Frequently I attend new client meetings, either in connection with a personal injury or workplace dispute, I ask my new client whether he/she understands what it is that a solicitor does.
The answers vary. Most people’s experience of solicitors comes from buying a house – when it can be unclear who the solicitor (if it is a solicitor) is acting for, and when it is common for solicitor and client not to meet, even by Skype.
In my office in Harrogate, prominently positioned upon my notice board, are the following principles copied from the Solicitors Regulation Authority website (see here) which explain how solicitors should behave and it also indicates what it is that we do:
- Uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice;
- Act with integrity;
- Not allow your independence to be compromised;
- Act in the best interests of each client;
- Provide a proper standard of service to your clients;
- Behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services;
- Comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner;
- Run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles;
- Run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity; and
- Protect client money and assets.
We solicitors therefore must be beyond reproach; we should be pillars of society. Yet many people’s perception of solicitors does not correlate with these noble mandatory principles. High hourly rates and questionable personal injury marketing practices have diminished the public’s perception in what we do.
That is why at Truth Legal we wouldn’t ever buy personal injury claims from middlemen, nor do we charge high hourly rates. Our commitment to the above principles has been crucial behind the growth of Truth Legal.
Many clients understandably don’t know the difference between a solicitor and a barrister. Barristers undertake much more advocacy, which means the presentation of a case in a court or tribunal. Solicitors, on the other hand, tend to be more office-based and therefore develop long-lasting relationships with their clients. Barristers tend to be more academic than solicitors and tend to have a more in-depth understanding of their particular areas of law. Solicitors usually instruct barristers on behalf of their clients – either for an Advice on a particular matter or for the presentation of a case at a hearing.