How to choose the best solicitor

THERE are almost 600 solicitors in Northern Ireland. And as good as an abundance of choice is, it can be daunting to decide which one to choose when the need for a solicitor arises.

It is is not dissimilar to spending more time browsing Netflix than watching movies. It is my hope that by the end of this column you will be armed with everything you need to know to choose the right solicitor for you.

First, you need to identify around five law firms. The best way to do this is a Google search. Although it is not always the case, you tend to find the best solicitors appear on page one when you search for the legal service you need.

Be specific about what service you require in your search. Include a placename in your search to ensure the results only include solicitors that practice in your area. For example, “conveyancing solicitor Northern Ireland”.

You should skip the first results that are labelled with "Ad". It is common for law firms outside Northern Ireland to advertise here, despite not offering services here.

When you have identified law firms that you wish to consider, it’s time to act like a solicitor yourself and exercise some due diligence.

You should check to see if a law firm has testimonials on its website.

As you read through reviews, you might notice trends in how solicitors are described. You will hopefully see positive words such as professional, fast and empathy.

The more clients advocating for a solicitor, the more likely it is that you will also become a future advocate if you were to instruct them.

Unlike reviews, case studies are more about quality over quantity.

You should look for case studies that the solicitor has published online. The more comprehensive the case study, the better. It will give you an idea of how the solicitor operates and how robustly they have solved legal challenges in the past.

It is inevitable that the most prominent legal minds will attract attention from press through their quality of work and the scale of their cases. Many law firms will list their media appearances on their website, but if not it does not necessarily mean they have not been reported on.

You can use Google to identify news articles by searching for the firm’s name in “quotation marks” and by clicking the News tab directly under the search bar.

By now, you should have narrowed your options down. It is now time to contact them for a brief chat about your case. This is your opportunity to interrogate your (potential) solicitor.

You should ask questions such as: Have you dealt with a case like mine before? Do you only specialise in this area of law? Why did you become a solicitor?

Hopefully, by now, you will have sufficient information to confidently instruct a solicitor that you are comfortable with and feel that you can trust. However, if you are not quite certain yet, do not be afraid to “shop around” further. Ultimately, it’s your case and you are entitled to instruct whoever you want to.

You deserve a solicitor that meets your specific individual needs and only you can decide who that is.

:: Glenn Reid (Twitter: @glenn_reid_) is a legal marketing specialist and marketing manager of McCartan Turkington Breen Solicitors (