Why is this important?
This information applies to Northern Ireland
Solicitors are not the only people who can provide legal advice. Legal help may be available from other professionals, for example, an accountant who can give advice on tax and company law. Legal help can be obtained from advice centres, such as Citizens Advice Bureaux, housing advice centres, money advice centres, law centres and from other organisations such as trade unions and motoring organisations. You can also represent yourself in court proceedings and you may have a friend or a representative who is not a solicitor to assist you in court. If you think that you need a solicitor, you should choose one who has experience in the appropriate area of law. For example, if you are seeking custody of children you should go to a family law specialist.
If you need help with legal costs, you may be able to get some through the legal aid scheme. This scheme helps people on a low income to get free legal advice on any legal problems, writing letters, negotiation, getting a barrister’s opinion and preparing a written case for tribunal. The scheme will not pay for you to be represented by a solicitor in court although there are other schemes that may help in limited circumstances.
If you think you qualify for the legal aid scheme, you will need to see a solicitor. You will be asked to fill in an application form at the start of the interview to check whether you qualify.
There are other ways of obtaining legal help at a lower cost. These include fixed fee interviews with solicitors. Trade Unions can help with employment problems and motoring organisations can help with many issues from buying a car to insurance.
For more information about help with legal costs, see Help with legal costs.
For more information about choosing a solicitor, see Using a solicitor.