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7 Essential Ways to Find the Best Family Law Firm on the Gold Coast 2024

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Dealing with family law issues can be challenging, especially when seeking legal assistance. Finding a family firm with the necessary expertise and who meets your requirements can feel overwhelming.

This article will help you through the best strategies to identify a suitable family law firm in Gold Coast. You can use personal referrals, assess online reviews and conduct effective initial consultations. We cover vital steps to ensure you make an informed decision. You may be dealing with divorce, custody issues, or property settlements.

Our tips will help streamline your search for the ideal legal advocate.

Key takeaways

  1. Understand Your Needs. Clearly define your legal requirements to find a suitable law firm, whether it’s divorce, custody, or financial orders.
  2. Check Reviews for Insights. Analyse ratings and read reviews to understand a law firm’s strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Seek Referrals from Trusted Sources. Ask family and friends for law firm recommendations and insights based on personal experiences.
  4. Evaluate Online Presence and Expertise. Assess their website and online presence for qualifications, experience, and family law approach.
  5. Assess their billing practices. There are different ways for family law firms to charge for their services. These can have implications for your case and your legal expenses.
  6. Maximise Consultations. Prepare case details, list questions, and evaluate the law firm’s communication skills. Compare firms across consultations and consider their follow-up communication.
  7. Compatibility and communication. It’s vital to be compatible with your family lawyer. Consider how they communicate and if they can respond to your concerns. They should also actively listen to you.

If you want to make your divorce process easier, we can help!

Download our FREE All In One Divorce Checklist for a more detailed guide on the next steps.

1. Identify Your Needs

golden-rings-placed-on-a-phone

You’ll need to understand your needs before you look for an Australian law firm.

Are you pursuing a divorce?

Are you organising parenting or financial orders?

Knowing your needs will help you assess the benefits you will get from a law firm. Here’s why it’s essential to understand your needs.

  • Tailored Legal Strategy
    Family law cases vary significantly, from amicable divorces to complex custody battles. Knowing your specific goals helps you find a law firm experienced in handling similar cases. This will ensure they can devise a legal strategy that aligns with your objectives.
  • Effective Communication
    You can communicate more effectively with potential lawyers when you understand your needs. This clarity helps the lawyer understand your expectations and provide more accurate and relevant advice.
  • Cost and Time Efficiency
    Different goals may require different levels of legal involvement. For instance, a straightforward case may only need legal advice. A more complex case might require extensive representation. Understanding your needs helps you choose a law firm whose services match your budget and timeline.
  • Long-Term Impact
    Decisions in family law can have long-lasting effects on your life and the lives of your family. Clarifying what you want to achieve helps you choose a law firm that will focus on your long-term interests.

2. Check Review Sites

5 star reviews for law firms in gold coast

Reviews are an important source of information. However, it would be best to approach them to get the most out of them correctly. Here’s how you can do that.

  • Checking Overall Rating
    The overall rating gives a quick, aggregated view of the law firm’s performance as perceived by clients. However, reading beyond the rating and delving into the written reviews for more context is essential.
  • Understanding Strengths and Weaknesses
    Look for consistent themes in the reviews. These are likely reliable strengths if a law firm is consistently praised for communication, empathy, or negotiation skills. If issues like unresponsiveness or lack of transparency in fees keep cropping up, these could be areas of concern.
  • Reading a Variety of Reviews
    Reading a range of reviews is essential to get a balanced view. Sometimes, a few extremely positive or negative reviews can skew the perception. Reading a variety of reviews, including both recent and older ones, can provide a more comprehensive picture.
  • Assessing Specificity and Relevance
    Pay attention to reviews that mention specific situations or cases similar to yours. This can give you insight into the law firm’s expertise in areas relevant to your needs. Specific details in a review can be more informative than vague or generic praise or criticism.
  • Evaluating Responsiveness to Negative Reviews
    If there are negative reviews, see if and how the lawyer or their firm has responded. A professional and constructive response to criticism can signify a responsible and client-focused approach.

3. Ask Family and Friends for Referrals

SFL - referrals

For several reasons, asking family and friends for referrals when looking for a family law firm on the Gold Coast can be beneficial.

  • Trusted Source 
    Recommendations from family and friends come from a place of trust and personal experience. If someone you trust had a positive experience with a lawyer, it increases the likelihood that you might have a similar experience.
  • Real-World Insights
    Family and friends can provide first-hand accounts of their interactions with the lawyer. These may include communication style, responsiveness, fees, and overall effectiveness. This information can be more detailed and nuanced than online reviews.
  • Understanding of Your Needs 
    People who know you well can understand your specific needs and circumstances. That can help them recommend a lawyer they believe will be a good fit for you and your case.
  • Emotional Support
    Navigating family law issues can be emotionally challenging. Getting a referral from a family member or friend can also mean having a support system in place, as they will likely understand your emotional journey.

