After a horrible experience with one solicitor, I’ve finally found a decent one. Do you have any tips for choosing solicitors? You could help someone avoid a nightmare like mine…
There are few things I’m actually scared of. Spiders, driving and being late to meetings are the top three things that bring me out in a cold sweat. But close behind them used to be the dreaded phrase, ‘instruct a solicitor’.
When I bought my flat just before Christmas, I thought it would all go quite smoothly. I was a first time buyer with no chain, and had been assured that everything should be straightforward. How wrong they were.
My nightmare before Christmas
After months of going back-and-forth with my solicitor, spending hours on the phone chasing her for documents she’d promised to send, I was near the end of my tether. For example, she didn’t tell me I needed to have insurance from the date of exchange of contracts (instead of completion), which led me to panic buy pricey home insurance. This was just one of my many frustrations.
Everything came to a head on the day of completion when, sat in a van with all my wordly goods, I had to phone my solicitor to ask why my money had not been transferred to the seller’s bank account.
When I asked her why she hadn’t phoned the bank to make sure they transferred the money she said, “I’m not sure. But don’t worry, we can always change the completion date to tomorrow.”
Luckily for me, the bank was more helpful than my solicitor – they transferred the money, offered a huge dollop of sympathy and suggested I complain to the firm about the solicitor’s behaviour.
A different story
But recently I had need of a solicitor again, as I wanted to extend the lease on my flat. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t want the same solicitor as last time, so I selected my current one from a Google search. My criteria were that they must be helpful, friendly, and within a reasonable distance in case I needed to visit in person.
And the story is so different that it’s helped me get over my fear. My current solicitor is courteous, friendly, and proactively contacts me to let me know how things are progressing. She also takes time to explain the complexities of things that I might otherwise be confused by.
But how do you go about finding one of these gems? Which? Local is obviously a good place to start if you’re a Which? member, but I know quite a few people who have a ‘family firm’ that they go to by default for any issues. It’s an easy choice for people who, like me originally, have no idea how to choose a solicitor and are worried about picking the wrong one.
With my newly-acquired experience, my main tip would be to have a good chat with them on the phone before you decide to instruct. Are they interested in helping you understand, or are they just interested in answering your questions as quickly as possible?