by Howard Nulty
I have often wondered why clients will be advised by estate agents, financial advisors, claims management companies and the man in the pub rather than ask a solicitor.
I used to think that it was the mystique of actually speaking to a lawyer that filled them with dread, but over the last few years solicitors have been advertising in all manner of media, from the local free newspaper to Facebook, from hoardings at the road side to television. Surely those adverts have done away with whatever mystique still existed?
I pondered whether clients might think sometimes that they were speaking to a solicitor, when actually it was perhaps a claims company. That wouldn’t answer why clients would take advice from financial advisors though.
I then thought perhaps they were frightened of not being able to understand what was being said to them. Perhaps.
Maybe they are frightened of the expense of seeing a solicitor. Now we are getting somewhere I think. My belief is that clients are worried that the minute that they arrive at an office of a solicitor that the “clock” starts running. Well that might have been the case many years ago, but now that cannot happen any more. Most solicitors spend the first meeting simply advising you if they can help and informing you of what they might charge, if at all.
Solicitors must now advise you in writing of anything that they are likely to want to charge, and they also should keep you updated as to the likely cost. They have to advise you in writing before the charges are incurred, and you have the right to say that you do not want to pay those charges – and can ask the solicitor not to do the work for you.
Most solicitors nowadays send out Terms of Business. Make sure that you read them and understand them. If you don’t, then ask the solicitor not to do any work until he has explained them to you. If a solicitor cannot or will not explain how he will be charging you, then perhaps you are with the wrong solicitor.