Monday, January 19, 2009

Am I to be a counsellor now too?

I received a flyer from Resolution today inviting me to attend an 'awareness training' which will explain what my clients can expect should they attend a parenting workshop. No problem with that (although I'm not sure what the word 'awareness' adds to 'training'), but what does slightly concern me is the reasoning they give for attending:

What do you say when your client asks how to tell the kids that they are divorcing?

I say that I am a lawyer, and not qualified to give such advice.

Are you afraid to broach the question of how the children are coping with their parents separation?

No, because I would not normally ask such a question.

Do you worry about your clients' communications with their children?

No, because that is unlikely to be any of my business and even if it is, then again, I am not qualified to advise.

Now, I realise that the questions may be aimed at the simple answer "advise your client to attend a parenting workshop", but that is not how it reads, and this is not the first time that it has been suggested that I provide non-legal advice to my clients. The modern increasingly holistic approach to family law is all very well, but in the end I am only a lawyer. I am not a counsellor, just as I am not a financial advisor, a chartered surveyor or a medical expert.

5 comments:

  1. I understand your predicament, but what do you think is the best way of dealing with these very important issues?

    The questions raised are in my opinion more important than any legal issues.

    Do you think it would beneficial for lawyers to seek training and be able to advise on some of this stuff? And if not, who do you think should advise parents on these matters?

    Thankyou

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  2. No, I don't think that lawyers should attempt to be 'amateur counsellors'. As far as I know there is no one national agency that advises on such matters, but there certainly are local agencies, as well as CAFCASS, Relate and mediation services, not to mention the parenting workshops themselves and the 'Parenting after Parting' campaign by Resolution.

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  3. And, of course, there will be complaints that costs are too high, or that you've charged for work which you shouldn't have been doing.

    It seems to me that Resolution are in danger of straying too far from their remit / getting too touchy-feely - rather than dealing with Family LAW.

    I'm not arguing that they shouldn't be encouraging relevant agencies/charities to offer "Parenting after Parting" workshops, but it doesn't really feel like it is a LEGAL issue, does it?

    I do object though to their marketing (to lawyers) of their "information session". And why, by the way, can't they call it a "seminar" like everyone else??!

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  4. Thanks, headless. I think we are pretty much in agreement!

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  5. Dishonest and patronizing: Resolution first in family law
    Resolution first in family law
    Resolution first in family law

    Flyer probably compiled by JJ in her spare time as director of standards in a complaints free organization.

    I am with John, your answers made me laugh.

    A Fundamentally flawed quality systems trying to re brand itself is patronizing and dishonest. Proper enforcement of the CODE OF PRACTICE is what the public wants to hear about, not our solicitors turning into another bleeding heart liberal offering a shoulder to cry on.

    ReplyDelete

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