Our top 7 tips for choosing the right lawyer!
Choosing the right lawyer or solicitor is one of the most important decisions that you will have to make. The right or wrong choice can end in two very different ways! We have produced this easy to go to guide to help you find the right firm. We are publishing this in order to help raise the standard of immigration law practicioners across London. We are passionate about what we do and what to help you to make the right choice!
1. Do I need a lawyer?
This is probably the most important question you can ask yourself! It may sound crazy but it really is true. Do you need a lawyer? On quite a few occasions your own research and the ease of the application means that you may be able to submit it yourself. However, we do say that maybe you don’t need a lawyer but friends and forums are no replacement for a good lawyer! If at any point you do NOT understand something then you should GET A GOOD LAWYER!
How can you judge if you do not need a lawyer? If you have had previous success in the application then you probably do not need a lawyer. If after going through all the necessary paperwork and forms you do have a few questions then it is probably best to at least seek a consultation with a lawyer. This will allow you to clarify some points however, never feel under pressure to choose a lawyer to handle your entire case. Often a consultation will be enough to answer specific questions relating to your application. Form checking services can also be useful if you are not looking for a lawyer to handle all of your case. In certain cases however, we recommend the use of a lawyer. For example, appeals, particularly oral hearings can be tricky. If you have had a failed application, are dealing with complex immigration matters or an application that is outside the rules then we would recommend that you instruct a lawyer.
2. Should you choose an OSIC representative or a Solicitor?
Which is best? Which is worse? Which is right for you? Generally speaking, OSIC only deal with immigration and have regular audits and competency. Solicitors often can do judicial reviews (However the vast majority of cases never go that far!) and they practice various areas of law and may not be specialists but solicitors can work across different types of law. Regardless of the path you take, make sure they are regulated!
Location is important but it isn’t as important as the quality of the firm you choose to represent you. It is always better and more advisable to go for a firm that is a bit further away than to go to a local firm who may not be as qualified or experienced! What you will save in petrol money by not having to travel far you will spend much more in having to resubmit an application!
4. The first step – Your first phone call with your lawyer!
Are they the right firm for me? What should you look out for when you call? Ideally, you should you sbould speak to the right person! An expert who specialises in the particular area you are looking for, if they are not available then wait! Try and book a phone appointment so that you and the lawyer can set aside enough time to go through your case (20 minutes roughly). Remember to explain your situation in as much detail as you can. Sometimes you may have to scan or fax your papers over too, so check that before. The purpose of the call is a quick assessment of the case and the inital call can inform them of the details of the case.
Find out how they work: in terms of their fees as well as how you can work together going forward. It is vital that you have good communication with your lawyer in order to put yourself in the best position to achieve the outcome that you want!
I don’t know is a good answer as it shows that the lawyer is being honest. I don’t know is a valid answer as the lawyer may have to look into a particular element of your case further. Also, is if they ask to see more documents it suggests that there is a particular detail that they are looking to find out more about.
In addition to this, it is vital to see how they are going to win, what relevent law/rules and guidance are they focusing on?If the lawyer cannot quote or refer back to a specific law in a verifiable way e.g emailing you the relevent part, then that is not a very good sign… Remember to ask WHY! So they can say this is the law I will use and quote you!
Should you pay? Is a free consulation really free? Probably not, a free consultation is usually a sales pitch! If you want good legal advice you SHOULD have to pay for it. A good consulation will go through immigration history for about 30 minutes then advise your accoringly. After around 45 minutes the lawyer will go through your options and explain the good and bad about your case. Finally at the end they should go through cost. Make sure you know:
- All your options
- All the next steps
- The chances of success
- The timescale
6.The Client Care Letter
Make sure you get what you discussed in writing! If the lawyer gives you chances of success of 90% and doesn’t put it in writing then you will know that they are probably not the most reputable. A good client care letter should cover the following:
- Match exactly what was agreed before
- Contain the price (look for VAT)
- Explain what exact service that is for
- Set out the chances of success
- Explain the advice exact given
Remember if you are not happy, don’t sign it!!
Remember, to get the outcome that you want it is important to be as prepared as possible and cooperative with your lawyer. Below, from our 16 years of experience, we have listed some of the most important factors that clients should consider.
- Honesty. Be honest with your lawyer!
- Costs. Our transparent and fair costs means that you understand where your money goes.
- Information overload. Often clients have spent a lot of time on forums, speaking to fiends and family and have a bit of information overload. Work through this with your lawyer and trust their professional opinon!
- Race. You may be drawn to a lawyer who shares a similar culture and background but remember, a good lawyer is a good lawyer regardless of race!
We hope that you have found our blog post useful and that you have a better idea of what to look for in a alwyer as well as the process and steps that you should go for.
Have we missed any points you feel are important out?
What do you look for in a lawyer?
What do you agree with or even disgree with?
Let us know!
5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
0207 118 4546