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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Pubs are no place for family law advice

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We can see the effects of the current economic recession everywhere. Empty shops on the high street, high unemployment, stunted industrial growth – and a rise in the stock of pub lawyers. Ironically in the week that a report said pubs had sold 4.8% fewer pints this year compared to last – that’s 51 million lower – it is the pub lawyer issue that is the biggest sign of the times for me and one that I think is a real cause for concern.

The pub lawyer is that friend/colleague/drunk/random person in the bar who wants to give others the benefit of their experience in divorce or family law, thus steering that person on a particular course. In more prosperous times, no one takes much notice. But it seems to me that in times of hardship, more people take note because it might save them a bit of money on getting actual legal advice if they are thinking of separating or divorcing.

Couples going through divorce need clarity on what their solicitor is going to charge to be confident of the value of taking professional legal advice, rather than relying on the advice of friends over a pint or glass of wine. Or for that matter, internet chat rooms, though advice from reputable sites can be a good starting place. They should not though be used in isolation. The law needs to be overlaid on a person’s individual situation and that takes an experienced family lawyer.

It is vital in these tough economic times that people remember the value that an experienced family lawyer can bring. You need to use the wisdom of the “pub lawyer” with caution in divorce and family law, as they are limited to their own experience and it is unlikely this will be similar or indeed relevant to another person’s situation. However, with less money in their pocket, it may be that more people are actually taking legal advice from their friends over a beer or glass of wine. This could have nasty repercussions for some. What is the right path for one person may be the completely wrong one for another. And the pub can be the place where you are most likely to hear the phrase; “Take them to the cleaners!” Our advice would always be to go for an amicable discussion before agreeing on a realistic and fair settlement.

Richard England
Family solicitor, Birmingham

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