Retaining a solicitor is an expensive process even for a small legal issue.
At one time or another, each of us will probably require legal services.
Unfortunately, very few have saved enough money to afford this.
Before we turn to the Internet for legal advice from a stranger, we should explore ways to reduce or even eliminate the cost of legal services.
With the right approach, we can receive the reputable advice we seek without having to take a second mortgage.
Citizens Advice Bureau Can Help
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is a charity that provides independent, confidential, and free advice to help people resolve legal and other issues. Between 2010 and 2011, this charity assisted 2.1 million UK residents with approximately 7.1 million problems. Advice services are provided from more than 3,500 community locations throughout the region, operated by 382 different charities, making this the largest advice-providing network within the UK.
Trained professionals provide legal advice through an online portal on the CAB website. Through CAB, citizens can also arrange for a free consultation with a solicitor. Some solicitors who are not associated with CAB may offer an initial 30-minute consultation at no charge. These resources are recommended over legal aid, which was restricted quite considerably under the last government. There is no indication that this trend will change and those who do not qualify for legal aid face fees of £90 and higher per hour to privately employ a solicitor.
Details Regarding Legal Aid
In England and Wales, legal aid is designed for people with low incomes and those who are on benefits. For a non-criminal issue, the general rule is that anyone with an annual gross income exceeding £31,884 will not qualify. Partners who reside together should include both incomes and other adjustments apply. Even people who earn less than this amount may not qualify and the determination is based on a calculation that assesses disposable income, which may not exceed £8,796 annually.
Legal aid is offered for issues regarding debt, employment, personal injury from abuse or assault, housing, immigration, asylum, family law including financial support following marriage and disagreements over children, and more. However, legal aid is not offered for representation at an employment tribunal. In criminal cases in Crown and higher courts, this aid may be granted to any defendant but may be recovered if the court determines that the individual could have paid for representation.
Entering The Arrangement
If retaining a solicitor is necessary, realize that his or her hourly rate is negotiable, though some solicitors are reluctant to engage in these conversations. Shopping around to find the best rate may be a less uncomfortable approach for all involved. However, cost should not be the only consideration. A knowledgeable and experienced solicitor may be more expensive but his individual may also be able to complete a case faster and with a more successful outcome.
A client and solicitor should come to an agreement regarding services before the arrangement is formalized. Remember, solicitors charge for making and receiving letters, phone calls, and emails and these charges are typically one-tenth of their hourly rate. Daily progress updates may not be affordable so each party should establish the frequency of contact up front.
When the arrangement concludes, a final bill is typically sent but it is subject to challenge by the client. If a court case was involved, it may assess the bill and could allow the solicitor less than he or she billed. In some situations, a Remuneration Certificate may be requested from the Law Society and this will determine the final amount of the bill. Even a threat of challenge through these processes can create a negotiable situation.