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Using a solicitor

Please note that The Law Society is not able to recommend a particular firm or solicitor but we do provide a directory of all licensed solicitors in the UK and Wales.

Finding a list of solicitors in your area is easy using the Law Society’s Find a solicitor facility. Think carefully about what type of service you need, and whether you’d like your solicitor to have special expertise.

More information about ways to find the best solicitor for your needs is available on our page about Getting expert legal help.

The practising certificate guarantees that the solicitor is qualified to practise and has insurance to protect you if anything goes wrong.

If you want to be sure, ask to see the certificate or contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority to check. Alternatively you can use our find a solicitor online seach tool which lists all solicitors who currently hold a practising certificate.

You can also ask your solicitor whether the firm has received any quality awards to prove that they have good standards of practice in place. If the firm has received the Law Society’s Lexcel quality award, the Law Society will be able to confirm this.

Individual solicitors might also be members of specialist accreditation schemes set up by the Law Society to cover a number of legal subjects. To gain accreditation, solicitors must show that they have considerable specialist knowledge. For information about finding a specialist see our Quality marks page.

Think carefully about the details of your case – the more preparation you do before the meeting, the more you’ll get out of it. Make a list of the main points you want to make or the questions you want to ask. Get together any paperwork that might be relevant and put it in some kind of order so you can refer to it quickly.

This will make it quicker and easier for your solicitor to understand your circumstances and give you proper advice.

For more extensive information visit our page on using a solicitor.

Paying for legal fees

After the event insurance provides cover for any legal costs which you may be liable to pay the other side, as well as any disbursements paid out on your behalf if your claim is unsuccessful. The cost of the premium can be high and is not recoverable from your opponent if you win your case.

You may have existing legal expenses cover included in your house or motor vehicle insurance policies, so you should check these before deciding whether or not to purchase an after the event policy.

This type of insurance is commonly associated with car insurance and household contents insurance. It is often added to these polices at no cost, or for a few pounds.

If you need access to legal services and have Before The Event insurance you should consider using this rather than some other form of funding (such as a ‘no win no fee’ agreement). Your solicitor can advise you the best course of action.

Your employer, Trade Union, or any other body that you belong to (such as a sports club) may also have arranged insurance. If you believe you may be covered by such insurance you should talk to the appropriate body and take any relevant insurance documents when you go to see your solicitor.

For more information about legal fees see Paying for legal services.

Conditional fees are more commonly known as a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement.

For certain types of case, including personal injury, your solicitor may be prepared to work on a conditional fee basis. If you win the case, your solicitor’s fees will mostly be paid by the other side. If you lose, you don’t have to pay your solicitor’s fees. You may be asked to take out an insurance policy to pay for the other side’s costs if you lose.

There are various types of conditional fee arrangement, but not all solicitors’ firms are prepared to work on this basis.

More information is available on our page about Paying for Legal Services.

Making a complaint about a legal service

Ombudsman schemes handle complaints which cannot not be resolved directly with the government department. Contact Government, Parliamentary and Health Service ombudsman’s office at www.ombudsman.org.uk.

Visit the main government website for information at www.direct.gov.uk.

In the first instance you should complain directly to your solicitor about the poor service you have received. All solicitors have a procedure for handling complaints.

For more information about complaining, call the Solicitors Regulation Authority Contact Centre on 0370 606 2555 or email contactcentre@sra.org.uk.

You can find more information about problems with solicitors on their website at www.sra.org.uk/consumers/problems.page.

If you’ve complained to your solicitor about poor service or about their bill, and you aren’t satisfied with your solicitor’s response, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333, who can help to resolve your complaint for you.

How to complain about legal professionals who work for people with mental health problems

The Law Society has developed guidance to assist those with mental health difficulties and those working in mental health to complain about the service or conduct of a solicitor or other legal representative.

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