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Why Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

Are you charged with a crime, and you’re perplexed about your next move? It’s a great idea to hire a professional criminal defense lawyer. Consulting a defense lawyer is beneficial because you’ll navigate the legal system successfully. Being charged with a criminal offense is distressing, regardless if you’re innocent or at fault. Note that the criminal and legal procedures can be overwhelming and confusing, especially if you’re a first-timer. Criminal offense has plenty of questions from the police, paperwork to file, and evidence to gather. If there’s a minor mistake in these processes, they’ll be a higher probability of fine, sentence, and harsh charge.

There’s no need to take chances because a criminal offense is a serious offense that might ruin your future. Many individuals may think that it’s cost-effective to represent themselves in the courtroom. This isn’t the case because you’ll lose a lot of money in the long run and time. Therefore, it’s a wise deal to hire a reputable defense lawyer because you’ll have a higher chance of winning the case. A criminal defense attorney will perform an in-depth investigation in order to prove your innocence in the courtroom. There are numerous benefits to why you should consider hiring a reputable criminal defense lawyer.

1. Expertise

The right criminal defense lawyer should have a minimum of five years in this field. In addition, these professionals have an excellent reputation. An experienced defense lawyer has enough training in criminal law. Therefore, this explains why they’re competent in this field. Also, there in-depth training has allowed them to identify the blind spots that will lead to your release. Note that you’re advised to hire a professional defense lawyer because they have represented numerous clients with the same criminal case. An expert defense lawyer will analyze your case bit by bit in order to identify the right perspective to employ in the courtroom.

2. They Posses the Right Resources

Representing yourself can be a daunting task because you don’t have sufficient resources that can effectively handle your case. The right criminal defense lawyer will gather relevant evidence, look for witnesses and cross-examine them, analyze your case, and prepare a winning strategy. The best criminal defense attorney will have ways on how to obtain court resources that will help you win your case. Expert defense lawyer knows how to identify experts who’ll help you succeed in the case. In addition, their sufficient resources will help them to effectively tackle your case.

3. Time Management

Time is an essential element in a courtroom. The way you respond to various questions plays a major role in deciding your sentence or release. Therefore, it’s a great idea to invest in a professional defense lawyer who has been in this field for quite some time. Preparing a criminal case can be a tiresome and time-consuming task, especially if you have insufficient expertise in this industry. Therefore, representing yourself will waste your fruitful time because you’ll have to conduct in-depth research on how criminal cases are handled. Therefore, it’s a great idea to hire a professional criminal defense lawyer with sufficient knowledge and skills in this field. These experts will save you precious time. Therefore, you’ll have enough time to enhance production in your area of specialization. You can also spend this time performing your day-to-day activities or taking adequate care of your family.

4. Cost-Saving

The right criminal defense lawyer will help you save a lot of money in the long term. For instance, if a lawyer helps you win the case, you’ll escape the jail term and higher fines, which might consume a huge amount of your money. The best criminal attorney will catalyze the process or slow it down, depending on any foreseen challenge. It’s affordable to hire the right criminal defense lawyer because you won’t miss your working days. This means you’ll increase production in your line of business because you’ll have peace of mind. Note that the right defense lawyer will negotiate for lower fines if you’re guilty. Also, these professionals will ensure you’re paid damages if you’re cleared innocent by the court of law.

5. Protection From Hefty Penalties

In a criminal charge, the plaintiff will work extra to ensure they win this case. Therefore, it’s important to hire the best defense lawyers because you know how to identify the weak links in your case. If you’re innocent and accused of a crime, it’s so painful and distressing to receive a hefty penalty for something you’re not aware of. The criminal lawyer will help you avoid severe penalties that might ruin your reputation. If the judge finds out that you’re guilty even if deep down your heart, you know you’re innocent, then a criminal defense lawyer will play a vital role to ensure you get a fair penalty. You’ll, therefore, receive a reduced fine or sentence.

6. Enough Knowledge on the Legal System

In order to succeed in a criminal case, it’s important to understand the different parties involved, such as the judges and prosecution lawyers. Avoid Do It Yourself technique because you won’t have any idea about the plaintiff, their lawyers, or the judge. You’ll be an easy target because the prosecutor will use tactics that will lead to higher penalties or jail terms. The right criminal attorney will have interact will numerous prosecutors and judges. This will help them understand how they operate, what they dislike, and what perspective to use in order to win the case. A highly trained lawyer will plan a defense strategy that will improve your chances of winning the case.

7. Dealt With Similar Cases

An experienced criminal defense lawyer will have dealt with numerous cases through previous clients. This allows them to know the right procedure to use in order to win your case. These experts have won numerous cases that are identical to yours. Therefore, investing in these experts will help you win the case. This is the reason why a professional defense lawyer will have an excellent reputation in this industry.

8. Advice on Possible Outcomes

A professional defense lawyer will advise you on various outcomes of your case. An expert defense lawyer knows the possible penalty for your case. Therefore, they’ll help you with the best tips and employ the best techniques in order to give you peace of mind.

