Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Choosing a solicitor: Part 1 – Expertise

Smartly dressed man standing in a library studying law reports
Choosing the right solicitor is the first step to seeing justice done
In this three part series we will be looking at how you can choose the best solicitor to act for you. We will look at value for money and how to tell if the solicitor you are speaking to is somebody you can trust to give your case the care and attention it deserves.  But in this first part, we will look at choosing a solicitor with the right expertise for your case.

It’s not so long ago that if you needed a solicitor you could pop along to the high street to visit your town’s local high street solicitor – a sort of GP for all your legal problems from motoring offences through to family issues and conveyancing.  These days the law is far more specialised and, to be frank, there is just a lot more law now than in the recent past – in fact during Tony Blair’s time as Prime Minister his Government created more new criminal offences than had been created in the whole history of the UK to the day he became PM!

This has led to some solicitor’s firms becoming specialists in their area in the same way that medical doctors can become expert consultants in particular areas of medicine.  So, it’s important to find the solicitor who has the right expertise to deal with your problem – just like you wouldn’t want a heart surgeon performing surgery on your brain; you wouldn’t want a tax solicitor handling your drink driving case.  I’d also suggest that while your GP may be great at dealing with your everyday health problems he or she will need expert guidance to treat your heart condition; the same is true of legal GP solicitors who cover whole swathes of law with little or no specialist knowledge.

Criminal motoring law is my specialist area of practice, although I have a particular focus on offences that involve alcohol, such as drink driving.  I frequently speak to people who have taken non-expert advice and are convinced that there is no defence to their case or that it is impossible to escape disqualification when nothing could be further from the truth.

Depending on the problem you are facing you should also consider whether you need a local solicitor.  If your case does not involve a visit to court then it may not matter where your solicitor is based.  It is always worth instructing a local solicitor to represent you in court because they will have local knowledge of how the court operates and what the judges are like.  In my own area this is very important because knowing the judge you are facing can shape my approach to a case.  For example, at Barkingside and Romford magistrates’ courts there is a particular judge who despises drink drivers so a wise solicitor will frame his arguments to box that judge into a corner, forcing him to do as the solicitor wants.  At Camberwell Green there is a judge who is very fair and very analytical – solicitors who provide him with precedents from past cases and extracts from Acts of Parliament often get a better result from him.  So, it’s important for your solicitor to know both the law and the judge they are facing.  

It's also worth remembering that if you live in London and instruct a solicitor in Manchester you are probably never going to meet them.  Do you feel confident entrusting your case to somebody you will never meet face to face?

When you come to choose a solicitor, begin by finding somebody who specialises in the area of law you need help with.  Speak with them and ask questions to see if they know what they are talking about – can they suggest possible ways forward for you?  Can they give you an idea what will happen based on the information you give them?  Finally, find out what geographical areas they operate in – many motoring solicitors go an entire case without ever meeting their clients.  If that’s right for you then fine, but if you prefer to have a solicitor you can meet face to face then check you can meet them, at my firm we travel out to meet clients at their home or some place convenient to them; check what your solicitor is offering.

You can get expert motoring law advice - particularly if you are facing an allegation of drink driving - by contacting the London Drink Driving Solicitor on 020 8242 4440.

Next time we will be looking at getting value for moneyfrom your solicitor.

No comments:

Post a Comment