Finding and working with a lawyer
How to choose the best lawyer
Relevant across multiple law types
Is location really important when trying to choose the right lawyer?
It is up to you whether you want to meet your lawyer face to face and that may dictate whether you use someone local. For most legal transactions, you do not need to see your lawyer and it can all be done by telephone and email or post.
There will be some cases where you and the lawyer will need to go to court and in those it makes sense to choose a lawyer closer to the Court where the case is going on in order to reduce travel costs, but many lawyers can provide national coverage.
How do I know if a Lawyer is any good?
There are some league table of lawyers, like The Legal 500, which are published by publishing companies. They tend to benchmark law firms doing commercial work and may not provide much assistance to individual Consumers.
You can look to see whether the Law firm has won any awards, but often these depend on whether the firm has bothered to enter the awards and how good their marketing team are at them.
Reviews on the likes of Trustpilot can be very useful although it is the nature of legal work that sometimes people cannot get everything they want from a legal case and may leave a jaundiced review which is more reflective of the quality of their case rather than the quality of the legal work.
Looking at the lawyer’s website is very useful. Do they have articles or commentary on cases like yours? Do they seem to specialise in the type of help you need? What do the profiles of the people in the firm say about their level of experience in what you need?
Recommendation is of course very good. If someone has had a good experience and recommends the firm that helps. But was it the same type of case that you have and will you be dealt with by the same individuals?
How do I pay for a Lawyer?
Legal Aid is available in some cases and will be very much determined by the type of legal case it is and also your financial situation. To access legal aid, you will need to show that you meet a means test (based upon your income and capital), that your case is strong enough (a merits test) and that your case is covered by legal aid (this is called scope).
You can agree fixed fees with a solicitor and it is important to make sure that the fee is fixed, rather than just a quote. Also, be clear what it covers.
Many solicitors charge an hourly rate. If they do this, you can agree to limit the fees to a certain amount before the solicitor incurs any further fees, but that may not cover everything that needs doing.
Many people have legal expense insurance attached to their household or motor insurance policies that they do not even know about which may cover their legal fees. It is always worth checking those policies to see.
Some unions or membership organisations will cover legal fees and again it is always worth checking if you are a member.