9. Access to Law Enforcement Conduct

Your knowledge through Facebook, Television, or media isn’t enough to help you understand how law enforcement should obtain their evidence. The best criminal defense lawyer will have adequate knowledge to identify improper procedures by law enforcement agents. This will help them identify loopholes and blind spots in your case. Therefore, the lawyer will make sure that all your rights are put into consideration when conducting their investigation to gather evidence. Improper protocols in the process will lead to the dismissal of your case.

Conclusion

Above-listed are benefits of hiring a reputable criminal defense lawyer.

Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Family Law Attorney

5 Things to Know About Hiring a Family Law Attorney | Attorney at Law  Magazine

All lawyers hope to help their clients, but few do so with the emotional, personal impact of family law attorneys. After all, the things often at stake in family law cases—like a child’s welfare or justice for an abused spouse—have a gravitas many other areas of the law cannot match.

Of course, family law is about much more than those heavier topics. But wherever you find family law attorneys, they play a vital role in helping people navigate some of the more poignant periods of their lives, using vast legal expertise and extraordinary empathy.

Sound like the kind of lawyer you want to be? Keep reading for your guide to becoming a family law attorney.

First things first: what do family law attorneys do?

As the term implies, family lawyers focus on issues that have an impact on families. They deal with matters such as divorce proceedings, adoptions, and child custody. Common tasks include drafting custody agreements, wills, prenuptial agreements, and other documents. While some family lawyers engage in litigation, it is a less prevalent aspect of this practice.

But family law is also a surprisingly broad legal area, says New England Law | Boston Professor Monica Teixeira de Sousa, advisor for the school’s Family Law Concentration. It touches upon everything from constitutional law to tax law to real estate. “The best way to think about it is, what are the legal issues that are likely to impact the family unit?” she says.

In divorce cases, for example, considerations may include whether they are handled on a fault or no-fault basis, how assets will be divided, and various possible grounds such as irreconcilable differences, mental cruelty, or desertion. Child custody and support may be major factors as well. Some family law attorneys also delve into criminal law, dealing with individuals who have been accused of abuse or neglect. Finally, as society changes and technology advances, new aspects of family law are likely to emerge. Applications in genetic engineering of human beings, for example, may bring a host of new legal questions that family law attorneys will help address.

Beyond the specialized knowledge, succeeding as a family lawyer requires the same basic skills as other legal areas: strong written and verbal communication, time management, critical thinking and analysis, etc. Moreover, strong “people skills” are especially important for family lawyers. Given the deeply personal issues inherent to family law, the ability to relate calmly and constructively with people who may be emotionally vulnerable is a must. 

Another reality of a family law practice that should be recognized, Professor Teixeira de Sousa points out, is that dealing with people in these situations (divorce, custody battles, etc.) can be personally challenging. “You’re dealing with all the most intimate personal details of other people’s lives” she says. “No matter how thorough a job you do as an attorney, you may not be able to make them happy. Basic best practices such as promptly returning client phone calls are particularly important in this type of practice too.”

Despite these challenges, family law has much to offer, and supporting clients in even the most difficult cases can be deeply rewarding. Family law also remains a crucial legal specialty, covering issues core to a society’s culture and values.

“There’s a rich body of [family] law,” Professor Teixeira de Sousa says. “Students are often fascinated by the way in which the common law [cases] reflect evolving gender roles and societal expectations of the family, and how there is always a new and exciting legal development around the corner.”          

How to become a family lawyer

How to Choose a Right Family Law Attorney | Attorney at Law Magazine

The first basic requirement in becoming a lawyer is, of course, earning a bachelor’s degree. However, it’s worth noting that there is no single degree or program that leads to law school or even a family law career in particular. Students who aspire to attend law school major in a variety of areas such as political science, history, economics, or business. Even more technical fields such as engineering or nursing can be good precursors to a legal career. The same is true of graduate degrees in any number of fields. 

After successfully navigating the admissions process and enrolling in law school, the courses you take will help determine your future career options. An array of basic courses is required for all law students, but over the duration of your studies, you’ll also be able to take classes that will prepare you more specifically for family law. At New England Law, for example, students may complete the concentration in family law by earning ten credits from a selection of courses such as Children and the Law, Divorce Law, Domestic Violence, Family Law, Juvenile Law, Law and the Elderly, and more.

Law students can gain early exposure to family law through volunteer work, internships, fellowships, or part-time employment. Students also gain valuable experience through clinics and externships. In the Family Law Clinic at New England Law, students get to help real clients with such vital work as filing restraining orders against domestic abusers. They also work under the supervision of two attorneys who have decades of experience in family law.

These hands-on experiences are especially important in helping students determine if becoming a family lawyer is right for them. “Get experiential training early to see if you’re really cut out for it,” Professor Teixeira de Sousa advises. “It’s one thing to learn about [family law] in the classroom, but you won’t know if it’s the right fit for you until you roll up your sleeves and begin interacting with real live clients.”

