A Day in the Life of a Family Lawyer
Updated: Oct 26, 2020
The Morning Routine
Waking up at dawn, the thrill of an exciting day ahead pushes me to hop into the shower and get ready for the day. But none of it makes any sense until I walk up to my kitchen to grab a warm brew of fresh coffee that gives me all the energy I need to face the day. The noise of children getting ready and the clock ticking, reminding me to drop them on time to school is what makes my morning feel complete. After dropping them off at school, I finally feel like I am ready to be a lawyer for the day. As I walk into my office, I can feel the energy in the air mixed with the bright aroma of hot coffee dwelling in every table. As I settle in my table, I get to the first business of the day – checking my emails and sorting out the tasks for the day.
Tasks and Engagements
Since I work as one of the legal experts at Mills & Anderson, I sit with my paralegal to plan, review my tasks, and prioritise the meetings, and we prepare for the day we have ahead together. The biggest job I have on any given day would be at the Family Court this morning, and I jet off in my car cruising through the traffic to the Central Family Court.
Are we planning to win or planning to fail, let's do this!
The Art Of Mediation
Days of mediation are among the most interesting as well as tedious ones. Conflicts of every kind take over large chunks of a client’s life, in the best case a few months, and in worst cases, even years. It is a tough choice to ask the client to make a compromise that might have substantial repercussions in their future. But turning to courts for conflict resolution builds up more uncertainty and higher risks. Getting this message over to the client and giving them undivided attention to navigate through the problem to resolve the dispute is something I enjoy. But of course, some controversies, especially over finances during a divorce, do end up in the court. I have one such case hearing today.
The Court Room Quandary
While I enjoy my work in courtrooms, the enthralling feeling of knowing you are moving closer to winning a case, the rest of the experiences could be tedious. From having to patiently wait at the security while they scan through your briefcase for everything, including scissors and deodorants, to the long, challenging courtroom schedules, everything could be quite intense. And of course, none of this compares to the nerve-racking feeling clients often have while anticipating the outcome of their hearing. The fear of uncertainty takes over every other feeling whilst the time approaches, clients’ nerves understandably begin to fray at the edges.
You really thought I'd fight my way out of legal argument using scissors?
Today I have a Financial Dispute Resolutions (FDR’s) hearing. I have worked with high-profile clients, and these hearings often take unexpected turns and require a ton of research and work from my end. FDR’s are honestly the most challenging phase of most divorce cases because both parties are seeking an end to the dispute but seldom want to settle without resistance. In most cases, they are so far apart in their proposals that the FDR judge wants counsels to work together to bring them together in a realistic settlement proposal. I even have memories of sitting through marathon sessions of recommendations going back and forth to reach an amicable settlement for both parties. But getting most of what my client wanted gives me the satisfaction at the end of the day that at least they get to plan their lives with the settlements.
The hearing went on well. We were able to resolve the dispute over what my client rightly said were matrimonial assets while her estranged husband claimed as pre-marital wealth. Reaching this agreement was very crucial for my client as she has had a tough few years with an abusive husband. We finally achieved a settlement that was comfortable for my client. Now she is happy about having a chance to start a new life in peace. I was also relieved to ensure and know that one of the outcomes of her hearing meant that she did not have to run into her estranged husband in the hallways. It made her feel calmer and at ease.
The Child Custody and Support Conundrums
From here, I will be heading to the office where the rest of my workday offers more structure and scheduling. It is going to be about completing a child custody document and drafting of a will. I start with the child custody documents first. I have been working on them, tirelessly for the past three weeks. Working with these parents has been challenging. Since, after their separation, the mother denied the father any visitation for almost three months. He assured me that he has tried to initiate a proper communication with her multiple times and failed because she refused to cooperate. He is missing his son, and it is almost heartbreaking to see my client feeling hopeless. But I assured him that we could come up with a strong custody agreement that will legally bind her to let him see his son. They have now arrived at a phase where they agree to adhere to the parenting planning I have for them. My client is thrilled because he is moving closer to getting to spend time with his son.
But, of course, the custody document is only a part of the parenting plan we have in place for the couple. We still have a long road of discussion over the child support and spousal support agreement that needs to be discussed and finalised. My client is ready to provide for education, medical care, and the other more challenging expenses for his son. But the discussion over spousal support is going to be a difficult one for this particular couple. My client feels that his spouse is independent with a good job that provides well. And given he will be providing for his son, there is barely anything that he can offer to his spouse. We are yet to get to this part of this discussion, but I am hopeful they will soon reach an agreement.
Aiding Adoptions and Writing Wills
My final task for the day is to proofread the legal documents drafted by my paralegal and left on my desk. If it looks good to me, I proceed to forward the documents to my client to review so we can discuss it further. I look around my desk, and I see the adoption requirement papers that need to go to my clients at the earliest. Same-sex couple’s adoption can be quite tricky, but I have helped them with everything they require. I hope they get to complete their family soon. I instruct my paralegal to send the papers across and wave goodbye to her as I leave the office. It looks like my daily workday is complete with some good work.
My paralegal and legal team is worth at least a million angels, we did it!