In many ways, choosing a solicitor or legal advisor is like choosing a mechanic. When it comes to cars, few of us (excluding any serious petrolheads) consider ourselves experts, so when we take our car into a garage, we must trust the mechanics to be honest and capable. To be on the safe side, most people will do a bit of research before choosing a garage, including asking friends or family for recommendations, looking at reviews, or checking the credentials of garages in their area.

Picking a solicitor or legal advisor is similar. Understanding our legal system requires extensive training and expertise, and as a result, clients must often trust their legal representatives to act in their best interests and represent them effectively. However, while picking the wrong mechanic may leave you out of pocket, the consequences of choosing the wrong legal advisor can be far more significant, as highlighted by a recent legal scam reported by the BBC. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure you choose the right advisor for you. In this guide, we will explain how to choose a solicitor or legal advisor.

Find a Specialist

The law is vast and complex. As a result, solicitors and legal advisors will usually choose what’s known as a practice area to specialise in. Practice areas can be broad, such as Commercial law or Family law, or more specific, such as Intellectual Property law. When choosing a legal advisor, you should always pick one who specialises in the relevant area of the law and has proven experience handling similar legal matters.

At Scott Bailey, our solicitors and legal advisors specialise in a wide range of practice areas, including Corporate and Commercial law, Family law, Litigation, Private Client law, Property and Conveyancing law, and more. You can view a list of our services here:

Qualifications and Accreditations

As a starting point, you should always check that your solicitor or legal advisor is qualified. Whilst it’s rare, there have been cases of unqualified individuals posing as legal advisors to scam clients. Before choosing a law firm, solicitor, lawyer (chartered legal executive or practitioner), or conveyancer, you can check they are qualified and regulated using these free-to-view online registers:

These registers give you access to a law firm or legal advisor’s records, including where they work, their qualifications, and any disciplinaries. They also list any firms that have been closed down or people who have been prohibited from practising.

Alongside qualifications, law firms, solicitors and legal advisors can complete accreditations voluntarily. These vary from general practice accreditations, which highlight a law firm or solicitor’s commitment to best practice and general expertise, to highly specialised accreditations, which reflect a law firm or solicitor’s extensive experience and knowledge within a specific practice area. When choosing a solicitor or law firm, you should consider both general practice and specialist accreditations to ensure the firm is committed to following best practices and has the specialist expertise to represent you effectively.

Accreditations often require members to follow strict codes of conduct, renew their memberships annually to ensure they adhere to evolving best practices, and complete ongoing training so practitioners are always up-to-date on the latest legal, technical and regulatory developments.

Scott Bailey is both SRA-regulated and Lexcel accredited demonstrating its ongoing commitment to providing clients with the best possible service:

  • SRA Regulated: To be SRA regulated, a law firm must follow rules set out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, ensuring its clients are protected.
  • Lexcel: Lexcel is The Law Society’s legal practice quality mark for client care, compliance and practice management.

How to choose a family or divorce solicitor

Within family law, there is a variety of accreditations covering many different services:

Alongside these accreditations, Scott Bailey’s family law team has extensive experience and expertise in handling a wide range of family law legal matters.

How to choose a solicitor for wills, trusts and probate

We all want to know our loved ones are protected if anything happens to us. Choosing a skilled and experienced wills, trusts and probate solicitor is the best way to do this. There are several inheritance and succession planning accreditations you can look out for to help you make your choice.

  • STEP (The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners): STEP is an internationally recognised professional body for trust and estate practitioners. It aims to ensure its members deliver the best possible service to their clients by providing training and education and setting and upholding standards for practitioners.
  • Lifetime Lawyers Accreditation: Lifetime Lawyers is a national association of lawyers specialising in legal services for older and vulnerable people. Lifetime Lawyers must undertake ongoing training and demonstrate a commitment to following best practices to ensure their clients always get the best service possible.
  • Dementia Friends: Dementia Friends is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative. Dementia Friends complete training to enable them to provide better support to people with dementia.

Scott Bailey’s skilled and experienced wills, trusts and probate solicitors always act in their client’s best interests and are renowned for their caring and professional approach. Our specialist team includes members of STEP, Lifetime Lawyers and Dementia Friends.


How to choose a litigator

Faced with the prospect of going to court, you want to feel completely confident in your litigator’s abilities and ensure that they are qualified to represent you.

  • SRA Higher Courts Rights Accreditation: Under Regulation 9.10 of the SRA Authorisation of Individuals Regulations, solicitors must be SRA Higher Courts Rights Accredited to exercise rights of audience in the higher courts.

Scott Bailey’s expert civil litigators have extensive experience handling disputes for both individuals and businesses. Our highly skilled litigation solicitors can give you the support and advice you need.

How to choose a conveyancer

Whether you are dealing with commercial or residential property, choosing the right conveyancer can help ensure the process runs smoothly.

  • Conveyancing Quality Scheme Accreditation: The Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) is a recognised quality standard for law firms in residential conveyancing. Members must demonstrate the expertise to deliver quality conveyancing advice, follow standard processes to ensure clients receive the best possible service, and provide clients with clear information on the price of conveyancing services.

As well as being a CQS member, Scott Bailey’s excellent commercial and residential conveyancers have a strong reputation for delivering exceptional conveyancing services.

Reviews

Checking reviews is a quick and easy way to see whether a law firm or legal advisor is trustworthy and competent. For most established law firms, you are likely to find plenty of people sharing their experiences on Google. However, you can also check sites like Review Solicitors to find more reviews. At Scott Bailey, we are delighted to be rated 4.7/5 on Google and 4.9/5 on Review Solicitors with over 180 reviews across the two platforms.

Location

When choosing a solicitor, location can be important, although technology has made it much easier to handle many legal issues remotely. Many people like to use a solicitor close to where they live. However, we also frequently see clients who would prefer to use a solicitor a little further from home for matters they’d like to deal with discretely.

At Scott Bailey, we regularly work with clients from across Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Dorset and increasingly support clients from further afield remotely via video calls on Zoom or Teams.

Pricing

It is important to find a solicitor that fits your budget. However, you shouldn’t be worried if you can’t afford an expensive national law firm. Often regional firms, such as Scott Bailey, can offer the equivalent, if not better, services at more affordable prices.

You can find pricing for a number of our services here.

At Scott Bailey, we are incredibly proud of our excellent reputation and friendly and caring approach. We will always go above and beyond to deliver the best possible outcome for our clients. Whether you need legal advice on a personal or business matter, contact us today to get started.