Family solicitors charge different rates based on their education, experience, and location. Some work alone, others in small practices who bill less due to the work they can physically take on. There are those who work in large firms and can charge more because of their reputation - prestige tends to come with a premium price tag. All these factors should be considered, but if you pay more for a solicitor, will you get a better divorce settlement? We discuss this below.
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Family solicitors charge different rates based on their education, experience, and location. Some work alone, others in small practices who bill less due to the work they can physically take on. There are those who work in large firms and can charge more because of their reputation – prestige tends to come with a premium price tag. All these factors should be considered, but if you pay more for a solicitor, will you get a better divorce settlement? We discuss this below.
Why are some family solicitors cheaper than others?
As outlined above, family solicitors charge different rates based on things such as location, experience, education, and firm reputation. Solicitors who are newly qualified or live in areas where wages are less than other, more affluent, parts of the country, will charge less than a lawyer who has been practising law for many years and is situated in a main city, for example.
If your chosen solicitor specialises in a particular area of law, such as high-value divorce settlements or complex child disputes, they may also cost more. If you have a complex case, you may think it is better to pay more as it may improve the outcome and cost you less in the long run.
Will I get a better divorce settlement if I have a good lawyer?
Nothing inherently makes a more expensive lawyer better. But the bigger firms tend to have teams of administrative assistants, junior lawyers, trainees, IT professionals, and a range of other support staff at their disposal. All of these additional people and resources help make lawyers work more efficiently and effectively, and this in turn allows them to devote more of their time to clients and perform better.
An expensive lawyer may be more aggressive in their correspondence and general representation because it is deemed clients demand or expect it, and they are paying for the privilege. In addition, one side may be using their ‘better’ lawyer to drag out the process in a bid to wear the weaker party down.
However, if the family solicitor is a member of Resolution, they will be committed to a constructive way of working that promotes a more collegiate approach for the benefit of the whole family. Acting in any other way is in direct contravention of the ethos of Resolution’s Code of Practice, and could result in the solicitor being removed as a member.
Do better lawyers get the best results?
The correlation between the prowess of lawyers and the outcomes of legal cases is a complex interplay of skill, experience, and various external factors. While it is natural to assume that better lawyers yield superior results, the reality is somewhat nuanced. Skilled legal practitioners possess a deep understanding of the law, persuasive communication skills, and the ability to navigate intricate legal landscapes, and their expertise can significantly influence case outcomes.
However, success also hinges on factors beyond individual lawyers themselves. Elements such as the strength of evidence, the judge, and even unforeseen developments can sway decisions. Moreover, the definition of “better” lawyers can vary; as specialisation, location, and even interpersonal skills play pivotal roles.
What are the key characteristics of a good lawyer?
Good lawyers never stop learning, and are proactive, not reactive. They will have a strong knowledge of their specialised area of law together with excellent communication skills, which form the cornerstone of any success as a solicitor.
Every good family lawyer should possess:
- Good communication skills – they must be articulate, have good written communication skills and be good listeners. If they are to argue convincingly in court, good public speaking is essential. They must be able to write clearly, persuasively, and concisely, as they must produce a variety of legal documents.
- Judgment – the ability to draw logical and reasonable conclusions from limited information and consider judgments critically enables lawyers to spot potential areas of weakness in their own case. Similarly, they must also be able to anticipate points of weakness in the opposition’s argument.
- Analytical skills – both studying and practicing law involves absorbing large quantities of information, then having to distil it into something logical and manageable.
- People skills – good lawyers must be personable, persuasive, and able to read others. This allows them to decide on an approach that achieves the best outcome for their clients.
- Perseverance – when working on a case, a good lawyer will have the necessary drive to push it onto a successful conclusion, despite setbacks along the way.
- Creativity – the very best lawyers are not only analytical and logical, but they also display a huge amount of creativity in their problem solving. The best solution is not always the most obvious and in order to outmanoeuvre the opposing party, it is often necessary to think outside the box.
How far should a lawyer go to assist a litigant in person?
Litigants in person are defined as unrepresented third parties not using the services of a solicitor or barrister. Because of the cuts to legal aid over the last several years, there has been an increase in the number of litigants in person who are largely ignorant of the law and legal procedure. This is beginning to compromise the duties lawyers have to their own clients. So the question is, how far should a lawyer go to assist someone representing themselves?
Lawyers have a responsibility to manage a litigant in person fairly, whilst also being mindful of their own client’s best interests. Ultimately, the lawyer’s duty to the court must prevail, and it is an essential element that all parties cannot take unfair advantage of the situation. There is no obligation to assist a litigant in person, however, there is a duty to:
- Explain what needs to be done (but not advise)
- Explanations should be delivered in a clear and concise manner
- Refer them to the relevant procedural guides/law
- Suggest that the person take independent legal advice. This protects lawyers from any future claims of negligence.
When one person has a lawyer and the other is representing themselves, there is a natural imbalance in power and legal knowledge. This can have a profound effect on a case, whether that is extending it beyond the normal bounds of a typical case because of the additional burdens representing yourself entails, or technical advantages. Whilst the courts are not unsympathetic to the difficulties faced by litigants in person, recent case law suggests that they are not entitled to special privileges because of the lack of professional legal support.
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