Sometimes I get asked about my qualifications. I don’t mind, I understand that my clients want to make sure they are getting the best legal advice from someone that fully understands their situation – as well as how to apply to the law. No solicitor should ever mind being asked details about their background.
When evaluating your future solicitor here are some important things to check:
1) Is the solicitor qualified to practice law in the UK. All solicitors are registered with the Law Society of England and Wales. If your solicitor is not listed on this website, they are not qualified to practice. You will notice that some solicitors are marked as having accreditation from The Law Society. This means that in addition to passing their standard legal qualifications (which all solicitors must have by law) they have also been examined by The Law Society and their work has been found to be of high quality. Use this simple tool to check http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/find-a-solicitor. You should also be able to ask your solicitor for their registration number.
2) Find out if your solicitor has signed up to any other professional bodies relating to their area of law. For Family Law Solicitors it is possible to register with an organisation called Resolution. Members of this organisation have signed up to a code of practice which promotes a non-confrontational approach to resolving family law problems and encourages solutions that are in the best interest of the whole family – and in particular the children. You can check if your solicitor is a member of Resolution here: http://www.resolution.org.uk/findamember/. You may also see the Resolution logo proudly displayed on your solicitors website or office windows.
3) Family Law Solicitors can also do further qualifications to increase their services on offer. For example your solicitor may have trained to offer collaborative law or mediation. Both of these approaches can be offered by a family law solicitor in addition to traditional divorce and separation. You can find collaborative lawyers here: http://www.resolution.org.uk/find_a_collaborative_lawyer/ and mediators here: http://www.resolution.org.uk/find_a_mediator/
4) Speak to your solicitor. Find out when they qualified and how long they have been practicing family law. Ask them about the types of cases they normally deal with – you want to make sure they have experience dealing with your circumstances. Ask them about their approach to resolving family law problems. Make sure you feel comfortable talking to them and that they understand your situation – after all, you will probably spend a long time discussing sensitive issues with your solicitor, it is important that you have a good relationship.
5) Speak to friends and family – and check online about what people think of the solicitor. Most solicitors will be listed on LinkedIN. This is a good way of seeing their CV – and for reading recommendations and endorsements from clients and professional connections.