Facebook Live Episode 2 – Changing Solicitors
Andrew Gray advises on how to change solicitors when you have an ongoing case.
Full Video Transcript:
I’m Andrew Gray, owner of Truth Legal Solicitors in Harrogate and this is my first proper Facebook Live, one-on-one type of thing, although not quite one-one-one because next to me here is John Ranby. John is from Bee Social Media in Harrogate and is a social media expert.
In today’s Facebook Live I’m going to talk to you about why you should consider switching solicitors if you are being advised by a paralegal.
In my firm Truth Legal, all we do is personal injury law, clinical negligence law, employment law and we sue other solicitors. That’s pretty much all we do. We do not do wills; we do not help you if you’re getting divorced; that’s not what we do. We don’t do conveyancing or commercial or terms and conditions. My point is, don’t go to a solicitor that doesn’t do the area of law that you’re looking for.
So, with personal injury claims, it’s important that you get someone who knows what they’re talking about. If you have a solicitor at the moment, check them out. Go on the Law Society’s website, because all solicitors should be on there. Or if they’re a regulated legal executive, they should be on CILEX, so check them out there.
Ensure that, just because you have a solicitor’s firm acting for you, that it isn’t an unqualified paralegal that has your case. There are loads of fantastic paralegals but paralegals are people that haven’t yet qualified as a legal executive or solicitor. One day they will become a legal executive or solicitor, so we would hope. My view is that paralegals should not be handling personal injury cases on their own. Yes, sure, they can assist, and they need to learn, but they shouldn’t be running a number of cases at the same time. If you fall into that category, I think you need to be asking questions. So, if I were in your position and you were unhappy with your solicitor that you’ve got then of course I’m sad to hear that, but I think you should listen to your gut and if your gut’s telling you that you’ve got an issue, then start investigating it.
Ask the person who’s acting for you; sure they’re a lawyer but what is their qualification? How many cases like yours have they handled before? It could be that they are absolutely experts, they have run multiple cases of back injuries, or road traffic accidents or head injuries, whatever the unfortunate circumstances that have happened to you, it could be that you have the experts and the perfect person acting for you.
Perhaps not though.
It’s your case, people are acting for you, so be sure to ask them lots of simple questions like:
- How many of my type of case have you won before?
- How many years have you been doing this job?
- What law school did you go to?
- Where did you train?
All the things that you really ought to have, but didn’t, ask at the start, there’s no harm in asking throughout the duration of the case, and it will build a relationship between you and your legal representative. In my view when the lawyers and their clients get on really well, when they have a bit of banter and it’s friendly and more relaxed, it’s going to give you more information and you, you’re the client, you’re going to give us more stuff back. And when the lawyer and the client are acting as a team, wow, the case just goes much faster, smoother, and everybody’s more comfortable that the outcome is going to be better if you get on with your lawyer; it’s really straightforward. And you know what, it makes your lawyer’s life more enjoyable if it’s you and you’re getting on, and you’re talking about your kids, which football team you support, shopping, all those things.
Get on with your lawyer and if you’re on a no-win, no-fee agreement, you know that you won’t have to worry in the same way about the hourly rate and what you’re being charged.
In some law firms I understand that there are a lot of unqualified people acting for you, particularly in the road-traffic-accident market. What I understand is happening is that representatives are changing throughout the duration of a case. So, you might speak to someone in a call centre who then passes the matter through to someone else and then, if it goes on a little bit further, you might get another person with a little bit more expertise in sourcing medical reports, and then down the line if matter isn’t settled, you are then potentially looking towards a court hearing where you change solicitor again. In my view, that is completely flawed; you really ought to have one representative acting for you for the duration of your case. I think it’s really sad if you have to keep building relationships with your representatives and repeating yourself, you don’t want to be doing that.
So, with your representatives, are they returning your phone calls and emails? My firm isn’t perfect but we try to be as fast as we can be in returning phone calls and emails, but we do let ourselves down occasionally. But if you find that that is routinely happening to you then you need to start asking yourself some questions.
One of the reasons perhaps to switch solicitors is if you think your case is going to be under-settled. There have been many occasions that we have had over the last five years where clients have come to us and their solicitors have been valuing at, for example, £15,000 and eventually, after taking it over, it has been settled at £50,000, and there are multiple examples of that. So, if your instinct is that your case is going to be under-settled and you are going to be out of pocket, you must remember that with personal injury compensation, it’s not a windfall, nobody wants to have a personal injury claim, obviously something horrific has happened, no amount of money is going to put you back in the right position as if the accident hadn’t happened, but you want to make sure you have the right amount. Think about the future for you your family, how you’re going to take care of things especially on high-value stuff as well.
With us, we’ll spend up to an hour, perhaps even more, looking at the documents. If you were thinking about switching solicitors, we won’t be contacting your present representative, it’s not what we do. It might be that they have done a fantastic job and often we have to say to our clients “you know, everything seems to be perfectly in order, just continue and ask some questions and build up a relationship with your representative”.
If you are someone who does want to switch solicitors and we can assist you, we would ask you to sign a form of authority and then we would try and get a copy of your file and see what is going on and take it from there.
Thank you for listening to my Facebook live broadcast, thank you to John, and if you have any questions please email me at [email protected].