It’s one thing to learn about family law in the classroom, but you won’t know if it’s the right fit for you until you roll up your sleeves and begin interacting with real live clients.

Like so many lawyers just starting out, a fateful experience early in her career exposed Starlene Alves to family law, setting her on a path in this legal niche. “I was young and had an amazing opportunity to work for an experienced [family law] attorney in my hometown,” Alves says. “She practiced predominately divorce, custody, and support cases, so I was exposed to that type of family law for nearly eleven years.”

Alves eventually enrolled at New England Law | Boston, looking to expand her career options. “New England Law prepared me to be a well-rounded attorney by giving me the opportunity to explore other areas of law and to be involved in different internships,” she says.

After graduating, Alves started a family law firm with another New England Law graduate, Sania Santos: Alves|Santos, LLP. “We both had very different tracks in law school and experiences post-graduation,” Alves says. “When we decided to open a law firm together, we were able to combine our experiences and offer a variety of services.” Today, the partners delve into everything from personal injury to juvenile law to employment discrimination to immigration.         

“If you’re thinking about opening up your own family law practice, there are many things to learn,” Professor Teixeira de Sousa adds. She suggests taking classes in areas you might not otherwise consider such as taxes, modern real estate, and wills, estates, and trusts. These diverse experiences can round out your legal skillset. But she adds, “Don’t let the number of discrete topics that fall under family law scare you away, as you’ll have a lifetime to build your expertise.”

After passing the bar exam, future family lawyers often go on to work with nonprofit organizations, small to mid-sized firms, or government agencies. For example, state or regional associations that advocate for survivors of domestic violence may employ attorneys with a background in family law. Or they might start their own firms like Alves and Santos. Individuals with the required credentials and experience may find teaching family law to be a rewarding experience as well.

Where to learn more

Choosing Between a Divorce Lawyer and a Family Law Attorney in NC

Ready to explore a possible future in family law?

Start by taking a closer look at law schools with family law programs; their websites can provide a great introduction to what this career path entails, as you explore related courses and experiential learning opportunities. Then try visiting the schools themselves, scheduling a meeting with a family law professor if you can. You might also contact the admissions office to see if they can connect you with family law faculty, students, and alumni via phone or email, so you ask them your questions and learn firsthand about becoming a family lawyer.

Similarly, for a personal view on studying and working in this field, you can conduct your own outreach to family lawyers in your local area. Many lawyers are quite receptive to polite requests for brief informational interviews, which can be informative and motivating. (You may be able to make this connection through a family friend or relative too.)

Of course, there’s also no such thing as too much online research, and you can learn more about becoming a family lawyer through professional organization websites. For example, The American Bar Association offers a “Section of Family Law” that features information not only for working lawyers but also students and others interested in the field. Their resources include conferences and webinars, magazines, email updates on recent family law cases, and online access to archived cases. Other organizations of interest include the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys.

As you review information from these and other sources, you’ll find that family law offers many challenges and rewards. Perhaps this multi-dimensional field will be part of your own future as well.

9 Skills Of A Successful Lawyer

There are some who have it and some who don’t. Having the right set of skills of a lawyer can lead a career of abundance and great success. If you’re looking to brush up your skills, here’s a list of 9 skills to become a better lawyer.

1. Strong Communication Skills

Lawyers must have strong oral communication skills and written communication skills to accurately relay critical legal information. As well, a significant portion of a lawyer’s job is to create strong and convincing arguments which are presented in the courtroom. Judges and juries all have their own opinions, beliefs, and backgrounds so a lawyer’s ability must be able to reach out to all of them and convince accordingly.

In addition, good listening skills are found in a successful lawyer. Every client has their own version of their situation. Lawyers must listen carefully to the details and analyze what their clients need and how to take action.

2. People Skills

Lawyers are in constant contact with people with is why people skills are required. The entire system of law has engagement with people. Judges, clerks, senior partners, barristers, and other legal workers are just some of the people lawyers will encounter on a daily basis. Being able to be relatable, polite, respectful and interesting some skills to consider.

If this is a skill lacking in a lawyer, it can lead to some very nasty situations with clients seeking retribution for their perceived mistreatment. Regardless of how good a lawyer may be at formulating arguments and winning cases, maintaining good relationship develops a deeper sense of professionalism

3. Time Management Skills

Lawyer’s have a heavy workload and can experience demanding deadlines at short notice. Having the right time management and organizational skills allows for a lawyer’s work to be performed more effortlessly and efficiently.

Time management is the core of a lawyer’s work ethics. Lawyers who prioritize their work and stay ahead of their tasks can lead to more time to enjoy extracurriculars or taking on more cases.

4. Research Skills

Lawyers will spend a lot of time digging around in archives and reading up on old cases. Research skills include the ability to read large amounts of information in short time, understanding facts, figures, and charts, and analyzing matter in a way that can be used later are vital features of a lawyer.

