, per accepted enquiry, but this will not be added to your bill.