Using a solicitor

Last updated: 12 April 2017

Solicitors are experts on law. They can:

  • give you legal advice
  • tell you what your legal rights are and how to enforce them
  • help you resolve your problem without going to court or a tribunal
  • represent you in court or a tribunal (if needed)

Solicitors can specialise in different types of law. For example, if you're having problems with your landlord you would need a solicitor experienced in housing law. If you're splitting up from your partner, you may need a solicitor who specialises in family law.

Finding a solicitor

Find a solicitor in your area through the Law Society of Scotland. You can search for a solicitor by area of law (to find a solicitor that specialises in dealing with your type of problem), your postcode, the name of the firm and if they're registered to provide legal aid.

You can also search for legal aid solicitors on the Scottish Legal Aid Board website.

When you phone the solicitor's office to make an appointment, tell them about your situation and they'll let you know if there's a solicitor who can help you. You should then be able to make an appointment, although the solicitor might not be able to see you right away.

What to take to your solicitor appointment

You should take all relevant documents to the appointment (like a current passport or driving licence to prove who you are). Check with the solicitor before your appointment so you know exactly what to take with you.

If you're thinking of applying for legal aid you should bring 3 of your most recent bank statements and payslips.

It may also be helpful to prepare a list of questions you want to ask the solicitor.

What to expect from your solicitor

At your first interview, the solicitor should tell you:

  • how they plan to deal with your case
  • what the next step is
  • information about costs
  • how long they think your case will take
  • who to speak to if there's a problem with the service your solicitor gives you

You should make sure you understand what the solicitor has told you. Ask questions if you don't understand.

You can find out more about the rules and standards solicitors must follow on the Law Society of Scotland website.

How much solicitors cost

Some solicitors offer a first appointment for free. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau might have a list of solicitors in your area who offer this.

At your first appointment your solicitor should give you information on:

  • the likely cost of the case
  • how they'll charge for their service (for example a fixed fee, an hourly rate or a percentage fee)
  • if it's likely you'll be eligible for legal aid

Legal aid can help you with the costs of using a solicitor – if your case passes the legal tests and you can't afford to pay the legal fees. Find out more about legal aid and how to apply.

Solicitors aren't the only people who can help with a legal problem. Free support may be available from places like housing advice centres or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Find out how to get help with a legal problem.

Complain about a solicitor

You have the right to stop using a solicitor and find a new one if you're unhappy with the service they've given you or the way they have conducted themselves.

You'll need to ask them for your paperwork and pay them for any work they've already done.

Find out how to complain about a solicitor.