Published On: Fri, Jan 16th, 2015

The Essential Guide to Hiring a UK Lawyer

There are many occasions in life when you could need to hire a lawyer. You might have been accused of a crime, but there are also many other situations that require someone with legal knowledge. You could be going through a divorce or custody dispute, writing up your will or even just buying a house. For everything for which you might need a lawyer’s assistance, there will be specialists who are experts in that particular area. But finding yourself a specialist isn’t the only thing you need to think about. If you require a lawyer in the UK, you’ll need to determine how you will pay for their services and do plenty of research to find someone prepared to take on your case. If you think you need a lawyer but you have no idea where to start, use this guide to make the process simpler and less confusing.

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Determine the Correct Type of Lawyer

In the UK, lawyers are qualified as either solicitors or barristers. The general rule is the barristers defend people in court while solicitors work on legal matters outside of court. However, there are exceptions. But if you’re looking for a lawyer, it’s not likely that you’ll have to worry about the distinction between a solicitor and a barrister. What you should be concerned with is the lawyer’s specialty. For some matters, it’s obvious what sort of lawyer you need. If you’ve been accused of a crime, you need to seek out someone qualified in criminal law Leeds residents recommend. But other issues might not be as clear.

You want to ensure that you choose a lawyer who has experience with cases similar to yours, but some attorneys won’t hesitate to take on cases they’re unfamiliar with. In order to avoid this, use other sources to determine what sort of lawyer you need. You can ask your friends, family, and colleagues. Or you can also do some private research over the internet, using websites or books. You may also be able to get an appointment at your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, though this can be difficult since the organization experienced cuts to funding.

Research Costs

One of the significant worries, when you need a lawyer, is whether you’ll be able to afford it. For some situations, you may have factored the cost of an attorney into your activities. For example, if you’re buying a house you will have considered the cost of your solicitor. However, some events that require a lawyer are unforeseeable, such as being accused of a crime or getting divorced. When you begin to look at candidates, you can get an idea of the sort of money you’ll be paying and start to work out if you can afford it. If you’re certain you won’t be able to afford defense for a criminal case, you may be able to access legal aid. However, recent cuts have made this difficult. You can find out whether you’re eligible for legal assistance on the Government’s website.

You may also choose to use someone who will work for you on a “no win, no fee” basis, such as a personal injury lawyer. If you do this, you need to make sure you know exactly what fees you’ll be paying in the event that you win your case. It could be a portion of your compensation, plus extra costs for admin, filing, and other expenses. You can try to negotiate your fees too – don’t immediately settle for whatever figure they quote to you.

Create a Shortlist

When you first start looking for lawyers, you might find that there are an overwhelming amount, and you don’t know where to start. Using a search engine or register is a good starting point if you don’t have anyone to ask for recommendations. However, you should ensure you narrow down your options by including your local area and the specialism you require in your search. Asking for recommendations from friends, family and professionals is a good idea too. For example, if you’re buying a house you might ask your estate agents to recommend a solicitor who can manage the deal.

Apart from making sure they’ve handled cases similar to yours, there are a few things you can do before arranging to meet a lawyer. You can look for reviews and testimonies online to see how other people found their experience. You can also check their qualifications, just to reassure yourself that they’re qualified to practice. Once you have a few people you can talk to, make appointments to meet them and discuss your case.

Talk to Lawyers About Your Case

When you meet the lawyers you’ve made appointments with, you need to discuss your needs with them to ensure they can help you. When you’re talking to them, make sure you bring up the things that you think are important and ask plenty of questions. A good lawyer will be ready to answer anything you throw at them. Don’t be scared to get involved and remember that you’re in charge. You might be asking them for expert help that you don’t know much about, but you do know what you need from them. If you don’t feel that they’re addressing your particular problem adequately, it may be that they aren’t familiar enough with that area of the law. You might be better off going elsewhere.

Separating the Good and Bad

There are lots of ways to separate good lawyer and bad lawyers. Professionals should be open and honest with you, and prepared to answer your questions. They should be realistic about what they can do for you, without making big promises that they might not be able to keep. Don’t let smaller things slide either, like punctuality and responsive contact. If they take a long time to get back to you when you contact them, they’re not worth your time or money. You don’t need to be an expert to find a good lawyer. Use your intuition and choose someone professional, knowledgeable and competent.