Legal choices: Represent yourself or hire an expert?
First published 09 April 2013 • Updated 25 July 2017
On April 1, the government’s proposal to cut a portion of legal aid funding came into force. In the latest push to minimise spending, ministers want to reduce the £2.2 billion legal aid bill by £350 million. While this money-saving exercise might bring down the overall cost of legal aid to the taxpayer, its potential knock-on effect is significant. If you are looking for legal support in matters such as divorce, clinical negligence, child custody or immigration, you may find you are no longer entitled to aid.
“If you have more limited finances, spending £50-£100 for a short session with a solicitor can help answer your most basic concerns.”
You can’t always predict what will happen in life, so it is good to know you have options when it comes to legal proceedings. Depending on your personal preferences and financial circumstances, you have a few choices to consider;
1. Representing yourself
The instant response you may have to this latest legal aid news is, ‘well I will represent myself then’. And though this is an option, (the Bar Council of England and Wales has published a guide on how to do so), there are many reasons why enlisting the support of a lawyer without legal aid would still be a good idea. While you might think you can emulate the good-looking and sophisticated solicitors you see on TV, in reality, representing yourself will probably mean you lack access to a solicitors specialist knowledge of the legal system and the area of law.
2. Appoint a solicitor
Solicitor fees needn’t be as expensive as you might think, and the long-term benefits of having professional advice will likely benefit you in the future. Although the cost of hiring a solicitor can vary greatly depending on the case and the extent to which the solicitor needs to be involved, some firms have begun to introduce flat rates. Fixed pricing for divorce cases, for example, can start at around £500 + VAT and court fees and they have other payment alternatives such as assigning a proportion of divorce settlement.
3. Using solicitors as a resource
If you have more limited finances, spending £50-£100 for a short session with a solicitor can help answer your most basic concerns. In a brief meeting with a solicitor, they should be able to advise whether or not you have a valid case to take to court, and potentially highlight the main points which can be used in a hearing. Solicitors can also be used as a resource, as and when they are needed, and consulted for support rather than employed for the duration of the case.
Ultimately, hiring a solicitor will provide you with the assurance that a specialist who is knowledgeable and experienced will be able to deal with all aspects of your dispute. Click here to use unbiased.co.uk to search for a solicitor in your area.