When you need help with a legal issue, it's important to find a legal adviser you can trust. Whether you're buying or selling a home or need help with another legal issue, Legal Choices has now made it easier to check your legal adviser's record.

This article covers:

  • the importance of trusting your legal adviser
  • searching regulatory records
  • what the search results mean
  • other ways to check your legal adviser's record
  • reporting a problem.

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The importance of trusting your legal adviser

Most people need legal help at some point in their lives. This is often during a tough time. You might be going through a break-up or dealing with the death of a loved one. You might be having problems at work. You might be in trouble with the police.

A good legal adviser can help at these times.

You may have to share a lot of personal information with your legal adviser. You need to feel like you can trust them. If you are paying for your legal adviser, you want to feel the money has been well spent.

So, how do you know if they are a ‘good' legal adviser? There are a few ways to find out.

Regulated or unregulated?

Many legal advisers are regulated. That means there is an official body – a regulator – keeping watch over them. There are different regulators for different kinds of legal advice.

Regulators publish regulatory and disciplinary decisions. They usually include details of any problems, like when it happened and what the outcome was.

Some legal advisers may be self-regulated.

The Legal Ombudsman

The Legal Ombudsman looks at complaints made. The complaint must be about a regulated legal services provider. It must be by their clients.

You can learn more about making a complaint here.

Searching the regulators' disciplinary and regulatory records

Anyone can go to the legal services regulators' websites and look for regulatory decisions. This might be about a legal adviser or a law firm.

To make it easier, we have put the information from most of the regulators in one place. You can search for a name on Legal Choices and get results from the following bodies:

  • CILEx Regulation
  • Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB)
  • Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC)
  • The Faculty Office
  • Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg)
  • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

Check your legal adviser's record now

Our search will soon include records from the following bodies, too:

  • Legal Obudsman (LeO)
  • Bar Standards Board (BSB)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

Our search results will tell you which regulators gave this information and when. Both disciplinary and regulatory records about legal advisors will be shown. The information is published in line with the regulators' own publication policies.

You'll see a list of records under the names of legal advisers. The closest match to your search will be at the top of the list.

Next to each name, you may see the name of the practice where they work or worked. You can find out what the regulator decided in each case and the outcome.

We've included a short version of the outcome for each record. You'll also see the name and logo of the regulator who gave the record.

You can click on the result to read more about the case and outcome.

Search results interface

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If your search finds no records

You may see the message “we can't find any disciplinary records with [name] in our system”. This means there's nothing on record for the legal adviser right now. As long as you have spelt the name right and they are definitely regulated, this is a good sign.

Remember that legal advisers who are not regulated will not appear in the results. The records may not include recent cases and complaints. So it's still worth checking other sources before you decide on a legal adviser.

Check out our suggestions on customer reviews and comparison sites.

If your search returns a result

If your search returns a search result, there may or may not be a problem.

  • first, make sure that the name matches the person you are looking at
  • check out the short version in the coloured block
  • click for more information on the case and outcome.

Explaining the outcomes

Each regulator has different ways of working. The colour-coded short version should give you a good idea if there is any cause for concern. Red results are the most serious problems. Blue results are the least serious.

This is only a guide. Click to read the details of the decision before you decide if you should work with the legal adviser

Need help understanding some of the legal wording? Our law dictionary might help.

Check your legal adviser's record now

Making a decision

Look out for any complaints upheld and any punishments that were given. If the legal adviser has done something wrong, they might get a rebuke or fine from the regulator. If the case is more serious, there may be a court case or tribunal finding.

Check that the legal adviser wasn't:

  • disbarred
  • struck off the roll
  • banned from practising.

In less serious cases, they may keep working as a legal adviser as long as they do certain things.

Before you decide, look at some customer reviews and comparison sites to find out more.

Reporting a problem

If you think a legal adviser is breaking the terms of a decision, you can report this to the regulator. For example, if someone is still practising law after they have been struck off.

For any other problem with your legal adviser, check out our page on making a complaint.

Legal professionals

If you have questions about your published regulatory record, you should get in touch with your regulator.

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