Challenges, trends and developments in Family Law Practice

Tuesday August 23, 2016

Selina-Jane Trigg is the Director at  Family Law Results. She has been practicing almost exclusively in family law for over 16 years. She is a trained Mediator and member of the New Zealand Law Society Panel of Mediators. She is also a trained Collaborative Law Practitioner and the current Chair of the Collaborative Law Association of New Zealand.
She joined Sintija Dobrotinsek of Legalwise Seminars to discuss the challenges,trends and developments in Family Law Practice today. You can hear directly from Selina at the upcoming Family Law Conference in Auckland on Tuesday, 13 September 2016.

You can find the transcript of the Q&A below.

What are some of the challenges facing family lawyers today?

Putting aside the usual and longstanding challenges of working with families during some of the most stressful times in their lives, I think one of the most critical challenges facing family lawyers today is how technology is changing the climate within which we provide services and, most importantly, our clients’ expectations. The increasing pace and immediacy of how society communicates is engendering expectations in our clients of receiving instant answers and results. The challenge is how we manage those expectations, ensure there is room for the thoughtful consideration and creativity often required by a client’s problem but, at the same time, satisfy that need of the client to access information NOW - all while maintaining our own wellbeing!

What’s a key consideration to keep in mind when you’re preparing for a collaboration session.

As a lawyer in the collaborative team, the key consideration for me before a collaborative meeting is preparation. I know this is not particularly earth shattering or novel but experience tells me that adequate time taken to prepare my client, prepare myself and contribute to the preparation of the professional team is fundamental. It really does build the foundations of a successful collaborative meeting – one of the biggest risks to the collaborative meeting and the integrity of the process overall is when shortcuts are taken (often for compelling reasons) in the preparation work.

What’s one tip parties can use to improve their results in conferences?

Again, prepare, prepare, prepare but most importantly, listen (preferably, more than you speak!). Although that sounds trite, the opportunities in any negotiation, mediation or collaborative meeting for being able to create satisfying options and solutions increase so much more when we genuinely listen to understand what is important to the other party. This isn’t true just for the parties – being easily distracted and easily excited by a “brilliant idea”, I know this is one of my biggest challenges also.

What are some of the trends and developments you see ahead in the family law area?

More so than ever, clients are seeking out non litigious means for resolving their family law issues. We are seeing clients who have observed their friends’ litigious divorces and wish to avoid a similar fate. We are also seeing children of divorce who are now adults who don’t want their children to experience parental divorce or separation in the way they did.

A whole range of industries have recognised the benefits of bringing different minds and skills to a problem and dispute resolution is no different – collaborative relationships and processes are going to assume increasing importance.

I also think the rise of the self represented litigant and the amazing technology we have present us with really exciting opportunities to change how we provide our services - if we unencumber ourselves from limiting thinking by slavishly doing things “the way they always have been done”. Unbundling of services, the “virtual lawyer” and the “virtual office” are no longer fanciful things of the future.

You can hear directly from Selina at the upcoming Family Law Conference in Auckland on Tuesday, 13 September 2016.

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