Here Are Five Things To Watch Out For When Retaining A Lawyer

Retaining A lawyer

There will always be litigants in the Family Law Courts who choose to represent themselves, not because of financial constraints, but because they feel they can do it better themselves. It is heartbreaking for a lawyer to sit at the back of a courtroom, while waiting for their client’s matter to be called, and watch as a self-represented litigant is taken advantage of by their former spouse’s lawyer. You clearly feel the poor litigant’s pressure as the judge asks very direct and difficult questions for which they often have no answer. Judges have been known to ask questions as blunt as: “what is your authority at law that you say gives me the power to do what you are asking me to do?” While no one really ‘likes’ lawyers or would wish their fees upon even an enemy, when you find a good one, they are often worth their weight in gold, much like a good doctor or accountant.

Find a Family Law specialist

Do your research! Research the lawyer and their firm on both Google and LinkedIn. Check out their website, personal profile, experience and credentials. Family Law legislation is complex and ever-expanding, so you need someone who keeps abreast of the latest changes. In the same way you would not allow a GP to operate on you, you want to steer clear of ‘general practitioners’ in law who do “a bit of this and a bit of that,” as well as the odd Family Law matter if it comes around.

Ensure they are honest about fees

Lawyers are required to disclose their estimated fees as accurately as possible and, at all times, there must be transparency. At your initial consultation, make sure the lawyer gives you a realistic-sounding estimate and then puts that into writing in the form of a “Costs Agreement.” This agreement should include any additional charges the lawyer anticipates. Also, confirm that they issue itemised tax invoices with a clear breakdown of all fees.

Don’t just go with with the lowest hourly charge rate

The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” often serves as an important warning to potential clients. It may seem more appealing to retain a lawyer who charges $300 per hour rather than $450. Yet, the latter will often have the experience and know-how that is needed to help you achieve a better outcome in court.

Make sure you feel comfortable with your lawyer

Trust your “gut” instinct. If the lawyer appears flustered, nervous, untidy or their offices are dingy and disorganised, it may be a sign of things to come. Conversely, if the lawyer appears overconfident, pompous and more “spin than substance,” also be careful. You will be working closely with your lawyer, and you will need to trust them. Find someone who is personable and understands your situation.

You are the driver and your lawyer is the navigator

Your lawyer’s job is to understand your instructions in order to advise and represent you according to these. They should be able to give you options, evaluate the likely success or failure of each of those options, and then clearly explain the best one to go with. Be prepared to listen to your lawyer, ask plenty of questions and take their advice. If the lawyer cannot “steer” you in the right direction then it may be time to seek another “GPS.” 

At Taylor & Scott, we value our working relationships with clients. If you are uncertain about your Family Law matter, call us to make an appointment. We do not set time limits on our initial consultations and they are always charged at a fixed fee, which gives you certainty. Do not delay, call us now. We are here to help.

Level 12, 276 Pitt Street

Sydney NSW 2000

Phone: 1800 600 664

Fax: (02) 9265 2555


At Taylor & Scott “ We Care For You.”

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