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What would YOU change if you could?

  • SuperMario
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16 Jul 09 #131792 by SuperMario
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All good ideas, but the main one has to be the CHILDREN, it is so unfair at the moment. mediation first 50/50 as a starting point(depending on risk etc), but 50/50 is not always achievable due to circumstances.
I can and want to have my kids more and I am have to fight for the right to have them more, why because she can!!

  • hadenoughnow
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16 Jul 09 #131800 by hadenoughnow
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Just dragging this back on topic - to a code of conduct for organisation wiki works with in future (although imo a lot of the suggestions for changes to the laws etc are excellent) ....

I completely agree that an information pack should be compulsory - and this should include information about e.g. how to change your solicitor, the costs involved, what a solicitor does - and does not do (ie they are not your counsellor) and the options for self repping.

All sols should be email literate and should have a charging system that reflects 21st century communications practices - ie not charging the earth for reading v short emails ...communicating via email when possible.

The charges should be clearly understood, there should be a transparent invoicing system and there should be no charges for correspendence querying bills .....

Providing (or directing clients to) word version of all documents so clients can fill them in themselves and just have them checked ... (like the passport checking service)

Sols should also see the Family Law protocol as a binding guideline not just a nice to do but it does not matter if you don't ... If only all sols stuck to these, life would be a lot easier.

erm ... and they should above all remember that their clients are distressed human beings who are likely not to be thinking straight .. and who need to be treated with care and respect.
Yes, it is the client's job to "instruct" the solicitor ... but the client does not always know what the options are .. or could be.

This respect should also extend to the other party. Inflammatory behaviour is not acceptable ..

I am sure there will be more ;)

Hadenoughnow

  • Kimmi
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16 Jul 09 #131806 by Kimmi
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I read a line somewhere about divorce which said... "if you can no longer treat each other with love and care, the least you could do is respect each other for what you had".

Respect would be a great start point, but also a suggestion if I may...

I had a wonderful solicitor, who would tell me if I was being unreasonable and asking for the ridiculous.
I noted however that my stbx's solicitor did not point out to him that his requests were not only unreasonable, they were disrespectful and some where wholly innapropriate. I know that the Solicitor is working for you, but more solicitors should be working towards encouraging their clients to be reasonable and should be telling their client that their requests for the moon are just not going to be achievable.

Just my thoughts
x

  • TRT
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16 Jul 09 #131845 by TRT
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What Kimmi says. If all solicitors did that, I wouldn't be pooping myself everytime I know she has an appointment with hers, worrying that they are going to start telling her that they can 'screw me for every penny' then presenting a huge bill for achieving little.

  • .Charles
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16 Jul 09 #131853 by .Charles
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Speaking from someone in the legal trade here is my halfpenny's worth:

I completely agree that an information pack should be compulsory - and this should include information about e.g. how to change your solicitor, the costs involved, what a solicitor does - and does not do (ie they are not your counsellor) and the options for self repping.


A Rule 2 (previously 'Rule 15') letter should be sent to each client when first instructed. This details the instructions, the advice, the person representing you (and their grade and status), costs estimates, the complaints handling procedure and several other things.

To a certain extent family solicitors do provide a counselling service. Many clients are emotional wrecks when they first arrive and can actually crack a smile after the first appointment. However, your reference to not being a counsellor stands in contrast to this comment:

erm ... and they should above all remember that their clients are distressed human beings who are likely not to be thinking straight .. and who need to be treated with care and respect.


..which suggests that the Solicitor should be more compassionate. There is a fine line between letting a client bend your ear and providing an emotional crutch in the form of sound advice and reasoning – it varies with each client.

All sols should be email literate and should have a charging system that reflects 21st century communications practices - ie not charging the earth for reading v short emails ...communicating via email when possible.


Email is still not formally recognised by the Courts. It can be used instead of letters (I certainly encourage it if only to save on postal costs) but the response time from the Solicitor is still the same as a letter apart from getting to the Solicitor a day earlier. Clients don't realise that post trays are still in operation and emails are printed and put into post trays.

