Most people can count on one hand the number of times in their life that they have instructed a solicitor. So, when you have to decide which solicitor to instruct following an accident, what should you look for? Below, I have listed a few very basic issues that you should take into consideration when choosing a solicitor.
Freedom of Choice
It is fundamental that you are aware that YOU, and only you, have the right to choose your solicitor. All too often these days, insurance companies and other third parties push people in the direction of “Panel Solicitors”. The reason that they do this is purely financial. The “Panel Solicitor” will pay a large introduction fee to the insurance company or other introducer. If you are told by an insurance company that you must use a particular solicitor, under European Law that is WRONG.
There is an awful lot of “dumbing down” going on out there. Firms are cutting overheads by employing cheaper, unqualified staff. Do not be misled by grandeose but meaningless job titles. Only people describing themselves as “Solicitor” or “Legal Executive” are qualified lawyers. Beyond that, the “gold standard” are Solicitors or Legal Executives who are also members of the Law Society’s Personal Injury Accreditation Scheme. It is easy to check out an individual on the Law Society’s website. Why should you be content with an unqualified person dealing with your claim? Would you allow an unqualified person to treat you in hospital?
Talk to them
If you have identified a solicitor that you may wish to instruct, pick up the telephone and speak to them.
If they are not immediately available, did they return your call promptly?
Have they dealt with a similar claim before?
Do they understand your medical condition? This is vital as it will influence their choice of medical expert(s).
Are they hopeful of obtaining interim payments for you? This is particularly important if you are losing earnings and/or require urgent medical treatment.
Do you feel that you can develop a good professional relationship with this person? Afterall, they may become part of your life for some time.
You may have a variety of questions for them. Do not be afraid to ask them. You need to be happy that you are making the correct choice. Remember, it is the solicitors privilege to have you as their client, not the other way around!