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Common misconceptions about solicitors and how they work

View profile for David Feakins
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Common misconceptions about solicitors and how they work

A lot of people may feel concerned about the prospect of having to speak to a solicitor. It may be that you want to discuss a family issue, a dispute you are having with a neighbour or wanting to prepare a will.

Solicitors are here to provide the support and advice needed, we are not here to judge!

Solicitors are human too and we do have empathy for the situations that people may find themselves in. Once you get speaking to a solicitor, you will soon find out that we are simply there to assist in any way, shape or form.

I will always allow you time to discuss what you feel the problem is. It is always good to hear the full story before jumping to any conclusions and, potentially, providing incorrect advice.

Following an initial meeting, I am always available for follow up telephone calls. If, for whatever reason, I am not at my desk when a call comes in, a colleague will usually take a message. I endeavour to respond as soon as I can.

I feel that a key to approachability is communication, and if I can make you feel at ease, whilst providing the necessary advice, then I have done my job correctly.

For a relationship like the solicitor-client relationship to work, trust is imperative. The way in which I work to build that trust is by taking the time with each client to understand their objectives and what is important to them. If the merits of a particular case are not strong, I would tell them straight away. The last thing that I would want is to pursue a case that could put someone at risk of an adverse costs order.

My colleagues and I see various legal matters day in, day out and provide legal advice. No matter what the issue may relate to or the area of law, there will usually be someone in the office who has dealt with issues of that nature on a previous occasion.

Personally, I work in the Dispute Resolution team where the litigious nature of matters can heighten the stress level of the client. By taking specialist advice, solicitors can alleviate that stress and deal with the day to day management of the issue. Further, there may be various options available, which they would have been unaware of if they hadn’t taken legal advice. For example, many clients from a Dispute Resolution perspective may not realise what types of Alternative Dispute Resolution schemes are available, as opposed to issuing legal proceedings.

As previously noted, many legal issues can cause stress and animosity. By dealing with legal issues alone, some individuals may proceed with ‘blinkers’ and forget to take a step back and look at the full picture. Before the individual knows it, they could be embroiled in lengthy court proceedings and be at risk of cost consequences. By taking legal advice, the client will know the full range of options available to them, as well as the merits of pursuing such options.

Even in a non-litigious sense, I would still recommend individuals seek legal advice. For example, will writing is very particular in the wording that is used. If someone prepares their own will without advice, it could cause problems for executors and beneficiaries later on down the line which, in turn, mean they will be spending a lot of money to put things right.

David Feakins is a lawyer in the dispute resolution team and is available on 01245 453870 or david.feakins@birkettlong.co.uk.

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