When my wife and I decided to have a family, not wanting to take any chances, we wanted the best medical care that money could afford. We topped up our health insurance and employed a specialist obstetrician. However, even with our health insurance, what with co-payments and so forth, it was an expensive option that cost us a lot more than shared care through our GP and local hospital would have. In most cases seeing a specialist, while providing a ‘peace of mind’ experience, is a costly exercise. At least with regards to Medicine.
Does the same apply to Law and choosing a legal practitioner?
There does exist a perception that a specialist lawyer, as opposed to a generalist solicitor is an expensive option. Surely, the more experience one has the more one will charge?
Possibly, but not necessarily.
Firstly, when speaking of a specialist lawyer, I am referring to a solicitor who (having many years behind his or her belt in the profession) decides to practice in one or two specific fields of law (Estate, Criminal, Family). The lawyer may even specialise further within that field. For example the Estate Specialist who exclusively deals with contested estates. This is in stark contrast to the ‘one stop shop’ approach to Law which has a lawyer tackling whatever matter walks through the door.
The latter approach is a dangerous one. It is an approach that has the potential to cost YOU the consumer time and money (while also reducing the likelihood and degree of success). You see, the field of Law is huge. In reality, while it is nice to think that Lawyers are the fountain of all legal knowledge, this is an untruth.
Lawyers don’t, and quite simply, can’t, know everything about the Law.
Too often in our practice we deal with the aftermath of this. That is, clients come to us when a solicitor (who actually knew diddly about Estate Law) has failed. In these situations the story is the same, a messy file, exorbitant waiting times (for which there is still no resolution) and, too often a massive legal bill for which nothing much has been achieved.
You see, in the field of Law we are in the business of charging you for our time. If we don’t know what we are doing on a matter then YOU will need to pay US to learn what needs to be done. This learning takes time . . . time which the client pays for.
As a legal specialist, I have already devoted considerable time to my chosen area of Law. It is rare for me to discover something new (and if I do I have plenty of resources at my fingertips to resolve any issues that may arise). In essence this makes me more efficient.
Efficiency means I get the job done faster, with a higher likelihood of success at a lower cost to the client.
How then, do you find the right legal specialist to meet your needs? Like most things in life considerable research is needed. Firstly, start with a google search. Legal specialists will clearly articulate their areas of specialisation on their website and promotional material. Be wary of any lawyer who has a long list. Next, see if they are members on any committees that relate directly to their areas of specialisation. Finally, gauge their level of leadership in their chosen field. Are they identified as specialists through professional organisations (such as Doyle’s list)? Do they present seminars on their chosen specialisation? Do they write and publish articles about their field of interest?
Finding the right person to meet your legal needs is possibly the most important step in achieving success in any legal journey. When the wrong person takes control of your file you risk extended waiting periods and higher fees. A legal specialist, on the other hand, provides a nuanced understanding of the Law in their interest area. This is knowledge, that when applied to your matter, offers you more predictable outcomes both in time and cost.