Maybe I should call this your first encounter with the following :
Lawyers, Solicitors, Attorneys or Barristers
Generally your there for some advice! on where you stand in regards to your treatment by an employer or a large corporation. If your there because you have committed a crime that's a different story and something I cannot comment on, as I have no experience.
As its your first time your very nervous and hoping the advise you get will allay your fears.
Let use stick with the Employer theme, (basically the whole thing is the same).
To a layman the office scene is intimidating, a large desk in a book filled room, the man sitting behind the desk has an expensive suit and shirt and tie, the feeling of being inside a too expensive shop comes to mind.
After the introductions it's down to business
He listen to your complaint and when you have finished, he offers his advice , it may range from a letter, or to a tribunal hearing, he would point out that the employer may not be influenced by a letter and that the tribunal may be the route to go!
Now you must remember, your in a commercial establishment and
It has to pay its way. so any advice will be centred around that principle
He may go on and say the tribunal was specifically set up! to protect people like you! from this type of abuse of the law.
All of a sudden your tummy butterfly's have settled and you ask "If I go to the tribunal how much would it cost"? He will tell you that their conduct and charges are set and governed by an independent body, and he hands you a schedule of their charges.
He also gos on to point out, that the employer would have to pay all the charges incurred should they lose and do not forget the law is on your side.
(He doesn't mention that you could go to a tribunal for free)
So you go ahead with the tribunal advice, thinking to your self the advice was, "you will Win". Over the next few weeks the tribunal hearing is at the front of your mind! and you end up talking about it with friends and they relay their experiences to you and over time your mind is full of doubt, most of the stories told to you make you feel your dealing with a crooked person and the quote that springs to mind is: "There's no smoke without fire".
You receive a letter to go into the Solicitors the morning of the tribunal and at that meeting, you speak of your doubts he advises you not to listen to gossip, "we have a good case and the law is on your side" then he hands you an invoice for his charges and request you pay them as it's their companies policies to have all payments before the tribunal or court hearing!
(A bell rings in your mind)!
You leave to go to the tribunal, your tummy's butterfly's are back.
The tribunal was frightening just one big blur they didn't seemed to be talking in English, when your asked to speak, you were so green and nervous, the only point you make was "why would an honest man require a Barrister at tribunal hearing"? and it's a good point.
Your solicitor was made to look like a schoolboy, in the presents of the Barrister who bullied the court, arguing that his client had done no wrong and that it was a unbelievable that this case was bought to a tribunal.
Anyway It was lost.
The solicitors only comment was to say he was "sorry he was at a loss to say why the tribunal took the view that they did." and that's the end of the matter as far as he is concerned. trying to take it further was a waste of your money.
You go away feeling gutted, your solicitors advice had cost you a four figure sum and months of sickening sleepless nights.
You think to yourself, this can't be right! you only went ahead with the case on the solicitors advice! but what to do? well you could make a complaint to the independent body! but! good luck with that it's another long road, with usually a bad result.
What I would do (after a couple of solicitor nightmares.)
I would say remain clear of these people if at all possible! they seems to have a thread of Machiavellianism within their ranks when it comes to getting your business, which frightens me.
My father told me that when he was young, solicitors went to work on a bus with their briefcase on their arm, there was not a lot of money about then, so any advise given would normally be good, as there was no desperate need to support a fancy life style, they needed you to come back and also tell your friends about them and now they sit in plush offices and drive fancy cars and own big homes, often two houses, and spend holidays in exotic places, and all from "sitting at a desk giving honest advice!" No way !
This is a small list I have now for my visits to lawyers and others!
Firstly I have a concealed mini tape recorder.
Then I ask "does he have any conflicting cases that may pop up along the road being damaging to this case? "believe me this happens."
"Does he feel his advise of a "good result" is realistic"?
and does he feel his payment up front on court day is morally justified? then I ask as many relevant questions that come to mind on the day.
In the UK the solicitors offer a free time period to talk over your problems and get advice; its only for about 20 minutes but its a good service they get paid by the government If you take your little tape recorder and visit a couple of these legal aid offices, you will be amazed an the different advise you will get.
Some how I've lost my way.