Being a Family Law Solicitor can be challenging and rewarding.
You never quite know what the day has in store and you meet so many different types of people who all have different priorities.
The reality is that all of your clients wish they did not need a Family Law Solicitor, but circumstances dictate that they do. The Solicitor/client relationship within the Family Law arena can be complex and one of the hardest challenges is proving to clients that all of the work we do is necessary and that we really do try and keep their costs as low as possible.
How we feel in a Family Law court
Having said all of that, there is no greater feeling than walking out of a Courtroom knowing you have secured a more positive future for your client. At the start of a case, clients are often emotional, nervous and full of unanswered questions. Finishing a case where you know your client is settled, happy and positive about their future is the best feeling.
Clients often have a preconception of what Family Law Solicitors are like (scary bulldog types who are baying for blood!) but there is a different way of conducting Family Law cases and they won’t be left with a big mess at the end of it. Quite the opposite really…they will know everything has been sorted out properly.
My day as a Family Law Solicitor
9.00am I check my calendar when I first arrive at work so I have a rough idea of what appointments I have throughout the day. I then check any voicemails and review any e-mails that I have received overnight.
9.15am My secretary reviews my diary notes and brings up the relevant files. Sometimes this means it is necessary to chase clients or other solicitors so that matters can be progressed as quickly as possible. I am always very aware that clients are keen to bring matters to a swift conclusion so I like to be proactive rather than reactive.
9.30am Reception brings the post up to me with the relevant files. I have a quick look at all the post. This allows me to prioritise what might be urgent (for example if there is a Court hearing approaching) and what is less urgent.
One of the most important things you can do as a solicitor is to manage your client’s expectations. Even the most demanding client needs to understand that their case will not be prioritised over an urgent case, for example, if someone needs an injunction to protect them from harm. Equally, clients who might be particularly vulnerable and need an emergency Court order need to know that they will be prioritised.
10.00am I start working my way through the diary notes and post. I am lucky to be supported by an excellent and experienced secretary and we aim to respond to correspondence on the day we receive it.
Throughout my morning I regularly check my e-mails and try to respond to them as soon as possible. Some solicitors dislike e-mails because they can disrupt your day but I personally think they can make life easier for you and your clients They mean you can respond quickly and they help keep costs down because they avoid the client coming in for a lengthy appointment. They help you use your time more efficiently. It is always frustrating when you are dealing with a solicitor on the other side of a case who refuses to deal with matters via e-mail. It slows everything down quite considerably!
1.00pm Lunchtime. I usually grab a quick sandwich at my desk and check to see if I have any new voicemails. Then it is straight back to work.
2.00pm I might have a client appointment. They are great because they break up the day and I always enjoy meeting people. You never quite know what they are going to tell you or what help they are going to need, and that can be quite exciting, particularly when they tell you something you haven’t heard before and you have to do so research into their case. Most of my clients are recommended to me by other clients, which means they already have a level of trust in me. Some clients already have an expectation of what they are going to be told and it can be difficult to explain to them why their outcome might to different from that of their friends. With Family Law, every single case is different so advice has to be very tailored to each individual client.
4.00pm My secretary will bring typed letters up to me to review and sign.
5.00pm Before I leave the office, I always review my diary for the next day. If I have any Court hearings scheduled then I will often find myself thinking about the case and making notes throughout the evening.
5.30pm The office closes. I sometimes take time to deal with any administrative work (which sometimes takes a backseat!).