Things you should know if you’ve never hired a lawyer before

Finding a lawyer may be the priority, but if you’ve never hired one before there are a few things you should know before you sign a contract.

There are different types of legal professionals 

Depending on what you need a lawyer for, you may find yourself inundated with choices. For example, your property purchase could be dealt with by a conveyancing solicitor, or a Licensed Conveyancer. Your will could be written by a solicitor, or a professional Will Writer. Often the difference is between someone who is a lawyer who happens to focus on that area, or someone who is qualified just for that specific service. 

It really depends on your needs – perhaps you want a lawyer you could come back to for other things, or maybe you want someone who is an expert in the one thing you need? 

How instructing a lawyer works 

If you’re using The Law Superstore, you’ll receive quotes from up to 4 different legal professionals. Some of them may contact you to ask further questions and give more detail to your quote. Once you’ve chosen a legal firm, you can discuss how you expect to move forward, what information you need to provide and how payment will work. 

Who is actually working the case 

It might be that you have spoken with a lawyer, been confident in their abilities and liked them, and instructed them. It’s worth considering that sometimes law is a group effort – that lawyer may not be dealing with your case themselves, they may pass it on to a more junior member of staff. Similarly, they may get consultations from other legal professionals, or use a paralegal to do the research into the case. Whilst your main contact may be the solicitor you spoke with, don’t be surprised if they don’t always have all the information when you call, as another member of the team may be working on it. 

How payment works 

There are different pay structures when dealing with legal work. 

Lawyers have to take into account the complexity of the work, how many hours they spend, and the seniority of the legal expert.  

Some legal experts may have a set fee for a certain service, perhaps for simple wills, or a straightforward transfer of equity. Others may have a sliding scale based on how complicated and time consuming the case is. 

Some cases are offered on a ‘no win, no fee’ and some are based on a percentage of your settlement. If your case is particularly interesting and potentially high profile, they may be happy to work pro bono, which would mean no or minimal fees.  

When do you pay  

Payment varies depending on the service and the firm. In most cases, you simply pay at the end when your case is finalised. If any extra hours have been spent on the case (for example an ongoing divorce) those will be accounted for and added to the bill. If there are any disbursements (external fees that the lawyer pays on your behalf) these may be paid during the process.  

For other, one-time services like will writing, the Will Writer or solicitor may take a deposit or advanced payment. 

Talk to your solicitor about what the whole process entails and when you pay. 

Do you really have a case? 

This is one people often forget. There might be situations when you don’t actually need a lawyer, or they are not the first step. For example, with divorce proceedings, you may want to use a mediator before moving into the legal sphere. A mediator can help you work with your spouse to iron out the details of your separation, so if you want to separate but need help working out how to divide assets and custody, that can be an option. 

There are also situations where you think you may have a case, but a legal expert can tell you it’s not worth proceeding. They will be able to tell you the cost and time constraints of a case, how often those cases succeed, and offer a professional opinion on whether to go forward. Often these cases are taken on ‘no win, no fee’ because they wouldn’t commit their time unless they knew it was likely to be successful.


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Steve Clark

Steve creates helpful guides for The Law Superstore. He enjoys digging deep into new areas of the law, supporting partners, and translating legalese and jargon into plain English everyone can understand.