Home News GOING THE DISTANCE: DO I NEED A LOCAL SOLICITOR?  

GOING THE DISTANCE: DO I NEED A LOCAL SOLICITOR?  

by uma

 

When it comes to choosing a solicitor, whatever the circumstance, the choice can be overwhelming. Clients may opt to go for a local solicitor based on familiarity or to suit their particular case. But with more ways of communicating than ever before, could the right solicitor potentially be further afield? Emma Davies, partner and solicitor specialising in family law at leading East Midlands-based firm Nelsons, regularly advises clients outside the region. Here she weighs up the difference between staying local and broadening the scope.  

Thanks to advances in technology and communication, many law firms, including Nelsons, have been able to represent clients across the globe for some years now because it simply offers much more flexibility. This has certainly been exacerbated over the past two years due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, when there was an increase in the use of phone and online meetings. Combined, this has proven that when it comes to choosing your solicitor, their location may not be as important as you first thought.  

Client interaction 

Choosing a local solicitor will, of course, mean there are more chances to meet in person and, for certain clients or cases, this may be beneficial. With particularly emotional life events such as divorce, some may find it preferable to sit and talk over a cathartic cup of tea rather than via a video call. 

However, the pandemic has made it just as effective to discuss these life-changing and emotive events remotely as, whether in this country or abroad, there are ways to make sure appointment times work for everyone. While solicitors may not be able to just pick up the phone if a client is based in Australia, for example, it is possible to find a mutually convenient time in the day or during the evening.  

In either scenario, having video call options allow solicitors to be able to build relationships – albeit through a screen – and even for local clients, it may be more convenient. Remote meetings boast several advantages in that they are more time-effective, minimise travel time and cost and allow clients to carry on with their day with minimal interruption.  

Mediation 

Family mediation can offer separating couples the opportunity to come together with the aid of a purely impartial mediator to discuss the issues, whether these be in relation to children, property, and finances, or all of these combined and attempt to resolve them by agreement. 

The mediator ensures that the process is balanced, that each party has their say and can be heard, and helps the couple examine and consider the issues that may need to be resolved to try and reach mutually acceptable outcomes. 

 There is no particular benefit to having a local solicitor to organise this, as most solicitors have relationships with family mediators all over the country and can find a local mediator to assist.  However, as with other services, mediation can also take place remotely with the parties and the mediator via video call. Again, it comes down to the nuances of each individual case but the changing ways in which we have continued to work over the past few years means that there are more options for clients enabling us to make the process more convenient for them.  

 Court hearings 

 The pandemic forced many court hearings to be dealt with remotely. Although things are now returning to normal, there are some aspects of the way we adapted to working during the pandemic that will remain with us. For example, it is likely that there will continue to be remote court hearings, particularly those that are short or administrative. It may even be that longer, more substantive hearings will be remote in some cases.   

Having a local solicitor, therefore, is not necessary as they will still be able to represent you in court at remote hearings. 

Hearings that take place in person are likely to be more substantive and your solicitor would be willing to travel, or it may be more appropriate to arrange for a barrister to represent you in any event.  

Solicitor specialisms and support 

Most clients are simply looking for the best solicitor for the job – an expert in their field. Being able to choose from a larger pool is obviously going to give a client more options. A local solicitor may be able to offer more in-person support, but it’s also important to ensure they have the specialist experience a client requires. 

Perhaps one thing to bear in mind is cost, as this will vary depending on location. The cost of instructing a solicitor based in London may well be much more expensive than instructing a solicitor in the Midlands or other locations in the country. One benefit of instructing a solicitor who is not local may well be that you are able to engage the services of a solicitor with much more experience for a lower cost. 

As solicitors, our main priority for our clients is to empower them and guide them through the complex legal issues they face – something that we’re able to do for both local and long-distance clients.  

To find out more about Nelsons divorce and separation services among other family law matters visit: www.nelsonslaw.co.uk/  

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