Finding a solicitor can feel like walking into a minefield or taking a leap of faith. There are thousands of solicitors based in the UK and some are more helpful than others. You will find solicitors in large corporate firms, at small independent sole practitioners and also through online services.
When first looking for a solicitor, we recommend that you look locally to see if any solicitors are able to assist you. Depending on the services required, solicitor’s fees can become very expensive without spending extra on travelling costs to visit them. If you need them to prepare basic documents or to simply witness you sign a document then a local service may be the best option.
Solicitors normally specialise in one or two areas of expertise. If you simply need documents to be certified by a solicitor then this often does not make much difference. For complex matters and specialist legal advice we recommend you find a solicitor in the relevant field.
Recommendations are often a good guide. If you are aware of any friends, family members or colleagues that have dealt with solicitors recently then you may wish to contact them to find out the experiences which they had. If they found a particular solicitor provided a professional service in the past then you may wish to choose the same solicitor. If dealing with a solicitors firm you may also wish to research them on the internet as there is likely to be feedback pages created by previous clients.
Whilst many people will use the yellow pages or google to find a solicitor you can also look on the Law Society’s website www.lawsociety.org.uk. This website contains details on all registered solicitors in England and Wales. If you wish to find a solicitor based in Scotland then you need to use the Scottish equivalent called www.lawscot.org.uk and for Northern Ireland use www.lawsoc-ni.org.
Do I need a notary?
When legalising documents ready for use overseas it is always important to check whether a solicitor is sufficient to sign the document or whether a Notary Public has been specifically requested. In some cases documents may need to be signed by a Notary. This may be a direct request made by the people to whom you are presenting the documents overseas.
Alternatively, on some documents, it is made clear when documents should be signed by a Notary with particular statements such as ‘Signed in the Presence of the Notary Public’. In simple terms a Notary Public is a solicitor who has further qualifications. Part of their studies include certifying documents. There are around 1000 notary publics who are based around the UK. You can find a local Notary Public if you research them on a website called ‘The Notaries Society’. Notaries in Scotland and Northern Ireland can be found on the same websites detailed above.
How are solicitors regulated?
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) work to protect people against fraud, dishonesty and misconduct within the legal sector. Their main aim is to maintain a high standard of work being carried out by solicitors and their firms and to monitor the performance of people training to go into legal roles.
For existing firms who are regulated by the SRA, a code of conduct is put in place to ensure that work carried out by solicitors is within the interest of the client. In the event of anyone breaching the regulations and code of conduct the SRA have multiple legal powers. These range from issuing an individual solicitor with a warning through to closing down a firm with immediate effect.
Many documents that are processed with the apostille need the correct solicitor certification. We can arrange for many documents to be checked and certified to save you both time and money. Our apostille service ensures that when we legalise your documents we include the solicitor certification when possible. If your document needs to be witnessed or notarised then you will need to complete this before sending the documents to us.
For advice on the document certification service do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our team today.