Updated: Sep 2, 2022
Rebecca Francis is an avid believer that everyone who has a legal problem should be able to access legal help.
That’s why she set up her law firm, Emerge Legal, in 2021.
A practice which not only helps people who do not qualify for Legal Aid, but that also assists people who struggle to afford traditional legal representation.
This month, we sat down with Rebecca to chat about why she chose to trade practising
criminal law for family law, and why using FamilyProperty has changed her practice for the better.
Tell us a bit about your career in family law. What is your “why”?
For almost all of my career, I practised in criminal law so family law is fairly new to me. I chose to make the move because I wanted a change of pace from the adversarial nature of criminal law. Family law is an area that has many opportunities to help people and families outside of the courtroom like collaborative practice, mediation, and parenting coordination.
What has been your most memorable family law matter to date?
I recently assisted a lovely client with property consent orders. Both she and her former partner were so respectful and genuinely concerned about each other’s happiness and wellbeing. It was incredibly heartwarming to see that they were able to put aside the hurt and anger so they could both move forward with peace.
What do you find to be the most rewarding and testing parts about being a family lawyer?
The best part of being a family lawyer is seeing clients feel empowered to make good decisions for themselves and their families. The most testing is definitely when the parties are at different stages of their grief journey. When one, or both, are holding on to blame and anger, it can be a real challenge to get them to see the bigger picture and look to the future instead of only focussing on what is hurting them right now.
What is a common challenge that is plaguing family law clients at the moment?
Cost and the time it takes to get to a resolution through the court. There have been recent reforms, but the delays are still extensive and generally, the longer a matter goes on, the more it costs. This adds more stress and pressure to people who are already struggling. In my opinion, there needs to be more education about the possibilities of resolving disputes amicably and outside of court.
What do you think that everyone involved in a family law matter can do better?
Family law is an emotionally challenging and draining area to work in, so practitioners can do better by being more collegiate and not becoming personally invested in their client’s positions.
The parties can do better by considering the big picture and asking themselves not what they want right now, but what kind of life they want for themselves and their children in 5 or 10 years. They then need to consider what needs to happen now to create that. I find this often changes the focus of discussions away from specific details parties may be stuck on and allows them to see another perspective.
You use FamilyProperty in your practice. What do you like most about it?
FamilyProperty saves time initially because clients can complete the questionnaire and upload documents when it suits them, and then let me know when they are ready to proceed.
I love that clients can access the questionnaire and look through to see the kinds of questions and information they will be asked. The best part is that it is so easy to show clients how different options will affect them and their bottom line, and to compare proposals.
What other technology do you use in your business?
I’m not very tech savvy which is another reason why I like FamilyProperty! It’s so intuitive and easy to understand that even I can use it! In terms of other technology, I use Zoom for conferences and Atom for my practice management and accounting.
What are you looking forward to in the next year?
Professionally, I’m looking forward to helping more families through mediation and parenting coordination, and perhaps expanding to take on an employee or two. Personally, I’m looking forward to spending more quality time with my family and taking some of the trips that we have had to cancel over the past couple of years.
Rebecca Francis is the Principal and Founder of Emerge Legal.
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