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lawstudentmikescott

Family Law

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Hey!

I hope everyone is doing well.

I would like to know how to become an expert in family law in Ontario. I know there is no straightforward answer to this, but if you know of any good resources (books/sites) that break down the family law process/anything that would be useful - I would appreciate it! I’ve yet to take the necessary family law courses, but in addition to the courses I would like to learn more about family law outside of school. 

Any response would be useful, thank you for your time! 

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Expert level is not going to happen as a student. I've entered my 6th year as a family lawyer and I'm by no means an expert 😉

Try to volunteer as part of any of the family law projects that the various Ontario schools have. Western's used to place students with the duty counsel office where they met with clients and drafted family law pleadings. I honestly don't know why people weren't lining up for the opportunity - client management and drafting the same pleadings you would if you were articling or in practice!? You don't learn the difference between an application and a motion to change, nor do you pick up on service distinctions in your family law class. 

You may also want to go through the CLEO links on family law. The steps to a family law case link is found in my bio. Review that basic flowchart. You may also want to review list of commonly cited family law cases.

Luke's Place has a good description of domestic violence and explanation of restraining orders.

Check out blogs by Andrew Feldstein and his law group too.

These would all be good starts for topics applicable to the practice of family law that are outside of the more academic sphere.

 

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The journey is more important than the destination.

Family law is a very "human" and "alive" area of law. Even if you are able to read all the family law books and practice guides out there, there is still a lot of learning around how to manage clients, oral and written advocacy.

In addition to what is mentioned by Artsydork, here are my recommendations:

1. Familiarize yourself with the Family Law Rules - Rules 1, 3, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 18, and 24 in particular. 

2. Get your own copy of Ontario Family Law Practice. The book is intended to give all family lawyers a good breakdown of the general caselaw of family law across various topics.

3. Shadow a senior family law lawyer, sit in on client intakes and interviews, watch him/her argue motions or trials. Alternatively, know when motion dates are in your local family court and sit and watch. 

4. Volunteer/get a paid position with Legal Aid Ontario's family law duty counsel office. You will get a lot of drafting and client interview skills there.

5. Attend Annual Family Law Conferences - read the CPD materials if you can get your hands on them.

I mean there is no easy answer to this. A lot of what you learn is through trial and error in practice (like how we learn other skills in life).

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4 hours ago, artsydork said:

Expert level is not going to happen as a student. I've entered my 6th year as a family lawyer and I'm by no means an expert

I've met a number of lawyers that are considered experts in their area of practice. Not a single one of them has considered themselves an expert.

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18 hours ago, lawstudentmikescott said:

I would like to know how to become an expert in family law in Ontario.

Very simple.  Just practice family law exclusively for 10-20 years. 

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On 8/16/2020 at 1:13 PM, artsydork said:

Expert level is not going to happen as a student. I've entered my 6th year as a family lawyer and I'm by no means an expert 😉

Try to volunteer as part of any of the family law projects that the various Ontario schools have. Western's used to place students with the duty counsel office where they met with clients and drafted family law pleadings. I honestly don't know why people weren't lining up for the opportunity - client management and drafting the same pleadings you would if you were articling or in practice!? You don't learn the difference between an application and a motion to change, nor do you pick up on service distinctions in your family law class. 

You may also want to go through the CLEO links on family law. The steps to a family law case link is found in my bio. Review that basic flowchart. You may also want to review list of commonly cited family law cases.

Luke's Place has a good description of domestic violence and explanation of restraining orders.

Check out blogs by Andrew Feldstein and his law group too.

These would all be good starts for topics applicable to the practice of family law that are outside of the more academic sphere.

