Recent statistics have revealed that while half of British people will experience some kind of legal problem in the next three years, only one in 5 of them will seek professional legal advice.
half of British people will experience some kind of legal problem in the next three years
The surprising figures come from the Legal Service Board's annual report and it is anticipated that the numbers will act as evidence for legal aid campaigners about how many people are being denied access to justice.
What is also surprising is that it is not only individuals who are reluctant to speak to a legal adviser - but also small businesses. In the next 12 months around 40 percent of small businesses in the UK will encounter a legal problem and similarly only one in five of these businesses will get professional help.
Whilst very often there is no question as to whether you should hire a solicitor, such as where you are facing criminal charges or have been arrested, how do you know when you need a lawyer for everyday complications such as a work dispute or problems with a debtor? We look at the considerations to take into account when deciding whether you need a solicitor.
Hiring a Lawyer: What have you got to lose?
One of the most important things to consider when deciding whether you could hire a solicitor is what exactly is at stake. Where your liberty or livelihood is at stake the answer is obvious - you need a solicitor.
On the other hand, if you had been issued a parking fine you do not require a solicitor to pay the fine or even contest it. See our guide on parking fines here.
However, if you have been issued numerous parking tickets or committed a serious road traffic offence and could be arrested, you may wish to get professional legal advice to ensure you have the best chance of staying out of jail, or paying a reduced fine.
It is not only in criminal situations you need to consider your losses - lawyers can save you money too. Your lawyer can help you with tax and estate planning to help you pay less in inheritance tax and can also ensure your assets are divided up as you would have wanted under your will. Read our inheritance tax guide here.
Furthermore, if you have suffered an injury a specialist personal injury solicitor can ensure you receive adequate compensation for loss of earnings, pain and suffering and loss of livelihood. Depending on your injury, this can be a large sum of money that can make a great difference to your quality of life.
What should I consider before I hire a lawyer?
If you think you might need a lawyer, it might not hurt to speak to one to discover whether you have a case, or whether they can help you with your legal problem. Many law firms offer a fee initial consultation to find out your legal needs.
Before you make the decision to consult a lawyer however, you should consider alternative options. For example, if you have a consumer problem, it may be more efficient to deal with a customer service department that can handle your complaint. You could also consult our free legal guides here at Unlock the Law to find out more about your problem and determine whether you have a claim (and if you decide you do, we can put you in touch with a specialist lawyer too).
When should I contact a lawyer?
With many legal problems, it's important to act fast. Lawyers need time to prepare your case and many legal claims are time barred under the law - you should speak to a solicitor as soon as you decide you need one. This is especially true in personal injury and employment actions.
What do you want the outcome to be?
Another question that in some situations is simple - if you have been charged with a crime, you want to be cleared of the charges or if you are being sued, you want to make sure you don't have to pay up.
However, if you have been mistreated at work, you may be looking for an apology, compensation, a change in practice or to be moved elsewhere in the company. This is a good example of when you need to consider firstly whether legal action is the best way of achieving what you want and also whether you are likely to succeed. You need to consider how much what you want is worth and your chances of winning.
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To find out more about your legal problem and to better assess whether you need a lawyer, please read our free legal guides.
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