Whether you’re being charged for a criminal offence, going through a divorce, or have been unjustly terminated at work, you’ll need to hire a lawyer to represent you in court.
But in order to get a desirable outcome, you wouldn’t want just any lawyer. You’ll want to make sure that you’re hiring a lawyer with the right skills, expertise, and experience to handle your case.
The right lawyer can mean the difference between an acquittal and a conviction, or a fair settlement and one that’s heavily against your favour.
To start, here are some important things to know before hiring a lawyer in the UK.
Solicitor vs Barrister: What’s The Difference?
In the UK legal system, there are two types of lawyers: solicitors and barristers.
Solicitors are the first port of call for most people seeking legal advice or representation. They provide initial consultations, draft documents, offer general legal advice, and represent clients in lower courts. They specialise in low-level disputes and don’t usually appear in higher courts.
Barristers, on the other hand, specialise in courtroom advocacy and represent clients in higher courts. They’re the ones who will argue your case in front of a judge and jury.
In most cases, a solicitor is the first lawyer you’ll get in touch with. They’ll then instruct a barrister on your behalf if your case needs to be taken to a higher court.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Lawyer In The UK?
The cost of hiring a lawyer depends on the type of legal service you need, the complexity of your case, and the lawyer’s experience and location.
Most solicitors will charge by the hour, with rates ranging from £150 to £400 per hour. For more complex cases, you may be charged a fixed fee. Barrister fees are typically higher, starting at around £100 per hour for less than 5 years of experienced lawyers.
As a lawyer becomes more experienced, their rates will increase. For example, a barrister with over 15 years of experience may charge £200 to £500 per hour.
In addition to hourly rates, you’ll also need to pay for other legal fees and expenses, such as court fees, expert witness fees, and travel costs. These can quickly add up, but it can be beneficial especially if your case has something large at stake.
That said, the UK government also offers legal aid if you’re unable to pay for the legal fees. You’ll need to provide evidence of your financial situation and the legal case you’re involved in to see if you qualify for legal aid. But if you’re eligible, the government will cover some or all of your legal costs.
Where to Find Lawyers in the UK?
There are online databases that can help you match a lawyer to your specific case and needs, such as The Law Society and the Bar Council.
The Law Society is a professional body for solicitors in England and Wales, while the Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. Both organisations have searchable online directories where you can find solicitors or barristers in your area.
If you want to find independent law firms and gain access to some of the best local lawyers in the UK, you can also find high-quality Lawyers with LegalVision UK. Just like other law firms, they’re well-equipped to provide legal assistance and guidance on a variety of different cases.
What to Ask When Hiring A Lawyer?
When you’ve found a few potential lawyers, the next step is to schedule an initial consultation. This is usually done over the phone or through video calls, and it’s your chance to get to know the lawyer and ask them relevant questions about your case.
Here are some important questions to ask during the consultation:
- How long have you been practising law?
- What is your experience with cases like mine, such as a divorce settlement?
- What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
- What are the likely outcomes of my case?
- How much will it cost to hire you?
During this time, it’s also important to get a feel for the lawyer’s personality and whether you think they’re someone you can rely on. Do they communicate well? Do they appear critical and well-read? Are they someone you feel comfortable working with?
In addition, don’t forget to search for their reputation and case studies online. This way, you’ll be able to get a better idea of how their past clients perceive them and whether they’re fit to rule over your case.
You should also make sure that the lawyer is upfront about their fees and that you’re both on the same page when it comes to payment arrangements.
Making The Final Decision
Hiring a lawyer is a big decision, so it’s important to take your time and vet your options thoroughly before making a final decision.
While you can seek out legal aid, many great private law firms excel in what they do. With that said, make sure to ask plenty of questions to these law firms during the consultation stage before proceeding with any of them.
Lastly, set reasonable expectations. A lawyer can only do so much, and even the best ones can’t guarantee a positive outcome for your case. Always remember to stay level-headed, and don’t hesitate to ask tough questions before finalising your pick.