Charging systems have their pros and cons. I regularly see large firms that rely heavily on time costing printouts where lawyers are tasked with recording 7 chargeable hours a day. Employees then look at their time at the end of the day and 'flood' files they have worked on with the balance of time required to make up a full day.

It is very easy to criticise the current method of time recording but it is difficult to keep track of time spent attending clients, preparing documents, speaking to people on the telephone and starting and stopping each of the tasks based on unforeseen events (mainly telephone calls). The firm I work for sets a much more realistic target of 5.5 hours a days during working hours of 9.00am to 5.30pm.

The Courts realise that tracking time is difficult and introduced a minimum unit of 6 minutes which is 10% of an hour. Any item that is below 6 minutes is deemed to be routine and attracts a 6 minute unit fee. How sophisticated would a system have to be to track every minute (or every second) of somebody's day? My answer would be "too sophisticated ". You could spent hundreds of thousands on a bespoke system that would do the job but the Courts would still insist on the current system as it works and has done for hundreds of years.

The system is of course open to abuse but so are charging systems in other industrys. One that springs to mind is getting a car serviced at a main dealer. If you have your oil changed during a service and 8 litres of fully synthetic race-spec oil is used, two five litre containers are invoiced. The remainder (at £40 per litre) is kept by the garage to use on another job. Sounds illegal but it isn't. It's the same principle.

The charges should be clearly understood, there should be a transparent invoicing system and there should be no charges for correspendence querying bills .....


I agree with this partially. I see a lot of bills to clients that simply say "TO providing legal services…….£X" This is too little detail. I prepare very detailed schedules which describe each item of work and the amount charged. Routine letters and telephone calls are shown as a number e.g. 38 letters @ £14.50 each = £551.00.

I prepare around 2200 of these schedules a year and it keeps me busy. However, despite providing this level of details clients occasionally seek more detail such as "you didn't send me 38 letters" – my real answer is not fit for public consumption but suffice to say I do explain that we send letters to the other side, the court, the court welfare officer (CAFCASS), the Land Registry, the mediation service, counsel etc. – all of which count towards the total.

Providing (or directing clients to) word version of all documents so clients can fill them in themselves and just have them checked ... (like the passport checking service)


Provision of a service costs money or resources which amount to the same thing. You would be surprised at how often the Court moves its standard documentation around with no explanation. Somebody has to track down these things and forward them for free? The internet can certainly assist a person in finding forms as can going to a court for the necessary blank forms. The CAB can also help as it is a non-profit making organisation.

Providing Word documents is sometimes appropriate but other times not. In the case of my firm we use a legal software package called Laserform which allows us to keep up to date with the 350 or so forms we use regularly. The software is proprietary and the documents it produces cannot be opened with anything other than Laserform. A PDF version can be sent to the client for hand editing but anything after that is a limitation of the system I'm afraid.

We regularly assist clients with completing forms. If a client has prepared a form most Solicitors will charge a small fee for 'giving it a once over'. Accountants will do the same with self-assessment forms. Of course, if the form is completely wrong or has glaring errors it may require substantial reworking which will cost more time and money. An example of this was a client of one of my colleagues who wanted to make an application in a Children Act matter. The client prepared a statement himself "to save money" which went into intricate detail and which numbered 20 pages or so. My colleague had to read the statement, edit the statement and take instructions on the issues that were actually important. The resulting statement was less than 5 pages long. My colleague spent around 4 hours on the statement but decided that he could only charge 2 hours as what he should have done was get the client in, take instructions and prepare the statement himself. The benefit of hindsight…

Sols should also see the Family Law protocol as a binding guideline not just a nice to do but it does not matter if you don't ... If only all sols stuck to these, life would be a lot easier.


