How to choose a family lawyer – Ian Walker
How to choose a family lawyer
Everyone looking for a family lawyer wants to choose the best one they can. But if you’ve never instructed one before, how should you go about finding the best lawyer for you?
These days there is a great deal of information available about the services provided by family lawyers, but it can be confusing to know what it all means, and how much importance to attach to it.
To assist, here are some of the factors that you might take into account when choosing a family lawyer.
As with many other services, people often choose a lawyer based upon a recommendation.
A recommendation can obviously be a useful indication of expertise, although it should of course be borne in mind that no two cases are the same, and just because a lawyer might have done a good job in one case doesn’t mean that they will do a good job in another.
And in any event, many people do not know anyone who has recently instructed a family lawyer, so they will not be able to get a recommendation.
There is, however, another type of recommendation: testimonials. You can find some testimonials from some of our satisfied clients here.
Whilst it is of course quite possible to be an excellent family lawyer at the beginning of one’s career, experience is a very important factor to consider when choosing a family lawyer.
It is often claimed by lawyers in other areas of the law that there is no ‘law’ in family law. This is not true, but there is an element of truth in it: family law, more perhaps than other areas of law, requires a ‘feel’ for the subject, which can often only be gained through experience. After all, family lawyers deal with the most personal and sensitive matters, and clients want more than simply to have the law quoted at them.
Charges (including legal aid)
Of course, choosing a lawyer is not just about how good they are. It is no use finding the best family lawyer if you can’t afford to pay their charges!
Unfortunately, it is often very difficult to find out in advance how much a lawyer will charge. But there is no point only finding out after you have instructed them. That is why we, unlike most firms of solicitors, publish all our hourly charge rates on our website – you can find them here.
Legal aid is not available for most ‘private law’ family cases (i.e. cases not involving social services), but it is still available for public law cases, cases involving domestic abuse, and mediation. We offer a legal aid service for these cases – for full details, see here.
We mentioned above how family law can differ from other areas of law. Another way in which it differs is the approach that (we think) family lawyers should adopt. Whereas in some other types of court claims the best approach can be quite aggressive, we do not believe that that is the best way to deal with family cases.
That is where Resolution membership comes in. Resolution is an association of family lawyers committed to promoting a constructive, non-confrontational, approach to family issues that considers the needs of the whole family. We firmly believe that this is the best approach, and all of our lawyers are members of Resolution.
You can find out more about Resolution here.
Expertise in a particular area of family law is of course gained by knowledge and experience. However, special expertise can also be demonstrated by membership of an expert panel.
Panels are run both by Resolution and The Law Society, the professional association that represents and governs solicitors. They offer specialist accreditation to lawyers who demonstrate outstanding levels of skill and expertise in particular areas. For example, Ian Walker is accredited by Resolution as a specialist family Solicitor, and several of our lawyers are members of the Law Society Children Panel, as explained here.