Old Bailey Solicitors

Client Priorities in Legal Representation: A Lawyer’s Perspective

That’s obvious, right?

Years ago, in 2017, I attended a Legal Ombudsman training session. I remember learning about a study that had been conducted jointly with the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and which, essentially, required clients and firms to provide a list of their top 10 priorities (or the firm’s perception of client’s priorities) and then rank them in order of most to least importance to them (or the firm’s perception of importance to clients).

Interestingly, whilst the solicitor’s firms had in the main correctly identified the client’s top 10 priorities producing pretty similar lists, the weight and importance given to the top priorities by clients was grossly misjudged by lawyers.

It may not come as much of a surprise that two thirds of lawyers perceived ‘winning’ matters to be the top priority for our clients. Whereas only one third of clients believed that a positive legal outcome was their top priority. In fact, what most clients valued most was regular communication, clear information about costs and a proper explanation of the legal process.

Although perhaps obvious when you think about it, this was a lightbulb moment for me. I found the disconnect between solicitor’s views of what clients want and client’s actual priorities fascinating. I decided that I would stop assuming what my client’s priorities would be and instead, ask them.

I tested the theory in the very next client conference I conducted. The punch line is obvious; it was proved right.

Our client (a pharmacist) was being prosecuted by the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for selling illegal medicines. As a lawyer, I had assumed that my client would want to fight the charges and clear his name. After all, he had everything, his pharmacy and his career, to lose. However, at the start of our conference I asked him, “what is the most important outcome for you?”

Contrary to my assumption, his top priority was not in clearing his name. He had no appetite to fight the case and was in fact seeking to conduct an exercise in damage limitation and ensure that he avoided a custodial sentence so that he could be there for his family to handle the inevitable fall out which would follow a conviction, including selling the pharmacy and paying the large amount of money that would be due by way of confiscation proceedings upon conviction and which may have involved losing the family home. He did not want to take the risk of fighting the case, losing it and going to prison from where he would not be able to look after his family and start to rebuild his life. The most important thing for him was staying out and keeping his family life and home intact; even if not his business and his own career.

As a firm of solicitors, I entirely appreciate that it sounds trite to suggest that we pride ourselves on delivering an outstanding level of client care. After all, what does that actually mean? Surely all professionals strive to deliver a good service to their clients? For myself and the team at Old Bailey Solicitors, our philosophy on client care means asking what is important to our clients and then delivering it. There is no one size fits all and it is impossible to assume you know what each individual will prioritise. We will communicate with you, explain your options clearly and patiently, seek to understand your priorities and then work tirelessly to achieve them whilst managing expectations.

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Bespoke advice, when you need it the most

We have offices in Brighton, London and Horley and advise clients on all aspects of criminal defence allegations, including sexual offences, violent offences and drug offences.

We are a boutique firm of criminal defence specialists. We can look after anyone, accused of any criminal offence, anywhere (in England and Wales). However, is not so much the type of offence that we specialise in, but the type of client and the level of service that they are looking for. We have a particular specialism in representing professional people who have never had any experience of the criminal justice system before. They are often scared, confused and have no idea how to navigate the system in which they have found themselves.

As a criminal defence lawyer, I am usually instructed at the point at which something has gone very wrong. My role is often an exercise in damage limitation. Whilst as a solicitor, I may perceive my client’s priority is to win the case in cloak of glory, they may actually be far more interested in nipping the matter in the bud and making it go away as painlessly and discreetly as possible.

We take time to understand what it is that our client wants. Our idea, a lawyer’s idea, of a good outcome on a case, may not mirror that of our client. We recognise that our client may have priorities that we are not aware of and that are more important to them than simply ‘winning’. As a result, we have developed a solid reputation for our high level of client care and support – often navigating clients and their families who have no experience of the system through proceedings in a sensitive and compassionate way, ensuring that we adapt our service delivery in accordance with the individual priorities of our clients.

How can we help?

Please contact our specialist team to discuss your own individual situation. We can arrange a confidential, discreet discussion and will advise you of your options – without judgment.


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