Research skills should be honed early in a lawyer’s career. To do so, make a habit of summarizing a few important points from large documents and articles. This is extremely advantageous when caseloads increase which require more background details, legal document drafting, and preparation advice for clients.

5. Detail Oriented

All lawyers have to have an eye for details. Accuracy and precision is needed to become a successful lawyer. If a lawyer makes a mistake on a single word it can change the entire meaning of a contract or a clause. Lawyers must ensure all their communications, such as email, letters, lawyer websites and legal documents, are always perfect for giving them to a client.

Small mistakes can lead to a bad impression on a client and a bad experience for a lawyer. The worst case scenario would be a lawyer getting sued for malpractice for mistakes that could have been avoided.  

6. Creativity

The fundamental part of a lawyer’s job is to win cases for their clients or protect their client’s interests. Being creative is a skill needed by successful lawyers because it allows for flexibility and a wide range of possible solutions when working on a case.

Lawyers have to be both logical and analytical. However, they should not ignore their creativity. Having that creative edge allows for a lawyer to outmaneuver any situation, in and out of the courtroom.

7. Judgement

Although creativity is important, a lawyer also requires strong judgment at the core of their practice. Lawyers need the ability to logically and reasonably draw conclusions based on the limited amount of information they receive.

Throughout a court hearing, lawyers must be aware of the arguments their opponents are making which finding weaknesses and flaws in logic through the hearings.

8. Stress Management

Lawyers spend a great amount of time listening to clients and trying to solve their problems. There are some clients who have often experienced an extreme incident that creates a difficult and stressful situation for themselves and the lawyer. Mentioned early was the importance of having both people and communication skills. It is during these high-stress situations that these skills are needed to help handle a client’s stress.

In fact, these same skills are critical for lawyers themselves. Lawyers will occasionally take on the stresses of their clients. Having the ability to manage stress, both in clients and within themselves, is a valuable skill to maintain a long-lasting career as a lawyer.

9. Business Skills

Every lawyer, whether working at a firm or solo practitioner, must be aware of the business side of their practice. Law is a billable service that receives the majority of their income by the hours they can bill. If lawyers lack the necessary business skills to bill their clients accordingly, it could lead to significant losses for the firm or personal practice.

Being able to explain your hourly rates, additional charges, and contracting with clients is critical for a lawyer to continue to practice law. However, billing is just one aspect that has to be learned. Marketing, networking, and accounting for lawyers are equally important.

Choosing the Right Family Law Attorney

Choosing a family law attorney in Raleigh, NC can be a very difficult decision. The right lawyer can make a real difference both in the outcome of your divorce and how you make it through the very emotional process. You want a trusting relationship. You want a lawyer who is serious about your case and listens to your needs. You want a lawyer who moves your case forward to the conclusion. Here are some tips on choosing the right lawyer.

Our family law attorneys offer tips on how to pick the right family law attorney.


Whether you’re considering a divorce, attempting to work out custody and support issues, planning an adoption or facing another family law issue, choosing the right family law attorney can ease your mind and produce better results. Your lawyer becomes your partner in the process, helping you achieve the outcome you want within the boundaries of the law.

Here are some tips to help you select an attorney whom you can trust, who listens to your needs and who keeps your case moving forward until it is concluded.

Find an attorney you can work with.

Your lawyer will be your partner throughout your case. You may need to confide sensitive or embarrassing information to your attorney – things you would prefer not to tell anyone. You’ll be speaking to your attorney frequently, and you’ll need to be able to provide information and understand your lawyer’s explanations of certain steps in your case or how the law applies in your situation.

Consequently, choosing a lawyer you trust and can communicate with is crucial. While a law firm’s website and other materials provide a good start, don’t base your decision solely on the law firm. Instead, speak to each attorney you’re considering. Ask questions like: Does the attorney have experience with cases like mine? Do they explain things in a way that makes sense to me? Do they answer my questions? Do I feel like I can trust this person?

Interview prospective attorneys with your needs in mind.

Interview prospective attorneys with your needs in mind.

When you contact a law firm to speak to a prospective attorney, be as clear as you can about what you’re looking for. Many lawyers will agree to speak to you for no charge so that both of you can determine whether you’ll be a good “fit” for one another.

While speaking to a prospective attorney, keep the following issues in mind:

  • Does your personality mesh with the attorneys? No matter how experienced a lawyer is, if you do not get along, your case will be more difficult.
  • Communication and promptness. Ask each lawyer how you can contact him or her and how long it will take them to get back to you. Excessive delays or “radio silence” from your lawyer can cause unnecessary aggravation, so choose an attorney who is dedicated to regularly touching base.
  • Willingness to work within your budget. It’s important to talk about money, so that you can get the results you need without draining your bank account. Most attorneys are accustomed to discussing fees and costs up front and will appreciate meeting a prospective client who also understands the need to budget wisely.

Ask for advice, but make your own decision.

Asking friends, family members and co-workers to recommend an attorney is one way to collect information about family law attorneys and law firms in your area. Attorney guides like Martindale-Hubbell or Avvo can also point you to local law firms, as can reading law firm websites and reviews.

