For many people, facing the prospect of criminal investigation or proceedings is a daunting prospect, one that can often inflict a heavy toll not just on themselves, but also on their loved ones.
It is therefore essential that proper professional support mechanisms are in place at an early stage.
The Golden Rule
It is never too early to involve a solicitor.
It is surprising just how many people put this off to a late stage in an investigation; some people are afraid of the cost (yet ironically legal advice is free at the police station), some think it might be seen as an admission of guilt (it isn’t), and the greater group may simply be hoping it will all go away (sometimes it does, but often it does not).
The ‘Right’ Solicitor
It is a trite observation to state that you must choose the ‘right’ solicitor.
However, if your case depends on legal aid funding, a wrong choice may not be easily remedied as courts will need good justification to transfer legal aid to another firm.
If you are unhappy with your solicitor then the sooner this is resolved, the better.
But, how do you find the ‘right’ solicitor?
It is perhaps a strange thing to say, but you need to view this professional relationship as you would any other.
Essentially, hand on heart, does the relationship feel right for you?
Some of the things that will help you decide are:
- Is your initial enquiry dealt with promptly? If not, then this is perhaps a sign of things to come, nobody wants a solicitor who is too busy or too lazy. You should expect any initial enquiry to be dealt with within one working day at most. Moving forward you should be able to contact your solicitor easily, with clear expectations as to response times.
- Do you get the sense that the solicitor appreciates that you have not only a legal problem but a personal one? Empathy and understanding are critical skills and essential to excellent communication.
- Is there an action plan? By that, we mean, at the end of each meeting do you know what is happening next – the overall direction of your case?
Sometimes there are periods of long inactivity which can cause concern to clients if they are not expecting this. A good solicitor will outline the legal process and ensure you are kept fully informed at all stages.
- Does your solicitor command your confidence? Do you go away from meetings reassured and comfortable, do you actually understand what has been said to you? If not, then this is a source of great concern.
- Are your concerns met, or brushed aside? This is your case; you are not a mere observer, and you deserve to have any anxieties resolved.
If things go wrong
In the first instance, you should raise your concerns as soon as they arise, as this ensures the best chance of resolving them. Often concerns arise due to misunderstandings that can be quickly and easily remedied.
If concerns remain then consult the firm’s complaints procedure and escalate the matter to more senior staff.
The point of no return
If you cannot resolve matters to your satisfaction or believe that the relationship is beyond repair, then it is essential to contact a new firm without delay.
How can we assist?
We do not encourage potential clients to seek a transfer of representation lightly, only where the client’s needs are not being properly addressed do we believe that a transfer should be sought.
But, you do get only one chance to get it right.
We care passionately about the service we give to every client, so if the time has come to switch solicitors, get in touch, and we can advise further.
For a confidential and private consultation, please contact Daniel Woodman, John Stokes or our Criminal Department on 0117 902 8003.