Throughout my journey with aphasia, I have faced various challenges that have tested my patience and resilience. However, I must emphasise that my experiences with lawyers, in particular, have been exceedingly frustrating. I am the Executor of my late brother’s estate. While my speech may not be flawless, I have found ways to effectively express myself through alternative means such as using other words or gestures. (in fact, most times, most people do not detect any issues in my speech or writing). Anyway, you can imagine my disappointment regarding an incident that occurred: I engaged a firm, listed on the UK “Legal 500 list,” with the expectation that they would not only provide expert legal assistance but also demonstrate understanding and sensitivity. However, last year I saw an email from the bank’s solicitor regarding my late brother’s mortgage arrears where they wrote that my lawyers had informed them of my supposed incapacity to fulfil my executor duties to the estate due to my ‘medical condition’. I granted my lawyer the benefit of the doubt. But a few months later, my lawyer wanted me to accept an unsubstantiated claim (from someone who is not a beneficiary) and when I reminded them it is a well-established and widely accepted norm within the legal profession that lawyers do not entertain or accept unsubstantiated claims, they terminated the retainer! That was in March. I asked for my late brother’s estate accounts, and asked them to disperse the funds to the beneficiaries or transfer the funds to an executor account to allow me to disperse it to the beneficiaries. In April, the lawyer provided ledgers which shows the lawyers claimed their fees (i.e invoices settled), but they also claimed they had made an application to put the remnant funds into court. That statement was contradicted by the Court Fund Office (in May). So I emailed Solicitor Regulation Authority (SRA) and said I contacted the Court Fund Office who says no sign of any application or any money put into court by the lawyer, under her name, or her firm’s name, or my late brother’s name or my name. SRA contacted the lawyer/firm. They (lawyer/firm) then claimed it was an administration error. And now, in June …still no sign of the funds, or my brother’s personal effects, or the original documents (the Will etc). It reminded me of a previous incident- I was astounded when they mistakenly sent me a stranger’s passport, medical notes, and personal effects, insisting that they belonged to my late brother! I cannot overlook the fact that my (ongoing) experiences with lawyers have been (are) incredibly frustrating. While these encounters tested my patience and perseverance, these encounters have also inadvertently pushed me to enhance my writing skills!
@Susan3 thats awful. You expect solicitors to act responsibly at all times but clearly that’s not always the case. I was speaking to a friend the other day who is having an equally frustrating tome with a solicitor’s firm.
I can’t offer any advice other than pursue it with the SRA.
Thanks, Ann. It is disheartening to observe that the civil legal system appears to be in disarray. There seems to be a lack of effective action from both the SRA and the Legal Ombudsman, as they pass the baton without taking substantial steps to address the issues at hand. It is frustrating to witness how claims often fall through the cracks, with each entity pointing to the other for responsibility. (SRA said it falls under ‘service’ which falls under the Legal ombudsman. Legal ombudsman says it is ‘dishonesty’, falls under SRA.)
@Susan3 That’s really not helpful of them. You just need one of them to take responsibilty & sort it out for you. I feel for you. Could you get another solicitor to try & sort out the immediate issue of getting the estate sorted & then complaining. Not sure if thats even allowed xx
What I noted, was the legal ombudsman apparently has a waiting list over 2 years to assign an investigator and SRA apparently just makes a note of it, and does not do anything unless more people make a complaint about this lawyer/firm … No doubt we will have to find another lawyer, which will obviously will cost the estate (I am not a beneficiary, the beneficiaries were minors when he died). Lawyers/legal system is the only profession that is policing by themselves! On Trustpilot website- 262 reviews for SRA with ~1 stars (i.e bad) and 229 reviews for Legal Ombudsman has ~1 stars!
Seems that the whole system is as frail and human as the worst of us.
I would guess the only thing they worry about is reputation. therefore The avenue of approach with the most leverage is to advise them that you’re contacting the sensationalist press or a full name and shame.
Oh dear @Susan3 what a mess, hopefully you’ll get it all sorted with assistance from the SRA
Unfortunately, on the Trustpilot website- SRA only has ~1 star! Shows lots of excuses for their failures. But fingers crossed that SRA will do something.
I noted someone already started a petition seeking to remove the legal ombudsman and SRA processes (as they pass the baton to each other to allow them to avoid responsibility). Currently the petition now just under 5000 signatures. Martin Lewis signalled the poor ombudsman ( I think we wrote in the Guardian newspaper, 2017 Now it’s time for a crackdown, as ombudsman service labelled ‘a shambles’ | Consumer rights | The Guardian)
As a lawyer with 20 years of experience who is about to retire from the legal profession, I apologise for the way the lawyers treated you and I hope that the SRA will help you.
I have aphasia and had to use lawyers for my immigration application and it was extremely frustrating watched the lawyers try to explain things to my partner in layman terms.
During my application when I was due to go to court my lawyer decided to go on vacation and had no one attending to my file. I was extremely vivid and my partner spoke to the managing partner who tried to terminate our legal relationship.
It was only when my partner told him about my UK legal ranking and threated to return the firm that the managing partner took the matter seriously. We then just a partner to appear in court with him and that helped immensely.
Sorry to hear about your experience But pleased you dealt with poor service by another lawyer. Well done. In March, I requested my late brother’s estate accounts, asking to disperse funds to beneficiaries or transfer to an executor account. Lawyers claimed an application to put funds into court, but Court Fund Office contradicted it in May, June, July… As Aug nears, lawyers haven’t released funds or returned belongings/documents. So far, they have mistakenly sent (five different) strangers’ files, including personal (passport, medical notes, personal effects), financial (bank statements), and contentious detail/matters. Lawyers’ actions are frustrating; I want funds to reach beneficiaries and want the belongings/documents returned to us. Worried the lawyers may have bankrupted the estate, delaying release of accounts and collected funds. Anyway, hope your aphasia allows you to deal with everyday talk and work conversations. All the best.
Just noted you said in another post that you are closing your business and sorry to hear that your struggles persist. I can only imagine how challenging it must be for you to close down your law firm. Embrace hope tightly, for it is a beacon that illuminates even the darkest paths in our stroke-recovery-journey. Hugs.
Thank you so much Susan. It’s a lot to take in especially when the business was helping me to pay for my physiotheraphy, counselling sessions and almost paid for the immigration fees.
I’m hopeful though that the next chapter of my life will be just as fulfilling if not better. I’m been using my aphasia to volunteer with a few stroke charities here in the UK. I’ve been sharing my story and experiences and hope it will help other survivors too.
In terms of work I’m still able to handle the daily tasks that I did before the stroke, but with some limitations to manage the fatigue. I get frustrated then I’m trying to communicate with my staff as I used to speak quite fast before the stroke. So I need to remind myself to slow down my words.
I am seething reading about how the lawyers are handling your file. That it extremely incompetent and sadly it will continue to having with new law firms mushrooming. I used to have on a lot of clients when were disappointed with the services of other lawyers and can only imagine why people find it hard to trust lawyers these days.