Top 10 Characteristics of a Collaborative Family Law Lawyer Competence: Your lawyer of choice sufficiently skilled, intelligent, and flush with analytical skills, she is also cognizant of her weaknesses. She knows when to turn to a trusted colleague practicing in a complementary field of law to offer assistance. Your lawyer will be enrolled in professional development courses and skills enhancement programs. Communications: If you aren’t fluent in Latin there’s no connection going to be established. Plain language drafting ensures that you will understand any document prepared by the lawyer. Now only the day it was drafted, but five years down the road when you note some clauses need updating or removal. Children The first priority is stabilizing the turmoil of children’s lives as the family transitions. The children’s right to receive financial support comes ahead of debt repayment and topping up investments. Ensure your lawyer shares this priority and hears your concerns. Civility: Your lawyer’s duty to you includes acting professionally and in your best interests at all times. This is not to be confused with your lawyer’s duty to be ‘direct and blunt’ in the delivery of her legal advice to you. Client-focussed: Your lawyer asks questions and listens to your responses and needs. What you want to achieve must be tempered with your reasonable expectations of achieving those goals. Conflict of interest: A lawyer cannot ethically act for both spouses on the same family law matter. If your lawyer discovers that she has acted for one spouse in the past, she must immediately inform you. She must cease to act further and refer you to another lawyer unless, in very limited circumstances, she receives written permission from the first spouse to continue. Confidentiality: Private information cannot be disclosed by your lawyer unless you provide a written release. This release is typically set out in the retainer agreement reviewed and signed by you prior to your lawyer starting any legal work. Calculations: Ontario family law is essentially of a financial nature: determinations of income for support purposes and calculations of net worth. The emotional cost has taken a back seat. Consistency: Yourlawyer’s integrity is beevident in the quality of the services provided. Consistency also incorporates responsiveness to your needs and value for fees charged. Collaborate: This approach is more than civility during the negotiation process. Understanding the newest brain science, the art of empathic communication, and other discoveries keep the process progressive and relevant to achieving a satisfactory resolution for the wellness of the family. Caution: Holding reasonable expectations puts into check that every dream you have is achievable. Missing documents, fallible memories, and other factors are weighed by the lawyer when giving legal advice. As the law evolves, legal opinions may change. In need of a legal consultation to talk about your family circumstances? Use the Contact Page to send a confidential message to Lorisa Stein or call her at 416 596-8081.