To ask for referrals properly and effectively:

  • Be Open About Your Needs
    Communicate what you are looking for in a law firm. Whether it’s expertise in a specific area of family law, a particular approach (like mediation-first), or a lawyer sensitive to specific emotional dynamics, being open about your needs helps others provide suitable recommendations.
  • Respect Privacy 
    Family law matters are often sensitive. Respect the privacy of your family and friends by not pressing for details they might be uncomfortable sharing. Similarly, ensure them that any information they provide will be kept confidential.
  • Ask Specific Questions
    Instead of a general request for recommendations, ask specific questions. For example, inquire about how the lawyer handled communication, the complexity of their case, the fee structure, and the outcome.
  • Diversify Your Sources
    Don’t rely solely on one recommendation. Try to get a few different opinions, as this will give you a broader base for comparison.
  • Follow-Up with Your Own Research
    Use referrals as a starting point, but do your research as well. Look up the law firms online, check their credentials, read additional reviews, and schedule consultations to make your assessment.

4. Check their website and online presence

SFL - doing research and checking website

When assessing a Gold Coast family lawyer’s website for their suitability to your needs, there are several key elements to look for:

On the Law Firm’s Website

  • Areas of Expertise 
    Ensure the law firm specialises in family law and look for specific areas they cover (e.g., divorce, child custody, property settlements). This is crucial for finding a law firm with the right expertise.
  • Professional Qualifications
    Check their educational background, certifications, and any additional training or accreditation in family law. This information speaks to their level of expertise.
  • Experience
    Look for information about their experience, particularly in handling cases similar to yours. Years of practice, types of cases dealt with, and success stories can indicate their proficiency.
  • Client Testimonials and Case Studies
    These can provide insights into the lawyer’s effectiveness and how they have helped clients in similar situations.
  • Legal Philosophy and Approach 
    Some law firms may share their approach to family law on their website, whether they favour mediation, collaborative methods, or are more litigation-oriented. This can help you determine if their style aligns with your preferences.
  • Resources and Information
    Blogs, articles, FAQs, or downloadable resources indicate a lawyer’s commitment to educating and assisting clients beyond the courtroom.
  • Contact Information and Accessibility
    Easy-to-find contact details and information about consultation processes show the lawyer’s accessibility.

Other Forms of Online Presence

SFL - social media platforms

LinkedIn Profiles

  • Professional Background
    LinkedIn profiles can provide a more detailed look at the law firm’s professional journey, peer endorsements, and any publications or articles they’ve written.
  • Network and Connections
    Their connections can give you an idea of their standing in the legal community.

Legal Directories

  • Ratings and Reviews
    Websites like Avvo or the Law Society of Queensland can have additional reviews and ratings.
  • Disciplinary Records
    Check if they have any history of disciplinary actions.

Social Media

  • Engagement with Community
    Their activity on platforms like Facebook or Twitter can show how they engage with the community and their approachability.
  • Updates and Insights
    Regular posts about family law can demonstrate their knowledge and dedication to their field.

Online Articles and Publications

  • Expertise and Thought Leadership
    Articles or papers published in legal journals or reputable websites can showcase their knowledge and thought leadership in family law.
  • Webinars or Online Workshops
    Participation in or hosting webinars and workshops can signify their commitment to public education and their expertise in family law topics.

5. Assess Their Billing Practices

Law Firm Billing Practices

There are various ways family lawyers can set up their billing practices. Each has different financial implications depending on your situation.

Fee structures

Here are common fee structures family lawyers use.

Fixed-fee

The lawyer charges a one-time fee for their legal services in fixed-fee arrangements. Family lawyers typically charge a fixed fee for services such as consent order applications and divorce applications.

  • Work scope
    A fixed fee covers a service whose scope can be pre-defined. The lawyer and client must both understand that scope before entering an agreement.
  • Payment
    Payment of fixed fees can be handled in various ways. Some law firms require full payment upfront. Others may be willing to offer a payment plan if the client can’t cover the cost immediately.
  • Advantages
    Fixed fees give clients a clear view of their expenses, enabling them to budget for legal services. They can also help keep costs down for the client, as the lawyer won’t run up charges through an hourly rate.
  • Disadvantages
    Fixed fees are usually set by the lawyer based on the average work cost of a service. If a client’s case turns out to be simpler than usual, the fixed fee may overcharge them. Also, family law issues can begin amicably and become contested later. This may make the fixed fee structure untenable.

Hourly rates

With an hourly rate, lawyers bill their clients based on the length of time spent on their cases. This time is typically billed in increments (often in six or ten-minute blocks) and includes all the work they do related to the case. The work may consist of consultations, research, document preparation, correspondence, and court appearances. Here’s what an hourly rate entails.

  • Time tracking
    The lawyer will keep meticulous records of the work done in each increment. These details will usually be included in the billing statement.
  • Work scope
    Any activity related to the case will be included in the billable hours.
  • Price of hourly rate
    Hourly rates can vary based on the lawyer’s experience and the law firm’s reputation.
  • Advantages
    Hourly rates can be flexible. They allow for variations in the complexity of a case as it progresses. The client will be informed of exactly the work the lawyer has completed during the case.
  • Disadvantages
    It can be challenging for clients to understand what their legal costs will ultimately be. This can make the process unpredictable. Cases that become drawn out can incur high costs. It’s worth discussing your budget with your lawyer before entering an agreement.

