Birmingham Law Society bicentenary logo A WOneProfession oneregion onevoice

If so, this may be remedied in a number of ways:

1. Contact your solicitor immediately

Don't wait weeks/months before following the problem up. Let your solicitor know you are unhappy. If s/he does not take or return your telephone calls, write to them, ensuring you keep a copy of the letter (photocopies are available at reasonable costs from Post Offices and some local shops). If you do not get a satisfactory response within, say, 7-10 working days, then go to step 2.

2. Law Society Practice Rule 15

All solicitors' practices work to something known widely as 'Rule 15', which is centred around client care. Part of Rule 15 deals with the way practices handle complaints and there will be a complaints procedure that you can ask for. There is also be someone with responsibility for client care issues in each practice. Phone and ask for that person's name, then write to them direct; again, keep a copy of your letter. They will then take you through the Complaints Procedure to reach a conclusion.

If you are still unable to obtain a satisfactory response to your requests, or you are dealing with a solicitor who works on his or her own and you have told them you are unhappy but this has not been acted upon, go to step 3. 

3.  Legal Ombudsman

If you've complained to your solicitor about poor service or about their bill, and you aren't satisfied with your solicitor's response, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333, who can help to resolve your complaint for you. - See more at:



Relevant paperwork

Assemble this and have it ready for your first appointment. If you are not sure what is relevant, put it all together. Your solicitor will advise you what s/he does/does not want when s/he sees you.

What do you expect your solicitor to do?

Give an indication of what you expect your solicitor to do, so that s/he can agree with you what it is possible to try and achieve. State clearly if that does not meet your expectations, or indeed if your expectations change.

Time limits or targets

Indicate if you have a personal time limit or targets to work to. Your solicitor will let you have any specific limitation dates which will apply to your case, such as three months from the incident in employment tribunal cases.

Was everything clearly explained?

Make sure you always understand what your solicitor has discussed with you. If you think you may have a problem with this, take a relative/friend with you, but let your solicitor know you will be doing this. If you are unclear about ANYTHING, please say so immediately.

Providing information

You should provide all information/documentation requested by your solicitor as quickly as possible.

Contact details/change of circumstances

Please let your solicitor know immediately as this may affect the way in which your case is dealt with.

Phone calls

Every call that your solicitor makes on your behalf - including those you make to him or her - incurs a cost. So make sure you have a note of what it is you want to ask and do not just ring to talk about the weather! You may think they just want an update on the case when in fact nothing will have changed since you last called.

Solicitors are busy people

Although your solicitor will try to make you feel you are their only client, realistically you know this is not the case and they are usually very busy. DON'T WORRY - if you are anxious about something, which perhaps has a time limit on it, or your solicitor has not been in touch for a while, it is quite acceptable for you to contact them. A gentle reminder (maybe via their secretary or in writing) is all that you need to do to ensure the right things are happening in the allocated timescale.

What questions should you ask? This is particularly important if you have not used that firm or solicitor before, for example:

  • Does your firm undertake the area of work which includes my problem? (be prepared to give a brief explanation)
  • Will someone have the time to help me?
  • Do you offer a diagnostic interview, or the first half hour free?
  • And then once you have established the basic information:
  • Will you explain to me what you can do, what my chances of success are and how much you will charge?
  • Will you explain all the other costs involved, such as search fees, court fees etc (known as disbursements)?
  • Will I be able to pay in instalments?
  • Will I be eligible for public funding (legal aid), or are there any other payment arrangements available?
  • Are there any insurance policies available to cover some of the costs?
  • Is this a case for "No win, no fee?" (which solicitors know as conditional or contingency fee agreements). Will you also go through the risk assessment you will need to do on my case?

Special needs (ie disabililty including mobility, hearing or sight problem, a special language requirement etc) - mention this when setting up the first appointment

Home visit - if you require someone to visit you at home or in residential care, please state this requirement.

We rarely put ourselves into someone else's shoes when we require a service, whether as a customer in a shop, or when we are asking for professional specialist information that we wish to use for our benefit.

We know we want someone to help us, but we seldom think of what we could do to make that process easier.

Whether you are a business or an individual, or someone who is supporting a relative or friend, just preparing for a telephone conversation or a meeting with your solicitor could make the process less stressful, less drawn-out, and often less costly. Consider the following:

» Before making the first phone-call or writing the letter
» The first meeting
» Are you unhappy with the service you are receiving?