Finding the right solicitor can be tricky, time-consuming, and needlessly costly. Here's a guide on how to make sure you're making the right choice and picking the firm that will work best for you.
We often need solicitors to help us through important life decisions, but whether you're looking to move home, write your will, or manage an estate, choosing the right solicitor can be hard work. There are countless companies to choose from and the jargon on websites can be confusing.
Whilst most companies will be able to do the work, service standards vary as do levels of expertise. It isn't widely appreciated, for example, that Will writing is not a regulated activity. This has led to an expansion in the types of firms offering Will-writing services, yet many of them have a low level of knowledge and little practical experience of this complex area of law. Dealing with a qualified Solicitor provides reassurance that the person giving you advice is properly equipped to help you. You can check whether a Solicitor or firm is authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority by searching their Register.
Whether you're using Google as your guide or you prefer the idea of hiring a referred, recommended firm, here are some basic checks you can and should do to ensure you're making the right decision when choosing a firm.
Consider how you'd prefer to find a solicitor
Consider how you're planning on narrowing down your search. Some people prefer to contact a recommended company or individual. We ask for recommendations from our friends and family because if they had a good experience, we feel confident that we will too.
Others prefer to do their research online and make their choice based on aspects such as the company website and related reviews. If you're planning on searching for legal advice online, consider using a website such as the Law Society Database, which helps you narrow down your search for a solicitor based on the service you need and your location.
Regardless of how you choose a company, here are some important checks to make once you've narrowed down your search.
Check both the company and solicitor are regulated
The Solicitors Regulation Authority, (SRA) is the regulatory body for solicitors in the UK. They protect the public by ensuring that all regulated legal firms meet high standards of work, investigate complaints, and regularly monitor firms. They also run a compensation scheme to ensure that those who lose money due to a solicitor's dishonesty or failure are compensated.
You can check if both a solicitor and a firm are regulated by the SRA by checking the register here. The company website should also display the SRA badge in their footer, which will show they are regulated. This is an important check as a regulated firm will be held to account if they do not treat you fairly.
It's worth double-checking on the SRA Register, even if the SRA badge is present on a firm's website, especially if the firm was previously unknown to you. There have been cases of bogus firms claiming to be authorised, so make sure you're confident in their credentials before you enter into any arrangements with them. This is essential if you are seeking help with a high value transaction, such as a property purchase where your chosen firm will be receiving and sending large sums of money on your behalf. You can't be too careful. The SRA's website has a useful section giving details of known scams, and it makes interesting reading. You can find it here.
Read the reviews on Google
Most company websites will display testimonials from clients but these will have been handpicked. To find the most honest reviews, check Google reviews and pay attention to how the company responds to bad reviews. These reviews cannot be removed by companies and will reflect the average experience of customers.
Look at the pricing on the company website
Two years ago the SRA, the regulatory body for solicitors in the UK, created transparency rules which mean that solicitors must publish information and pricing for certain services.
These services include;
Motoring offences (summary offences)
Immigration (excluding asylum)
Employment tribunals (unfair/wrongful dismissal)
Debt recovery (up to £100,000)
Licensing applications (business premises)
If you are looking for a solicitor to help with any of these services you can check their website as they must publish the price of the service and give information about what they will provide as well as timescales. You can use this information to check the competitiveness of firms that you're considering.
If you're looking for a service that is not listed here, you should ask about the firm's pricing anyway. All reputable firms will give you details of how they charge and the anticipated cost of the work before you start. If you meet any reluctance to provide this information our advice is to steer well clear.
Take a look at the company website for values and ethics
You will learn a lot about a company from looking at their website. Take a look at important details such as their Homepage and the About Us page and see if it matches your ethics. The days when a firm's website was little more than a directory of contact details are long gone, and consumers expect to be able to learn about a business, what factors are important to the firm when giving advice, and who is on their team. Reading their website could be a deciding factor as to whether you'd be happy working with the company.
Here at Woolley Beardsleys & Bosworth, many of our clients have been with us for decades, trusting us to manage and protect their welfare and assets. We can help you move home, write your Will, arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney, set up a Trust, deal with probate or manage an estate.
It's important to us that we're transparent about our service and you can find information about our services and pricing on our website here.
If you'd like more information you can simply pick up the phone and call us on 01509 212266, or make an enquiry here. You can be confident that the advice you receive will be provided by a qualified and experienced professional team with a commitment to high standards of customer service. It's what we've been doing for over 280 years!
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