When it comes to family law matters and legal complexities, engaging a family lawyer becomes a crucial step in seeking resolution.  This decision often brings about a myriad of concerns. How do you know that the professional you wish to engage is the right person to handle such an important job?  We have set out below what we understand to be the top 10 worries that people commonly face when considering the services of a family lawyer.

  1. Costs and Fees: Understandably, one of the greatest concerns people have is the financial aspect.  Clients worry about the costs associated with hiring a family lawyer and whether they can afford the legal representation they need.  Most lawyers are engaged based on an hourly rate, and work is charged in 6 minute increments.  It is important to engage a lawyer who is efficient and cost effective.  There is no point engaging a lawyer with a lower hourly rate if that person takes twice as much time as another professional to attend to a task.  It is also important to ensure the lawyer is only selling you what you need.
  2. Experience and Expertise: Clients want assurance that their lawyer possesses the necessary expertise in family law.  They are concerned about the lawyer’s experience in handling cases similar to theirs and the ability to navigate the complexities of family legal matters.  When choosing a lawyer, ensure you engage a professional who has specific skills in the area of family law.  At Clark Panagakos, we only practice in family law.  We pride ourselves on ensuring our team is up to date with the latest resources and case law, and simply refuse to dabble in areas outside of our expertise at the expense of our clients.  We have a strong network of professionals outside of the firm, and if you require the assistance of a lawyer in a different area, we will be able to provide you with a referral to one of our trusted colleagues.
  3. Communication and Accessibility: Effective communication is vital in any legal case. Clients often worry about how accessible their lawyer will be, whether their questions will be promptly answered, and how often they can expect updates on their case.  At Clark Panagakos, we pride ourselves on our prompt response times and clear communication with our clients about how their matter will be handled. We offer telephone and Skype or Zoom appointments where possible, and service a number of clients in rural South Australia, interstate and overseas. We offer face to face appointments in the Adelaide CBD, and our primary method of communication is email and telephone to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays in progressing your matter during a stressful time for you and your family.
  4. Confidentiality: Privacy is a paramount concern when it comes to family matters. Clients want assurance that their personal information and sensitive details will be kept confidential throughout the legal process. We have a number of steps in place to ensure that your privacy is preserved and respected.
  5. Time frame for Resolution: Family law matters are usually be emotionally taxing, stressful, and clients are almost always concerned about the duration of their case. They want to know the expected time frame for resolution and when they can anticipate reaching a conclusion.  Although the time within which we are able to conclude a matter is often dependent on factors outside of our control, for example, the attitude of the other party or the time frames set by the Court, we do our best to ensure that when the ball is in our court, we progress matters as expeditiously as possible.
  6. Negotiation Skills: A significant worry is whether their family lawyer possesses strong negotiation skills. Clients want assurance that their lawyer can effectively advocate for their interests and reach favourable outcomes through negotiations. We are strong negotiators and our focus is on deescalating conflict rather than ramping it up. We recognise that our job is to guide you toward a solution, not to add to your problems.
  7. Courtroom Experience: Litigation is unpredictable and expensive.  If a legal dispute escalates to Court, clients are understandably concerned about their lawyer’s courtroom experience. Confidence in their lawyer’s ability to present a compelling case before a Judge or Judicial Registrar is crucial for many clients.  All of our lawyers are experienced litigators. However, we have professional relationships with a number of experienced family law barristers. If a matter is particularly complex, or if it is more cost effective, we will speak with you about having a barrister represent you in Court.
  8. Conflict Resolution Approach: Different family lawyers adopt varying approaches to conflict resolution. Clients may worry about whether their lawyer leans towards litigation over mediation, negotiation, or collaborative law, and whether this aligns with their preferences.  Litigation is expensive, unpredictable, time consuming and stressful for all involved.  At our firm, it is always a last resort.  At your first appointment with any one of our lawyers you will learn about the different process options available to you. Our goal is to start with the least invasive, least expensive option, and to work up from there if necessary.
  9. Client Reviews and References: Research is a common concern for clients. They want to know about their lawyer’s reputation, read client reviews, and possibly get references to gauge the lawyer’s effectiveness and client satisfaction. When you are researching the right lawyer for you, it is important to look for genuine client reviews. There are lots of firms that focus on marketing strategies and self-promotion. At Clark Panagakos, we aren’t particularly interested in awards – our focus is and always has been doing the best job we can for our clients.
  10. Updates on Legal Developments: Like any field, family law changes and there are regularly updates to the legislation and to the Court’s expectations and requirements. Clients are concerned about their lawyer staying updated on the latest legal developments. They want to ensure that their representation is well-informed and can adapt to any shifts in the legal landscape. Our team is committed to ensuring we are across the latest legal developments.  We undertake regular training and education sessions, and invest in our team attending conferences interstate and overseas to ensure we are ahead of the game.

We understand that family law matters are sensitive and that you may feel confused, stressed, anxious, overwhelmed or all of the above. Addressing these concerns transparently during your first appointment with one of our lawyers can help establish trust, ensure a smoother legal process, and ultimately achieve the desired outcomes for all parties involved.