There are situations in which you cannot deal with a complaint on your own – you will need professional help.  Be it complex dispute over land, a tricky problem involving a road traffic accident or a commercial breach of contract claim, you should err on the side of caution if you feel that you are out of your depth.
  • As with all professions there are good and bad solicitors and finding one who can help with your dispute is not as easy as you might imagine.  Solicitors fees are very expensive so a mistake could well be very costly.  Choosing a litigation solicitor is particularly difficult because many small local firms only have limited experience and they are more akin to the legal equivalent of a GP – if the problem requires specialist knowledge and experience it is essential that you go to an appropriate firm.  Take for example an employment issue or a planning dispute – a generalist is not good enough – you need a lawyer with the appropriate skill. You would not allow a brain surgeon to operate on your knee.
  • The best way of finding someone who is good and appropriate is to get a personal recommendation.  Ask your friends, family and contacts whom they would suggest rather than picking a solicitor at random.  You may find that you have to pay more than you bargained for – top specialists do not come cheap.
  • Another useful step is to check out the person online.  Go to the firm’s website and see what sort of cases the lawyer you are looking at has dealt with in the past. Do not be at all afraid to ask the lawyer for references – if they have done a good job for a client they will have no trouble in giving you a name.
  • Other quality checks exist online.  The websites for legal directories such as Chambers and the Legal 500 and for legal journals such as Legal Week all carry profiles on solicitors and their reputation.  See: www.chambersandpartners.com;  www.legal500.com and www.legalweek.com.  You can also get help by contacting the Law Society via their website www.lawsociety.org.uk or by calling up 0207-242-1222.
  • Engaging the services of a litigation solicitor is a very serious business and if you have no choice but to invest your money in getting professional assistance you should not compromise for a moment on quality and relevant experience.  If you end up in a long dispute you want an ally who is up to the job and whom you can trust on every level.  Accept nothing less.