Thursday, 19 March 2009

Seeing a Solicitor

For reasons I have explained here before, I am the only member of LawCare’s team who is not a qualified lawyer. Even before I was subjected to the problems of members of the legal profession on a daily basis I was never interested in being a lawyer. I don’t have the personality for it. But that’s OK, because luckily thousands of other great people do.

For years, when telling people that I help lawyers for a living, I have been met with a raised eyebrow which implies “Why bother? Who cares about lawyers?” Lawyers seem to rank just above Estate Agents, Insurance Salesmen and Drug Dealers in the public popularity polls. But I think lawyers are wonderful. Yes, read it again, I really did say that.

Why do I think that? Because I have had occasion to consult one. The first time – when I bought my first house – I barely remember. The second time was in 2004 when I divorced my first husband, sold the marital home, divvied up the proceeds and bought another 300 miles away (from him). The solicitor who kept me appraised of progress every step of the way and reassured me through the whole traumatic experience was a lovely young lady, five years qualified, and her bill came to just a shade over £500. As I said to my newly-ex husband on receiving it, “If I’d known it was going to be this cheap I’d have divorced you years ago.”

Two weeks ago I met with another solicitor to discuss transferring property assets into a company. Again I had picked the firm at random from the Yellow Pages, but once again I received superb service from an extremely knowledgeable partner whose expertise in such matters enabled my shiny new husband and I to save £27,000 by spending just £300 on his fee.

Have I been extraordinarily lucky in finding two such excellent solicitors? I don’t think so. I think the majority of lawyers work hard at what they do and take pride in giving good service. Maybe the problem is that, almost by definition, their work involves dealing with people at vulnerable and difficult times, and such people are not always the most rational or understanding. Maybe there is a small minority who are lazy, incompetent, careless or swindling and they give the rest of the profession a bad name. That’s a real pity. Because my experience is that lawyers are wonderful. And although I never wanted to be one, I salute those of you who are. You do important work, and, for the most part, you do it extremely well.

LawCare’s free and confidential helpline is available 9-7.30 Monday-Friday, 10-4 weekends, on:
0800 279 6888 (Solicitors, Law Students and Legal Executives in England and Wales)
0800 279 6869 (Solicitors, Advocates and Law Students in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man)
0800 018 4299 (Barristers, Clerks and Judges in England and Wales)
1800 991801 (Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland)

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