What other options are there for getting legal advice?

Author: Emma Shipp
What other options are there for getting legal advice?

When you talk to your Ravenna advisor we might suggest going to a different type of legal advisor - one that isn’t a solicitor in a traditional law firm. What do you need to know about this?

What do Direct Access Barristers offer?

If you need advice on an identified legal point, there can be a cost saving in going directly to a barrister. Although senior barristers dealing with commercial work charge hourly rates which are comparable to large law firms, more junior barristers, or those who do not have a commercial practice, tend to be cheaper.

However, beware of seeing this as a cost-saving exercise unless you understand what you’re doing.

Barristers are essentially advocates meaning that they are experienced in arguing law in the context of court hearings. Traditionally all barristers relied on solicitors to gather the facts and frame legal questions for advice. The solicitor would then explain the implications of the advice and help the client apply it to the actual commercial problem. That is still by far the most common system. 

Unless you are yourself a lawyer it can be difficult to translate your problem into a specific legal question and understand the implications of the advice you receive. For this reason going to a law firm for advice and support is often still the best course of action. 

Are legal services from accountants competitive? 

Accountants have always offered commercial advice associated with the core accounting or tax work. Some larger firms of accountants now have legal services arms. This allows them a chance to expand their ongoing relationships with clients for whom they provide regular services, such as audit. It also extends the protection of legal professional privilege (which lawyers have and accountants do not and which maintains the confidentiality of legal advice) to the substantial legal tax advice they provide. 

If the legal advice is closely linked to other work the accountancy firm is providing, there may be coordination advantages for you in going to the same place (although it’s also highly likely that the legal arm will have little day-to-day connection with the individuals providing accountancy services). The organisational quality and systems of the largest firms is at least comparable to the largest law firms and they tend to be less expensive.

However, there may be disadvantages in being over-reliant on a single provider for both legal and accounting services. The extent and depth of their legal expertise is generally much more limited than a law firm of comparable size and although it might feel better to keep it all under one roof, you might wind up getting less for your money in the long run.

Can't I just find legal advice on the Internet? 

More DIY resources are available than ever before and many people spend time searching for answers to legal questions on Google.

Before you decide to tackle things on your own you need to ask yourself a number of questions. First you need to be sure of the amount at stake and the realistic cost of time to the business. Second, you need to understand the increased risk of this approach. The risk is bound to be higher because, even if you are no more likely to make a mistake than a regulated lawyer, if a lawyer’s error costs you money, you are likely to be compensated. 

If you’ve considered all of this however, there may be occasions when doing it yourself makes sense. If it doesn't require steps to be taken in a particular way for compliance, or if the way you complete a form cannot conceivably cost the business money, incurring legal fees for a customised document or to run a very small claim may not be justified.

Want to find the right lawyer for your business? Book your free 30-minute consultation with one of our advisors by clicking here. We’ll talk through the options and suggest at least two law firms that we think are a good fit for your business. We aren’t paid any commission and you won’t be under any pressure to work with any law firms we put forward.