Family lawyers either operate as a sole trader, in partnerships with other solicitors or as a member of a large legal firm or company. Some legal firms specialise in divorces and separation agreements, while other firms cover a wide range of legal areas. Family lawyers represent clients who are going through divorces or a marriage/civil partnership breakdown. They can also assist with formulating a prenuptial arrangement, which is essentially an agreement made before the couple marry that outlines the ownership of all assets brought into the relationship. This is often common in circumstances where one or both parties are concerned about the security of their assets, thereby providing additional protection should the marriage fail.
Here is a brief overview concerning what family lawyers do every day.
Communicating with clients
A big part in the daily life of a solicitor is client communication. Throughout a conventional day at the office, most family lawyers will spend a large amount of time communicating with clients. This could be in the form of telephone conferences with exiting clients or new prospects, or it could be in the form of a physical meeting with a client at their offices.
Often, these meetings are required in order to begin formulating a legal strategy to take to court. While solicitors will advise against going to court, with some separations it is inevitable. These meetings will also focus on collecting information/evidence that can be used in court and to discuss the outcomes of various hearings and how to approach subsequent steps in the process.
Consultations with other family lawyers
Ask any solicitor and they’ll tell you that from time to time you simply need a bit of help. That help could come in a variety of forms. Many solicitors organise ongoing consultations with other solicitors as a way of discussing legal strategies and generic cases. If a specific case is incredibly complex or convoluted, a solicitor might seek assistance from someone who is an expert in the field (e.g. the principal solicitor at their firm or a former colleague).
General administrative work
Most family lawyers have secretaries that handle a good chunk of their administrative work. However, it is the responsibility of the solicitor to be verifying various forms of correspondence, which can be dictated to a secretary or professional typist. A solicitor might be required to handle a client’s documentation, in terms of proofreading and verifying its accuracy.
Research for specific cases
In addition, many barristers will need to engage in some intensive research in preparation for specific cases. This might be necessary if the case is particularly unique, which might require a bit of creative thinking from the hired solicitor. Research might also be necessary if older, less common legislation is required for reference. Getting reacquainted with the relevant legal rules is a very important part of a solicitor’s job.
Naturally, family lawyers are required to attend court hearings, should their client’s matter progress that far. While most cases are settled before entering the courts (via mediation), some divorces can be quite contentious, and as such, a formal court hearing is necessary.
Before appearing in court, solicitors prepare diligently so they can outline their client’s case in a convincing and clear manner. However, court hearings can be an extended, long-term process, so don’t expect your divorce to be settled overnight. Once it hits the courts, the cost of your divorce will steadily rise and eat away at your time. It is for this reason that family lawyers encourage their clients to reconcile their differences as early as possible and settle amicably before it gets ugly in the courtroom.