Not everyone that describes themselves as a lawyer is qualified or regulated. For example, someone who works as a paralegal or a McKenzie Friend may not have any legal qualifications.

However if you use a lawyer regulated by an approved regulator of legal services, for example a solicitor or a barrister, then they will be qualified to a set standard, and extra protections will be available to you if something goes wrong.

Below we’ve set out some problems you may face with a law firm and the protections available to you. Some protections are available to everyone, regardless of the type of lawyer you choose.. - but there are additional options on hand for those using a regulated lawyer.

I have a problem, what are my options?

A firm has stolen my money

When using any type of lawyer:

  • Report to the Police and they may catch the person who stole it and make them pay it back.
  • Employ a private detective or debt collection agency to try and find them.

Your extra options when using a regulated lawyer:

  • Report them to the relevant legal regulator
  • Money may be refunded to you or you may be eligible for compensation
  • The firm may be closed down

A firm owes me money and they won’t pay

When using any type of lawyer:

  • Employ a debt collection agency

Your extra options when using a regulated lawyer:

  • Report to a regulator who may investigate why this is

A firm closed and owes me money/work

When using any type of lawyer:

  • It may be difficult to get this money back
  • You might not get the file back
  • You will need to find a new firm

Your extra options when using a regulated lawyer:

  • Report to a regulator
  • Money may be refunded to you or you may be eligible for compensation.
  • Your file may be passed on to another firm

A firm is insolvent and owes me money

When using any type of lawyer:

  • The professional in charge of the insolvency will add you to a list of creditors
  • You may get some of your money back depending on the circumstances

Your extra options when using a regulated lawyer:

  • Report to the relevant legal regulator
  • Money may be refunded to you or you may be eligible for compensation
  • Your file may be passed on to another firm
  • Firm may be closed down

I'm not happy with the work or behavior of the firm

When using any type of lawyer:

Your extra options when using a regulated lawyer:

  • Complain directly to the firm
  • If the firm doesn’t resolve it, you can go to the Legal Ombudsman if it’s a service related complaint
  • These lawyers have rules they need to follow, if they break these rules you can complain to their regulator
  • Find out more about complaining about a law firm