How to find a trustworthy solicitor

Updated on 15 September 2010

Find out how to find a trustworthly solicitor - and complain about one that's treated you badly!

Justice is served

At the moment, if you have a complaint about a lawyer’s service, you have to take it to one of the many different approved regulators that deal with the varying legal professions (solicitors, barristers etc).

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The new Legal Ombudsman will replace all these approved regulators, and will deal with complaints regarding all the different legal professions in one place.

The idea is that this will simplify the legal complaints procedure, making the system faster and more efficient.

The service will be free to the general public, very small businesses, clubs and trusts.

What will happen?

If the ombudsman decides that your complaint is valid, the lawyer involved will be forced to sort out the problem. In other words, justice would finally be served!

What is a valid complaint?

How do you know whether you have a valid complaint about a solicitor?

Well, if you’re not happy with the outcome of a legal case or the legal advice you received from your solicitor, annoyed as you may feel, you won’t be on valid ground to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.

However, there are many reasons that are valid for complaining. For instance, you can complain if they’ve:

  • Not done what you’ve instructed them to do.
  • Involved you in unreasonable delays.
  • Given you inaccurate or incomplete info.
  • Failed to reply to your phone calls and letters or keep you informed about what is going on.
  • Failed to give you enough information about what they will charge you before they begin your case or give you the final bill.

So if your complaint fits any one of these categories, you should consider taking action.

Find a good solicitor

So, what can you do to make sure you’re not stuck with a shoddy solicitor in the first place?

When it comes to legal matters, research is essential and the internet is an invaluable tool for finding a good solicitor.

The Law Society, an organisation that represents solicitors in England and Wales, is a good place to start your search. Use their search engine that contains information on solicitors. What’s more, they also have their own practice management standard, called Lexcel.

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This is awarded to solicitors who meet the highest management and care standards and Lexcel accredited practices undergo assessment every year to ensure that their standards remain high.

There are also various other beneficial accreditation schemes that firms can be members of and these are displayed in the results of The Law Society’s solicitor search engine, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for these too.

If you need a family lawyer, then you should check out Resolution, an organisation that promotes the solving of family legal disputes in constructive and non-confrontational ways.

Their members sign up to a code of practice, which sets out the principles of a non-confrontational approach to family law. You can search for their members directly through their website.

Find a recommended solicitor

It’s all very well looking at lists and awards, but what about word-of mouth recommendations? A webstie Solicitor Info can help you out here. It offers a search engine to find solicitors across the country with customer reviews for you to browse through at your leisure, helping you make a decision.

There are also plenty of other online forums and chat rooms dedicated to discussing legal services, where you can gather plenty of information on specific firms and get a good feel for what people think of them.

So if you’ve been stung by your solicitor, from the 6th of October it will be easier for you to take action and push a complaint forward. If you’re in the process of searching for a solicitor, there are plenty of excellent ones to choose from, just ensure you snoop around beforehand to avoid being caught out.

Share your experiences

Do you trust solicitors? Have you ever been ripped off by one? We want to know - please share your experiences using the comments box below!

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