When it comes to relationship breakdowns, it's hard as it is. When everything is said and done and you are looking to instruct a lawyer to represent you... Lucky, if you know someone who knows someone good, but if that is not the case... How do you choose a divorce lawyer?
Being a marketing and communications manager for a boutique law firm in the City of London I have learnt a trick or two...
There is a lot to consider. The end goal is to get the job done. As quickly as possible so everyone involved can start their healing processes and move on. Divorce is a lifechanging event and almost always extremely stressful. Law, indeed, is complex and each case is different from the last. It is emotional and there is a lot on the line.
I have put together a list of points to consider when choosing a solicitor that is right for you to take on your case.
Start by finding a specialist law firm. If you go to a high street firm that does all areas of the Law, they might not have the experience and expertise to swiftly advise you on your matter and it might cost you more in the long run, not to mention the quality of legal advice you get. Law firms specialising on Family Law have the experience and they know the most common mistakes that are made and how to avoid them.
Check that your solicitor is qualified and regulated to be certain you get up to date legal advice in line with the current legislation and case law. Online reviews, also, for the firm and for the solicitor are worth looking into.
When contacting the solicitors, ask about the cost. Do not be intimidated by the hourly rates, and do not go for the most inexpensive one you can find.
The ones that charge more are better at what they do, almost always. When qualified specialist solicitor, who's hourly rate is £800 (just made it up) would advise you to take a strategic approach A. With the likelihood of you getting what you want, of this and that happening, giving you an approximate timeline and cost.
Then the cheap one, charging you £200 would start by the simplest ways and testing out theories. Trial and error even (at your cost) and their inexperience and lack of strategy will cost you so much more in £, waste of time and each party involved is robbed of the opportunity to start healing sooner. To my personal experience and working in the field - I say it is better to have the peace of mind to know you're in good hands and that your interests are protected.
Solicitors are like doctors, there is a code of confidentiality and what you tell them, they take that to the grave with them. Look for understanding and an ally, not a friend. And always tell the truth, as they are. Just like a doctor, leaving something out would have some serious consequences. It's nice if you are on the same page with your solicitor and can have a less formal conversation, but look for someone who's just as honest and transparent with you as you are with them. They are there to protect your interests and wealth.
A divorce lawyer should also recognise that this will be a very difficult time for you, and they should be sensitive to this fact and know when to step in. There is time for the hard truths and there is time to just listen, They have the skills to deal with your legal matters, but they should also to know when it is time to tactfully point you in the direction of appropriate third parties such as counsellors, therapists or even your best friend for a shoulder to cry on.
The issue of legal fees - the fees can very easily get out of control, and a good firm should be mindful and remind you if you start to get close to "red". A good solicitor should never do anything just for the sake of "units".
Lastly, but important. Check if they give you access to your file online. This is something not all can and want to allow but makes the world of a difference - ease of communication, transparency and being on the "same page" ends up as money in your pocket, not elsewhere. Seemingly not a big thing, but has a massive impact on your whole case and strangely, not all law firms offer that.
I hope this is helpful. Please do contact me if you have any questions, I would be happy to help you further.
0207 183 4503