How to Shop for Legal Services
Using a lawyer can be a daunting prospect, usually because their services are required during a time of upheaval or dispute. Quite often businesses only engage a solicitor once things have gone wrong. Prevention is always better than cure and if you put in place the correct legal documents and procedures at the outset, you will save much more on management time and legal costs than dealing with issues as they arise and only once your business is being sued.
You may want to instruct a solicitor to lease an office space, set up a company or dismiss a difficult employee. Equally you may just want to chat through an idea you have for your business. Your solicitor is your trusted advisor therefore the choice needs to be right.
There are various ways to search for a solicitor. The oldest and best arguably being by word of mouth/recommendations. Because there are so many different types of solicitors from high street and boutique to West End and City, what works for one person may not work for you.
A high street firm is typically one which is less expensive and more accessible; you can often drop into the office and see a solicitor immediately or within a couple of days. It tends to offer the main legal services:
· wills and probate
· commercial property
· landlord and tenant disputes
· corporate commercial
· family or personal injury.
A boutique firm will usually specialise in one or two areas of law. A West End firm will tend to deal with the usual services above but also media law, sports law and intellectual property, meaning quite a few celebrity clients. A City firm is usually larger than the others, based in the City of London and more expensive. They also deal with more high profile clients such as conglomerates.
Clearly if you are Coca Cola you would not instruct a high street firm, and similarly if you are a start-up you would not be well-suited to a City firm.
Social media is a good place to search for solicitors. Google solicitors in your area and see how prolific they are in terms of writing their own blogs and posting on Twitter or LinkedIn. If they are providing current, topical advice, they are likely to have a modern, unstuffy approach as well as being experts in their field. You can also use social media to search what others have written about the firm. Check out the firm’s website and see what services they offer. Quite often they will be separated as “services for you” and “services for your business”
A good idea is considering The Law Society and other associated organisations which may provide a free half hour’s consultation with a firm if it is booked through their website. Some firms offer a free or discounted initial hour in any event. The Law Society is also a good place to look to ensure the person you are instructing is legally qualified, as is the Institute of Chartered Legal Executives. If someone has “legal consultant” or “legal advisor” in their email signature, they may not be qualified.
It’s not all about costs. Solicitors are expensive due to their specialist expertise but you need to consider: whether you strike up a rapport with them; how quickly they can undertake the work; how good they are at getting back to you and keeping you updated; and, most importantly, which firm has the nicest biscuits!
To instruct a solicitor, some firms allow you to drop by their office in the first instance to see if someone is free immediately. More usually, you should call and book an appointment with the solicitor’s secretary or have an initial chat with the solicitor themselves who should be able to give you some preliminary advice.
Gelbergs Solicitors is based in Islington, London N1 and offers comprehensive legal advice. Call us on 020 7226 0570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Our website can be found at www.gelbergs.co.uk and twitter at @gelbergs.