Navigating your tricky legal situations
The adult world can be a complicated place. Even if you’re well into your late twenties - mention anything about making a will or getting a divorce, and your head will likely be filled with question marks. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get through most of your life without getting embroiled in a legal battle.
But maybe a family member has passed away and you’ve been left no inheritance, or your friend’s getting a divorce after 5 years of marriage. Before you go off poring through “A Dummy’s Guide To Finding A Lawyer”, we’ve teamed up with PKWA Law Practice - a leading family law firm in Singapore - to break the common misconceptions people have of lawyers.
Legal readiness, here you come!
1. Any lawyer will do the trick
Before you rush off to any ABC & Partners, bear in mind that different firms have particular expertise in certain areas. Family lawyers specialize in the common areas of divorce, wills and probate. So if you need a lawyer specifically for these purposes, looking up family law firms on Google or by hearsay are good ideas.
2. I’ll have to sell my kidney before I can afford a lawyer
We’ve all heard horror stories about lawsuits draining bank accounts and costing people their organs savings. Especially contested divorce cases involving children - those are the stuff of financial nightmares.
A good family lawyer always lays out their charges from the outset, whether contested or not. Uncontested divorces usually see a bill of only $1,500 to $2,900 at PKWA Law. And these being fixed fee packages, you won’t be caught off guard by any unexpected add-ons.
3. Sessions with family lawyers are boring and tense
While it is true that a lawyer is only needed when there’s a ton at stake, your meetings don’t have to be hand-wringing moments all the time.
With Jessica Chow, a family lawyer at PKWA Law who had us smiling at her infectious, bubbly charm.
Beyond any “surface” criteria, male or female, the most important thing when choosing a lawyer is comfort. You’ll be telling them a lot of private matters that you may not even be comfortable enough to tell your family about, for example if there’s domestic abuse in the mix.
Remember that first and foremost, your lawyer is out to look after you - the client’s - best interests. So when hiring a lawyer, strike the “serious intimidating pokerface” off the top of your list. Empathy should take the cake.
4. Every single hour minute second of my time with a lawyer is chargeable
Not the case for the first session at least. PSA: many law firms offer the first consult session FOC, so use this to gauge if the lawyer is worth every subsequent paid hour.
Some may be conducted over the phone, but you can still use this to your advantage. If you’re able to talk to your lawyer freely, that’s a pretty good gauge of your comfort level.
5. The size of a law firm matters to my win
The reigning opinion here is that the size of a law firm determines the win. Larger law firms may have a greater number of successful cases in their books, but that’s mainly because they’ve seen a great deal of cases over the years. Smaller law firms could in fact give you more personalized attention.
Also, different law firms have different areas of expertise, so remember to find one best suited for your case. But still, we get it - if the thought of younger lawyers makes you insecure, go on to the next point.
6. Lawyers with more experience are better
Don’t forget, the young have energy. We heard of a young lawyer at PKWA Law Practice having succeeded at a case where 4 previous lawyers failed, and that’s really because she pored through the documents day and night when no one else did.
So don’t always expect and demand for your lawyer to have a receding hairline and Lao Fu Zi wrinkles. You may experience a rush of gusto from a younger and less experienced lawyer that could be the key to you having the judge hit the gavel in your favour.
7. My welfare comes second to my lawyer winning the case
Now hold up right there. The enduring mental image of lawyers to every one of us may be a steely-eyed man clad in a perfectly creased battle gear black suit, but you’re forgetting who’s really right behind the frontlines. Yup, it’s you.
Some family law firms actually have an in-house counsellor to make sure clients are emotionally stable. And best of all - it’s an FOC pro bono counselling service.
8. More expensive lawyer = higher chance of winning the case
The most expensive lawyer may not be the best one. Strike a balance between cost and experience, and get a lawyer with an expertise best suited to your case.
For a simple uncontested divorce that has no need to go to court, it is usually an all-in charge - that means a clear fee structure and no exorbitant piling on the bills. Fees differ slightly in contested divorces, so always ask the lawyer to explain their fees. That’ll save you from staring cross-eyed at the tiny numbers on your bill.
9. A good lawyer can win me 100% of my marital assets
Family law is never a zero-sum, “winner-takes-all” field, so some give and take is necessary. Find yourself someone who takes a realistic approach. Discuss your aims with your lawyer, and a good one will counsel you on what you can expect.
He/she will also discuss all available options with you, so don’t be under the impression that your case will be heard in front of the judge right away. A good lawyer will try their best at mediation, which saves you a ton of extra time and cost.
Lawyer myths debunked
There’s a saying that goes: Choosing the right lawyer is far more important than choosing the right lover. After all, your lawyer - not your bae - is the one who could make or break an inheritance.
Most of us will need a family lawyer at some point in our lives. But with these being distressing and turbulent times, finding one can be tricky at first, especially with the huge range of options and services available.
So follow our guide here to avoid falling into the common pitfalls. At the end of the day, comfort is key. Your lawyer is your voice, so choose someone who believes in your cause the way you believe in it. Before you know it, you’ll get yourself quickly on the path to resolving your case and getting a good night’s sleep.
Trusted voices at PKWA Law Practice
If you’re looking for a first step, PKWA Law Practice is a good place to start. As a leading family law firm in Singapore led by Mr Lim Chong Boon, PKWA Law has seen and resolved countless cases. A solid reputation and a specialist team make the firm a one stop service for divorces, wills and probate.
This post was made possible thanks to PKWA Law Practice LLC.