Q: How can I obtain advice from you? A: Just email us with a note telling us, in a few words, who you are, what the problem is, and what you hope to achieve. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will reply swiftly, to let you know whether we can help.
Q: What happens then? A: We will need some detailed input from you in order to provide detailed advice. If you are within range of Oxford, the best approach may be for you to come and see us. For how this works, please see our Meetings page. Otherwise we can advise on the basis of written details — please see our Written advice page.
Q: What about advice over the telephone? A: We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as a first choice, but it can work well in some cases. It depends on the nature of the problem, so please just let us know.
Q: Whom do you advise? A: Many of our clients are private individuals or private organisations; but we are sometimes approached by local government and public bodies. We will always help if we can. Please see our Clients page.
Q: How quickly can you produce advice? A: In urgent cases, within a day or two, though usually we would expect to respond within about a week.
Q: Why does it take so long? A: Good advice flows from a process of thinking, researching, drafting and redrafting — and (the last and probably most important step) carefully re-reading your instructions, to make sure that we have provided good, clear answers to the questions which we have been asked. All this takes time. (Which, incidentally, is why giving advice over the telephone doesn’t always work very well.)
Q: Are you willing to provide a “second opinion” on a legal problem? A: In principle, yes; but several points are worth bearing in mind. First, lawyers don’t always agree, any more than doctors or other specialists do. Secondly, please understand that if you ask another lawyer a different question, at a time when the facts have changed, you are likely to get a different answer.
Q: Why are your charges so much lower than solicitors’ fees? A: Our charges are between a half and a third of what a typical firm of solicitors would charge. But please remember that we don’t provide a full range of legal services, and we are operating in a relatively narrow and specialised field — namely, property law problems in England and Wales.
Q: Are you somehow against solicitors? A: No. We recognise that in some cases solicitors are the right people to assist, and we say so promptly and clearly. If we are asked to work with solicitors (or other advisors) by providing specialised input on a legal problem, we are happy to do so.
Q: What about payment? Do you ask for payment in advance? A: No. Please see our Charges page. Payment is due when our client is happy with the advice we have provided, and when any follow-up queries (included in the agreed fee) have been dealt with.
Q: What else can you do? A: Well, we can’t do all of the things that solicitors can do, and in particular we can’t draft deeds relating to land and interests in land, and we can’t start or defend legal proceedings on behalf of clients. However, we can conduct mediations, and we can represent clients in meetings and hearings — for example, plannings appeals heard by planning inspectors.
Q: Do you publish feedback? A: The advice we give is confidential, and is in any event specific to the case in question. So we can’t, as it were, put our wares on display. We are keen to have feedback from our clients, and very much appreciate it when we get it. Publishing it is another matter. Nowadays, regrettably, there will always be a suspicion that glowing tributes have been supplied by friends and relatives, not genuine clients, and that negative comments have come from “trolls”. Both sorts of feedback are of course quite worthless, and publishing them would serve no useful purpose. That said, if we were not successful in what we do, this would not be a thriving practice. It is certainly true that we welcome constructive criticism, and we take it fully into account because we want the service we offer to be as good as possible. Please feel free to send us feedback!