What is a Freelance Solicitor?
As one of the first Freelance Solicitors to be practising in the UK, I am increasingly asked what the title means. In November 2019, the Solicitors Regulation Authority changed the rules to allow some experienced solicitors to practice in a more modern way, with lighter touch regulation.
This means that individual and business clients can now instruct a fully qualified solicitor directly without having to explain their problems to a receptionist first with the guarantee that all work carried out on their matter is performed by an experienced practitioner.
By capitalising on low overhead costs, Freelance Solicitors can offer high quality services at significantly reduced costs than conventional high street practices.
All freelance solicitors must be at least 3 years qualified which means that their legal journey probably started at least nine years ago, having passed through the stages of a qualifying degree, Legal Practice Course and a two year training contract.
Whilst there are certain restrictions which are in place to protect clients generally, instructing a freelance solicitor can be a great way of finding a highly experienced lawyer, often offering greater flexibility.
Are you a fully qualified solicitor?
Yes, I qualified in 1996 and have practised continually in Preston, Lancashire ever since.
Are you regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority?
Yes, just like every other solicitor.
Do you have professional indemnity insurance?
Yes. I am required to have “adequate and appropriate” insurance in place and have £1 million cover.
Why don’t you trade as a limited company like most solicitors’ firms these days?
Freelance Solicitors can only practice as sole traders and in their own name.
Can you hold client money?
No. Freelance solicitors cannot hold client money so cannot carry out conveyancing or probate work.
Are you allowed to practice “reserved activities” such as advocacy and litigation?
Yes, I am allowed to appear in Court and provide representation.
Do you do all the work yourself?
Yes. Freelance solicitors are not allowed to employ unqualified staff to carry out their legal work.
Can you instruct Barristers for larger or complex matters?
Yes. Freelance solicitors can instruct all Barristers, not just Barristers who offer direct access services.
Do you have an office where you see clients?
No. I am happy to visit clients at their home, place of work or favourite coffee shop at a time that suits them.
What if I want to instruct a solicitor but you don’t have experience to deal with my problem?
As a practitioner for over 25 years, I will almost certainly know someone who does. Some cases need the back up of a larger firm with specialist teams and I refer appropriate cases to those experts.