Tip 1 – Don’t rely on price alone
It’s fair to say that good quality legal services don’t come cheap, and no one wants to pay over the odds for a good solicitor. However don’t pick your solicitor on the basis of the cheapest fixed fee or hourly rate. Instead, ask friends and family for recommendations, do some internet research and have a good look at the firm’s web site. Do ring the law firm and talk to the solicitor who would deal with your case – you will soon get a sense of whether or not you would feel comfortable to work with them, whether you feel comfortable talking to them, whether you feel they are actually listening to you and ultimately whether you would be prepared to accept their advice – even if it’s advice you didn’t want to hear.
Tip 2 – Choose specialists
The internet is particularly useful for this and most well-run law firms provide plenty of information about specialisation – if they don’t even have a website, what does that say about the way they run their business? For specialist areas of law like collaborative law divorce, family mediation and medical negligence claims, check if any of the solicitors have relevant panel or specialist professional association membership. In particular, beware of one-man bands that appear to cover a huge area of work – unless they are specialist firms. Any individual running divorce, conveyancing, business and personal injury cases, for example, is unlikely to be up-to-date with developments in all these areas. You wouldn’t trust your local GP with brain surgery would you?
Tip 3 – Produce the right documents
When booking the first appointment with your solicitor, ask them to list exactly what identification, documentation, or evidence they need to see – so you can bring these with you. This will prevent an unnecessary second visit to deliver these documents. What’s more, it will probably speed up your first appointment – which, unless you’re paying a fixed fee, should mean that helps to keep your legal costs down.
Tip 4 – Prepare for your appointment with your solicitor
Before attending the first appointment, think about your issue carefully, so you use your time with the solicitor effectively. Produce a list of burning questions that you need answers to as a priority. Also if you are going to discuss something that took taken place over a period of time, it is a good idea to write a timeline of events. This will help your solicitor to look at the facts of the case in a logical order, without wasting time trawling through dates and times during your meeting – saving your time and your legal costs.
Tip 5 – Check on the progress of your case
At the risk of irritating your solicitor, don’t be afraid to check on the progress of your case. If you feel you are not being kept adequately informed, raise this concern with your solicitor. Remember – you are the client and you are paying the bills – so you need to be satisfied with the both information on the progress of your case and the legal advice you receive.
Tim Bishop senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – divorce solicitors with a specialist team who specialise in family mediation and collaborative law. For expert help with your divorce, call them on 01722 422300 or visit their webites at http://www.the-divorce-solicitors.co.uk or http://familymediationcollaborativelaw.co.uk