No matter where you gather your initial information, however, speak to the lawyer before making your decision. Remember that every family, and every family law case, is unique. Your needs are different from the needs of friends or family members, even if they faced a similar problem. Also, remember to take online reviews with a grain of salt. It may be impossible to tell who posted them or what agenda the writer had when they made the post.

Get help from a family law attorney to get you through troubling times to a brighter future.

 Contact us today to learn more about us and how we can help you.

Pick a lawyer, not a law firm.

The most important relationship is not between the law firm and the client, but between the law partner and a client. Seek out a relationship with an individual partner in a firm as your lawyer. Never have a relationship with a law firm — have a relationship with a lawyer. Make it that partner’s responsibility to manage your case. If your case is passed off to an associate, demand an explanation and demand to know the associate’s experience. If the law partner that drew you to the law firm wants to pass off your case to an associate, then you should be thinking about another firm. Ask the lawyer you meet with this question: “Will you be handling my case?”

Ask yourself: “Do I like this lawyer?”

You must be able to get along with your lawyer. The initial interview is as much about deciding if you can have a working relationship with your attorney as it is finding out about how the law applies to your case. If the lawyer you are meeting with is abrasive, distracted, disorganized, or acts in any other way that does not give you confidence, consider how you will feel later on in the case if you chose this lawyer.

Demand expertise and experience.

It used to be common for North Carolina lawyers to handle all manner of cases from divorce to traffic to real estate. More and more lawyers are limiting their practice to specific fields, including family law. You would not go to a general practitioner for open-heart surgery, and you should be very hesitant about going to a lawyer who does not limit his or her practice to family law matters if you need a divorce.

Fees: Don’t give your lawyer a blank check.

You should be able to get a very good idea of the cost of your case from your Wake County lawyer. Ask if there is an option for a flat fee so you will know what the case will cost you. Unless a lawyer can offer you a flat fee option, you have no way of knowing how much legal representation will cost.

Settlement and litigation.

Settlement and litigation are two sides of the same coin. Most family law cases settle out of court. Some do not. You need a lawyer that is equally comfortable in settlement negotiations and the courtroom. Ask your lawyer what training and experience he or she has had in family law negotiations, mediation, and collaborative law. Ask your lawyer if he or she has the experience to handle your case in court should attempt at settlement fail.

How Courts Work

Steps in a Trial

Civil and Criminal Cases

The law deals with two kinds of cases. Civil cases involve conflicts between people or institutions such as businesses. A civil case usually begins when a person or organization determines that a problem can’t be solved without the intervention of the courts. In civil cases, one (or more) of these persons or organizations brings suit (i.e., files a complaint in court that begins a lawsuit).

Criminal cases involve enforcing public codes of behavior as embodied in the laws, with the government prosecuting individuals or institutions. In a criminal case, the government brings charges against the person alleged to have committed the crime.

What types of cases are civil? Divorce and related lawsuits (child support, custody, and the like) account for a very large number of civil cases. Cases involving contracts are also frequent. Automobile collisions account for many tort (personal injury) cases, another common kind of civil case. An auto collision gives rise to a civil case if one driver sues the other, or if a passenger in one of the cars sues either driver. An auto collision might also lead to a criminal case, if it involves allegations of a crime such as drunken driving or leaving the scene of an accident.

In many parts of the world, civil and criminal legal actions are combined into one case, but in our country they are not. If there are serious civil and criminal aspects of an event, there will be two (or more) distinct cases. An example would be a crime leading to a criminal trial of the defendant, with the victims filing a separate civil suit against the defendant to recover damages caused by the crime.

5 Ideas to Improve the Family Law System’s Efficiency and Accessibility

Raising family law system’s efficiency could make domestic disputes less traumatic and their resolution less expensive— besides streamlining the litigation.

family law system's efficiency

Many divorce lawyers practice some form of alternative dispute resolution in addition to estate litigation because of the traumatic impact judicially determined divorces have on families who are already traumatized emotionally, mentally, and financially by the divorce process. The current system does not do enough to utilize available resources to make the process less confrontational and more user-friendly for divorcing couples. There is a dire need to improve the family law’s efficiency for improving resolution of cases involving custody, child support and divorce.

The most common complaints I hear about the divorce process are its expense, the lack of availability of courts, and lack of consistency of results. This frustration is exacerbated by the fact that clients usually have a “friend” who got what they wanted and don’t understand why their results weren’t similar. This gives clients the impression that courts aren’t fair, and that justice is fleeting. This does not even include the horrible toll custody litigation has on the family. Here are five common-sense alternatives that could make domestic controversies less expensive – both financially and emotionally.

