All litigation comes with a financial and emotional cost but none as much as Family Law. Part of our role as solicitors is to help the client see past the anger and emotion of the situation that they are experiencing by providing them with logical, reasoned and cost-effective advice.
Running a family law file that is balanced and considered is an art that sometimes solicitors get very wrong.
In the recent Family Court decision of Simic & Norton  FamCa 1007, Benjamin J placed emphasis on the fact that solicitors were not employed “postman” to vent the anger and vitriol of clients. In this matter, so strongly held were his Honours views, that he referred the lawyers of both parties to the Legal Services Commission of NSW for investigation as to whether their fees and approach to the file constituted professional misconduct.
This matter was scheduled for a seven (7) day hearing and the parties would have spent about $860,000.00 in legal fees by the time the matter was resolved. Benjamin J referred to the “culture of bitter, adversarial and highly aggressive family law litigation “in the Sydney registry where this matter was heard.
Attached to one parties fifty (50) plus page affidavit were reams of correspondence between the solicitors throughout the course of the litigation, some of which His Honour stated were “inflammatory and reflected the anger of the parties… the letters were at times accusatory. They were often verbose and… unnecessary tit for tat commentary… some served little to no forensic purpose.”
As solicitors engaged to run a file, it is our job to ensure that communication is necessary, balanced, considered and relevant. If your solicitor refuses to relay your view of things verbatim, bear in mind that they are doing the job you have employed them to do!
It is important to remember that when a family law file is run in an aggressive adversarial manner, the only winners are the lawyers; and trust us when we say we don’t feel like winners at the time!!