It may be stating the obvious but going through divorce can be unpleasant, uncertain and stressful. Deciding whether to divorce or not may be one of the most difficult decisions you make in your life. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the case that a Solicitor will set out on their own personal crusade. The process is governed by the client at all times.
Finding a Solicitor that gives expert, sensible and objective advice is vital, but how can you tell whether a Solicitor is good, bad or mediocre? Is the Solicitor a genuine Specialist, or are they simply saying that?
Here are some tips to assist:
- Can your chosen Solicitor offer Mediation? Do they have a qualified Collaborative Lawyer? Do they offer an initial free meeting so that you have an opportunity of meeting the representative and assessing whether you feel that they are appropriately qualified and professional?
- Are they members of the National Family Lawyers Organisation, Resolution? Resolution are an Organisation committed to providing a conciliatory and non-confrontational approach. That does not mean that they are “soft” or a “pushover”. It does mean however that you are more likely to get sensible objective advice and avoid the expense and stress of unnecessarily hostile and contentious communications.
- Does the Solicitor you intend to instruct enjoy a good reputation? Do any of your friends or family know them and do they come recommended? Are they recognised by an independent legal experts guide such as Chambers and Partners?
- Is the Solicitor an appropriate Specialist? Resolution offers a good way of assessing that through the Accredited Specialist Scheme. This is arguably the highest Accreditation achievable by a Family Specialist who may chose to specialise in certain areas of Family Law, e.g. co-habitation law, matrimonial/finance, Private Law children.
- Does your Solicitor listen to you? Each case is unique and advice needs to be bespoke rather than having the appearance of being “a production line”. The Solicitor should be approachable, knowledgeable and understanding. However, they must also be objective and straightforward in their advice. A good overview of the process with a reasonable indication of what will happen at the end, should be given at the first appointment. You need to question whether your Solicitor is suitably qualified. Ask about their experience.
- If it is a complex case, does the firm that you are instructing, have ample resources? For example, it may be useful in the event that you have Company and business issues for the Law firm instructed to have Specialists in that area. There may be overlaps in relation to Commercial property, Corporate and share transactions, Employment Law issues. Whilst many “boutique” family law firms suggest they have Specialist Family Lawyers, the reality is that Family Law covers a multitude of disciplines and access to additional resources can only assist your case.
- Above all you need to feel comfortable and confident with your Solicitor. Do not be afraid to ask questions and beware of being “promised the earth.” These days, the financial aspects of divorce are dealt with by reference to “fairness”.