The Law Society is the regulatory body for all solicitors in England and Wales. We are registered with the Law Society and are governed by their professional rules.
Being qualified as a lawyer is a basic, but very simple, quality mark. To qualify as a lawyer you must have an entry level qualification (usually a degree) and have passed knowledge requirements in law (set out in the Common Professional Examination). You then attend a 1 year specialist course, followed by extended on the job training. At the end of all of this you only get admitted if they are satisfied you are suitable and a senior lawyer confirms you know what you are doing.
You do not have to use a lawyer. However, would you trust your livelihood to the man in the pub? Without some basic quality mark for all you know that is who is advising you, and probably charging you for the privilege as well. There are laws about wrongly describing yourself as a lawyer (whether solicitor or barrister). If they do not state on their website that they are qualified lawyers then they are not.
A lawyer will always provide you with confirmation of their qualifications and confirm their advice in writing. They will be up front about who they are and have their contact details on their website. They will also have a system in place for dealing with unhappy customers, so you can raise any issues you have. This is backed up by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and if any problems cannot be sorted out to the customer’s satisfaction then they can be asked to consider the matter. They handle all complaints towards legal firms through the Solicitors Regulation Authority, using the Legal Complaints Service.