How to Choose a Specialist Solicitor
By AdFeatures | Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:27
All solicitors have to be qualified and registered with the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. They all have to do a certain number of hours’ training every year to make sure that they are up-to-date with changes in the law. Yet even so, there can be massive differences between solicitors in terms of how much experience they have and how they treat their clients.
For example, to a bog standard lawyer a head injury claim may mean nothing, but a lawyer specialising in that particular field will know all about the sorts of symptoms it can produce, the effects that it will have on a sufferer, their family and their finances, and how best to get proper compensation for it.
Sometimes people searching for a good solicitor will think to ask the secretary who books the appointment how long that solicitor has been doing their job. After all, some solicitors might be newly qualified, whilst others could have been working as a solicitor for decades.
The number of years’ experience that a solicitor has is important in some ways, but not in others. It can be important because a newly-qualified solicitor will not have had personal experience of as many different types of cases as a solicitor who has been qualified for several years. On the other hand, some solicitors with a great number of years’ experience can sometimes be difficult to understand. That is because they know the law and the court processes so well that they forget that all of that is usually new to their clients, who may want a better explanation about what to expect.
But how long a solicitor has been qualified for is not as important as for how long they have specialised in a particular area of law. For example, a solicitor who has been qualified for 20 years but has only handled one case giving divorce advice will probably not be as helpful or as useful as a solicitor who has specialised in giving divorce advice for, say, five years or even fewer.
So how do you go about choosing a specialist solicitor for your case? For some legal problems, you do not have much time to search for a solicitor who will be able to get you the best possible outcome; for other legal problems you might be so upset and worried that you will pick the first solicitor you find in the phone book, online or near where you live.
If you are suffering from a head injury suffered at work and need brain injury compensation, for example, you could ask your trade union to recommend a good solicitor. But if you have a disease caused by work a very long time ago (as is common with some industrial lung diseases, for example), you need to find a solicitor who knows what they’re talking about. You could contact the Law Society or the Solicitors Regulation Authority to ask which solicitors specialise in claims like yours. Or you could just search online by typing in the type of legal advice you want.
A really good way to choose a specialist solicitor is to ask around for personal recommendations. Some solicitors are friendly and approachable and give clear, straight forward advice. Others are rather more formal and will tell you your legal options but might not give you any real advice about which option you should choose. If you know someone who has had a positive experience with a particular solicitor who specialises in the type of law you need then make an appointment. Or do some research on firms that have thrived on a good, solid reputation – they will have made sure that the solicitors who work for them offer the best possible service to their clients.
Never feel hurried or pressured into choosing a solicitor, but remember that for some types of claim there are time limits on how long you have to make an application to court (e.g. you usually get three years after being hurt to make a claim for personal injury).
You may have to work together over many months so it is important that you employ a solicitor you can trust. Many firms offer a free half hour of initial advice, which you can use to ‘test out’ a solicitor as well as gain some very useful information. You can also use that time to judge how much experience and specialist knowledge the solicitor has about cases like yours.