Tips for clients who are approaching family lawyers for the first time

Approaching family lawyers for the very first time can be a anxious experience.

A decision might not have been made officially to pursue legal action, but there is a desire to know more about the situation and establish what rights they are afforded and what responsibilities rest on their shoulders.

Rather than being consumed by stress and tension, it is important to acknowledge a few key tips that will make the discussions easier.

Understand the lawyer’s legal history

Family lawyers are not one-size-fits-all operators. There will be some specialists who apply their skills across the spectrum, but many will have built their own unique niche in the industry. This will range from divorce and de facto relationships to property and asset divisions, adoption and child custody matters. Having an understanding of their history and what their past case studies have been will provide a stronger indication of their fitness for overseeing the case.

Know the basic facts of the case

There will be information that some participants won’t be privy to and rights that they don’t know they or their former partner are afforded. However, it is necessary to grasp the essential facts of the case when sitting down with family lawyers for the very first time. The more information they know and the earlier they can establish a timeline of events, the easier it will be to expedite the case, obtain firsthand information and build a platform to work with.

Be honest about events

Family lawyers cannot help their clients if they are kept in the dark about key events. These discussions remain purely confidential, so there is no upside when failing to disclose what occurred. They will be able to outline a timeline, determine what rights and responsibilities are afforded to each party and what the next best steps of action are to take. These professionals become partners for clients, empowering them to do much of the legwork of obtaining key documents and firsthand information before proceeding through legal maneuvers.

Ask them to clarify

Many participants who are discussing a subject with family lawyers can feel out of their depth. If a solicitor begins to talk past the individual by using legal jargon, stop them in their tracks. If something is misunderstood, it serves no one’s best interests to continue along in the hope of making assumptions about what they are explaining. The best operators in this field will speak in plain English and won’t fall into that trap, but if they are speaking too quickly or using complicated terminology, stop them immediately and ask them to clarify.

Don’t be obliged to hire on the spot

There will be a number of situations where firms of family lawyers decide to open their doors to local constituents, providing a valuable service to men and women who require guidance and legal counsel. Yet there should be no pressure or sense of obligation to hire these operators from that point forward. There will be financial considerations at play (ask about their fees) as well as the practicality of pursuing legal action. It is recommended that participants take stock of the situation and consider what benefits a solicitor can give them against the alternative measures. Professional lawyers will afford time to individuals who walk through their doors for the first time, understanding that it will be a significant decision.


Family lawyers are there to help. There is no strings attached once they open their doors for a free consultation, but this is time that should be used wisely. Take note of their advice, obtain as much information as possible and undertake some research into their history and credentials. If these steps are taken, there will be less left to chance for the client.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
Executive Editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to business leaders and entrepreneurs around Australia and across the world. You can contact Mike here.
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