Ideas To Improve Family Law System’s Efficiency

Budget 2021: Boost to assist women with family law system

1. Divorce Panels

Family lawyers know that the judicial system was not designed to handle divorce cases. As a substitute for battle, the court system often appears to litigants as cold and unfair. Until we can mandate a substitute for courts applying a medieval concept to the breakup of a family, litigants who can’t agree on their future will be forced to apply a “win-lose” resolution to the breakup. My first recommendation for fixing the system is to create panels of lawyers, mental-health and behavioral professionals, and guardians ad litem to decide the ground rules for failed families.

Perhaps family lawyers should be required to serve on the panels, which would decide custody, visitation, child support, and protective orders. Court “policies” that award custody and support may not be in the best interest of the family – but if a lawyer, mental-health professional, and child advocate could decide these issues, parties would be reasonably assured that a fair and impartial result could be found. These panels would serve pro bono and therefore greatly reduce the cost of the process. There would be no need to involve courts unless there was evidence of bias or manifest injustice.

2. Loser Pays

The American rule, which requires parties to pay their own attorney’s fees, can have a detrimental effect on quick resolutions of issues and oftentimes forces the “poorer” spouse/litigant to give up because they don’t have the resources to battle like their opponent. The party with resources might refuse to settle or compromise because they know they can outspend their opponent.

The British rule, which requires the party who loses to pay all of the attorney’s fees, could even the playing field and force the party with resources to have to risk having to pay the winner’s attorney’s fees, which is a powerfully persuasive reason to compromise. To take this one step further, if the loser’s attorneys are responsible for paying the winner’s attorney’s fees, this would be an even more powerful persuasion to reach a compromise.

If the jurisdiction has administered court preferences regarding custody, child support, and other family matters, and a party challenges those preferences because they are “different”, they should pay the court costs and their opponents attorney’s fees if they lose.

3. Clerk’s Courts

Unfortunately, a lot of court, judges’, and litigants’ time is wasted by cases that don’t really rise to the level of a controversy. Jurisdictions could institute clerk’s courts who deal with prepackaged divorces, uncontested custody matters, and parties who have a settlement agreement in place. The judicial system could institute relatively lower fees for choosing this route and make the filing fees for cases requiring judicial determination more expensive. This would result in people choosing to appear before a clerk rather than a judge because of the cost of the latter. The economic pressure to choose a clerk would take a tremendous strain off our domestic court systems.

4. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify

The more we can streamline the family law system’s efficiency by creating user-friendly forms, the better – especially if we make the forms simple enough for lay people to use. Sometimes, it appears that forms are unnecessarily complex only to require litigants to hire lawyers to fill them out.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the court system is that litigants cannot get help from court staff to fill out the usual forms. Perhaps lawyers could provide pro bono services, in proportion to the size of their practices, that are limited to filling out the forms. If the litigants choose to hire the lawyer who has helped them to fill out the forms to represent them in litigation, good for the lawyer. Most litigants just want help to fill out the forms and will take their chances in court. If we go to divorce panels as suggested above, litigants would have a better chance of having their concerns heard after filling out the forms.

5. Small Claims Property Division

There will always be a need for judicial supervision of large and complex marital estates. However, equitable distribution is simply not justified in estates that are less than some reasonable threshold amounts – such as $100,000 of marital assets, or even higher depending on demographics. The success of the creation of small claims courts for civil disputes warrants giving a similar threshold amount for property division. This could also be relegated to the divorce panels mentioned above.

Improving Family Law System’s Efficiency: Conscious Approach to Specific Disputes

Kerala high court allows young couple to be in live-in relationship |  Latest News India - Hindustan Times

As the number of divorces rises along with custody and property conflicts, there has to be a more conscious and mindful approach to these specific types of disputes. Marital and family conflict should be decided with compassion and understanding with the input of mental- and family-health professionals – not just left to a judge who may or may not appreciate the consequences of their actions on a family in a combative courtroom setting. Contact us for more information.

Pros and Cons of Being a Family Lawyer

Biggest Law Firms in South Africa - Business Link

What are the pros and cons of being a family lawyer?

First, you will really get to know your relatives. That’s because they will talk to you about delicate family issues more than your immediate family — like who’s having an affair, who’s the crazy uncle, where the dead bodies are, etc.

So yeah, that’s both a pro and a con. After that, they kind of line up like this:

Pro 1: Referrals

The Art of Referrals | SCORE

Statistically, it’s not that hard to find clients because half the people you know will get a divorce. Just do a good job, and they will come.

And family clients, who entrust their most important concerns to their lawyers, often turn to them for other legal services. So even if you don’t practice outside of family law, you can build a referral network by sending out cases to lawyers who do personal injury, criminal, medical malpractice, and other work.

Pro 2: Practice Variety

Family lawyers often say they enjoy the variety of their practice because the issues go beyond custody disputes and community property.

It can be more like a general practice with cross-overs into property law, criminal law, constitutional law and even probate. You may start by filing a petition in family court, spend a day in domestic violence, wend your way through juvenile proceedings, and end up in probate court.

Pro 3: Career Satisfaction

People find career satisfaction in many ways. You may value money, peer approval, community recognition or simply doing good.