 

Thank you for your reply! Wow, 6 years is amazing. How are you liking it? I have been pretty active re: getting experience shadowing family lawyers and interacting with clients. My concerns come down to knowing the Family Law process. For example when processing a divorce, I did not know that custody and access needed to be dealt with first in order for the divorce application to be filed. I guess this is something that comes with experience. However, I am afraid I won't have enough experience when it comes down to getting the work done when it matters. I also had no idea what a simple/uncontested divorce was vs. a contested divorce. I think I will learn all of this in the family law course, but either way - not knowing has me worried. Also, I get frustrated about not being familiar with the "lingo" in a legal atmosphere. For example, when I first heard a motion to change, I wasn't 100% what that actually meant in the realm of family law. But overtime it made sense. But It made me think that there must be resources out there for students that explains everything thoroughly y'no? I will look at the resources you provided, and I can't thank you enough for your time. :)

On 8/16/2020 at 5:21 PM, Aureliuse said:

The journey is more important than the destination.

Family law is a very "human" and "alive" area of law. Even if you are able to read all the family law books and practice guides out there, there is still a lot of learning around how to manage clients, oral and written advocacy.

In addition to what is mentioned by Artsydork, here are my recommendations:

1. Familiarize yourself with the Family Law Rules - Rules 1, 3, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 18, and 24 in particular. 

2. Get your own copy of Ontario Family Law Practice. The book is intended to give all family lawyers a good breakdown of the general caselaw of family law across various topics.

3. Shadow a senior family law lawyer, sit in on client intakes and interviews, watch him/her argue motions or trials. Alternatively, know when motion dates are in your local family court and sit and watch. 

4. Volunteer/get a paid position with Legal Aid Ontario's family law duty counsel office. You will get a lot of drafting and client interview skills there.

5. Attend Annual Family Law Conferences - read the CPD materials if you can get your hands on them.

I mean there is no easy answer to this. A lot of what you learn is through trial and error in practice (like how we learn other skills in life).

Thank you for replying! These are great resources, I will look into each of them. I have the rules on my desk, but its a lot! Thanks for highlighting the important ones (although I am sure they are all important lol). Thank you for your time! 

On 8/16/2020 at 9:10 PM, whereverjustice said:

If you want to know what it takes to be an LSO certified specialist, here are the standards.

This is great. I will likely obsess over this now lol. I guess as the other user said, the journey is what makes one an expert. Thanks for your time!

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You won't learn court procedure in a family law course. That was the brunt of my comment! You'll learn it in practice. The sites that I linked will help break down some of the procedure (especially the CLEO link) including some of the more commonly sought orders that likely weren't taught in law school.

Law school teachers the law - practice will teach you to be a lawyer, including forms, court procedure and all that jazz. 

 

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12 hours ago, lawstudentmikescott said:

Thank you for your reply! Wow, 6 years is amazing. How are you liking it? I have been pretty active re: getting experience shadowing family lawyers and interacting with clients. My concerns come down to knowing the Family Law process. For example when processing a divorce, I did not know that custody and access needed to be dealt with first in order for the divorce application to be filed. I guess this is something that comes with experience. However, I am afraid I won't have enough experience when it comes down to getting the work done when it matters. I also had no idea what a simple/uncontested divorce was vs. a contested divorce. I think I will learn all of this in the family law course, but either way - not knowing has me worried. Also, I get frustrated about not being familiar with the "lingo" in a legal atmosphere. For example, when I first heard a motion to change, I wasn't 100% what that actually meant in the realm of family law. But overtime it made sense. But It made me think that there must be resources out there for students that explains everything thoroughly y'no? I will look at the resources you provided, and I can't thank you enough for your time. :)

Thank you for replying! These are great resources, I will look into each of them. I have the rules on my desk, but its a lot! Thanks for highlighting the important ones (although I am sure they are all important lol). Thank you for your time! 

This is great. I will likely obsess over this now lol. I guess as the other user said, the journey is what makes one an expert. Thanks for your time!

I never did family law, but I don't think this is family law specific. 

I recall as an articling student shadowing lawyers and being in absolute awe of how easy it was for them to just know the right law/process/rule.  Any time I asked them how they got to that point, the only answer I ever got was time.  You start, you get a question, your find the answer, over and over again.  Eventually you just have it.  I know this is true with the benefit of hindsight (I'm not practicing, but my role is such that I have to rely on the knowledge I gained while practicing).  

 

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