Finding a solicitor
Finding a list of solicitors is easy using our helpline or website. Call 020 7320 5650 or visit our Find a Solicitor website to start your search, but think carefully about what type of service you need. The drop-down menu in the quick search on the website has a list of legal areas to help you choose. You may also want to consider whether you need a solicitor or a different sort of legal professional.
Preparing to meet your solicitor
Think carefully about the details of your case - the more preparation you do before the meeting, the more you'll get out of it. Make a list of the main points you want to make or the questions you want to ask. Get together any paperwork that might be relevant and put it in some kind of order so you can refer to it quickly. This will make it quicker and easier for your solicitor to understand your circumstances and give you proper advice.
For more extensive information visit our page on using a solicitor.
Making an appointment
Once you have found a suitable solicitor, you may need to make an appointment to meet or discuss your case over the phone. If you are meeting, let the solicitor know if there's anyone you want to bring with you. Ask if you should bring any documents with you, such as proof of identity or income.
Check how long the appointment will last so that you don't suddenly find that 'time is up' before you've made all your points. Have your notes in front of you, tick off each point as it is covered, and don't be afraid to ask if anything is said that you do not understand.
Finally, ask your solicitor to send you a letter to summarise the advice you've been given, and confirm the details. This letter is referred to as a client care letter and should contain the following:
- That he or she has taken on the work.
- The name of the person in the firm who will be dealing with your case day to day.
- The amount of time the firm will need to see your case through.
- An estimate of costs and any agreed spending limit.
- Any more information you need to supply.
Legal advice, like anything else you buy, costs money, but its value can be enormous. Charges vary between solicitors, and will depend on the expertise and experience of the individual solicitor as well as how complicated the work is.
Before making a decision about which solicitor to use, you may want to shop around. Decide on what sort of solicitor you need to speak to and get quotes from several. Many solicitors charge little or nothing for a short first interview. It is worth asking.
However, price is not the only thing you have to consider. Above all, try to find a solicitor who you are comfortable with and whose advice you feel you understand.
Fixed or hourly rate?
Solicitors don't always charge a fixed fee for a particular job. The bill will often be worked out on an hourly basis, so the longer it takes, the more it costs. A solicitor must give you a cost estimate at the outset, usually at the first interview.
If an hourly rate is quoted, you may want to agree a fixed spending limit. If the costs look likely to go over this limit, your solicitor will contact you to warn you and get your agreement to continue.
Keeping in touch
Once you have appointed a solicitor, they must consult you at every important stage, to check how you want to proceed. Similarly, you need to tell your solicitor about any changes to your personal circumstances that could affect the case. This includes any changes in your financial position which could alter your eligibility for legal aid.
Concluding the matter
When your business with your solicitor has come to an end, they will send you the bill for their services, which should include the date when they need you to pay by.
They will also:
- Report the outcome of the matter to you and explain any further action that they or the firm are required still to take.
- Where appropriate, advise you about arrangements for storage, destruction and retrieval of any documents you that provided to them, and any related charges (unless this has already been agreed in the terms of business).
- If required, advise you when the matter should be further reviewed.
They will close your file once all these things have been completed.
Making a complaint
If you are not satisfied with how your solicitor handled your case or with their bill, you can complain.
Find out more
While we have made every effort to provide accurate information, the law is always changing and affects each person differently. This information is no substitute for specific advice about you personally and we will not be liable to you if you rely on this information.