We speak with LawTap lawyer Jennifer Hirst at Adelaide Family Lawyers located in Adelaide, South Australia to learn more about her and her law firm.
1. Tell us about the areas of law you practice, the work that you do and the clients you work with at Adelaide Family Lawyers
My areas of law include Family Law primarily, as well as Youth Court matters, standard Wills, Child Support and Tenancy Law.
I work with private clients and some family law Legal Aid clients. Some clients have illicit drug use issues, others have anger management problems and mental health issues. I work with clients to advise them on what orders will be suitable for their circumstances and which agencies they need to access to deal with their issues, as they will not be able to obtain any substantial time spending orders unless these sort of issues are addressed.
2. What do you enjoy most about your job?
The variety of people and situations encountered, helping clients to understand the family law system and problem solving such as encountering new issues and finding solutions for clients.
I also enjoy networking with other practitioners. I am a member of the Small Practice Committee of the Law Society and meet on a regular basis with other practitioners for coffee mornings and at CPD events to exchange information and update our knowledge.
3. What’s the biggest challenge or hardest part of your job?
The biggest challenge is difficult clients who have a preconceived notion of what they are able to achieve and trying to explain the court processes and helping them to understand this even if it means they won’t get what they want.
4. What are you most proud of in your career as a lawyer?
I commenced my career as a mature age person and have amassed a lot of knowledge about the areas in which I work and have been able to use this knowledge to assist clients. I have worked in other positions in the past in compliance and Government legislation, which comes in handy with some areas of Family Law. For example, child support issues, of which I have a detailed knowledge.
I commenced my own private practice, Adelaide Family Lawyers, two years ago and have grown the practice to include a junior solicitor and will shortly be taking on an experienced additional solicitor on a part time basis. I have plans to increase the size of my business within the next 5-10 years and am receiving positive feedback and referrals from clients.
5. What big changes do you think the legal industry can expect to see over the next 3 years?
More competition in terms of pricing and how we charge clients – not necessarily sticking to the usual charging at 6 minute intervals. There are more law firms doing fixed fee services now. More attention in the court system to ice addicts. It appears to be an increasing issue in Family Law matters to the extent that one of the judges in the Federal Circuit Court has now delivered a paper on this issue and Federal Circuit Court judges are being paid more to deal with this.
6. Favourite TV show or film?
Lifestyle programs such as Better Homes & Gardens and Selling Houses Australia, The Block and other renovations shows. Like to garden and fix things!
7. At what stage should someone contact you about a legal issue or matter?
At the earliest possible stage because a precursor to commencing action in the Federal Circuit Court with family law children’s matters is to attend mediation (in the absence of any risk issues such as domestic violence or illicit drug use). Some parties may be able to reach agreement on children’s matters through mediation processes or attend mediation at Legal Services Commission if eligible for Legal Aid.
8. What should potential clients do before seeing you?
For family law children’s issues: Write out a timeline of events, including cohabitation, marriage and separation dates, number of children, issues encountered during the relationship in terms of domestic violence or otherwise, include dates and details of events, whether reported to police or Families SA and any other relevant information. Keep an ongoing diary of events.
For property matters: Same as above but include a list of assets and liabilities of the relationship and any documentation available. This will better assist me to provide accurate advice in the party’s personal circumstances.