In fact, approximately half of UK adults experience a legal issue at least once every three years and around 40% of SMEs encounter a legal issue on an annual basis. Issues may vary in severity widely from a road traffic accident compensation claim to requiring advice on an employment contract, from a tenancy dispute to the drafting of a prenuptial agreement.
For many of these legal matters – particularly those that seem to be trivial – it can be tempting to try and handle an issue yourself. After all, why pay someone else to manage your legal affairs when you could do it on your own for free.
Unfortunately, choosing to go it alone doesn’t always result in success. Failing to seek the support of a legal expert can lead to the loss of a case, a mistake or simply hours of wasted time, money and resources amounting to more than the cost of hiring a legal expert in the first place.
To help you judge when it is time to draft in the support of a qualified legal professional, here are just four common clues to help you realise when going DIY legal is a bad idea.
Wikipedia has become your legal manual
The legal system can be a complicated beast. While there are many online resources out there to assist you in clarifying legal terminology and developing an understanding of the issue at hand, there is really no substitute for years of specialist legal training and practice – particularly an unverified platform such as Wikipedia.
It may seem like a cost-saving exercise to bypass legal service providers, but the hassle, stress and increased chance of errors often make it a gamble not worth taking. At the very least, seek a consultation with a legal expert to develop a clearer picture of the matter you are presented with.
You have spent countless work hours trying to solve your legal problem
Neither your colleagues nor your boss will thank you for researching personal legal matters in the workplace. If your workload is mounting up because you are distracted by a legal affair, the cost to your career could be significantly more than that of instructing a lawyer.
If you are self employed, the situation could be even worse, as you lose important billable hours in favour of researching a legal issue that could be handled quickly and efficiently by a professional. Why not focus on your work and let the legal experts do theirs for you?
You find yourself buried in paperwork
If you've reached the stage where legal action is required then there's likely to be a lot of reading to get through. Matters such as buying a franchise, taking an employer to a tribunal or applying for a grant of probate can involve bundles of paperwork, and the telltale sign that you are drowning in the detail is when those piles stack up faster than you can read through them.
You are spending more money trying to go it alone than hiring a lawyer
It can be tempting to think that handling matters yourself will save a few pounds. Often the perception of law firms is that they can charge prohibitively expensive fees at high hourly rates. Today, however, a growing number of firms offer a number of different pricing options to deliver a more transparent and cost-effective service. For example, fixed price fees for conveyancing, wills and divorce cases are now considered to be the norm.
Avoid the time and money it takes to train yourself on a legal issue and instead hire a lawyer able to ensure that any legal process is completed in as short a time as possible, at a cost that is fair to you. Start comparing legal service providers now.