Is choosing a Solicitor a little like choosing the winner of the ‘X’ Factor?
Well, maybe the decisions are more alike than you may imagine – it’s a given that the ‘X’ Factor contestant can sing (OK – so allow me a bit of artistic licence) in the same way that you expect a Solicitor to know the law. So it’s ‘X’ factors that make the difference between whether you instruct them or whether you don’t.
Of course you have to ‘like’ the Solicitor who is going to be acting for you – in some instances you will be working together for many months and it’s going to help if you get on well. When choosing a Solicitor make sure you meet the person who is going to be running your file and acting for you – not just a ‘front’ man (or woman).
The matter you need to be dealt with has to be considered – does this need someone strong who will be able to stand your corner? Not all Solicitors are able to handle confrontation and press for the best possible outcome - you will need someone experienced in handling difficult issues and certainly ask whether they are confident in taking a matter to court should it prove necessary – ask the Solicitor about the type of work they handle and how they get results.
If your problem is complex it’s important to ensure that whoever you instruct has handled that specific type of work for many years. We learn every day in this job and nothing can substitute for experience in understanding the most appropriate strategy to achieve the best outcome for the client. What is right for one situation and client may not be right for the next – knowing the difference can be tricky.
Different Solicitors have different approaches to the way they work – some are very formal and task-orientated – ideal for commercial and business clients. If your matter is of a more personal nature such as divorce or separation then maybe you need a more empathetic, understanding support.
Sometimes ‘X’Factor contestants can ‘sing’ but they are not able to ‘perform ‘. And so it is with Solicitors – the PR is good, but ask about their working out of hours, their charges (particularly for travel time and copying), the number of family lawyers in their office when they are out in court. Ask about an initial unlimited, personal meeting free of charge and whether they are generous in answering your questions before you have instructed them and the cracks can begin to show.
And of course there is the biggest ‘X’ Factor – the one you just cannot put your finger on. The choice is not about choosing a Solicitor to work ‘for’ you but choosing a Solicitor to work ‘with’ you – that’s the one who should get your vote!
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