How should you choose the driving offence solicitor to represent you?
You have just found out that you are being prosecuted for a motoring offence. Worse still, there is a risk that you will be disqualified from driving. Loss of driving licence would be a catastrophe for you. You immediately rush to type into Google, ‘driving offence solicitor – Kent’ (or a similar search term). Pages of lists comes up on your screen. The natural tendency is to click on one near the top of p1. But, pause – ask yourself this:
Is being at or near the top of the list the same as being the best on the list? On reflection the answer is, ‘not necessarily’. There are big differences between solicitors who do this type of work. So, what should you look for?
Driving offence solicitors - Expertise
The most important factor in your mind may be that you want to be advised and represented by lawyers who specialise exclusively in this field. The website page that comes up states they are ‘specialists’. But, check: have they just published a single page on their website on driving offences so that when a particular search term is used their page appears? Does the rest of their website show they do a range of other types of work? If so they don’t specialise exclusively in this field at all. They are no more driving offence specialists than your local GP is a flu specialist! There is nothing wrong with using generalists, if that is what you want, but, do make sure you are not being misled.
You have decided you want a local lawyer who is likely to know the local court staff such as the court clerks and the CPS prosecutors. You assume that the list that has appeared is of local firms. This is not necessarily the case. Sometimes national firms of ‘motoring solicitors’ publish a page on their website using geographical terms to give the impression theirs is a ‘local’ firm. They could be based at a switchboard up north or anywhere in the country. If you want a local lawyer check other pages on their website to see where they are based.
Success Rates Tables or Reviews
It is not unusual for some solicitors to publish ‘success rates’. Before placing reliance on them you might ask who has judged the criteria for ‘success’, who has judged whether the cases come within that description, and, who has checked whether the tables are up to date and accurate? Usually it is the solicitors themselves who are responsible. You may think that to have any value at all solicitors would all have to use the same criteria and compare themselves with each other. But, they don’t.
With reviews check to see if they have selectively published them or whether they are using independent and trusted platforms such as Google or Trustpilot. In the latter any client can post a review so you may feel it is much safer to place reliance in such cases rather than with selectively chosen reviews.
Solicitor or Barrister
You assumed you needed a solicitor as this is the type of lawyer you are familiar with. But, did you know that after recent changes in the law you can now access a barrister directly yourself ie a specialist, senior lawyer, who specialises in driving offences, without going through a solicitor first. Barristers are the ones that solicitors usually turn to when they themselves want specialist legal advice!
It should be noted that there are cases in which substantial ‘litigation’ services may be required eg correspondence on behalf of clients, dealing with the court and cps through correspondence and so on. Such cases may not be best suited to a sole trader barrister (who, after all, may be in court daily and so unable to deal with such tasks). However, if what you require is expert advice and representation, and you don’t want to pay for basic correspondence (as you can do it yourself), why not turn to a specialist barrister?
When choosing a lawyer you need to consider factors such as those above carefully to ensure that the lawyer you instruct genuinely possesses the experience and specialisation they claim to have. If you are content with and need a team to work with then a solicitor may be what you need. If, however, you would like continuity of advice and representation from start to finish you may wish to consider a barrister.
If so, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Kent Traffic Law.