Hi Mark – welcome to the Society blog. Tell us a bit about your role at the Society.
My main role is to answer calls, emails and letters from members of the public. The Public Communications team are the first point of contact for all enquiries from members of the public, and sometimes solicitors too!
I also work closely with the Communications, Marketing & Public Affairs team to help improve our public-facing content on the website. We’re working hard to help people find answers as quickly as possible.
So what are the most common questions that you get from the public?
A lot of people call looking for a solicitor. We find that other organisations such as Citizen's Advice and the Legal Aid Board will point people in our direction so we can help them find a suitable solicitor for their situation.
We also receive queries about the complaints process. We can help explain the complaints process and provide useful details such as who the client relations partner is for a specific firm – however anything else relating to a complaint about a solicitor should be directed to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission as it is the gateway body for all legal complaints in Scotland.
Alongside the "Big Two" there are a plethora of other queries – all of which you can find answers for on our newly improved FAQs page on the Society's website.
What else can you help people with?
There are a lot of other services we provide, but the one I find most interesting (as a bit of a history geek) is looking through the archives to help people trace wills, title deeds and even old relatives from our records.
We can trace any firm and solicitor dating back to the 19th century and it is really rewarding when you can help someone trace a long lost family member!
How many calls do you get?
In June we received around 220 calls per week as well as 60-70 emails and 20-30 letters throughout the month. It can get really busy at times with around 50 calls per day!
We won’t keep you from the phone lines for long then! Do you find there are questions you can’t help people with?
Unfortunately we can’t give legal advice, which can be tricky to explain to callers who have been told otherwise – if we could we’d be putting some of our members out of business! And we’re not able to advise if someone is eligible for legal aid: for that they must contact the Scottish Legal Aid Board.
We also can’t recommend individual solicitors or firms and this is why we often advise contacting two or three firms near the individual’s location – you’ll find that on the Find a Solicitor tool on the website you can sort results by alphabetical order, distance from a specified address and the number of partners but otherwise the order is randomly generated. According to last year’s public survey results, 82% of people say they would recommend their solicitor to other members of their family or friends so it’s worth asking around.
So when’s the right time to tell someone to contact the Law Society?
If someone is struggling to find legal representation then we can help point them in the direction of a suitable solicitor or organisation to assist with their case. However, in the first instance I would always direct them to the Find a Solicitor tool on our website, which is a great resource for the public and members alike.
Thanks, Mark – we’ll let you get back to answering those phones.For more information about the work of the Public Communications team and answers to frequently asked questions, visit www.lawscot.org.uk/for-the-public/what-the-society-can-do-for-you/
Sarah Sutton is a communications executive at the Law Society of Scotland, working in the Communications, Marketing & Public Affairs team