How to choose a solicitor
In the aftermath of any serious injury, you and your family will need to consider legal representation. The choice of your solicitor is critically important. You must ensure that the solicitor you choose has the appropriate level of expertise and that you can work with them. You need to be able to communicate with your solicitor. Solicitors are individuals and each has their own unique approach to cases and clients. You need to concentrate on your recovery whilst your solicitor concentrates on your case. Always speak to more than one solicitor. There are codes of conduct in place that prevent solicitors approaching you without invitation. Be wary of solicitors who do. To assist you in making that decision, you should consider the following:
- Does the solicitor have experience of dealing with cases that involve spinal cord injury? Ask for examples.
- Is the solicitor used to dealing with claims of a high value? Ask the solicitor about their caseload. Do they regularly handle cases of a value in excess of £1 million?
- Ask the solicitor about their knowledge of spinal cord injury professionals. It is important that your solicitor has the key contacts necessary to obtain reports to help put your case together.
- Have they attended a spinal cord injury training day and when was that? This is a way for your solicitor to keep up to date with medical and legal developments that relate specifically to spinal cord injury cases.
- Is your solicitor a member of one of the specialist personal injury panels and/or a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers?
- Discuss with your solicitor the options for rehabilitation. Enabling you to access rehabilitation services is critical to you and your family. In a case where there is little or no dispute in respect of liability, your solicitor should be able to locate appropriate Case Managers to co-ordinate your privately-funded care regime.
- Ask how quickly a rehabilitation package can be put in place.
- Ask how quickly an interim payment may be made available to you.
- Ask your solicitor to explain the different ways of funding your claim. Generally, Conditional Fee Agreements, No Win, No Fee Agreements should be available but, in more complex and difficult cases, that may not be possible.
- Discuss the funding options carefully with your solicitor. Challenge any lawyer who asks for money on account of fees and ask why it is necessary.
- An initial consultation with a solicitor should be free.
- You will need to speak to your solicitor on a regular basis.
- Do you feel comfortable talking to them?
- Will the person you meet be the person running your file?
- Will the solicitor communicate with you in the way that is most convenient for you? For example email or telephone.
- How easy will it be to get hold of your solicitor?
- You need to be able to trust your solicitor.
- You need to feel confident that they know what they are doing and that they understand your difficulties.
- If you encounter problems with your solicitor, do not be afraid to raise them. The solicitor may be unaware of your frustrations. If you are unable to sort out the issues, or if you have lost faith in your solicitor, change solicitor. This is a fairly straightforward process and much easier than people think.