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Using a solicitor

  • Choosing 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. Here are some of the issues you should consider and some further information.

    What sort of legal help do I need?

    Solicitors may offer services in a wide range of legal subjects, although more and more individual solicitors are specialising in only one or two subjects. If your usual firm of solicitors cannot help you with all your needs, they will be happy to refer you to another solicitor. Or, if you prefer, they can get the advice of a specialist on your behalf.

    How can I be sure they are qualified to help me?

    All solicitors in private practice must hold a practising certificate issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the professional regulatory body for solicitors. This guarantees that the solicitor is qualified to practise and has insurance to protect you if anything goes wrong. If you want to be sure, ask to see the certificate (which should be on display in your solicitor's office) or contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority on 0370 606 2555 or go to www.sra.org.uk to check.

    Solicitors are required to work according to a set of rules issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. These rules are called the SRA Code of Conduct. At the heart of these rules is the duty to behave in an ethical manner. Solicitors have positions of authority and must maintain their integrity at all times - they must not behave in a way that would diminish the trust the public has in the profession.

    Solicitors may use other staff to deal with some aspects of your case. These staff will always be supervised. You can also ask your solicitor whether the practice has received any quality awards or is a member of any of our accreditation schemes to prove that they have high management and customer care standards in place. If the practice has received our 'Lexcel' quality award, we will be able to confirm this (you can email us at lexcel@lawsociety.org.uk or phone 020 7320 5933).

    Individual solicitors can be members of 'quality-assured accreditation schemes', run by the Law Society or the Solicitors Regulation Authority, covering a number of legal subjects. To join one of these schemes, solicitors must show that they have considerable specialist knowledge and expert skills. You can find details of solicitors in your area who are members of one of these schemes by visiting our Find a Solicitor website. You can get more details of particular schemes from the website.

    Where is the firm based?

    Where a solicitor is based is obviously an issue of convenience. Do you need to use a solicitor who is close to where you live? If so, this will narrow your search. Solicitors should be happy to visit you at home, so if you find travelling difficult, it's worth asking about this.

    Do they do legal aid work?

    If you are on a low income or receiving benefits, you may be eligible for legal aid. You can find this out by contacting your nearest citizens' advice bureau or law centre. Some solicitors do legal aid work and some do not.

    For certain types of case, including personal injury, your solicitor may be prepared to work on a conditional fee basis. This is more commonly known as a 'no win, no fee' arrangement. If you win the case, your solicitor's fees will usually be paid by the other side. If you lose, you do not have to pay your solicitor's fees. You may be asked to take out an insurance policy to pay for the other side's costs if you lose. There are various types of conditional fee arrangement, but not all solicitors take cases on this basis.

    Find out more about legal aid

    Will they be sympathetic?

    If you need to see a solicitor about a personal matter, such as a relationship breakdown, you will want to choose someone who makes you feel comfortable. Most solicitors will be sympathetic and understanding if you are distressed, but you may prefer to deal with someone who is the same sex as you. Don't be afraid to say, if this is what you want.

    Will they speak my language?

    If English is not your first language, you should mention this when you are trying to find a solicitor. If you tell them in good time, they can arrange for an interpreter to be present at your meetings.

    I'm disabled - will they make reasonable adjustments for me?

    Solicitors must make sure that disabled people can use their services. If you have a disability which requires a reasonable adjustment you should tell your solicitor straight away. They will tell you what adjustments they can make.

    More information

    Visit our pages on Working with a solicitor and Complaints for more information.


    Alternative formats

    We can make this information available in other formats and selected languages on request. Please email accessibility@lawsociety.org.uk for more information.

    Disclaimer

    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.