A good solicitor that has your back is worth their weight in gold. Whether they take care of personal matters, business matters or both, you want to choose a well-trained, efficient and effective firm to represent you.
Navigating specialities, qualifications and personal recommendations can make the search for a good team daunting. However, it doesn't need to be. Read on to find out more about the role of advocacy in law and why you should make that a priority for choosing who should represent you.
What is advocacy
First and foremost, it is important to distinguish between advocacy in the legal setting and advocacy in the social or community setting.
Advocacy in a legal setting can be a professional qualification, such as a Solicitor Advocate who can represent clients in the highest courts and also in tribunals and arbitrations. In the wider term of the word, advocacy is also a skill that legal firms can employ to help clients work through cases to bring them to a conclusion before reaching court. Brodies is an example of a firm that employs both forms of advocacy.
Community advocates champion issues through a variety of means. These could take the shape of protests, organised activities, fundraising, raising awareness through education or lobbying elected officials. Community advocates do not need any professional qualifications and can come from many different backgrounds.
Why is advocacy important?
At its simplest, the definition of an advocate is a person who argues for another, especially in a court setting. And while this is true, the reality of legal advocacy encompasses so much more. A good advocate will also be skilled at analysing cases, writing briefs, creating verbal and written arguments, and, most importantly, speaking persuasively in person. A keen understanding of legalities and knowledge of past cases and precedents are all also vital to advocacy.
The benefits of working with a Solicitor Advocate
Solicitor advocates are qualified to handle your case from start to finish. In most cases, their team will also support them in providing the best services. However, in short order, they will be able to take your case from beginning to end, dealing with everything from budgeting through to final negotiations.
A consistent presence can be comforting for clients who are not used to the inner workings of legal matters. More practically, having someone and their team handle a case from start to finish lessens the chance of any possible miscommunications.
Advocacy outwith the courtroom
It is a common misconception that lawyers only work with the court system and legal documents. In reality, they can do much more for their clients. Court cases and legal proceedings can quickly become very expensive, so it is often in everyone's best interest to reach a resolution before it needs to go to court.
Solicitors with good advocacy skills can mediate disputes between businesses and individuals to reach a mutually agreed-upon conclusion.
A good mediator will be able to look at a situation compassionately and objectively to find common ground and then help different parties agree on the best way forward.
I'm a law student and want to advocate. What should I do?
If you are considering a career in law, advocacy is a skill you will want to develop and hone. One of the best ways to do so is to participate in debates or moots as often as possible. The ability to react quickly and intelligently to arguments and opinions will stand you in good stead. Observing trials is also an excellent way to gain first-hand experience of good (and sometimes bad) examples of advocacy. By paying attention to the techniques of seasoned professionals, you will be able to learn what skills you need to work on or cultivate.
Community advocating is an excellent way to gain real-world experience in advocacy but finding time to fit it around your studies may be difficult.
If you decide you want to qualify as a Solicitor Advocate, then you will need to pass the Higher Rights of Audience qualification in order to give you the ability to practice at all levels of the court.
Choosing a good solicitor is important, and no amount of advice will conclusively tell you which exact one to choose. However, we hope this primer on the benefits of advocacy has shown you the importance of ensuring that potential solicitors are well versed in this particular skill set.
As mentioned above, avoiding court, especially in these times of increasing cost of living and spiralling inflation, can be the very best option. A solicitor with good advocate skills that can solve disputes through mediation could literally end up being worth their weight in gold.