1) When should I instruct a solicitor?
It is crucial to understand when the optimum time for instruction of a solicitor is. At Olliers we specialise in representing clients at the pre-charge investigative stage. Many criminal firms advise following an interview under caution there is nothing that can be done at this stage, in other words, it is a waiting game. We disagree with this approach and prefer to take a proactive approach. This is a crucial time and there are a number of steps that can be undertaken by both client and legal team at this stage which will make a significant difference to the ultimate conclusion of the case
2) Do they specialise in the issue you require representation for?
It is crucial to select a firm that specialises in the specific field that you require. For example, within the criminal law sector, firms will specialise in different areas. At Olliers we consider our key areas of specialism to be serious crime, fraud, regulatory, sexual offences and pre-charge representation. We deal with many professional clients who have no prior involvement with the criminal justice system and excel at representation during the investigative stage of proceedings.
3) Check out their online reviews
Read what previous clients have written about their experience at the firm you are considering instructing. At Olliers we are proud of our google and other online reviews as well as the many testimonials we receive from grateful clients following the conclusion of their case. We are most proud of the feedback we receive in relation to the manner in which their case was dealt with and that they consider our solicitors empathetic, reassuring and not ‘typical stuffy lawyers’.
Its is also crucial to check they are SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) regulated solicitors. You can check for this by looking for a logo on their website. Provided via software which will make sure only regulated firms can display it, the logo shows online visitors that the firm is regulated and will provide you with a link to information on the protections this provides.
4) How does their pricing strategy compare?
Fees are crucial to any decision making as unfortunately budget does play a part in selection.
Consider whether the firm can provide an ‘agreed fee’ which will be fixed for a specific stage of work or whether they will operate on an hourly rate. The firm might provide both options depending on the nature of the case and the specific work required in relation to your individual case.
At Olliers we consider ourselves to be ‘reassuringly expensive’. We are certainly not the cheapest firm and value the work we undertake and the experience and expertise of our lawyers.
5) Location is less important
Historically location was key. A client would need to attend conferences at the office of their chosen solicitor and accordingly would generally chose to instruct a solicitor in their locality. As a result of the dramatic increase in remote working following the Covid pandemic, location is now less important as solicitors have adapted and can offer conferences on a remote basis. Therefore, it is even more important to choose the best solicitor for you than just the closest in proximity.
At Olliers, we are happy to organise case conferences via Zoom, FaceTime, telephone, Skype or other platforms.
Communication is key yet continues to be a major source of frustration for clients of law firms.
Questions to be considered include how quickly do they respond to an initial enquiry? Do they respond to enquires outside office hours? Do they follow up on telephone enquires with an emailed quotation and advise as to how best to proceed. Do they provide information as to the lawyer who would be dealing with your case and their expertise and experience. What methods of communication are available – can you call your solicitor directly on their mobile or will you be shielded by secretaries and support staff?
7) Which solicitor is dealing with the matter?
Dependant on the nature of your case you might require a more senior experienced solicitor or a junior solicitor may be more appropriate. Does your case require a niche specialism or does it require a team effort. At Olliers we have teams of lawyers in areas such as pre-charge representations and indecent images offences and these cases benefit from a multi professional team based approach.
8) Gut instinct
Ultimately, the final decision will often come to a gut feeling and intuition and might relate to factors unrelated to any of the ones discussed above.
Written by Ruth Peters, director, at Olliers. Ruth is Olliers’ Business Development and Marketing Director and the first point of contact for enquiries for privately funded clients. If you require the services of a criminal or regulatory law firm please do not hesitate to contact Ruth on 0161 8341515 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.