What I do
As a family barrister, my primary role is to represent individuals in legal proceedings related to family law matters. This includes divorce, financial remedy, where the child lives and what the contact arrangements should be, domestic violence, non-molestation and other issues that affect family relationships and dynamics. I work closely with my clients to understand their specific needs and goals and use my knowledge of the law and legal system to advocate for their rights and interests. In my role as a family barrister, I mostly work in court, presenting arguments and evidence to support my clients’ positions. I may also negotiate with opposing counsel or litigants in person to try to reach a settlement or resolution outside of court. In addition to my legal work, I also provide guidance and support to my clients as they navigate the often-complex and emotional legal process.
What I don’t do
As a barrister I do not conduct litigation which means that generally I would not file legal documents and paperwork with the court, prior to the hearing interview witnesses and gather evidence to support your case. Traditionally, this type of work falls under the remit of solicitors who tend to deal with the entire process with the exception of court representation.
While my primary focus is on family law, there are certain areas of law that I do not handle as a family barrister. For example, I do not practice criminal law or tax law. If a client comes to me with a legal issue outside of my area of expertise, I may refer them to a lawyer or firm that specializes in that particular area of law.
What qualifications, memberships, and experience to look for
Your barrister must hold a valid practising certificate, In addition to basic legal qualifications, it is also important to look for a family barrister who has experience handling cases similar to your own. It can also be helpful to look for a family barrister who is a member of professional organizations, such as the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA) or the International Academy of Family Lawyers. These memberships can be an indication of a barrister’s commitment to staying up-to-date on the latest developments in the field and maintaining the highest standards of professionalism. Barristers nowadays will also have reviews online either in the form of testimonials on their chambers’ website or on well-known review sites. The star-rating and frequency of their reviews can be an indication of their recent activity in their field as well their regard for client satisfaction.
Top tips for getting the most out of my profession
If you are seeking legal representation from a family barrister, there are a few key steps you can take to get the most out of the process:
• Be upfront and honest with your barrister about your situation. This will help them better understand your needs and goals, and provide you with more accurate advice and guidance.
• Be prepared to be patient. Legal proceedings can be time-consuming and may involve several hearings. It is important to stay patient and trust that your barrister is working hard to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
• Communicate openly with your barrister. Keep them updated on any changes in your circumstances or relevant information that may impact your case.
• Follow your barrister’s advice. While you are ultimately the one making the decisions in your case, it is important to trust your barrister’s expertise and follow their recommendations.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have any concerns or are unclear about anything related to your case, don’t hesitate to ask your barrister for clarification. It is their job to help you understand the legal process and ensure that you feel informed and supported during the hearing.
Postscript. There are some very informative and thoughtful articles on this hub about appointing professional support. This is one such example.