Understanding the role of your legal advisors and how to choose and instruct them

We all encounter various legal aspects on a daily basis, from small and routine transactions such as buying items online as a consumer or renting property, to important and high-stake transactions such as purchasing real property and making investments.

Understanding the role of your legal advisors and how to choose and instruct them

We all encounter various legal aspects on a daily basis, from small and routine transactions such as buying items online as a consumer or renting property, to important and high-stake transactions such as purchasing real property and making investments. Many decisions can carry legal risks, especially when disputes arise. It is advisable to consider speaking with a solicitor before making an important decision or signing any legal documents to understand your options and minimise the risks. However, a Solicitor’s role is only to advise, support and protect, not to decide for you, and thus both Solicitor and client should understand the nature of legal services to make the most use of this relationship. 

Why do I need a solicitor?

A Solicitor may help you deal with legal matters by negotiating , drafting , advising or supporting you. There are various types of legal matters, such as crime, civil, business, private client and family. These matters can involve complicated legal issues, maybe multiple jurisdictions are involved , a court hearing , drafting  paperwork and advising on procedures. A Solicitor can help you understand your legal situation, including your risks, rights, duties and options, and provide you with assistance to achieve your goals. In addition, knowing that you have a knowledgeable and experienced professional on your side can provide peace of mind during a stressful and uncertain time. Dealing with mattes on a regular basis we know how to help you succeed. 

In many cases, clients came to us after doing some or all of the legal documents themselves and/or using online templates (whether paid or unpaid). Although this may initially appear to be a cost effective solution, when an issue or dispute arises, it often transpires that these documents are inadequate, inaccurate or worst, unenforceable. The cost of rectifying an issue or dealing with a dispute is usually much more expensive and it cannot be guaranteed to be successful. A a template doesn’t factor you or your business nuances and without advice trend will not of been negotiated in your favour. Therefore you should always consider engaging an experienced Solicitor to advise you on your legal matters before taking actions.

How do I choose the right Solicitor?

You may choose your Solicitor or law firm through your own connections, someone else’s recommendations or your independent search. There are a number of sites whereby you can find a Solicitor or law firm specialising in your legal matters (such as The Law Society or Legal 500).

Factors that you may wish to consider when choosing your legal advisor include: expertise, experience, reputation, location, capacity, access, budget and style. Read their client testimonials , case studies and articles to understand more. Ultimately this is a personal decision and you should talk with a Solicitor before engaging them to make sure they are on the same page, you have rapport and that they are capable of doing the work, and you can trust and rely on their advice.

Understanding your Solicitor’s role

A Solicitor can generally help you navigate the legal system and protect your legal rights, including the following:

1. provide legal advice and guidance on legal matters, including making legal decisions;

2. represent you in court or other legal proceedings, such as mediation or arbitration;

3. drafting legal documents, such as contracts, forms and pleadings. 

4, protecting you as a founder negotiation terms and conclude a transaction successfully 

However, Solicitors are only advisors and will always act on your instructions. They will not and cannot make decisions for you and will provide you with full details of your matters, including documents and correspondence received by them on your behalf, and they shpulc always confirm instructions with you before taking any actions are taken.

All decisions are ultimately yours to make. You may choose to follow their advice or not but you are informed. You should note that once you have been properly advised and made your decision, it is then your responsibility for the outcome (whether favourable or not). A Solicitor or law firm may only be responsible if it can be demonstrated that they have been negligent or in breach of their duties etc. Its key to state this so you understand the control and level of responsibility each party has to play.

How to instruct your Solicitor

Below a few tips on instructing your Solicitor to make the most of legal services: 

1. Be open and honest about your legal matters. Regulated solicitors have a duty of confidentiality (even before you decide to engage them). Therefore you should be clear and transparent about your legal situation (including providing them with copies of relevant correspondence and documents if available) so that they can fully understand and properly advise you.

2. Identify the legal issue you need help with and what you want to achieve. For example, you want to invest in a company and want to have certain management rights to ensure your investment returns, or you have a contract with a supplier and they have failed to comply with their obligations and you wish to terminate the contract and recoup your monies etc. 

3. Review and sign the terms of engagement. After consultation and checks, they must provide you with their terms and conditions of engagement which include the services they will provide, the timeline for completing the work, and the fees involved. You should carefully review these documents to make sure that you are happy with them. 

4. Stay in communication. Once the engagement begins, they may need any additional information or documentation or confirm instructions from you and thus you should keep in touch with them. You should also keep them updated of any new developments or change in instructions so that they can review and take actions accordingly. 

What’s a solicitor and what is a Lawyer, does it matter ?

These definitions are used interchangeably in the U.K. but yes there is a huge difference. Solicitors are qualified; regulated by the SRA and insured. So you know you have protection should anything go wrong; their practises are overseen and subject to strict compliance regulations and they will have passed examinations and obtained accreditations on U.K. law in the U.K. 

A Lawyer has no real legal meaning in the UK anyone can call themselves this even without a law degree let alone insurance or being regulated . Overseas Solicitors though can practice here and can be recognised and insured, they just won’t have a U.K. practising certificate. Immigration lawyers can also be regulated by another governing body rather than the SRA which has different rules . It can be difficult for clients to note the difference the best way is to either check on the law society website as only recognised Solicitors and Overseas Lawyers are listed here or you review their website that must have a SRA label if regulated. 

The difference apart from the activities and advice they are permitted to give which is invaluable in many cases, they have insurance usually at least to 3million for any errors made; they are regulated on how they engage with you; provide cost estimates and handle any complaints. 

Conclusion 

Due to potential risks, you should consider engaging an experienced Solicitor to advise you on your legal matters before entering into an agreement or taking any other actions. There are various factors that you should check before hiring a Solicitor, including that they can do the work and that you are able to trust them. Your Solicitor can give you advice but cannot make decision for you so you should decide carefully as you are still ultimately responsible for your decision. When instructing Solicitor, you should be open and honest and give clear instructions and stay in touch with your Solicitor. They need to understand you and/or your business and ultimate goals to support you . 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Holden
Karen Holden
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