Do I Need A Solicitor Near Me? Or Is A Remote Lawyer Quicker And More Cost-Effective?24th Feb 2022
Your Solicitor Is Just a Click Away
Remote working technology such as Zoom gives you access to expert legal knowledge at much more affordable rates.
For years, Coles Miller has provided the specialist legal knowledge associated with city law firms – but at much more affordable provincial rates.
Our personal injury, medical negligence, commercial litigation, commercial property, debt recovery and residential leasehold teams all have a long history of serving clients across England and Wales. Other teams – such as our family law solicitors – can also act for clients outside Dorset and the New Forest.
Your Local Solicitors – Delivering Legal Services Across the Country
First and foremost, it’s important to stress that Coles Miller will always be here for you if you want to see us in person. We have six Dorset offices: Poole, Fleetsbridge, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Broadstone and Wimborne.
All six offices can provide you with a wide range of legal services. And some are centres of specialist legal expertise, such as:
- Poole – commercial law, disputes and litigation, commercial property
- Fleetsbridge – recovery of debts and rent arrears, Section 8 and Section 21 tenant evictions
- Bournemouth – residential leasehold matters such as buying the freehold or extending your lease.
But all that expert legal knowledge is still available to you no matter where you live – because the way legal services are delivered has changed significantly in recent years. Especially since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Video Meetings With Solicitors
Our solicitors see many clients online using video-conferencing apps. It’s quick, easy and Covid-safe.
We hold most of our video meetings using Microsoft Teams. But we’re happy to use Zoom if you prefer.
So it doesn’t matter where in the world you are – we can still have a face-to-face meeting via video.
Emailing Solicitors, Signing Documents
Many of our lawyers have long assisted clients on a countrywide basis – and therefore spend much of their time working online. Legal documents are emailed for your digital e-signature or posted for your signature. Again, it’s swift and simple.
Scanned ID can be certified via video call, supported by the electronic verification process.
Partner David Simpson, who leads Coles Miller’s Medical Negligence Department, now does most of his work online – instructing barristers, emailing defendants, solicitors, medical experts and courts.
Debt Recovery Manager Eric Holt does 95% of his work online (compared with 80% before the pandemic).
Verifying Your Identity Remotely
As a law firm, we are required to verify the identity of all our clients, regardless of their transaction type. This is for anti-money laundering purposes.
The process involves a client providing us with proof of residential address, and photographic proof of ID. There are a number of documents we can accept but the usual ones are your passport and driving licence.
We can accept certified copies of ID documents or can arrange biometric checks via mobile app.
Alongside this, we ask all clients to complete a Client Information Form which also gathers information such as their NI number.
All this information is then entered into an online electronic verification system called Veriphy. This checks against credit referencing providers, morbity databases, passport databases and so on to confirm that the person is who they say they are.
Wills And Probate Online Legal Services
Bereavement is a sensitive time, requiring the empathy and support of a specialist wills and probate solicitor.
But some of the legal work can be done online, saving time – enabling you to spend more time together supporting each other as a family in your time of grief.
Wills and probate solicitor Kerry Hay said: “We can take your initial instructions over the phone or via video call.
“Before Covid, most meetings were done in person but now we’re much more flexible and are happy to take instructions in the way that best suits the client. But we do like to meet you at some point.
“Many of our processes are now online – will drafting software, the probate court system. Supporting papers and information can be provided to us by email, saving postage or time having to drop them in to us in person,” added Kerry, who is based at our Fleetsbridge office.
Handling Commercial Property Matters Remotely
“Most of our corporate clients prefer to correspond via email, but when it comes to signing documents the clients either pop in or we post them the hard copy and they sign and return it.
“We can have clients in Cheshire (for example) who purchase a property and never have to come to the office. Most of our work is ‘remote’ in the sense that we don’t have the client in regularly, but a lot of them are local.”
Recently, Kate created an auction pack and dealt with the sale of a property in London. She was acting on behalf of lawyers who were at opposite ends of the country. All the work was done via email and post.
Her fellow commercial property solicitor Charlotte Lilley has been working on a case involving a London property owned by two family members – one of whom lived in the Dorset area; the other of whom lived in Italy.
Coles Miller used a combination of physical visits from one client and Zoom calls to the other to verify ID requirements, confirm details of the transaction and to deal with the distribution of the proceeds of sale.
Kate said: “Being able to communicate online with all parties made it easier, and whilst we still had to rely on some international post for the final signed transfer, the rest was mainly done online.”
What If I Or My Solicitor Need To Go To Court?
You or your solicitor can appear in court via video conferencing. It is common practice – and not just because of Covid-19. Video conferencing cuts costs and saves time – so the courts have welcomed it.
Virtual hearings have other advantages too:
- witness credibility – non-stop video filming focusses attention on facial expressions, gestures and mannerisms
- greater interaction between solicitors, barristers and clients
- easier sharing of documentation, audio, video and transcripts
- reduced traffic and parking disruption, lower CO2 emissions.
Employment law solicitor Hugh Reid attends all court and tribunal hearings remotely at present. It has been two years since he last appeared in court in person.
“The courts and tribunals have fully embraced the online approach to hearings because they save an enormous amount of expense,” he said.
“When dealing with settlement agreements, I offer remote attendance – depending on individual circumstances,” he added.
Hugh is based at our Poole head office but assists clients from all over the country. Recently, he has been helping a number of clients based in Kent.
It’s a similar situation for debt recovery. Eric Holt has not needed to attend a court in person since 2019 but attends online around once every two months. He and his team also employ agents.
“We use an agent to attend court anywhere in the country for us at a very reasonable cost,” he said.
“They attend court for us one or two times a week. It is more efficient and economical for our clients as travel and waiting time is not charged.”
Get Expert Legal Help
Contact Coles Miller for expert legal advice – whether you’re based in Dorset or elsewhere in England and Wales. Your law firm for life is only a phone call or a click away.