How to choose a solicitor
Most of us have little difficulty in finding a solicitor, there are something like 50 plus firms in our area after all, but most of us want to find a solicitor we can feel confidence in. I do not think I am breaching omerta if I say not all solicitors are the same.
Before setting out, try to think what it is from your solicitor you want. Many first time buyers want things kept cheap and cheerful, are not looking for anything more than one transaction handled, and want a minimum of time and fuss involved. Others are looking for a solicitor who will be a bit like their GP, someone who will get to know them and their family as years go by and will help, not only with a house purchase but will deal with wills, financial planning, inheritance tax planning and any of the varied ways family can cause problems.
If you feel you are in the former category then shop around for the best quote and go with that. Be aware that not all quotes are straightforward. Are there any items that are additional to the fee quoted but are, in effect, hidden fees. Ask for a simple quote for the fee you will be charged, the vat you will be charged and nothing more. Be aware that in addition to the fee and vat, your “bill” will include charges that you have to pay, such as the Land Register charges for registering transfer documents. Even if you are just looking for cheap and cheerful, see if any friends or family or work colleagues can recommend a solicitor they used.
Most people try to find a solicitor who will be, hopefully, their long term solicitor and, in that case, it is important to find a good one. It should not be too difficult. Family, friends, work colleagues should have some experience and some, at least will be able to tell you if they think they have found a good one. I’ll let you into a secret, most solicitors are competent, honest and trustworthy, so you are going to be looking for more than that, someone you can relate to and, more importantly, someone who relates to you.
The legal profession, contrary to popular myth, scores very highly in Scotland for fair dealing, client satisfaction and reliability, in surveys. You can approach with confidence.
Any solicitor who is interested in building relationships will be prepared to give you time for an initial consultation, to give you an opportunity to assess how you will get on. You can learn a lot from such a meeting. At that meeting you can raise the subject of how you might be charged for work, but do not make it the opening gambit. Under law society regulations when a solicitor starts an item of work for a client they have to issue an engagement letter, part of which must state how the firm will charge the client.
Finally, do not discount a young solicitor. If he or she seems the right sort, then you may enjoy years of good advice.