Quite a lot, really, in these days of badges and qualifications. When you have a legal issue and you don’t already have your own family solicitor you’ve used before, how do you know which firm is “up to scratch” – how do you choose the “right” law firm for you.
For law firms, start by talking to your contacts and get a personal referral. Yes, you can just do an internet search and start ringing round, but a personal contact is always the best “soft” way to go about this.
If you do have to rely on the internet, there are certain things you can look for that will give you reassurance, such as a recognised accreditation. For firms of solicitors, the important badge to look for is Lexcel which is awarded by the Law Society.
Lexcel is the Law Society’s legal practice quality mark for excellence in legal practice management and excellence in client care. It’s not awarded lightly and, once it is awarded (following an independent audit) firms have to have an annual audit for it to be continued.
Other specific accreditations are available – here are a couple of examples :
Try calling 2 or 3 firms and see how your call is dealt with. You should be able to speak to someone with knowledge of your legal issue at least for 5-10 minutes (free!) so that they can assess whether or not they can help you and, if they can, how much it will cost – either as a set amount, such as for a property sale, or by hourly rate which is used in a family case.
It’s very much how you feel about your lawyer – you don’t have to like him or her but it will help, particularly in areas such as family law – but also, you have to feel confident and comfortable. Unless you have an emergency situation, such as an injunction, take time to speak to more than one law firm and take time do consider the “best fit” for you.