Making a decision to hire a solicitor can be difficult, particularly if money is an issue. The average hourly rate of a junior solicitor in the UK is £111 which can make the cost of drafting a custom contract template expensive, even if the template is relatively standard like an NDA or employment agreement. If you intend to take a claim to a small claims court, fees can range between £35 and £10,000 based on the amount you are claiming for. With retained legal support, your costs can quickly cost you as much as you are claiming. When you have a problem that needs legal help. The question is not whether you should hire a solicitor, but what type of legal help you need. Some issues can be resolved without a solicitor but are complex enough to warrant one. This short article provides some examples of when you need to hire a solicitor and when hiring one might not be compulsory.
When hiring a solicitor is compulsory
In the UK you need to hire a solicitor for reserved legal activities. Solicitors are regulated by the SRA and are authorised to provide reserved legal activities.
What are reserved legal activities?
The 6 reserved legal activities in the UK are explained below:
- The exercise of a right of audience
- The conduct of litigation
- This is the process of taking a case to court.
- Reserved instrument activities
- Probate activities
- Notarial activities
- The administration of oaths
Under section 14 of the Legal Services Act 2007, it is an offence for a person to carry on a reserved legal activity unless that person is entitled to do so.
Do you need to hire a solicitor for non reserved legal activities?
Many solicitors are authorised by the SRA even if they only provide non-reserved services because it can provide reassurances to clients they are adequately protected. Whilst you won’t need a solicitor for non-reserved services, using one can provide credibility and reassurances to your matters.
When else can you hire a solicitor?
Hiring a solicitor can be beneficial if you want guidance from an expert who has experience dealing with your problem or task. solicitors can help you navigate solutions based on your situation and the risk you are willing to take. For example, the risk of making a bad decision when establishing the foundational legal documents for your organisation such as your articles of association and shareholder agreement is much higher than when creating an employment agreement because the latter is more commonly created and model templates exist.
When you are involved in a legal matter, there might also be times when you need a solicitor to help you understand clauses or words in your contract which are confusing or unclear. However, this is only essential for complicated legal documents and agreements should be drafted in a way that they are easy to read and the risk is clear to understand.
Where to get free legal advice?
If you have decided that you need to hire a solicitor but can’t afford one, several options exist in the UK to obtain legal advice cost effectively or for free.
Citizens advice is a network of independent charities that offers confidential advice for free on matters ranging from Benefits, work, debt and money, consumer protection, family, housing, law and courts, immigration and health.
No win no fee solicitors also exist but are focused on specific areas which might not apply to your problem or circumstances.
If you have little to no savings, are on certain benefits or have a low income, you might be able to receive help with court fees by applying to the British government online.
Matters which don’t always require a solicitor
Any activity which does not fall under the 6 reserved activities is not a reserved activity and therefore does not require a solicitor. If the matter is simple and you clearly understand the problem and outcome you're looking for, achieving it simply becomes an administrative task as opposed to a legal one. In these cases, a solicitor is not compulsory and tasks can be solved cost-effectively
Many legal tasks require the completion and submission of a form. For example, challenging a payment or a charge is often done via a form and the process is relatively administrative. Whilst a solicitor might help you decide whether a more robust approach is required to challenge the claim and/or seek damages, the award won’t always justify the additional cost and effort of hiring a solicitor.
Simple legal documents
Tenancy, lodger and employment agreements are examples of contracts which are not usually negotiated and shouldn’t need continuous legal input from a qualified solicitor. Model templates for these documents are widespread and you might only seek legal input for tailoring clauses to your specific circumstances. However, contract builders are a great way to perform this tailoring in a legally compliant way without necessarily getting a lawyer involved.
Will I be disadvantaged if I don’t use a solicitor?
Thanks to recent technological improvements processes can be structured and digitalised so that the outcome of the process is lawyer-approved. For example, Legislate is a knowledge graph powered contract generator which is trusted by lawyers and simple enough for non-lawyers. Legislate collaborates with experienced legal professionals to bring small businesses, landlords and letting agents smart legal agreements that are easy to use at a fair price.
Legislate makes non-lawyers powerful enough to generate their own terms and conditions by answering simple questions without getting entangled in the traditional complexities of legal language. Legislate helps automate what would otherwise be a tedious process which in turn reduces errors, improves the user experience for everyone involved and finally creates contract management opportunities which simply would not exist without smart contracts. To create your first contract for free, simply create an account with your email!