Use a solicitor!

Brand solicitor. Why use a solicitor?

The SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) announced this month (March 2019) that its new regulations, which will allow solicitors greater flexibility in how they work - making it easier for people to get help - will come into effect on 25 November 2019.

So why use a solicitor? and how do you know you are getting a real one, as with ourselves, Altmore Business Law Limited, in this difficult age of identity theft and challenges to cyber security?

To answer the second question first: You may check if a person claiming to be a solicitor is truly a solicitor with a current practising certificate (permission to advise) and if a firm is regulated by the SRA at http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/.  If there appears to be residual doubt about a bogus law firm or solicitor you should contact the SRA.

What’s more, from 25th November 2019 all firms must conspicuously show a digital badge (see ours at the bottom of all pages of the website, for example, https://www.altmorebusinesslaw.com/contact). By clicking on the badge visitors can get a real time message from the SRA confirming or declining the firm’s authenticity.

And now for the important question – why use a solicitor, what does “brand solicitor” represent to you when using Altmore Business law for specialist company law and commercial law services? Here are the answers:

  1. It is illegal to call oneself in business a solicitor or use titles implying something similar like “lawyer”, or “counsel”, unless there are two things: first the person is on the official list (roll) of solicitors and second the person holds a current certificate to practice law. So law in this area helps separate the real lawyers from the imposters.
  2. To get onto the list of solicitors a person must have passed through academic and vocational stages of training over several years and must satisfy the SRA as to character and suitability to become a solicitor and submit annually throughout the career for certificate renewal.
  3. The solicitor must adhere to professional principles securing the highest standards for the client such as to act with integrity, and not allow our independence to be compromised. This may sound pompous but delivering care and quality is made law across all 180,000 of us. There is a substantial code of conduct too both for the individual and the firm about how we take care of clients and of ourselves, and how we interact with third parties and the SRA. All this and the other blocks of regulation are not voluntary codes, but legal requirements imposed on solicitors and their firms.
  4. It follows from 3 that a client, if let down, not only has the protection of general law in, for example, contract or negligence. He or she may seek the aid of the SRA with its enforcement powers such as investigation and sanction for misconduct.
  5. Last but by no means least: the solicitor must make sure appropriate professional indemnity insurance covers his or her work. We must also contribute annually to the Solicitors Compensation Fund. This is a grant fund of last resort to which clients may apply where losses are not recoverable from insurance or in other ways.

So there you have it – “brand solicitor”. There are few areas where the service provider or adviser’s title is so protected and the accompanying measures to ensure client quality so assured, and by statute.

Aside from the regulatory reassurances of using a solicitor for your company commercial work there are some practical tips. You should explore the potential firm’s and solicitor’s track record of experience and whether of a high calibre/ quality for the business law outcomes you require.

How “switched on” or alert is the individual or team and how sincere is the interest in your affairs? Are you confident of being able to speak or email with the solicitor during the assignment at the times you desire? Might the work be transferred without your assent to individuals other than the ones you met at the outset?

Obtaining clarity of fees is most important too as assisted by regulations enhancing transparency on websites and elsewhere introduced last December (2018).

Note: The SRA was formed in January 2007 by the Legal Services Act 2007 to act as the independent regulator of solicitors in England & Wales. It is the regulatory body for some 180,000 solicitors. The solicitors' profession includes single-solicitor practices and huge firms with a global presence and thousands of lawyers. Provision is also made for European and overseas lawyers practising here and for solicitors practising in those other areas.

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