How to best communicate with a Lawyer – For Chinese speaking clients

My name is Tiffany Wan. I am a solicitor working in Commercial Property for Edwards Duthie, a regional law firm in London.  

This is my monthly column on legal matters for the Chinese community. 

“Help! I need to speak with a solicitor”

Your first call to your lawyer and how it should be handled.

Telephoning a solicitor can be a daunting task especially if there is a language barrier. For Chinese speaking clients, trying to find a solicitor who is able to converse in Chinese can help assist their case. Where this is not possible engaging with a professional translator or having good quality translation services can help.

Solicitors are actually very approachable and for instance at my present firm, Edwards Duthie Solicitors, client focus and client satisfaction are very important components in our service model. Generally solicitors are here to manage client’s expectations and handle on their behalf their legal issue with professionalism and efficiency.

The first initial telephone enquiry should be used to pin point the actual area of law required. Every solicitor firm houses different departments and each solicitor specialises in different areas of law. For example, at my present firm the departments we have include:

Commercial and Residential Conveyancing

Criminal

Family and Matrimonial

Private Client (Wills, LPA, Deputyships)

Civil Litigation

Personal Injury

I personally speak Chinese Cantonese and am happy to communicate with my clients directly in this dialect. I know that sourcing a Chinese-speaking solicitor can be difficult but to help readers a comprehensive list can be found through a search on the Law Society website (solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk). The search allows users to select lawyers through their practising areas and/or proximity to a particular area or postcode.

The initial telephone conversation should enable clients to see if they are comfortable with dealing with the individual solicitor and the firm. Besides building a rapport with the solicitor, points to explore in the initial telephone conversation should be:

Identifying the main issues

Discussions as to costs

Discussions on timeframe

Finding out about the firm and preferred methods of communication

Next steps

Hopefully the above pointers would assist my readers. If there are any specific issues; please do not hesitate to contact me via [email protected].

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