Family law protocol is not always appropriate which is why it isn't binding. If you have instructions to issue a Section 37 application to prevent removal of funds and/or assets by an estranged spouse, divorce and ancillary relief proceedings have to be issued at the same time if no applications have already been made. The protocol says that the divorce petition should be submitted to the respondent for approval but this kind of gives the game away particularly when the particulars of divorce specify a reckless financial lifestyle and threats of desertion to a domicile outside the Court's jurisdiction (okay I manufactured the example to fit the purpose but there are many scenarios that would necessitate a disapplication of the protocol).

Without knowing your specific gripes in relation to Family Law Protocol it is difficult to comment further. You should bear in mind that solicitors are officers of the court and have a duty to supervise their minions to the same standard. Solicitors are regulated which means that they are duty-bound to act professionally and not bring the profession into disrepute. There are harsh penalties for going against these principles.

erm ... and they should above all remember that their clients are distressed human beings who are likely not to be thinking straight .. and who need to be treated with care and respect.
Yes, it is the client's job to "instruct" the solicitor ... but the client does not always know what the options are .. or could be.

This respect should also extend to the other party. Inflammatory behaviour is not acceptable ..


Most family solicitors I know act in the best interests of their clients. They act on the instructions that they receive and accept every word that is said as if it were the truth. There are always two versions of events and the bits that don't match are the bits that solicitors focus on in disputes. If a solicitor backs down too easily it will be to their client's detriment and may lead to a claim of negligence. But fighting too hard will inhibit settlement. The best solicitors are in the middle, mediating.


Kimmi

I noted however that my stbx's solicitor did not point out to him that his requests were not only unreasonable, they were disrespectful and some where wholly innapropriate.


Without seeing all file notes and letters to your ex you can never be sure of the advice he received. He may have been advised that his case was unrealistic but if his instructions were to proceed then that's what his solicitor will do. If he was not advised appropriately then he had a poor quality solicitor and like poor quality builders they charge the same for a sub-standard job. I'm a cynic but I believe that you have to be unlucky to get a rubbish solicitor rather than lucky to get a good one.


Charles

  • Mark08
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16 Jul 09 #131860 by Mark08
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I would make it a rule that the respondent's solicitor should write a letter to the Petitioner explaining that the respondent is planning to divorce them so there is some warning and it doesn't come as a complete shock. The first I knew that my ex wife wanted to divorce me was when I received the divorce petition on the grounds of my unreasonable behaviour. The vast majority was made up and completely extreme, it made me sound like a mad man :angry:. It later transpired that she did that as she thought she would get more money. All along she was having an affair, which I didn't find out about until much later, and I think she was doing what her boyfriend wanted as he wanted cash :(. She let her solicitor think there was lots of money and there wasn't. She wrongly assumed that I would have to pay off all the debt including hers and her tax bills :ohmy:. Her solicitor is a member of resolution but was totally inflammatory and confrontational from the outset which set the tone for the whole process. From what I can see being a member of resolution means nothing if he is anything to go by. I think he thought he had a client with lots of money and he milked it all the way until the penny eventually dropped that he might not get paid. If he had behaved differently it could have been sorted out quickly and we could both have walked away with something in the end we both have nothing and I've neded up with a small amount of debt. I had a very good solicitor when it all started but gave him up once I'd found wiki and the confidence to represent myself so i could save money. My solicitor was shocked at the way her solicitor behaved. I think there should be a transparent grading system similar to ebay and trip advisor where people can provide feedback on their experiences of solicitors. Hopefully the dodgy ones would pull their socks up or change careers. Anyway, glad it's all over for me now but a system like this would be good for people starting off.

  • shinyhappypeople
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16 Jul 09 #131870 by shinyhappypeople
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I would like to see equal access to legal help for both parties .
In my case , we went to mediation and our income / outgoings forms show we have almost 2k surplus income per month ..... my stbx has this , not me ! My stbx also has all the savings in his account . So even though we are still married and apparantly assets are marital until we divorce , my stbx can afford to hire top solicitors to try and scare me whilst I struggle on acting in person .

Not sure how this could be dealt with ,perhaps more easily available maintenance pending suite .

Seems to me if you can just about manage your living expenses then youre expected to find extra money for legal help or be bullied into submission .

shiny

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