29 May 2009 by Mary Heaney
The prospect of taking legal advice can feel like a daunting one and, indeed, in recent years lawyers have acknowledged such a perception and attempted to make themselves approachable.
The prospect of taking legal advice can feel like a daunting one and, indeed, in recent years lawyers have acknowledged such a perception and attempted to make themselves approachable. Nevertheless, lawyers still find that people are too resistant to taking legal advice and consequently risk missing out on the justice they deserve. So, to make you feel more confident about seeking legal advice, below is a rough guide to how to go about it and what to expect.
Take legal advice promptly
This is often the first thing that a lawyer will say when asked what they can offer in the way of general legal advice. Simply speaking, taking legal advice early will help ensure that circumstances are fresh in your mind and problems are resolved as quickly as possible.
On top of this, there are frequently procedural time limits in which you much act that make it necessary to take legal advice promptly. For instance, when taking employment legal advice on dismissal or discrimination you would need for make an application to the Employment Tribunal within 3 months; in the case of personal injury legal advice, an individual must bring a claim within 3 years.
In many cases, law firms offer the first legal advice consultation for free to assess the merits of your case and whether it is worth taking further action. In this situation there is no harm in trying; even discovering that the path offered by legal advice is closed to you might allow you to move on.
Setting out your need for legal advice clearly
Upon an initial meeting for legal advice it is important to set out clearly the situation upon which you wish to act so that your lawyer can give an accurate assessment. Legal advice is of course expensive so it is in your best interests to make your meetings with your solicitor as productive as possible. Furthermore, you would not wish to go to the trouble of taking action based on legal advice that was not appropriate to your true circumstances.
When taking legal advice advice then, you should speak in plain English, remain calm and stick with the facts of events. Keeping good records can be a useful for way of doing this; lawyers are trained to sift through vast amount of information so do not be afraid to provide as much as you can. Relevant correspondence, receipts for any expenses you wish to claim and even a chronology of events can be useful when taking legal advice.
Ask questions when taking legal advice
There is some basic information you should always be able to glean from your lawyer when taking legal advice and if it does not become clear to you, you should ensure that you ask the right questions. First of all, make sure you get a clear outline of the strengths and weaknesses of your case so you can make an informed decision on whether to proceed with legal advice. If you do then decide to continue, make sure you ask for an estimate of how much your solicitor's legal advice will cost and what methods of payment are available to you.
Shop around for legal advice
Legal advice is often perceived differently to other services but really it is subject to many of the same considerations. So, just as you would take quotes from several builders when doing any work on your house, so you should shop around when taking legal advice. Do not be afraid to speak to several law firms to get an idea of their experience, their costs and the type of legal advice and other services they can provide.
At the same time, however, beware of simply using a lawyer who appears to offer the cheapest legal advice. Naturally, a solicitor with more experience may cost more and although an hourly rate can give a indication of how much the legal advice will cost, if the cheaper lawyer takes longer to do the same work then it may end up costing you more!
Once you do instruct a solicitor, if you are not happy with the service provided, consider going elsewhere for legal advice. If you do decide to take legal advice from someone else your solicitor is obliged to pass any the relevant documents over.
NB: None of this information should be construed as legal advice.