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Cloud with a silver lining or Silver lining with a cloud?

24th December 2012

You might think this an odd thing for a law firm to place on its website but it can make the difference in how your solicitor views your case, how they conduct matters and, therefore, how much you end up paying!

You bring your ‘cloud’ to your solicitor and he or she can view it in two ways

A cloud with a silver lining – a challenge

A silver lining with a cloud – a problem

Again, you might think this would be better placed on a ‘positive thought’ website but the way your solicitor reacts to your issue can mean the difference between a prolonged, costly battle or a quick, appropriate, resolution which allows you to reduce your costs and move on with your life.

A ‘silver lining with a cloud’ solicitor

Let’s take matrimonial law as an example! A very difficult and emotional time for all concerned and the last thing you want or need is your solicitor adding to your problems; however, that is what many of them do. I’ve experienced solicitors who end up arguing amongst themselves and losing sight of who the client is and what the solicitor’s role is in the process.

If your solicitors simply sees ‘problems’ then they are unlikely to be applying any sort of strategic thought process to your case and only applying procedure and law. This is not what you need; as the client, you need to be guided through the legal process but also advised on what is ‘best’ to do in ‘your’ circumstances.

A good example of this is the real case of a lawyer arguing for over two years on behalf of a client about just one aspect of the divorce settlement.  When the lawyer was away on holiday a colleague needed to look at the file and hold a meeting with the client. There was just one question he wanted to ask the client, having read the documentation, and that was “What did ‘she’ want to achieve on this particular point?” Within half an hour, after just one phone call, the matter was resolved. What the previous lawyer failed to do was ‘act in the best interests of the client’.  In fact, the client confirmed that she had ‘never’ been asked what she wanted to get out of this situation!

Too often, solicitors believe they know what the client wants and ‘forget’ to actually find out.

A ‘cloud with a silver lining’ solicitor

Now, let’s turn this around and look at those who have the ‘Cloud with a silver lining’ mentality.

Law is a service industry, you are the clients and your lawyer is the servant (I can feel ethereal hands around my throat from many lawyers now I’ve written that).

The way your solicitor approaches your issue can make a big difference to how long it takes, how stressful it is and, most importantly, how much you end up paying.

Let’s take another real example.

A client recently came to Berlad Graham with an issue of dividing up the equity on her house with a boyfriend who had lived there for less than 12 months. Now we could have taken the ‘he’s not entitled to anything and isn’t this outrageous’ approach but that would have been inappropriate. The boyfriend was entitled to some equity and it could have been argued that he was entitled to half, which would have been in many thousands of pounds.

After some excellent negotiations by us, the other side were willing to settle for £5,000 and our client wanted to pay no more than £3,000; both were adamant that they were not budging on the figures and the court was looming!  Now, the ‘strategic’ advice given was that the client could end up paying a lot more than the difference in court, barrister and solicitor costs fighting or we could go a bit higher on the offer and bring the matter to a conclusion.

We ended up on £4,250 saving the client considerably more money than if we’d simply gone ahead and ended up in court.

What a ‘cloud with a silver lining’ solicitor always has in mind is “What is in the best interests of my client?” and then acts on that.