Additional Tip

When searching for legal representation, people often prioritise the hourly rate. The common assumption is that a lower hourly rate will reduce overall expenses. However, this is not usually the case.

Family lawyers who charge more per hour usually have extensive experience. Giving them the ability to handle complex situations more efficiently and quickly. They are familiar with the shortcuts and can avoid the longer drawn out litigious outcomes. Their experience enables them to make intelligent decisions quickly, especially when faced with challenging family law matters.

For instance, let’s say you have a legal issue. A lawyer who charges more per hour might solve it faster than a lawyer who charges less. Even though their hourly rate is higher, the total cost may be lower because they take less time to complete the task.

Therefore, when choosing a lawyer, it’s essential to consider more than just the hourly rate. Think about their experience and efficiency. A lawyer with more experience may charge more per hour, but they could save you time and money.

Do you need legal assistance with your family law matter?

6. Set Up a Consultation

lawyer-shaking-hands-with-client

Approaching initial consultations with family law firms effectively is key to making an informed decision. Here’s how to get the most out of these meetings:

Before the Consultation

  • Prepare Your Case Details
    Organise all relevant information about your case, including dates, financial documents, correspondence, and any legal documents already filed. This helps the lawyer understand your situation quickly.
  • List Your Questions
    Write down all the questions you want to ask. These could include queries about their experience, approach to cases like yours, communication style, fee structure, and expected timelines.
  • Understand Your Goals
    Be clear about what you want to achieve. Knowing your goals helps assess whether the lawyer’s approach aligns with your needs, whether it’s a quick settlement, custody arrangements, or property division.
  • Budget Considerations
    Have a clear idea of what you can afford and understand that while some lawyers offer free initial consultations, others may charge a fee.

During the Consultation

  • Experience and Expertise
    Inquire about their family law experience, particularly in cases similar to yours. Ask for examples of past cases and outcomes.
  • Discuss Fees and Billing
    Get detailed information about their fee structure, billing practices, and any additional costs that may arise. This will help avoid surprises later.
  • Gauge Their Interest and Availability
    Assess their interest in your case and their availability to take it on. A lawyer who seems overburdened may need more time to give your case the attention it deserves.
  • Ask About the Next Steps
    Understand what the next steps would be if you decide to hire them. This includes timelines, documentation needed, and the overall legal process.

After the Consultation

  • Compare and Contrast 
    If you have consultations with multiple lawyers, compare their responses, approaches, and your comfort level with each.
  • Check for Follow-Up
    Note if the lawyer follows up with you after the consultation. This can be an indicator of their responsiveness and client service.
  • Decision Time
    Based on the information gathered and your impressions, make an informed decision about which lawyer is the best fit for your needs.

7. Communication and Compatibility

a lawyer do a good family law approach to his client

It’s crucial to be compatible with your family lawyer. If you aren’t on the same page and can’t communicate effectively, your case will be more challenging to resolve. Here are some things to consider when assessing your compatibility with a family lawyer.

Communication style

The lawyer should communicate clearly and understandably. If they can’t clearly explain your case’s legal concepts and implications, this can impact your experience. They should also be able to answer your questions, whether over the phone or by email.

They should also have good listening skills. Your lawyer should take the time to understand your concerns and respond to them.

Personal compatibility

Assess your comfort level with them. Trust your intuition. If you don’t feel comfortable with them, that can be a sign that they’re not the right fit.

Legal approach

Discuss their approach to cases like yours. Are they more inclined towards mediation or litigation? Make sure their approach aligns with your preferences and goals. Is there innovation in how they handle cases?

Conclusion

Finding the best family law firm in Gold Coast requires careful consideration and research. Utilise personal referrals and online reviews, and assess lawyers’ business websites for their expertise and approach.

Remember, the ideal lawyer should be skilled and resonate with your values and needs. Following these steps, you can confidently navigate the legal landscape. You will find a lawyer to represent and guide you effectively through family law matters.

If you’re looking for effective family law representation, Shanahan Family Law can help. Our law firm has become a trusted source of legal support on the Gold Coast. The Shanahan team can assist with all aspects of family law, from divorce to parenting and financial arrangements and handling domestic violence situations. 

If you need help with family law matters, contact us for a free discovery call.

Are you looking for family lawyers?

Shanahan Family Law, founded in 2009, focuses on delivering positive outcomes for clients by listening, caring, and tailoring services to individual needs. Let us help you find a positive outcome.

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Luke Shanahan Family Law

Luke Shanahan

Principal

Luke Shanahan is the Principal Solicitor of Shanahan Family Law. Luke has been practising family law since 2008 and started his firm in 2014. He has three beautiful daughters and a supportive, gorgeous wife. In his spare time, Luke enjoys playing tennis and trips to the beach with family and friends. 

Luke is dedicated to providing the best possible legal representation for his clients. His experience and passion for family law set him apart from other solicitors. You only have to read their 5-star reviews to understand that.

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