Legal Advice: Choosing an Employment Solicitor
If you have been having issues at work and have come to the conclusion that you need some legal advice, here are our top 10 tips on choosing an employment solicitor.
- Check their website – This will give you a feel for the firm and allow you to identify if they have experience in the area of employment law that you need. Check that it has been regularly updated as this will show the firm is up-to-date with regular changes in employment law.
- Initial Meeting – The initial meeting is a vital part of choosing an employment solicitor. Ensure you speak to the solicitor who will be working on your case and not a trainee, paralegal or other junior member of staff within the firm. Ask for an estimated cost of pursuing your claim, the likely outcome, and what their suggested plan of action is. The initial meeting will also help you to establish if you have an employment claim.
- Personalities – The initial meeting will allow you to assess if you can work with the employment solicitor. It’s important that you feel you can get along with them, that you trust them, and that you will be able to work in close collaboration with them for what could be a long period of time. Also, you should gauge their attitude – are they aggressive or will they champion mediation or a settlement?
- Shop around – This is recommended but not always feasible as employment claims have strict time limits in which they must be brought before an employment tribunal. In most cases, including unfair dismissal and discrimination claims, you have three months from the discriminatory act to bring your claim.
- Recommendation – If pushed for time, a recommendation from a colleague/friend/family member/ reputable referral firm can come in very useful.
- Experience – Ask the solicitor about their experience, including how long they have been practising and their rate of success.
- Fees – Many people will see this as the most important factor when choosing an employment solicitor. The fees charged will depend on the experience and reputation of the firm and the amount of work they undertake for you. Ask how you will be expected to pay the fees – will they require them up-front, at the end as a lump sum, or will you get monthly bills? Some employment solicitors will offer a no-win, no-fee agreement, which means you’ll only have to pay their fees if you win. Before agreeing to a no-win, no-fee agreement, make sure you fully understand all the other costs you could be responsible for paying.
- Practising certificate – Make sure the solicitor has a valid practising certificate from the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, this ensures they have not been struck off the roll and have professional liability insurance in place to compensate you in case they negligently cause your loss.
- Locality – If possible, hiring a local solicitor is a good idea. It means you can easily pop in for a face-to-face meeting if you have any concerns, and it may help you to establish a better working relationship with them.
- The size of firm – You may find a smaller company is more suitable for you; it may be less intimidating and may encourage a closer relationship with your employment solicitor. Alternatively, you may prefer a larger, more commercial firm. However, these companies tend to work mainly on behalf of employers.