No surprise to read that this is the case..

Why so for family law?

1. While I’m not at the coalface of the family law system anymore, by all accounts, it is screwed. Delays abound. There are no ‘rewards’ for good behaviour, good conduct. There are little consequences for bad behaviour, vindictive and aggressive conduct, either towards those involved in proceedings or their lawyers. This means that family lawyers (both barristers and solicitors) are put in a position where they have to explain a system to their clients that doesn’t make sense from a moral perspective. It’s the Wild West, morally speaking. This results in family lawyers lose their sense of meaning in the job. We can’t always achieve results that feel ‘fair’ to us, but once the system becomes so detached from our sense of ‘fairness’, what is left?

2. Positive transference – sounds good, right? Sadly not so much. Psychological transference describes how we project our preconceived ideas on to certain people we meet in life. So often people have positive transference towards lawyers and the legal system – that the lawyers are so clever, they will “save” me, I’ll have my day in court, my moment of victory. The media perpetuates this myth with its obsession with the “diva” divorce lawyers – portraying them as all-powerful and therefore capable of miracles. Barristers are at the apex in terms of expectations on them, both from clients and the solicitors. All roads lead to going to see the ‘genius’ barrister who will solve everything. Talk about a pedestal.

3. The myth that you can apply legal ‘solutions’ to human problems (most children cases are testament to this…)

4. The way lawyers are trained is like teaching people to eat spaghetti with a spoon.

What am I on about?

The fact that rationality is king in legal training.

We’re taught to analyse and to use directive ways of persuading clients to do stuff.

But, more often than not, in more personal, emotional areas of law, this simply does not work.

It might work with some judges. It does not work with clients. And often it doesn’t work in negotiations with counterparts. People get more resistant, the more you use your clever, analytical points to argue the toss with them.

We’re not taught how to work with vulnerability, suicidality.

How to work in a trauma-informed way.

If you don’t combine the legal training with fundamental teaching on how to work with people’s psychology, you are going to create a profession which is frustrated and burnt out.

These reflections are based on my having been a Central London family solicitor and mediator myself. And also now having retrained as a therapist and providing therapy, training and therapeutic supervision/reflective practice to many lawyers (of family and other persuasions) over the past 7 or so years.

Find out more about our team of therapists for lawyers and professionals at The Carvalho Consultancy and book an appointment on our therapy bookings page.

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