How do I know if my case is suitable for public access?
The best way is to ask, and give me a quick summary of the problem you have.
I will happily look at that for free, and give you an initial (free and no-obligation) view as to whether the case is one where we can work together.
It will be helpful if you could give a brief overview of your case. I’ve put down two examples here –
Case Study I – Crime
“I want to appeal my sentence. I received 8 years imprisonment on 1st February 2015 for possession with intent to supply“.
This is not really enough information. It would be helpful if you were to include such information as : what was the drug? was this a trial, or did you plead guilty? If a guilty plea, when was this? What did the Judge say? Did you have solicitors? What did they say about an appeal.
And, most importantly, why do you think that the sentence is wrong?
Case Study II – Immigration
“I am in the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa and want to leave my job, but stay in the UK. What are my options?”
Again, it would be helpful if you could give some more information such as : what country are you from? Which Tier 2 visa are you on? When did you come to the UK? What job do you have? What industry do you work in?
What information would you want for a public access case?
As much as possible!
I appreciate that it is hard sometimes to know exactly what is and isn’t relevant. The general rule is that the more information I have the better.
What I would probably do is send you a list of further questions and documents that I would like to see.
Using the two examples above –
Case Study I – Crime
After agreeing that we work together, it would be helpful to have as many documents as possible. In a case like this, I would expect that you would have a file from your previous solicitor that I could look at.
Case Study II – Immigration
In a case such as this, there probably won’t be much documentation. I would have asked you a list of questions, and it may be that we would speak on the phone or arrange to meet.
Do we meet up, or do it all by phone/email/letter?
It depends on the issue. A trial will often require a face to face meeting. Other cases can be dealt with just as well on by phone or even email.
Both of the ‘Case Studies’ above are good examples of cases where there would no need to meet.
Of course, if you do want to meet up, then we can arrange that.
There’s more details here – Can I appeal my criminal conviction?
When is the best time to get you involved?
As early as possible. Worse case scenario is that it’s too early – in which case I will tell you that, nothing lost.
However, nothing is worse than leaving it too late. As an example from Case Study I above, there are often deadlines that have to be met. The more time we have to work on the case the better.
As an example, much better to get advice before putting in grounds of appeal, than wait until your grounds have been refused.
How much does it cost?
It’s impossible to give an exact figure in advance. It will depend on what the sort of case is, how much work is needed, if it is a Court hearing then where it is, lots of things like that.
After the initial enquiry I will be able to give you a quote. Normally this will be a fixed amount for each part of the case, as this gives you certainty and all the information that you need.
Can’t you just give me a quick bit of legal advice without all the hassle/paperwork etc?
I know that it can seem frustrating, especially when it is something that seems simple and can be responded to in 5 minutes in an email. Unfortunately, the regulatory position is that I cannot give any legal advice without being ‘instructed’ by a solicitor or going through the process of agreeing terms (you can see the standard letters on which any agreement would be based on the Bar Standards Board website). This is the case whether or not the advice is being given for free.
There is an overview of (some of) the rules on the Bar Council website.
Do I need a lawyer? Do I need one now?
Are you a ‘top lawyer’?
It seems every lawyer on the internet is described as a ‘top lawyer’. I don’t think it’s a particularly helpful term, as there is no way of telling what it actually means. Although I have been described by others as a ‘top criminal barrister’, this may be tongue in (legal) cheek after I had criticised some of the media for using that term too much.
I’m wary when people describe themselves as a ‘top’ lawyer, or even the ‘best’ lawyer. I believe that my record speaks for itself. But it’s also true that someone who may be the best for one case, it not for another. And someone who interacts really well with one client, may not work well with another. Ask questions and do your research until you find a lawyer you’re comfortable with and you have confidence in.
How much do you charge?
It’s not possible to give a ‘one size fits all’ charge, it all depends on the circumstances. I appreciate that that may be frustrating, but until I know roughly what the case is about, it’s not possible to give a specific figure.
Dan will always offer a fixed fee so that you have certainty.