Whatever your reason for needing legal help, it’s very understandable if you’re feeling a little lost-at-sea when it comes to knowing what to look for in a law firm, and what to turn away from.
Here’s our guide to help get you started.
Look at Online Reviews
Whether you’re a stickler for what the reviews say, or tend to ‘wing it’ without them, there’s no denying that a lot can be gleaned simply by looking at the experiences of other people who came before you – even when it comes to finding a law firm.
A law firm can deploy all the tools of the trade to make their website look professional and authoritative, but they can’t stop actual past clients from writing their honest reviews – good or bad. This is a great place to start.
Also, take a look at any testimonials on their website or social media feeds. A good law firm is likely to publicise client quotes and testimonials.
Speak to Friends and Family or Colleagues
Similarly, taking advantage of the fact that your own contacts have gone through something similar before you is a great way of ensuring that you learn from their experiences – again, whether those experiences were good or just plain terrible.
This is also a great way of allaying any nerves you might have about the emotions ahead. Never underestimate the power of talking through your struggles with a friend or loved one – particularly if they have gone through something similar in the past.
Check Their Own Website
While we’ve already touched on the fact that even a mediocre law firm can invest plenty of time and money into making sure that their website puts across a much more polished and professional impression, there are some things that can’t be glossed over.
For instance, if you’re scoping out a law firm, look to make sure that they display the relevant accreditations such as the SRA digital badge, which confirms that the firm is regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority – and, as a result, that it meets their high standards for working with clients.
More generally, look around and ensure that they come across well and, of course, that they offer the legal service you need help with…
Ask Yourself, Can You Find the Lawyer You Need There?
Every law firm comprises a range of specialisms and areas of expertise. Some law firms will place a much greater emphasis (or focus exclusively) on one particular area, such as employment law, while others will have lawyers who specialise in a broader range of disciplines.
Don’t assume you’ll get the same level of expertise everywhere. Take some time to look at their site, and find out more about who you might be working with. If you’re looking to pursue an amicable divorce, for instance, make sure that they are a member of Resolution – an excellent sign that they can be trusted to guide you through this unsettling time.
Look to See if They Have Won Any Awards or Have Any Accreditations
While positive reviews from past clients are highly valuable to you, don’t overlook the significance of recognition from other professionals and organisations. If they have been given that recognition, then you can feel confident that their solicitors have gone above and beyond what is expected, and that they will make an excellent firm to work with.
Recognition from national legal guides like Chambers or the Legal 500 is a great benchmark to look out for. For instance, the Cheltenham-based solicitors Willans.co.uk is rated by both – an accolade gained on merit.
Are They Friendly, Helpful? Are They Responsive?
Finding the right solicitor is not a process that ends with that initial phone call, so don’t ignore that voice in the back of your head if something feels like it’s not meeting expectations.
You want to feel comfortable and happy with your solicitor. Do you feel you can build a rapport with them, or do you feel uncomfortable, pushed to the bottom of the pile, or treated like a number? If you feel any qualms, it’s best to keep looking, rather than settling on a subpar experience.