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Help my solicitor is not doing anything!!

(23 Posts)
Tahrir Sat 12-May-12 15:13:34

Hi there,

I need some advice. I have a solicitor who is dealing with my family matter and she is not doing her job. I am on legal aid and I already changed once solicitor because I did not have any legal advice and I ve never met the solicitor herself but a paralegal.

This second solicitor has been recommended to me by a mumsneter who was very satisfied with her work but this mumsneter was not on legal aid and was paying herself for everything.

I had to go to the court yesterday and issue an application myself with my baby in my arm, I had to pay £200 fees that I will ask her to refund. This application should have been issued 2 months 1/2 ago by the previous one who lied and told me that she did but she did not. The current solicitor was telling me that she was investigating and told me not to call the court myself as they were doing it. I got so stress and worried that I finaly contacted the court myself and discovered that there was not trace of the application.

Everytime she says she will call me she does not everytime I want to talk to her she is busy with a client or at a meeting. I spoke to her barely 20 mins altogether since our initial appointment where she pretended that she would do the job?

What do I do? this application is very important to me as I want to go back to my country with my child, I do not know if I will be able to represent myself as I am not native english speaker, I also do not know if the judge will appreciate that I change again solicitor...

Collaborate Sat 12-May-12 15:43:22

Firstly, I want to express my sympathy for your plight.

Secondly, can you clarify what form of Legal aid you have? Do you have a Legal Aid Certificate, or did you just sign up for Legal Help (the self-certification funding when you first see the solicitor)?

If the former, there is no reason why your application shouldn't have been issued, and it is likely to be the fault of the court (in having lost it) or the fault of your solicitor (in not having issued it properly).

If the latter, Legal Help isn't for issuing court applications, and it's likely that you've applied to be exempt from fees. This application for fee exemption is a pig of a job, and when I did legal aid work (fairly recently) I was more often than not getting them returned by the court with this or that query.

The solicitor is more likely than not getting just £96 for legal help work, and perhaps you may have expected her to take steps that, if done to the highest standard, would take 4-5 hours to get to the stage of issuing a court application. That's £20- £25 an hour. Whist some solicitors might do that, you can't do much of it before the figures start not to stack up and you go out of business.

Tahrir Sat 12-May-12 19:10:18

Thanks Collaborate I have a legal aid certificate

Tahrir Sat 12-May-12 22:07:39

I also wanted to add it is not all about money. why solicitors take legal aid if it is not enough?

Collaborate Sun 13-May-12 08:22:07

The fact is that when rates are so low, and it's not just our vocation but we are actually trying to make a living out of it, it has more and more been just about the money. It makes me laugh when public sector workers go on strike over pensions, but when we merely complain about no rises in rates over the last 15 years we're told we're greedy lawyers.

MOSagain Sun 13-May-12 09:01:55

To add to what collaborate has said, several lawyers in my old firm have been forced to take 20% pay cuts in recent years. We are not all rich greedy lawyers!

Tahrir Sun 13-May-12 15:24:11

I agree with what you are saying collaborate. In my case in particular I think my lawyer is a rich greedy lawyer who put the money of legal aid in her pocket when it is me who is doing all the work. And my question was is it better to represent myself as I am being abused because my lawyer is just putting me deeper in the or do I have to give her more money discreetly on the top of legal aid to make her work a bit?

MOSagain Sun 13-May-12 16:36:36

with all due respect, if that is how you feel about your solicitor, it is clear you have no confidence in her and should find another one. However, as you have already changed solicitors once it could lead people to believe that you are changing solicitors as you don't like the advice that has been given and are looking for one who will tell you what you want to hear. Sadly, that happens a lot.

Tahrir Sun 13-May-12 17:45:03

If at least she was giving me advice...as you said I cannot change again I will have to deal with this one and stay on the top of everything. By the way I ll certainly have a barrister at court I just have to prepare my defence myself and tell him/her what to do.

MOSagain Sun 13-May-12 18:12:07

No one has said you can't change again. Its just if you have no confidence in her you would possibly be best going elsewhere. With respect, I think you'll find that barristers don't normally need telling what to do, they do know their job.

