What Your Family Lawyer’s Accreditations Mean

Family law is incredibly emotional, often complex, and always intensely personal.  Therefore, it is crucial when instructing a family solicitor, you choose someone you feel completely comfortable with.  A good family lawyer can be a rock in stressful situations, and in addition, can provide you with practical advice on achieving a fair financial settlement and making arrangements for your children that will work long-term.

Many people find their family solicitor through word of mouth.  But if you are new to the area, or wish to evaluate the skills and experience of a solicitor recommended to you, one way of doing so is to look at their accreditations.

A law firm will often list their accreditations on their website.  But it is not always easy to work out what certain accreditations mean.  To remove some of the mystery, this article provides a summary of the most common family law accreditations and how they benefit clients.

Resolution

Although not technically an accreditation, Resolution is one of the most trusted family law associations in the UK.

Made up of over 6,500 family law solicitors, Resolution is an organisation that promotes and practices a non-confrontational approach to family law.  Members must adhere to a strict Code of Practice, and as part of their membership, undergo a training course.

The Resolution Code of Practice aims to help families resolve family law disputes constructively and put the interests of any children at the centre of all negotiations.

Resolution members commit to:

  • making every effort to reduce conflict and hostility between a couple
  • assist clients with understanding the long-term consequences of any decisions surrounding arrangements for children and/or financial settlements
  • let clients know all the options available to them and provide advice based on experience and knowledge
  • give clients confidence in making the right decision and mitigate stress were possible

Family lawyers who have committed to joining Resolution strongly believe in supporting families in resolving disputes in a respectful manner.  The Law Society of England and Wales has adopted the principles of the Code and declared them best practice for all family law solicitors.

Help and Support for Separated Families (HSSF) Mark 

As part of the UK government’s initiative to support separated families, the HSSF mark is awarded to people and organisations who help families resolve disputes collaboratively and help them focus on putting the needs of any children first.

The HSSF mark is awarded for two years after which the holder of the accreditation will be reassessed.

Like Resolution, the HSSF mark provides assurance to family law clients that their solicitor is recognised as a professional who is dedicated to helping disputing couples come together, rather than drive them further apart.

It is important to note that in some situations, such as where there has been violence and abuse within the relationship, getting couples to work together is not safe or practical.  However, family solicitors who belong to Resolution or who have been awarded the HSSF mark are quick to recognise these situations and advise their client in a way that protects their safety and that of their children.

Lexcel

Lexcel is awarded by the Law Society.  The standards which must be reached to achieve and maintain a Lexcel accreditation are exceptionally strict.  The quality mark states the firm has attained excellence in practice management and client care.

To attain and keep a Lexcel accreditation, a law firm must demonstrate it has the plans, policies, and procedures in place to “[provide] consistent operational efficiencies and client services, manage risk effectively, reduce costs and promote profitability.”

Firms that hold a Lexcel quality mark have a culture of providing excellent client service throughout the practice.  This is necessary as the Law Society conducts annual maintenance visits and after a three-year period, a firm must undertake a complete reassessment if they wish to renew their Lexcel Accreditation.

In summary

Accreditations truly provide the best mechanism to differentiate between family law solicitors and can provide potential clients with confidence in a firm’s standards, ethics and quality.

If you have any questions on accreditations, please contact our office to discuss.

Bennett Griffin is an award-winning solicitors based in West Sussex with offices in central Worthing and Ferring.  Our experienced and specialist solicitors offer a comprehensive service and will work with you in an honest, considered and practical manner.  If you require legal advice, please contact us on 01903 229 999 or by email at info@bennett-griffin.co.uk for more information.

The information contained in this article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice. Professional advice should always be taken on the application of the law in any particular situation.