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Tips for Family Law Practitioners

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Though not every family law case ends up like this one, nonetheless, family law cases are often fraught with more emotion and problems than any other type of case.  Clients often come with misinformation about the process and unreasonable expectations about how much the case should cost.

While trends such as collaborative lawyering may address some of these problems in the long run, this article,  Enlightening Family Law Clients (National Law Journal 6/26/06) has some ideas for the short term.  Authors Mary Kay Kisthardt and Barbara Handschu advise that you provide clients with as much information as possible on family court proceedings, to keep records of client communications in writing, return phone calls and draft a retainer that allows you to withdraw from the case if the client fails to pay.
What other tips do you have for making family law cases more manageable for lawyers and their clients?

  • My former boss, who has practiced family law almost exclusively for 18 years, told me that the two most important things the family lawyer must remember are:
    (1) You are your client’s lawyer, not her father/brother/cousin/buddy; a successful lawyer-client relationship depends upon maintaining that dynamic.
    (2) Always, always, always, always be honest with your client. Never tell him that he’ll win a case you think he’ll probably lose and vice-versa. Be honest about the big things, and be honest about the small things.
    A family law practice can thrive on word-of-mouth referrals, and keeping these two “commandments” will help that happen.

  • My former boss, who has practiced family law almost exclusively for 18 years, told me that the two most important things the family lawyer must remember are:
    (1) You are your client’s lawyer, not her father/brother/cousin/buddy; a successful lawyer-client relationship depends upon maintaining that dynamic.
    (2) Always, always, always, always be honest with your client. Never tell him that he’ll win a case you think he’ll probably lose and vice-versa. Be honest about the big things, and be honest about the small things.
    A family law practice can thrive on word-of-mouth referrals, and keeping these two “commandments” will help that happen.

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