We aim to answer some of the questions people affected by the fire in Grenfell Tower have asked about getting and paying for legal advice they can trust.
It is essential that you find a lawyer you trust. You can choose who you want to represent and support you. No-one else should make this decision for you or put pressure on you.
Not all lawyers are legally qualified or insured, so there are some things you should think about before you make a decision.
Solicitors, barristers and chartered legal executives will give you the best service because they must:
Lawyers who are solicitors, barristers and chartered legal executives work for law firms, for chambers or for legal services companies. Many also work in community organisations or charities (such as law centres, Citizens Advice, Shelter and Inquest).
Solicitors and barristers can offer clients legal professional privilege - the information a client shares with his or her lawyer in confidence should never be revealed without the client's consent. This does not apply to other legal professionals.
If a lawyer is not a solicitor, a barrister or a chartered legal executive - for example, if they are a claims management company or a paralegal - they may not be qualified or insured and may not give you the help you need.
You can have one lawyer to help with all of your legal issues, or you can use different lawyers for different legal issues.
A solicitor is not allowed to contact (cold call) you first. You have to contact them. If they do contact you, you can make a complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority or call them on 0370 606 2555.
Claims management companies are allowed to contact you, but if they cause a nuisance you can complain to the Claims Management Regulator or the Legal Ombudsman.
You can check solicitors' and solicitor firms' records with the Solicitors Regulation Authority on 0370 606 2555.
Read more about legal professionals - who does what?
If you are unhappy with the lawyer or firm you have chosen, or feel you were forced or misled into using them, you should speak to the lawyer first so they have the chance to sort out your concern.
If you want to change your lawyer, they must explain how you can do this. You can also get advice from a different lawyer about what to do.
If your lawyer cannot resolve your complaint, and you want to take it further:
You may not have to pay for legal advice if your legal problem has happened as a result of the fire in Grenfell Tower. Your lawyer should tell you if you can get legal services for free - for example, through legal aid (government funding), from a charity or from a lawyer working pro bono.
Many lawyers are offering free legal advice (also called 'pro bono' legal advice) for people affected by the fire. Community advice organisations may have grants and donations to offer you free legal services.
Any emergency payment you received after the fire will not affect your entitlement to legal aid but other savings or income might. Check if you can get legal aid
The government has said it will fund legal costs for the public inquiry and inquests. For more information you can email the Legal Aid Agency, which makes decisions about public funding, at ContactECCmajorincidents@justice.gov.uk
Read more information on legal aid.
You may be offered a CFA - often referred to as 'no win - no fee'. This means the lawyer will only be paid if you win your case and get compensation. If you don't get any compensation, they will not be paid.
If you win your case and get compensation, the person paying the compensation will also pay your lawyer's fees. A CFA may sometimes entitle the lawyer to take the success fee out of your compensation, so check any contract you are offered before you sign it.
We would expect solicitors acting for people affected by the fire not to take any success fee.
A lawyer can set a price up front. This means you will pay this amount regardless of how much, or how little, work is required.
The bill you pay will depend on the amount of time the lawyer spends on your case. Your lawyer will be able to give you an estimate of how much time they expect to spend on your case, but they will not be able to give you an exact figure. As they get more information, they should be able to give you better estimates.
The Law Society represents solicitors in England and Wales. We also work to make sure nobody is above the law and to protect everyone's right to access justice.