How to hire decoded.legal
This page is primarily written for people who haven't hired - instructed - a solicitor before, but, even if you have, it hopefully contains useful information about how we do things, and what to expect.
If you have any questions, please just contact us.
Check we do what you need
We don't stray outside these areas. We'd much rather do what we do and do it well, than dabble. We will happily refer clients to specialist lawyers as and when they need it. In particular, we do not do litigation, company formation work, or advise on employment issues.
We advise on English law, and only English law.
If, having read about the work we do, you think we can help you, read on...
Read about the different ways in which we work (and charge)
Of course, you want to know how much legal advice will cost, and I wish we could have a standard price list or menu of options. But that would require a standard list or menu of work, and that's not in the nature of what we do.
We offer specialist, bespoke, geeky legal advice, and the reality is that nearly every piece of work we do is different, and is tailored to your needs.
We provide support in a number of different ways, depending on the nature of the work.
We have a very simple rule of "no surprises", and we will discuss options with you before you commit to anything.
If we can offer you a fixed price - meaning that you know exactly what you are going to pay, up front - we will, once we've had a chance to understand what you want.
And if we can't offer you a fixed price, we'll explain why, make sure you understand fully how you will be charged and for what, and then keep you up to date with how the work is progressing, so that you are fully in control of what you spend. When we say "no surprises", we mean it.
Think about your budget
Obviously, given the section above, we appreciate how difficult it is to know how much you might need to spend to get any given piece of work done.
If you have an idea of what the work is worth to you (for example, what opportunities we would help you to achieve, or what risks we would help you to mitigate), that is very helpful.
We'll give you as realistic a price for your work as we can, but if there is a clear disparity between what you want to spend and what we want to charge, it is better we both identify that sooner rather than later.
Send us an email, telling us what you need
If you've got this far, great!
It is really helpful if, in your initial email, you give us enough information about what you need to determine if we might be able to help. Useful things include:
what kind of work you need (but without the detail)
if it is not obvious, who the client would be
any other information you think might be useful
Important: Please do not give us any confidential information at this point - we might already be working for someone else related to what you want to talk with us about (which is sometimes called a "conflict"). For example, if you wanted help with a contract with a supplier, and we were working with the supplier on their sales agreements, you probably wouldn't want us to know the ins and outs of your budget etc.
We typically respond within 24 hours, often much less.
If we don't think we can help based on the information you've given, we'll let you know. If we can point you in the direction of someone who might be better placed to help, we will.
And if we think we can help, we'll offer an introductory call.
We don't publish a phone number, as we're always better with scheduled calls than calls out of the blue, and we'd prefer to have a rough indication that we could help before having a call.
An introductory call
Assuming that we think we might be able to help based on your email, we'll offer an introductory call.
These are usually 30 minutes, and there is - of course - no charge for this.
We don't give any advice on the call, but instead use it as an opportunity to see if we'd be a good fit for you, and vice versa.
If, like us, you hate sales calls, don't worry. The objective of the call is to work out if we can help, and for you to work out if you want to work with us. It's definitely not a high pressure sales call, and there will be absolutely no pressure to make a decision there and then. We're not like that.
We're happy to do this via our video conferencing tool, Jitsi, or else we can use something you set up. (Want more information about communications options?)
The call is a great opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have about how we work or how we might be able to help you.
I say "paperwork" but, in practice, everything we do is digital.
If, once we've spoken, we are both keen to go ahead, we will send you what is known as an "engagement letter".
This sets out the work we are agreeing to do, the price or the basis for the calculation of the price, and other key information.
It also contains links to our terms of business - the contract which governs the work we do for you - and our complaints policy. If you get the chance to read these beforehand, please do, as we can discuss any questions you have on the introductory call, but definitely read them before you agree to them.
If you are happy with how we've described the work in the engagement letter, and with our terms, tell us in writing. You can sign and return a copy of the letter if you wish, but we're also usually happy with just an email saying that you are content to go ahead.
But there is one last step...
Verifying your identity
As solicitors, we have to meet legal requirements often described as "Know Your Client".
This doesn't mean that we have to have known you well beforehand, but it does require that we carry out some checks to identify who you are, and to get as comfortable as we need to be that you are not a money launderer or a terrorist.
These are not onerous and, typically, do not take very long for companies in the UK. They can be trickier for companies outside the UK.
Assuming that these checks do not throw up anything problematic, we'll let you know, and we can get on with the work.
How we work
We are friendly and approachable and - hopefully - enjoyable to work with. We don't go in for unnecessary formality, and t-shirts and hoodies are more likely than suits and ties.
We work collaboratively. We're here to help you achieve your goals, and we value your thoughts and opinions.
At the same time, sometimes it is easier to just leave us to get the job done!