The law can be a difficult thing to navigate for the average citizen. The language surrounding legislation and regulation is notoriously dense, and the various interrelations between laws and historical legal precedents require decades of study and experience to fully understand.
For this reason, it is rarely if ever advisable for a member of the public to represent themselves in court, whether as a plaintiff or defendant and whether their case is criminal or civil. Solicitors are an essential provision when engaging with anything that requires legal counsel or compliance, from cases themselves to advice on certain actions you can take.
But if you’ve never engaged with legal issues before, it can be difficult to know where to start. What criteria should you be using to choose your legal representation and counsel?
The Nature of Your Case
Firstly, your choice of solicitor or law firm will greatly depend on the nature of your case or specific needs. Wide-ranging as law is as a subject, it is necessary for law professionals to specialise in a particular corner of law; while general understanding of law and how to read it is crucial, specialism enables a legal practitioner to fully understand the depth of a given subject.
If you are hoping to legally clear a house purchase or sale, professional conveyancing solicitors specialise in property law and will have a solid grasp of the procedures involved. If you believed yourself to have suffered negligent care at the hands of an NHS professional or facility, you would reach out to a personal injury solicitor that specialised in medical negligence claims. This can help you narrow your search field significantly.
The next criterion on which you should base your choice of legal representation relates to credentials – in particular, qualifications. Naturally, a solicitor is required to meet a stringent set of qualifying requirements in order to legally practice in the UK. As per the Solicitors Regulation Authority, there are two key routes to qualification as a solicitor: the SQE route, or the LPC route.
The former SQE route sees solicitors required to pass a Solicitor’s Qualifying Exam, while the latter sees solicitors gaining qualification via a Legal Practice Course and on-the-job training. This is just to become a solicitor, too; there are differing legal requirements for barristers. The legal professional you choose should be able to demonstrate and prove their training and qualification.
Lastly, experience can be a crucial deciding factor in your choice of solicitor. Newer solicitors with less experience may be an unknown quantity, and even something of a risk – but they can come with lower rates. Meanwhile, more seasoned experts could return the advice or results you need with greater precision, but at additional cost.