As a legal practitioner, there are many different paths you could take when it comes to what area of law you want to practise in. One area that many solicitors choose to specialise in is concerned with the breakdown of marital and de-facto relationships.
Professionals who help clients with issues like divorce, child custody and property settlement are known as family lawyers like O’Sullivan Legal. They represent their clients in negotiations and courtroom hearings regarding their case and seek to achieve the best possible legal outcome.
If this type of work is attractive to you, then there are some essential skills you need to learn before you can be effective in helping people and building a positive reputation for yourself as a professional. Let’s take a look at 3 things you need to be a great family lawyer.
A good family lawyer needs to have excellent negotiation skills and preferable training in ADR (alternative dispute resolution). This is essential because modern courtrooms are overburdened with litigious issues over child custody and property settlement, meaning that there’s a long waiting list for new cases.
In order to lessen the load on the court system, disputing ex-partners are required to prove to the court that they made a sincere attempt at negotiation strategies before seeking litigation. More often than not, this negotiation produces better, longer lasting arrangements between disputing parties.
This is favoured by the court system because it means they won’t be burdened with extra cases that could have been solved via a negotiated settlement. The vast majority of the cases you will take on as a family lawyer will end with you negotiating with another solicitor representing the other party.
Being the kind of solicitor who can easily work with and come to agreements with your counterparts will make you popular in the legal community as someone who gets results. Having good working relationships with courtrooms and other solicitors is essential for success.
One of the most important roles you can fill as a family lawyer is to act as a pseudo-therapist for your client. While nobody is expecting you to actually act as a mental health practitioner, its implied that you will act as you clients close ally during this highly difficult emotional period.
Your client will likely come to you still reeling from the emotional pain of the split and will likely have some very nasty opinions about their ex-lover. A good family lawyer will know how to tell the difference between an emotional tantrum from their client and what their sincere beliefs are.
For example, your client may really seem to resent their ex-partner and seek total custody of children in order to spite them. This course of action is based in irrational, emotional thinking and it’s your job to advise them that it’s not only unethical but unlikely to succeed in the courtroom.
Your job is not to act as a hired gun for your client against their ex, your job is to help end the dispute in the most mutually agreeable way possible that also protects children.
Public speaking and rhetorical skill
Sometimes as a family lawyer you will be forced to litigate in a courtroom when negotiation between the parties breaks down and becomes impossible to continue. In this situation, you would benefit from having advanced public speaking skills that allow you to use your rhetoric to argue the case for your client.