J. Nick Augustine, J.D., is the principal of Pro Serve Public Relations, a PR firm for law, finance and small business in Chicago and Naperville. Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition based on his experience in law, legal marketing, public relations and his Secured Solo Practice™ model. Nick shares career growth strategy and experience with legal job seekers.
Many Chicagoland law students who live or work in the city and suburbs encounter family law opportunities. In DuPage County I launched my legal career working for some fine family law firms. The experience exposed me to some of the less than fine firms as well. Not all family law needs to involve screaming lawyers and clients and law suits over fees. I am happy to share the Collaborative Law Institute and collaborative family law with you.
5 reasons you should consider collaborative family practice:
1. There is added value in staying out of court. In collaborative family law the parties hire lawyers but sign an agreement not to go to court. The team of professionals includes the lawyers, mental health experts and neutral finance professionals. When you help parties learn to work together toward the future instead how to prepare for battle, a favorable outcome is likely.
2. Lawyers can more effectively spend client retainers. When legal fees are not spent on court appearances, you can focus on research, advice and counsel. Too often representation of your client and children’s best interests take a back seat to trial practice. I say spend the billable time researching, drafting and negotiating a good settlement and parenting agreement.
3. Reduced ARDC risks are good for insurance. Family law attorneys, especially the ones who sue clients for fees, get inquiry letters from the ARDC at a higher rate. If your practice is largely or wholly collaborative, I say you are less likely to encounter discipline and you should make an argument to your professional liability carrier to reduce your premiums accordingly.
4. The Collaborative Law Institute offers educational opportunities. I know many fellows in the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois and have attended their events. The opportunity to learn savvy practices and meet other professionals is refreshing. I’ve attended many family law events and most attorneys spend their time telling war stories – which is good – meeting new people who can send referrals is better.
5. Happy clients with met expectations are better referral sources. One of the elements of collaborative practice is a meeting of the minds regarding expectations at the outset of representation. You can meet your objective goals when you aren’t sideswiped by 201(K) letters, motions to compel, and custody depositions and hearings. The result: happier client who tells their friends about you and refer new clients.