Questions to ask when choosing a solicitor

Does the firm have current Lexcel, ISO9001 or equivalent accreditation?

Lexcel is the Law Society's international practice management standard to certify that a law firm meets the highest standards in case management, customer care and risk management. Lexcel accredited practices are reassessed every year to ensure they continue to meet the standards required.

Does the firm work to ISO standards?

International quality management standards such as ISO 9001:2008 make sure firms have high standards in client care and case management. They also ensure firms meet regulatory requirements. For law firms, this includes those laid down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the independent regulatory body of the Law Society. ISO9001 accredited firms are independently reassessed every six months to ensure they continue to meet the standards required.

Will the solicitor you meet deal with your case?

Find out who will be dealing with your case. Make sure they have relevant experience and that they won't pass your case to a junior. The solicitor you instruct must have enough time to assess your case and take part in all the important steps.

Is the solicitor a member of the Medical Negligence Accreditation Scheme?

Members of this scheme have satisfied the Law Society that they maintain a high level of knowledge, skills, experience and practice in clinical negligence. Your solicitor should be either on the Law Society's Medical Negligence Panel or the AvMA Action Against Medical Accidents Referral Panel.

Does the firm have a good record of successful medical negligence claims?

Think about how many successful claims the firm has made and whether these were for conditions like yours or your child's. For cerebral palsy claims, choose a practice already pursuing claims in this area. Ask about their experience in the field, how many recent cases they have dealt with and the outcome of those cases.

How many medical negligence specialist solicitors does the firm employ?

This can show a firm's experience, ability to progress a case and keep you well informed.

How will the solicitor keep in touch with you?

Your solicitor must work with you and stay in touch so that you can make well-informed choices throughout your case. Make sure she agrees to keep in regular contact so that you are up to date with your case. There should be another member of the legal team familiar with your claim who can reply to you if your solicitor is absent.

You may wish to know how they will communicate with you, in person - in the office or at your home - by email or by telephone.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority have tips on how to get the best out of your relationship with your solicitor and what to expect.

Does the firm have a Legal Aid Agency Clinical Negligence franchise?

Only firms with this franchise can get public funding from the Legal Aid Agency if available.

Does the firm offer education, welfare benefit, community care and public law expertise?

This will be especially useful when considering the wider social impacts of disability. It will be helpful if all the many issues can be dealt with seamlessly within one organisation. The practice should have a Legal Aid Agency Specialist Quality Mark to conduct publicly funded clinical negligence work.