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Your Checklist – Seeking the assistance of a solicitor

Your Checklist

When relationships breakdown our clients are often seeking the assistance of a family law solicitor for the first time (other than a conveyance or perhaps a will). For that reason, I appreciate that it’s hard to know what to expect and many of our clients have come to us after being disappointed by a previous solicitor.

Whilst fundamental, I’ve identified what I think you should be demanding of your family law solicitor:

  1. Expertise. The complexity of the law demands specialisation and experience.
  2. An exceptional capacity to communicate – making the complex more understandable.
  3. Honesty. You need to know the bad news up front.
  4. Expectation. It is reasonable to want to know what to expect and to hold your solicitor to that advice.
  5. It’s important that your solicitor has the respect of the Court and of his or her colleagues. It makes a material difference.
  6. A capacity to build a genuine rapport.
  7. Availability. Your family life doesn’t stop after business hours, so a good solicitor appreciates that there will be after hours contact, and a need to respond urgently if required.
  8. Value. This is hard to measure, but given the often significant cost of legal advice and representation, it’s important that you feel in control of your legal fees and that you are achieving a positive outcome.
  9. Pragmatism. It is futile to win the battle, but lose the war. Incurring disproportionate legal fees to what you stand to achieve is a poor outcome.
  10. Tough Love. Beware the solicitor that actively intensifies your feelings of anger.  A good lawyer will challenge you to reduce conflict with your former partner if possible and will make you acutely aware of the long term implications of maintaining any negative emotion for all of you.