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By: Jamie Simpson
Hiring a family law solicitor is just as important as choosing a doctor, and the same amount of care and research should be put into finding the right one. Legal matters concerning divorce and child custody can be as life-altering and devastating as a serious illness. Like a doctor who makes a mistake that affects the rest of a patient's life, a solicitor who performs poorly can damage a client's case and cause them to lose legal rights that cannot be regained after the paperwork is signed.

The first thing to look for when choosing a solicitor may seem superficial, but a messy, disorganised office can be a sign that the solicitor and his staff are disorganised and overworked and therefore might not be keeping up with the details of each case the way that they should be. Legal files and post should be kept organised so that paperwork can be found immediately when needed. Having to search for a file during a meeting with a client shows that the solicitor is unprepared or his staff is not performing their jobs properly.

A secretary or assistant who seems rude or brusque is another bad sign, because they are the link between the solicitor and their clients. Clients in family law cases are often upset and worried and deserve to be treated politely, even if the solicitor is unavailable at the moment. Rudeness in the solicitor's staff may be an indication that they are overwhelmed and this can negatively affect clients and their cases.

A solicitor who never returns calls is not properly serving his or her clients. Clients need to have their questions answered in a timely matter. It is understandable that a solicitor spends much of the day in court, but a good one will set aside some time at the end of the day to return calls or emails.

Not sending paperwork to other solicitors or to the Court promptly can cause clients to miss critical deadlines and have their cases damaged or lost. Calling the solicitor to inquire as to whether paperwork has been sent or received and being told that no one knows is an indication that there is disorganisation in the office and it is likely that cases are not being treated with the proper seriousness and thoughtfulness.

A good solicitor does not take on so many cases that he or she has to keep clients waiting for hours for scheduled appointments. A solicitor's staff should be polite and well-organised so that they can keep both the solicitor and the clients informed and up-to-date. The staff should have a record of all paperwork sent and received and know the clients and all important dates relevant to their cases. Finally, the solicitor and his staff should be willing to do necessary research for their clients if they take on a case where it is required.

If one feels that one's solicitor is not performing up to par, it is perfectly reasonable to fire him or her and seek other counsel. It is, in fact, the most responsible thing to do for one's own best interest.


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