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Why our lawyers will always be real people and why that gets the best results for our clients.

Apr 25, 2023: Melissa Kelly

When talking to a solicitor, you shouldn't feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.  They should always try to make you feel understood and that you have been listened to.   

As many families will have done, my own family had some time off together over Easter. It was a wonderful opportunity to focus on being a parent.  We marched through muddy forests in search of dragon eggs, we all felt sick due to the huge amount of Easter egg consumption, and we made numerous amounts of crafts with various degrees of success around the kitchen table.  It was marvellous.  A brief hiatus before returning to work. 

Whilst I very much enjoy my work, and I am lucky enough to working within a supportive, empowering firm, like many other working parents, there is always anxiety attached to any time off. We all have a very well-honed balancing act that we carry out every day and often in secret. Trying to ensure we cover all the bases, getting all of our work done, whilst also ensuring that our children are cared for, fed, educated, and ferried to and fro from numerous after-school clubs and birthday parties.  There are often occasions where it's hard to juggle everything, but generally speaking we do all that we can to mange all of our responsibilities, whilst also enjoying our work and home life as much as possible.  It’s the age old adage of looking like a graceful swan on top of the water, but underneath the murky depths, paddling like crazy just to stay afloat.  All entirely normal, but nevertheless very difficult to achieve at times and not without its stresses.    

The majority of our clients are parents, trying to conceive, or soon-to-be parents themselves, going through exactly the same challenges as their lawyer but with the added complication of requiring legal assistance with some aspect of their family life.  The starting point that we come from is a point of understanding, empathising, so that we can get a very real understanding of what our client needs, what their drivers are.  

Utilising our own life experiences when we help or clients allows us to get a 360 degree view of the problems they face, helping us to provide legal advice, based not just in theoretical case law, but also within the context of real life, with awareness of pressure points, themes that might cause friction or stress, all to the overall benefit of the client.  By stark comparison, whist a trainee myself, I was advised that I should always strive to ensure that my client didn't see me as a human but rather a ‘professional’.  An all-knowing being above emotion, an automaton, ready to dispense patronising legal wisdom at any opportunity.  That type of practice is in my view a thing of the past, or at least I hope so!!   

As someone who has been in my clients’ shoes, going through family litigation in my personal life, I thought that one of the most important things that helped me is that I felt truly able to speak freely with my lawyer.  She never shied away from maintaining her professionalism, whilst also being entirely human, understanding and empathising with the challenges we were facing at different stages of the case.  That created a freedom to make myself vulnerable to our lawyer, breaking down any public façade, all to honest and open, which in turn helped her to get a much better insight into what was important to us and our family.  Without doubt that was one of the key reasons, alongside her brilliance within this field, and why we worked together so well and thankfully had a very positive outcome.    

Nobody wants to talk to a robot, especially not when you're talking about something as personal as your own family.  Our families are the most valued aspect of our lives, so speaking about this area of our lives, our most private worries can be hugely difficult, a myriad of mixed emotions.  Knowing that you are talking to somebody who has a genuine understanding of what you are facing makes a huge amount of difference.  You don’t have to focus so hard on getting your lawyer on side, because they have an innate understanding already and are prepared to have authentic, honest conversations with you about how you are, what you want to achieve and how.   

So when asked how somebody should choose a lawyer, my advice is always the same, speak to them, make sure you feel understood in every important aspect and only then move forward.    

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