Tahrir Sun 13-May-12 18:38:26

With all due respect, I am sure barrister do know their job, but they certainly need directions on any specific case.
I am certainly best going elsewhere but as you said I do not want to discredit myself in the judge eyes. Plus I am not sure legal aid will accept another transfer of certificate then things will seriously get bitter.

babybarrister Sun 13-May-12 20:34:01

You cannot " top up " the legal aid rates to make your legal aidnsolicitor work harder ... That is illegal!!

sicutlilium Sun 13-May-12 22:44:16

babybarrister Because if you could afford to top them up you wouldn't qualify for legal aid...
If I were seeking the views of the lovely lawyers who respond on MN Legal out of the goodness of their hearts, I'd be more polite in my observations about lawyers.

olgaga Mon 14-May-12 17:11:00

I had to go to the court yesterday and issue an application myself with my baby in my arm, I had to pay £200 fees that I will ask her to refund. This application should have been issued 2 months 1/2 ago by the previous one who lied and told me that she did but she did not. The current solicitor was telling me that she was investigating and told me not to call the court myself as they were doing it. I got so stress and worried that I finaly contacted the court myself and discovered that there was not trace of the application.

Considering the situation the OP describes I think she has been very polite! It is appalling that she has been lied to and subjected to unnecessary delay at such a stressful time.

OP, I think you should write to the solicitor setting out your concerns. That way, if you have to make a formal complaint at least you have something in writing.

You might find it helpful to read the website of the Legal Ombudsman:
www.legalombudsman.org.uk/stories/case_study06.html

Some of their information is published in a range of different languages:
www.legalombudsman.org.uk/accessibility/languages.html

You might also try the Women's Aid free advice line:
www.womensaid.org.uk/

or Rights of Women:
www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/adviceline.php

MOSagain Mon 14-May-12 18:03:12

Yes, but we don't know the full story. I'm not suggesting that the OP is not telling us all the facts, however how often have we been in situations where we want to issue an application but are waiting for the public funding certificate to come through. In my opinion, quite often clients don't seem to understand why we can't go ahead and do something that needs doing and why we have to wait.

olgaga Mon 14-May-12 18:23:40

Point taken about only half the story MOS, but it should have been made clear to her that they couldn't and wouldn't issue the application until the certificate was received, if that was the case. Her understanding was that it would be done, it hasn't been, and she's just been left hanging.

Whether it's a failure of understanding or a failure of communication is anyone's guess - but it doesn't sound good!

MOSagain Tue 15-May-12 13:05:37

olgaga, I'm very impressed/envious if you have only ever had clients that have understood everything that has been explained to them. wink If I had a pound for every time I'd had to explain to a client that their legal aid certificate was not yet through and we couldn't issue until then I'd be a millionaire!

olgaga Tue 15-May-12 13:13:35

As I said MOS, point taken about half the story but it doesn't sound as though this was explained to OP very well, if at all.

I'm sure you'd have done a much better job!

Tahrir Sun 20-May-12 08:38:21

Hi there,

My certificate for public funding was went throught and they were perfectly able to issue at this time. And yes you have to explain everything to your clients because they are not supposed to know how it works.
By the way, I changed solicitor and she's done in few days what the previous one have not done in 2 months and 1/2.

Collaborate Sun 20-May-12 09:02:33

I'd hazard a guess then that she's (your previous solicitor) snowed under and couldn't cope without serious delays occurring on some of her files. That's a product of the low rates, when you have to take on ever more cases to avoid going out of business.

Glad you're OK now.

Tahrir Tue 30-Oct-12 10:59:41

Hi there,

Just a little update:

I have raised a complaint against this solicitor and they finaly had to pay £100 for poor service.

There was a lot of phone conversation this is why I got only that amount.

Everybody, try to always have written evidence.

Thanks.

mumblechum1 Tue 30-Oct-12 18:05:28

You think Legal Aid is crap now, it's going to be phased out in April 2013 for most cases

When I started I used to do Legal Aid in exactly the same way as privately paying but gradually you have to palm it off onto newly qualified solicitors/trainees because you actually make a loss on it. It's just not worth the bother to most firms nowadays and I haven't done any since 2003.

milti Sat 10-Nov-12 12:24:55

your client care letter should have set out the firm's complaints procedure and given you contact details for the Partner who handles complaints. That should be your first point of call.

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