Family law, unlike some practice areas, offers all these rewards. Financially, a family lawyer can do as well as other billable-hour attorneys — let’s say, $400 an hour? And in the colloquial community of family lawyers, peer approval is almost necessary to survive.

Being of value to society and doing good is also within the family lawyer’s grasp, as more practitioners embrace collaborative family law — focusing on helping families through divorce amicably.

Con 1 Emotional

Perhaps more than any other field, family law is inherently emotional because the cases are about people’s biggest life choices and corresponding feelings of failure.

While it helps to be empathetic, it can also be hard professionally to be objective in the break-up of a family. You will have more than one client break down in tears as you advise them of legal realities.

Con 2: Stressful

7 Tips On How To Handle Stressful Situations | Betterhelp

Unfortunately, the emotional nature of family law can spill over into even more stressful areas. More than a few family cases have turned into criminal cases, including the murders of family law attorneys.

Criminal lawyers, who see the blood and guts all the time, develop tough skins to deal with criminal behavior. Family lawyers, on the other hand, are more likely to take their clients’ pains and stresses personally.

Con 3: Addiction

Alcohol and other addictions too often become pseudo-salves for stressed-out attorneys. It’s not an occupational hazard for family lawyers, but it is a problem in a significant number of cases.

“At some point in your career, you will probably encounter another lawyer whose addiction problems impair their ability to practice,” according to Family Lawyer Magazine.

Because family lawyers often work alone or in small firms, isolation and addiction problems may follow.

Trust in The Legal Industry: How Law Firm Culture Can Affect Client Acquisition

Trust is an incredibly powerful resource for any business. Workplace trust is the basis for strong relationships and is crucial to success in business. Why? Well, businesses are built on relationships. All businesses no matter their size or the industry in which they work rely on relationships. This is no more true than when it comes to law firms and chambers. The importance of trust in the legal industry cannot be understated. Trust has a huge influence on the outcomes of casework and future business for those working in law. Losing trust, whether it be with employees or clients is hugely detrimental.

Reputation is a firm’s most valuable asset

Trustworthiness is one of the most vital considerations that clients make when choosing legal counsel. To quote the official guidance of the Solicitors Regulation Authority: ‘Clients often place their confidence in solicitors during times when they are at their most vulnerable; assuming they will protect their interests, money and assets and personal, often sensitive, information.’

A meta-analysis by LawNet of nearly 70,000 satisfaction surveys and 5,000 experience reviews found that two thirds of new business for firms is won by reputation and perceived trustworthiness. On the other hand, only 4% was won on price. But when cost was important, clients were actually more concerned with the pricing structure itself than the final cost. 

This highlights the need for transparency that led to the rule changes at the end of 2018 requiring firms to be more open about their credentials and pricing models. Clients are taking more interest in being regularly updated on the progress of their cases and getting to grips with the benefits of their chosen firm. It is therefore vital that firms take practical steps to meet the needs of the public.

The highest performing teams share one key characteristic: trust. Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Why low-trust firms are doomed to struggle

But it isn’t just the relationship between a firm and its clients that can cause issues. A breakdown in trust between co-workers can be disastrous for productivity. A study of over a thousand US workers, covered in the Harvard Business Review article “The Neuroscience of Trust,” found that respondents in the top quartile for workplace trust reported more than twice the level of energy at work, were over three quarters more engaged and had 50% greater productivity than those in the bottom quartile. They also experienced 40% less burnout from their workload.

With the current regulations demanding transparency, and prospective clients placing greater value than ever before on clear pricing models and regular updates, it would be problematic to assume that internal disputes don’t spill over to the client-side. So the question is, what steps can law firms take to foster trust in the workplace?

Here are a few tips for building trust and an open, honest culture in your firm:

  • Update your firm’s performance review methods
  • Harness the power of social employee recognition
  • Give people control over how they work
  • Prioritise management skills training for new partners
  • Build-in accountability to all you do
Open communication is vital in order to build relationships that produce success in firms. Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Update your firm’s performance review methods

The annual performance review is near-universally despised. Bosses hate conducting them, and employees dread sitting through them. What’s worse is that according to workplace analytics company Gallup, 8 out of 10 staff feel they are highly ineffective, and 6 in 10 managers believe the time that goes into setting them up is a waste of productivity due to the fact they are often untimely, based on best guesses and require a sizeable chunk of time to complete.  Regular but ultra-lightweight employee check-ins, such as those championed by Weekly10 give both staff and managers a way to raise issues, share successes and present feedback in a timely effective manner while only taking a few minutes to complete. 

Harness the power of social employee recognition

Giving staff a tool for social/peer recognition (such as Weekly10), letting them nominate a co-worker for the great work being done that may be missed by leadership, is a great way to build a workplace culture based on trust. Employee recognition helps create bonds across teams and locations within a firm, helps senior leadership unearth top talent and acts as an effective motivator for anyone recognised. This could be especially beneficial for paralegals and other support staff whose work can often be overshadowed by that of fee-earning associates. 

