The North East’s best family law solicitor, Joanne Major of Major Family Law sets out 10 misconceptions about instructing a solicitor in the Tyne Valley Express:
1 I don’t know what I want to do yet. It’s too soon to see a solicitor.
It’s never too early to seek expert advice. The sooner you are advised of all your options, the better equipped you are to make considered decisions.
2 If I go to see a solicitor, they’ll take matters out of my hands
A good solicitor will advise you fully of all your options and assist you where you request assistance, but will not railroad you into taking steps you do not wish to take. A solicitor’s role is a supportive one. The decision rests with you whether to act on the advice given and a good solicitor will acknowledge that.
3 The sooner I see a solicitor, the more it will cost me
If you are in possession of all the facts and all your options, you are far more likely to be able to resolve matters swiftly and successfully, saving both time and expense. You only need involve a solicitor when absolutely necessary.
4 Going to see a solicitor will just drag this out
If your solicitor is doing his or her job properly, the advice you are given and the action they take on your behalf should serve to resolve your matter more swiftly. If you feel the opposite is true, perhaps it’s time for a second opinion.
5 If I get a solicitor involved, it will all get nasty
The involvement of a solicitor should assist in diffusing a situation rather than inflaming it. A solicitor will act without the emotional involvement you have and should actively attempt to reduce areas of contention.
6 My ex says we don’t need to “get legal” & involve solicitors
Does your ex partner or spouse have a hidden agenda in trying to prevent you from seeking legal advice? Even if you have reached an agreement between you, it is always advisable to have it checked over by a solicitor who will also help you to have the agreement made legally binding.
7 I have a solicitor but I can never get to speak to him
Solicitors can’t always be available straight away, but if your solicitor is continually unavailable and does not return your calls or answer your messages, then you should consider instructing a different solicitor who can make you more of a priority.
8 I went to see a solicitor but I’m not very happy with the advice I’ve been given or the way she’s handling my case
Solicitors are highly trained professionals with an expert knowledge of their field of law. That does not mean that they get it right 100% of the time, or that one particular individual is the solicitor best suited to you. If you are unhappy for any reason, you should try to raise it with your solicitor, with the managing partner of the practice, or get a second opinion from a different solicitor sooner rather than later.
9 I don’t think my solicitor is doing a very good job, but it’s too late to change now
It’s never too late to seek a second opinion from another solicitor in confidence. If you are concerned about any aspect of your case, you should take independent advice immediately.
10 My solicitor says if I change solicitors now, it will damage my case.
This is unlikely to be true, except in restricted circumstances. You can seek a second opinion in confidence without your existing solicitor ever knowing and if you choose to transfer your instructions, your new solicitor can handle that for you.
Joanne Major is owner of Major Family Law, the Divorce and Family Law Specialists, Ponteland, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Twitter@majorfamilylaw Tel: 01661 82 45 82 www.majorfamilylaw.co.uk.