At some point, you may need to find a solicitor in North East England.
It may be to look for compensation for a workplace or on-the-road injury. Maybe you need to deal with questions unfair dismissal or discrimination problems at work. Perhaps you need to manage family concerns like divorce and custody. Or you want someone to manage your will and contracts. You will need one when purchasing or selling property.
Here are some ten things you need to know or ask your solicitor before deciding if they’re the one best suited to solve your problems.
Do I need a solicitor or a barrister?
A good way of knowing the difference is to think of them in terms of doctors – a solicitor is a general practitioner, and a barrister is a specialist. A solicitor can deal with most legal issues, but certain problems require someone who works entirely in that field.
Similarly, solicitors also have specific fields they favor. You certainly wouldn’t want to ask a lawyer experienced mainly in contracts and employment law to handle your adoption case in family law, for example. A good one will advise you if your case requires any specific expertise.
Ask about how much of their practice involves the area your legal issue is concerned with. Ask about all your options, if you may qualify for legal aid, and even what could possible happen if you choose not to engage with a solicitor at all and just attempt to compromise with the issue on your own.
Good solicitors aren’t afraid that you’ll walk away but will understand that you have a problem and the only important thing is that it gets resolved.
Don’t let word of mouth recommendations decide for you.
Getting a recommendation from friends and family about their prior experiences is a good way of finding barristers. But just because their legal problems were resolved doesn’t mean the one they recommend is actually suited to handling yours. Differences in methodology and temperament lead to different outcomes.
For example, they might be delighted at an aggressive resolution to their case, and think that’s how a good solicitor should be. Unfortunately, even very similar cases may have said approach lead to disaster. Vice versa, a too passive and conciliatory solicitor won’t get you what you want if you’re in dire need. If your case is messing you up emotionally, you will need someone who has some sympathy but won’t let you ruin things for yourself out of revenge. Most of all, a solicitor should do more than just file papers like some functionary.
When looking for a solicitor, have your own requirements.
Remember too that you don’t need to use firms that have been assigned to you by your company, your insurance provider, trade union, or any other body. Only you have the right to decide at the end.
Big firms won’t necessarily give you better results.
It’s common to think that a big, expensive firm with many lawyers might give you the best results commensurate to how much they’re charging you. However, the mere fact that they are capable of handling many cases at the same time means that cases are part of a steady churn. You might be impressed, but you’re not likely to be their biggest client, and they might not be able to give you the value and attention you need.
You’re just one more client among the thousands of cases they’ve handled, and you can’t be sure to get the care and personal attention you need. What you pay may go more into recouping the advertising budget than any guarantee of quality.
The nearest to you may not be the best suited either.
It also seems intuitive that if you want a solicitor, an easily-reached local attorney is the most convenient option. When you’re looking for a solicitor North East England encompasses a significant area with many different concerns – and the best solicitor for your particular legal area need not be from your local geographic area.
What’s more important is their practice area. If they have more experience in your particular legal problem, allow local solicitors to handle the cases they’re more comfortable with for others and meet up with those that are much more likely to resolve your problem.
Someone willing to travel and might also be your best bet against an indifferent bureaucracy. Someone from out of town might be able to offer a stronger, more unbiased perspective. If you need to go up against big business or sue the government, you will need someone who has stout experience in this field. You might also need someone with experience with foreign languages and cultures.
Let communication be the deciding factor.
Effective communication often makes or breaks a case. A good solicitor is good at argumentation, is good at mediation, and can give an accurate estimation of your chances in court. Beware of those solicitors that promise a speedy resolution before even hearing more about the details. Individual cases have their strengths and weaknesses.
There is also no reason in this connected world of ours anymore to leave a client in the dark about what’s happening in their case. Video conferencing makes distances less relevant, and even email updates can extinguish worries. You should be informed how often you will hear from them, and under what circumstances they will need to obtain your official approval before taking measures.
These are small expressions of care that big firms intent only on final results don’t bother with. Your solicitor should never make you feel unimportant.