Give people control over how they work

One factor that can negatively impact workplace trust is when a worker has no control over how they perform their job. Be it non-standard office hours or the ability to work remotely, providing options for flexibility can be great for creating a sense of trust by making employees feel relied upon to complete their workload at their own pace. Flexible working arrangements are also becoming increasingly expected in today’s job market, so it’s as much an issue of recruitment potential as it is one of trust. If you’d like to know more about flexible working then we work with dozens of great clients (some of whom in the legal sector) utilising a range of approaches to give staff greater autonomy in how and when they work. We’d love to introduce you. Or alternatively, read our recent blog on the topic.

Where possible, look to remote or flexible working opportunities to build trust and a feeling of being valued within staff. Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

Prioritise management skills training for new partners

And finally, it’s important to make sure that anybody entering a management position has a working knowledge of key management skills. Associates are often promoted for their skill at legal casework rather than any perceived management potential, and many are forced to learn on the job. Research by the CIPD connects rising levels of at-work stress to poor management style. The only way to combat this is with practical, evidence-based leadership training so that employees feel they can be open with the firm’s partners. 

Who Gets the House in a Divorce?

Divorce and Home Ownership

Splitting a house during divorce Divorce can bring up a lot of questions. One of the main ones is “what about the house?” A house is not only typically a couple’s largest asset, but it’s also often the asset with the most emotional attachment. Your spouse and you decided that this was where you were going to spend the happiest of times – raising children and building a life. This emotional attachment can make it impossible to let go of and assign a value to. The personal importance of a house can make it the lynchpin of property division negotiations. Here are some common ways the family home is settled in a divorce.

Put the House Up for Sale

If neither spouse wants to stay in the home, or neither spouse can afford to stay in the home, you might want to put it on the market to try to get the best price possible. This can be hard for families because of the moving out process – everything can feel very final and “done.” But often times it’s easier to have the money from the sale than a large asset that reminds them of their divorce.

Buyout

A house buyout is when a spouse releases hers or his interest in the house – this is in exchange for cash or the promise of cash to be paid in the future. This often happens in instances where the primary caregiver for the children want to stay in the house with the children. There are a lot of intricacies with a buyout – you’ll want to work with a negotiator that can help advise you on this if you feel it’s the best option.

Co-Ownership

Sometimes a sale nor a buyout will work for your situation. In this case it might be best to consider co-ownership for a predetermined amount of time. This will need to be clearly defined. Essentially, this will redefine your relationship with your spouse – you will now have a business relationship of “co-owners” of the property.

6 Things You Might Not Know About Family Law

Family Law

As family law is so widely used in society, clients can accidentally spread common myths about family law that simply aren’t true. This article aims to set you straight with some truth-talking when it comes to family law and family lawyers in Melbourne.

Truth 1 – Waiting 12 Months Before Divorce

Breaking up is harder to do in Denmark after divorce law changes | Denmark  | The Guardian

Any family lawyers in Melbourne will be able to tell you that couples need to wait a minimum of 12 months after separating before they can file for an application for divorce. This 12-month period must demonstrate an irretrievable marriage breakdown. The period can involve reconciliations of up to 3 months before the separation period is reset. If there are reconciliations, the total time of separation will include periods before and after brief reconciliations.

Truth 2 – De Facto Definition

There’s a common myth that couples must live together for two years before they’re considered de facto. But the best family lawyers in Melbourne will be able to tell you that cohabitation is only one criterion for de facto status. Other factors that can impact this can include whether they have children if they share their finances, how they present their relationship to other people, and whether it’s a sexual relationship. Sometimes a couple could be thought of as de facto even if they live together for less than half of the year.

Truth 3 – Super is a Property of Marriage

Property Ownership Before and During Marriage, and After Separation | Lamudi

Leading family lawyers in Melbourne can tell you that since 2002, the Family Court treats superannuation as a “property of marriage”. This means that couples can split up their super entitlements as part of their property settlement. There are some exceptions to this, and splitting super does not turn it into immediate cash, either. Splitting super is not necessary, but it can be used to offset the division of other assets.

Truth 4 – No Parent Rights

Parents do not have rights in relation to their children, only responsibilities. Terms of the Family Law Act 1975 specify a child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. The only time when this is waived is when there are concerns about the safety of the child. Parenting matters are always worked at according to what is best for the child, not according to any right of a parent.

Truth 5 – Court Proceedings Unlikely

Magistrates' court proceedings - what to expect | Business Law Donut

Family lawyers in Melbourne may advise you that not many cases relating to family law will reach trial. This is because Family Court prefers mediation over trial due to delays in being listed for trial and also because of the large cost of legal proceedings.

Truth 6 – Children’s Issues Demand Mediation

Couples must attempt mediation before engaging family lawyers to pursue Family Court proceedings about children’s issues. If mediation is not possible or practical, or if there is violence or a risk to the children’s welfare, then this expectation is waived.  

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of family law, consult with suitably qualified and experienced family lawyers in Melbourne.