One of the most important things to look for is whether the firm is a specialist or whether it is a mixed practice.


Specialist practices focus solely on one area of law, whereas, mixed practices only deal with various areas of law. For instance, a specialist practice may deal solely with personal injury claims, whereas a mixed practice may deal in criminal law, family law, personal injury, employment law and corporate law, all under the same roof. Many high street firms are mixed practices, and this can often mean that their expertise is weak in various areas of law. You can’t be specialists in everything!


Not only is it important to look at the firm as a whole, but you should also look into the individual team members. Do various members of the team work in different departments? Does the supervising partner also head up other departments or work in other areas of law? These are important questions to consider when deciding whether to go with a mixed practice or specialist practice. Mixed practices can have a split focus, so you will wholly find that your claim is in safer hands with a specialist practice who only focuses on one particular area of the law.


The team at Smith Jones Solicitors only deal with personal injury claims, and so you can rest assured that you are in safe hands should you choose to pursue your claim with ourselves.


It’s also useful when looking for a legal representative to see what accreditations and affiliations they have.


Accreditations for law firms vary and can be either general or sector specific. For instance, the Law Society’s Lexcel accreditation is a quality mark for practice management and client care and is designed for any legal practice regardless of the size or type of work undertaken.[1] Furthermore, the Law Society also have practice and individual accreditations, these go to practices or individuals that display competence and expertise in a specific area of law.


Charities and organisations may also offer accreditations to practices who support the work that they do. Accreditations can be a big indicator of quality and commitment of a law firm to the people it represents, and so ought to be considered when you’re shopping around.


Smith Jones hold accreditations with the Law Society, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society and Headway – The Brain Injury Association. Managing Partner, Peter Jones is also a Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, recognised for his high level of technical expertise in personal injury law. These accreditations are a testament to the quality of service we offer and an example of our commitment to the clients we represent. All of our accreditations can be viewed here: https://smithjonessolicitors.co.uk/about-us/accreditations/


When choosing representation, you’ll want someone who has the knowledge and experience to handle your claim. Again, your claim is safer with a specialist practice than a mixed practice, as they only deal with one area of law and so will have more specialist experience in that particular area.


It is also important to look at the experience of the supervising partners and the members of the team. When did the partners qualify? How long have they been dealing with this particular area of law? These all indicate how much experience a law firm has. You’ll more than likely feel in safer hands pursuing your claim through a solicitor who has decades of experience than someone who is newly qualified.


As a potential client of our law firm, you can be confident that with age comes experience. Smith Jones has over 30 years’ experience in the personal injury sector; all the partners have extensive experience in all aspects of personal injury litigation and a national reputation in the field.


Reviews are a good way for people to give feedback on the experience they have had and so they can be very persuasive when you’re looking for a legal representative.


When looking at a firm’s reviews, the negative reviews can be just as valuable as the positive reviews, so don’t overlook them. It may appear suspicious if a firm has nothing but positive reviews, so negative reviews can help confirm that the review site is based on genuine clients.


Reviews found on independent review sites, such as Trustpilot, are generally more reliable than those found on a company’s website. There is less chance that these reviews will have been manufactured and so they may be the deciding factor when you’re looking for a firm to pursue your personal injury claim.


Smith Jones invites all clients to provide us with feedback at the end of their claim via our Trustpilot page. This allows us to monitor the service we provide and identify areas where we can improve it.


Legal representation can be costly. You should avoid if you can arrangements based purely on you paying an hourly rate as these are applicable whether you win, lose or draw. Hourly rates range from £201 to £409, depending on the area of the country they are based in.[2] Depending on the matter you are looking to pursue, these costs can quickly mount up, so it is in your best interests to look into the funding arrangements available to you.


For personal injury claims, a much more viable funding arrangement is the No Win No Fee agreement combined with a cap on the maximum percentage the lawyers can take out of your damages. Mixed practices may not have the resources to offer this arrangement. These will allow you to make a claim without having to pay any upfront costs and with no real financial risk to yourself.


It’s a big commitment choosing a legal representative, so it’s important that you are happy with them, including the potential funding arrangements. We are able to operate on a no win no fee basis, and we will spell out up front the maximum charge we will take out of the monies we recover for you. We are transparent and upfront about our charges, with no hidden surprises or costs.


If you’re still unsure after considering all of the above, then don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk with them. Remember, you don’t have to sign up with them just because you have spoken with them.


To speak to a member of the Smith Jones team, you can call our Freephone number on 0800 195 9590. Alternatively, you can talk to us via our online chat function or you can request a call back from one of our team by filling in the form here: https://smithjonessolicitors.co.uk/make-a-claim/.


[1] The Law Society, Lexcel – Excellence in Legal Practice Management and Client Care <http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/accreditation/lexcel/>

[2] HM Courts & Tribunal Service, ‘Solicitors’ guideline hourly rates’ (Published 19th April 2010) <https://www.gov.uk/guidance/solicitors-guideline-hourly-rates#national-1