Instructing a solicitor can be a daunting experience and represent an acknowledgement that your relationship is in difficulties.
You will understandably be concerned about your future and that of your children’s. You may have friends who have been through the legal process and have had bad experiences. You may be concerned about who to instruct at this difficult time and how you are going to meet the legal costs. Listed below are some top tips on how to find the right solicitor for you.
- Make sure that you consult a specialist family lawyer, not someone who dabbles in different areas of law and preferably one who is a member of Resolution.
- There are directories such as Legal 500 and Chambers who will give you details of the firms and individual rankings based on extensive research on former clients, experts and peers.
- Go and see your chosen lawyer at an early stage and if possible take advice before you separate and before your other half has had advice.
- You and your lawyer are going to work together as a team so make sure you feel comfortable and confident in their abilities. If in doubt, change solicitors.
- Be open and frank with your lawyer and do not bury your head in the sand. They need to have a full understanding of your situation to give you comprehensive advice.
- Be organised and keep your financial papers in order. It takes time for the solicitor to go through them.
- Do not be embarrassed to talk about costs. This should be discussed with you at the first meeting, an estimate given and regular updates provided. Many people worry about how they will fund their legal expenses. There are many funding options including litigation loans which your solicitor can discuss with you.
- Be open to think about all of the different processes for settlement such as mediation and collaborative law. These do not suit every case but should be discussed as an option right at the start.
- Remember solicitors generally charge by the hour so do not use them as your Counsellor, there are better people out there to provide that service and your solicitor will have people to refer you to.
- If your case has foreign elements to it or a business or trusts, make sure that your solicitor has experience and expertise in these areas. Resolution has accredited specialists and their details can be found on resolution.org.uk.
- Although your solicitor should be happy for you to take a friend along to meetings for support remember that it is your solicitor who has the expertise not your friend and listen to the advice that your solicitor gives and use that advice to empower yourself to make decisions.
- Your solicitor will of course fight your corner but try not to fall into the trap of becoming polarised and unable to see the larger picture. There will come a time when a commercial decision will need to be made. Your solicitor should advise you when that occurs and set out your options clearly to you together with the pros and cons of your choices.
Keep these top tips to hand and hopefully should you ever need to instruct a family solicitor you will be able to get the best out of them and value for your money at this difficult time.
For further information or discuss a family law matter, please contact Miranda Green. Miranda leads one of the largest and most established Family Law teams in the South East of England, with the team backed by top tier rankings in both legal directories as ‘efficient, professional, considerate and personable with excellent knowledge in the area of family law’.