How to Choose a Family Lawyer - Questions to ask in the first interview
What are the best qualities that my family lawyer can have?
The best family lawyers will take a dynamic and diverse approach to your case, which will be tailored around your needs. It is not unusual to be asked by a potential client whether their prospective lawyer is “aggressive”. Being robust and assertive is important, however, the manner in which that is delivered should always be dictated by the nature of your case. Many cases can now be settled with little acrimony and a sense of collaboration meaning that confrontation is not always the most appropriate approach. Society is changing, and when it comes to family law one size no longer fits all.
Your lawyer should also be dynamic and approachable, and it is important that you feel a connection to them. You should always feel that they have your back and will fight your corner when you need it as it is their duty to always act in your best interests at all times. We take this duty seriously at BPE, and will ensure that you feel guided and supported throughout your case.
I don’t want to go to Court, will my lawyer understand that?
There is a growing culture of using alternative methods, such as mediation and collaboration, to resolve family matters. If you are minded to avoid Court proceedings (and the associated costs), you should look for a lawyer who is trained and experienced in these areas who will be able to guide you through the alternative processes. It is rare for a family team not to offer these alternatives, but it is vital to select a lawyer with enough experience to really make them work for you. At BPE our lawyers specialise in both collaborative law and mediation, and are able to adapt their approach according to your specific needs.
If your former partner or spouse is not complying with their obligations to fully and frankly disclose their financial position, your lawyer is likely to advise you that an application to the Court is required to seek an order that they do so. Similarly, it is only the Court that can prevent your former spouse from dissipating assets, which may be necessary to protect your position.
General arrangements for children, such as contact arrangements, can often be dealt with using alternative methods. However, if your child’s welfare is in danger, your lawyer will certainly advise you to seek the assistance of the Court to protect your child. We at BPE will always act with your best interests in mind, and will do all that we can to achieve the best outcome in your case.
What else should I ask?
It is important that your lawyer is part of a strong professional network of experts. For example, in financial matters and where businesses are involved, your lawyer should be able to point you in the direction of an accountant, a financial advisor, an actuary or a surveyor who may be able to assist with your case. Good professionals in all of these areas will ensure you get the best advice, and those recommended by your lawyer will be tried and tested. Ask your potential lawyer who they know, why they use them and why they would recommend them. It is a good idea to know who might be needed on your case from the outset in order to help with budgeting for costs. At BPE, we are able to introduce clients to a range of well-tried professionals to assist them and have good relationships with industry experts across the UK.
Your lawyer should be upfront about costs from the very first interview, if only to tell you they will keep you updated and give you a better cost estimate when they know more about your case. Transparency about costs is important so you can budget, if a lawyer doesn’t mention costs, avoid them!
Whatever the situation, it is important that you select a lawyer who can and will do all they can to guide you through the process and tailor their advice to the specific circumstances of your case. Family law is personal in its very nature, and the best family lawyers will provide you with the personalised and tailored service you need to get through life’s challenging times. We are sensitive to and aware of this at BPE, and are always happy to assist clients to reach the best outcome possible, and to make the process of resolving family disputes that little bit easier.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.