09 Mar I need a good Family Lawyer!
What can go wrong if your lawyer isn’t right for your case – and how to avoid it
The importance of choosing the right lawyer
Choosing the right lawyer for your unique situation is paramount – not just to the outcome of your case – but to how easily and quickly you get settlement. It will be the first in a long line of positive decisions you make for your future IF you choose wisely.
What does your situation involve?
The first question you should ask yourself is, “What qualification does my lawyer need for my particular case?”
Start by looking at all aspects of your situation. Does it involve your family relationships and obligations? Is there property concerned? What about businesses? Is there an estate or a trust to be distributed? With the answers to these questions, you can begin looking for a firm with expertise in handling cases like yours.
Asking friends and family for referrals is always a good place to start. Word-of-mouth is a reliable form of recommendation, but be sure to do your due diligence as well. Don’t just pick the first firm a friend suggests. You should also look into:
- the qualifications they have,
- their memberships with professional associations,
- the experience they have, and
- the way they charge (These 10 steps to limit your legal fees can help.)
Search the Law Society in your State or Territory for a list of lawyers and firms that work in the area you need. The Queensland Law Society has an online search tool that provides information and links to match your specific situation and geographical locations. If you want to search for someone specific that has been recommended to you, there’s a Register you can use. This database provides you with information about where that solicitor works, what certificate they practice under and any special conditions surrounding their employment.
How badly can things go with the wrong lawyer?
It is not just time, money and energy you can waste if you have the wrong lawyer handle your case. A poor choice can jeopardise the outcome significantly.
For example, in the case of Kaimal & Kaimal in late 2020, a client went to a lawyer for a Family Law matter. However, the lawyer didn’t handle this type of work. It was not merely that the case took longer because of an inexperienced professional. The judge actually threw the financial agreement necessary for settlement out of court. The lawyer admitted (on the stand) that because he didn’t handle Family Law matters, he did not know what to do with the documentation when he received it. This lawyer also admitted that although he signed his certificate to say that advice had been given, he did not understand that he actually had to provide the advice relevant to that particular document.
This outcome is not just an oversight; it frustrates what the Family Court of Australia describes in its Statement of Core Principles in the Case Management of Family Law Matters as the “obligation and overarching purpose” of Parties, Lawyers and Courts. The principle of this statement is that there is a “just, safe, efficient and timely resolution of matters at a cost to the parties that is reasonable and proportionate in all the circumstances of the case, having regard to the significant impact of family law disputes on children and families.”
We can only imagine how much time, money, and effort had to be redirected by the parties to settle their case.
How to make sure you choose the right lawyer
As we can see from the case above, choosing the right lawyer is of utmost importance. Before deciding on the right lawyer to take your case, make sure to:
- fully understand your situation,
- get referrals,
- do your due diligence,
- use the online search tools mentioned above,
- research reviews and testimonials,
- use reputable firms,
- compile a list of possible firms and meet with the lawyers,
- ask questions – don’t be afraid to seek answers to your burning questions (better to find out in a free initial consultation that they have no experience with your situation than on the stand!)
- follow these 10 steps to ensure you know what your chosen family lawyer will cost you.
Choose a Family Law specialist
If you have found yourself needing professional help with a complex
- financial situation,
- child custody claim,
- parenting agreement, or
- property settlement,
- you will need a lawyer who specialises in Family Law.
Winners of four* Doyle’s Queensland Family Law Rankings for 2021, Toomey Family Law is a firm with a proven track record in this domain and can be relied on as a Family Law specialist. Contact us for a free initial consultation or second opinion.
Leading Family Lawyers (High-Value & Complex Property Matters) – Regional Queensland, 2021 (Leisa Toomey);
Leading Parenting & Children’s Matters Lawyer – Regional Queensland, 2021 (Leisa Toomey);
Leading Family & Divorce Lawyers – Sunshine Coast, 2021 (Leisa Toomey);
Leading Family & Divorce Law Firms – Sunshine Coast, 2021 (Toomey Family Law).