The best way to answer this question is with other questions. How would you choose a plumber? Or a builder? Or a hairdresser? By reputation of course. For lawyers it is the same. What is the safest way to assess reputation? By talking to someone who has gone through the same experience as you are about to have. But it is important to make sure that it was broadly the same experience.
The skills of a divorce lawyer (detailed knowledge of family law, empathy, negotiating and mediating skills, and advocacy) are different from that of a conveyancing lawyer (detailed knowledge of property law and process, deal-making skills, drafting contracts and deeds). Fortunately most decent lawyers these days stick to broad discipline areas so you are unlikely to find a divorce lawyer agreeing to do conveyancing or a conveyancer agreeing to do a divorce, but if you do question why and if they might be short of work.
But there can also be a problem at the other end of the spectrum too. Unless your search is limited to getting a detailed expert interpretation of the case law relating to section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant 1985 which is going to decide your case one way or the other, going for the world’s expert on that and only that, may not serve either: a good lawyer needs to be able to see all the angles for the client including, and even especially, the ones the client has not even thought of, in order to help him best.
A broad range of practical experience within a wide discipline of the law is what most clients need and it may be that sometimes a client needs to know that one lawyer can add to that by bringing in other expertise within the firm to complement and/or supplement his own skills, so enquire about that too if necessary. You can always look up web profiles and other internet information about a firm/lawyer but you should use such information to verify the reputation you hear about if that is available to you, rather than rely on the net alone.
Anthony Wooding | Managing Partner
Head of Litigation Department, Kerseys