Vice versa, your solicitor can only help you as much as the information and documentation you can provide. Even a less-than-ideal but honest answer can help you prepare. Don’t lie to your solicitor to make yourself look better, but share everything relevant to the case to better help them create their strategy.
Don’t be afraid to ask about costs.
It’s important to know if you can afford the solicitor’s services and how you may be required to pay. What you pay for attorney fees should be different from how much of your case would end up being handled by paralegals and legal assistants. You should know if you qualify for legal aid.
You also need to know other circumstances in which you will be billed, and how often. You might pay a fixed fee, a hourly rate, or as a percentage from the property or damages. You could also be billed for bank transfer or currency exchange fees, miscellaneous filing and registry fees, duties, postage and courier, and urgency charges.
There may be other payment options for reduced costs. Get it all talked about well ahead of time so that it becomes one less thing to worry about.
Surprisingly, online reviews do matter.
While it’s easy to think that online reviews on online list like https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/, https://www.reviewsolicitors.co.uk, and https://www.glassdoor.co.uk might be papered-over publicity, it’s harder to fake reviews. Statistically, the more reviews a firm might have, the greater is its reliability as a measurement.
This is due to a greater number of ‘invisible’ good results from people who aren’t so familiar with the Internet to log on and share their views. Those who do share their views are more enthusiastic about their experiences. Likewise, a bad review means someone was irked enough to take that extra step to publicize their grievance. One or two disgruntled people might not seem much, but when you start to see three or more that’s a very discouraging pattern due to the same invisible statistical implication.
Using online resources to find a solicitor North East of the UK is easier than you might think. After looking through the lists, it’s up to you to use your rational judgement and instincts for character to decide. Spending some time to call up and meet different solicitors isn’t a waste of time – it would be an even bigger waste to try out and find out that they can’t meet what you need.
What is their personal range of expertise?
This means asking how long they have practiced law and the type of cases they typically handle. Some cases are fine to be handled by someone without much yet experience, others require a more expert hand.
The more veteran attorney is not always the better, because for simple cases they could be doing something more valuable with their time while billing you their necessarily higher rates for something not all that complicated. Referring back to Point (5) of this list, as long as they communicate well and pleasant to work with, your case will be done swiftly and to your satisfaction.
But for more complicated issues, you will need someone who has real experience working with, for example, families and health professionals. A solicitor is a generalist, but even lawyers have a particular area they prefer to work in. The difference between firms and sole practitioners is a matter of time they can devote to you and how well they trend towards compromise.
Knowing about their typical clients also matter – while lawyer-client privileges prevent revealing information, it is good to know if your attorney is known to work with companies rather than individuals. More expensive attorneys who work for wealthier clients have different modus operandi to those accustomed to fighting for the interests of those with less advantaged financial backgrounds.
How do they approach resolving a legal issue?
Related to point (2) of this list, different attorneys have different ways of approaching similar problems. Aggressive attorneys might be what you’re looking for in a divorce case, but be careful that temperament doesn’t compare unfavorably with the solicitor hired on the opposite side.
If you want to resolve the divorce amicably, then you want a lawyer that can split the difference without ruffling feathers on either side. But that same dogged spirit might be what you need to pursue claims of personal injury and negotiate settlements.
Speaking with your attorney about their case philosophy is the best way to know if they are the best fit for representing you getting what you most want out of your legal issue.
What technology do they use?
This means more than just a facility with the internet and social media and the possession of common communication devices. This means a familiarity with various technological aids like document and file management, cloud-based services, and various methods of gaining and preserving evidence electronically.
This means knowing about hardware related to your problem – medical devices, some familiarity with automobiles and machinery, cameras and video recording, all of these things are useful in certain fields.
And even when the case doesn’t involve evidence per se, document handling and being able to show you files at your convenience even when out of the office are always useful. If you are not familiar with technology, if it would be relevant to your needs then ask if they can assist you in acquiring said capability.
The greatest influencer for having a good experience with your solicitor is simply being a client who knows what they want.