There are several significant distinctions between the British court and other courts of law.
In the UK, lawyers who represent clients in court are called barristers, while in the US they are called litigators. In the US, lawyers who work outside the court system are called counsellors or advisers. In the UK, they are called solicitors.
With all these key differences in mind, if you’re a UK citizen that needs legal assistance, you must hire a lawyer who understands the intricacies of the British legal system.
The following are a few more things to keep in mind before you hire a lawyer in the UK.
1) Their area of expertise
Hiring a divorce lawyer to handle your criminal case is like hiring an obstetrician-gynecologist to perform plastic surgery. Sure, they’re both licensed medical professionals, but they’re not the right type of doctors for the job. They’ll likely do more harm than good.
Similarly, lawyers specialise in different areas of law. When looking for a lawyer, be sure to find one that specialises in the area of law you need help with. It’s common for lawyers to specialise in one or two fields after practising the bar. Find a lawyer or law firm that’s relevant to what you’re seeking, and you’ll have a better chance of winning your case.
You can usually get an idea of their specialist areas from reading their website and reading their case studies.
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2) Legal and professional fees
Realistically speaking, not everyone can afford to hire the best local lawyer in the city. In the UK, lawyers typically charge by the hour, with rates varying depending on their level of experience and expertise. In some cases, lawyers follow retainer fee arrangements where the client pays an agreed-upon sum upfront, and the lawyer provides their services for a set period.
When vetting potential candidate lawyers, be sure to ask about their fees upfront. This includes fees for professional services, such as legal advice, as well as any other costs, such as court filing fees. This way, there won’t be any surprises later on down the road and won’t spend more than you need to.
Also, don’t just snag the cheapest lawyer you can find. The adage “you get what you pay for” is often true when it comes to legal services. A more expensive lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean a better lawyer, but a super cheap one might not have the experience or expertise needed to win your case.
Lawyers and law firms often set up websites and post their credentials online, which makes it easier for you to review their expertise before hiring. However, any lawyer can create a website and fabricate their past cases, so take everything you read with a grain of salt.
To determine whether a lawyer’s or law firm’s website is genuine or not, try to track back how long they’ve been in the business. It’s also important to verify with external sources to see whether they’re accredited. You can look up their firm on the Solicitors Regulation Authority website to check for any disciplinary actions against them.
Another step you can perform is to look for corporate testimonials of previous clients on their website. If you can’t trace the reviews on their site to a name, try looking for them on other websites, such as Google or Facebook.
Even if you hired the best lawyer in the UK, it’s all for naught if they don’t give their 100% to your case.
The lawyer you hire should be responsive to your inquiries. If they’re not able to get back to you in 3-5 business days, it might be an indication that they’re too busy or uninterested in your case. Of course, there will be times when they’re unavailable, such as when they’re in court or out of town.
However, they should get back to you as soon as possible and keep you updated on the status of your case. If they’re not returning your calls or replying to your emails, it might be time to find a new lawyer.
5) Free consultations
Before spending exorbitant stacks of cash on a lawyer, it’s advisable to get a free consultation first. This way, you can discuss your case with them and see how they would approach it.
During the consultation, be sure to ask about their experience in handling similar cases and what their success rate is. Also, find out how long they think the case will take and how much it will cost.
You should also use this opportunity to get a feel for their personality and see if you’re comfortable working with them. If the lawyer is arrogant or doesn’t seem to be interested in your case, move on to the next candidate.
By scheduling consultations with multiple lawyers, you’ll gain more peace of mind knowing that you’ve found the right one.