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The 'free initial half hour'

(4 Posts)
Mendi Fri 24-May-13 10:05:45

I see a lot of mention of this on this board and various views on whether it is really available or not.

Yesterday I took a call from a gentleman who had used my firm before for a PI claim. He was calling about a problem he was having with a bank which had lent large sums to him despite knowing he already couldn't afford to pay off the debt he had. There were various long term health issues as well and his explanation of it all was very confused. It was a very sad story. He was a nice man. I couldn't help him as a lawyer because my firm wouldn't take on that sort of case. However, having explained that, I listened to his story and was at least able to clarify the issues and point him in the direction of some formal assistance with it all. I was on the phone for half an hour.

Had he asked up front if I would give him half an hour of my time I would have said no. But as he just launched into it, and as I am not stony-hearted, I wanted to at least point him in the right direction.

Just thought I would share this story as this happens fairly regularly and for people in a state of bewilderment about the legal effect of whatever is happening to them, I think it's a good way to at least get your thoughts in order before going to see a solicitor 'properly'.

Ready to take my flaming from the other lawyers!

HeliumHeart Fri 24-May-13 13:39:01

I've found the divorce lawyers I've spoken to have been very generous with their time, and all of those I spoke to who officially didn't offer the free half hour ended up giving me at least that on the phone apart from Mishcon de Reya but what on earth was I thinking grin

When I was being constructively dismissed from a job that I'd loved until I got the horrible new boss, I got in touch with a solicitor. They advertise free half hour. at the initial phone call I only spoke to a secretary who was obviously working from some kind of tick sheet and asked how long I'd worked for that employer. Once she'd established that I'd been there long enough to have a claim should there be constructive dismissal, I was booked in for free half hour consultation and told to bring my contract of employment.

At the free half hour (15 mins actually was all it took) the solicitor read my contract of employment, asked me what had been going on to make me think I was being constructively dismissed and did I have any evidence of this (I had, in writing, emails and a copy of the new organisational chart showing that he demoted me with no discussion or agreement on my part).

With all this the solicitor said yes I had a case and that he would take me on as a client.

I was fully aware that the free half hour was not to give me half an hours worth of free advice, but for the solicitor to work out whether there was any grounds for my claim and therefore would he be able to make any money. Once he had established I had good grounds and that the company I worked for would more than likely be liable to pay his fees, he was happy to take me on.

I think some people think they are going to get actual advice at the free half hour but that's not the case. You get told what the possible routes are and that the solicitor will work for you; or you get told gently that there isn't really a case and goodbye.

HeliumHeart Fri 24-May-13 15:11:32

Not in my experience Flibberty. It wasn't so much a case of "here's loads of free advice", but more being listened to and working out whether my thoughts on a reasonable outcome mirrored what they, as experts, thought on my situation; given what little facts they had to go on at that stage.

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