In the UK, there are several types of legal advisors but the most common and general-purpose professional is a solicitor. All solicitors in the UK must be members of the Law Society and are monitored by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. There are many sub-specialities of solicitors to meet clients needs from property law, family and criminal law.
Do I have to use a solicitor?
In short no, you are never legally required to use a solicitor in Portsmouth either to complete a property sale, represent you in court or negotiate a divorce settlement, but it would be unwise not to, particularly if the other parties involved in the negotiation are uncooperative and have obtained legal counsel. This would put you at a decisive disadvantage and make you less likely to get a favourable outcome.
For many roles of a solicitor, there are specialised service providers who are not part of the Law Society but can offer legal services in their narrow specialism, like will writers, mediators, paralegals and licenced conveyancers. Each of these service providers can only help with their aspect of the law, unlike the more generalised skills of a solicitor, limiting their role but often being more cost-effective at their particular task.
All UK solicitors (both the firms and the solicitors themselves) are required to be registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority. You should always look up a new solicitor before choosing to work with them; this also allows you to see if they are regulated. If they work for firms which have been previously shut down for malpractice and have been prohibited from practising law or soliciting, this will show up on their records.
A working relationship with your solicitor
Many of the times when you may need the services of a solicitor are highly stressful and also high risk. The purpose of a solicitor is usually to mitigate risks, to help you get a good resolution for whichever predicament you may be in. These points will help you to recognise the importance of a legal representative and will be a good basis for a professional relationship.
At each point, be explicit about what your desired outcome is. Your solicitor will give you their professional opinion of how likely they think that outcome will be and what will need to be done to get the result you want. Take diligent notes during meetings with your legal counsel, especially concerning timeframes and deadlines. Taking multiple copies of all communication letters, emails and phone calls are wise and if you are struggling to understand them, tell your representative. Another skill they can offer is the breaking down of complex legal terms.
The instructions that you give a solicitor also have cost implications. If you are paying for legal cost via legal aid or a professional body like a trade union, make this clear, as this will limit the tasks and scope of work the solicitor can do for you. All solicitors are duty-bound by professional standards to work in your best interest, so always make it clear what you can afford and what you want them to do.