Ian Forsyth, one of our Public Communications Executives, blogs about the challenges of his role and how we can help you get the right clients through the door.
I am not a solicitor.
Nor am I an advocate.
Nor am I a counsellor.
I work in public communications and you’d be forgiven for thinking that my colleagues and I were one or all of the above. Between myself and one other full time public comms colleague, we answer over 500 calls a month, not to mention the emails and occasional visitors to our Atria One office.
The huge variety of queries we deal with on a day to day basis range from “how much compensation am I entitled to for my cheese being out of date” to “can you explain to me precisely, the implications of rule B4: client communication”?
The art of public communications involves quickly managing the caller’s expectations (“I’m not a solicitor, so I’m not in a position to give legal advice”) while striving to deliver world-class service. Often, when a member of the public contacts us, they are in a noticeably emotional state, so it is our job to pluck the key facts of the call and sign-post the caller accordingly.
In order to do this we need the correct details on file for our members, and we rely on Scottish solicitors to keep us up-to-date with the areas of law they currently deal with. This allows us to send the correct prospective clients to the right firms putting the firm’s time and resources to best use, and making sure the enquirer’s legal needs are met.
Many themes and problems recur in the issues we hear about every day, one of them being the difficulty many potential legal services users experience, when trying to engage a solicitor on a legal aid basis – but that’s a subject for another blog.
Another key challenge in trying to assist members of the public is the fact that while a solicitor is a lawyer... a lawyer is not necessarily a solicitor! In my opinion, this misconception is perpetuated by TV adverts which promise to have someone pursue and complete your accident claim on a no-win-no-fee basis, which the people I speak to often assume are promoting solicitors’ firms.
I have noticed an increase in the number of callers complaining about their “legal firm” and the work they have done in unreserved areas of law. It often transpires that the firm in question is not a firm of solicitors, and it can be frustrating to explain that we do not regulate these businesses, and they cannot be held accountable to the Law Society’s rules and guidance. So when things do go wrong, their clients are not entitled to the same protections which engagement with a registered Scottish solicitor affords.
If you are looking for a Scottish solicitor, you can find a full list on our website, where you can search by area of law and location, at FindaSolicitor.scot.
And if you’re one of our members, why not take a few minutes to sign in and check your areas of law are correct so that we’re sending the appropriate members of the public your way!