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How do you choose someone to represent you? What are the top 5 things to look for when you need legally qualified assistance?

You might ask around for recommendations or look in a directory to see who is in the local area, easy to get to maybe.  But how do you know you are going to get what you want from their advice.  You can hopefully take it for granted that we all know what we are talking about.  We should do after so many years of training and experience! But who is the right representative for you?

I have been doing some very informal research and have come up with a list of the top 5 characteristics that people have told me about.  They are not specific to me, but they are all things that you might find are important to you.

  1. Likeable – this is the one thing that everyone has said to me.  By everyone, I mean company owners, self-employed people, employees, or retired people.  They all consider this to be at the top; the most important.  To be able to like the representative is essential to having a good working relationship with them.  It leads towards you being able to trust them and is the first stepping stone to getting the best out of them.  If you don’t like them, you are unlikely to work with them and may not be confident they are working on your behalf.
  2. Clarity – this can be split into a number of categories, but the most important one is clarity in the way that things are explained to you.  Law is a complicated subject and when we are working in the law all of the time it is all too easy to speak in legalistic terms and phrases.  They are familiar to any top lawyer in the same way as, for example, an electrician knows exactly what they need to use for a particular job and might have a way of describing what you need to buy for them to get the job done.
  3. Accuracy – difficult to describe in one word, but many of those people I asked said a top characteristic of an ideal representative is finding a way to provide exactly what they were hoping for.  If it could not be provided, they would want the representative to explain what else was possible so that they could choose the best option.  This requires an understanding of what it is that the client is asking for, and a determination to try and get it done.
  4. Value – knowing beforehand what the bill will be.  What work is to be done, what will it cost and how long it will take.  Being confident that it is a fair rate that is being charged for the work is so important.
  5. Confidence – in a modern law firm it is common for each solicitor or legal executive to work in one are of the law.  If you are contacting a small firm it is important for you to know that the person who will represent you has the knowledge to be able to represent you well.   As an employment solicitor I wouldn’t take on a conveyancing matter – I just don’t know enough about it.  This point came up in many of the conversations I had whilst doing my informal research.  It is important to know that you can have confidence in the person representing you.

I would always recommend that you phone up and talk to a representative before you ask them to do any work for you.  I consider this so important that I don’t charge for that first phone call to encourage people to think they can phone and speak to me about the advice they need.


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