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If you’re a high street family lawyer, chances are you’re becoming blithely accustomed to yet another local firm launching a range of fixed fee divorce packages. Putting aside that some of these packages may be light on advice and heavy on form filling, there is no doubt that innovation is taking hold. Recent changes to public funding are sweeping away the polarisation of family law services that saw disparities in levels of advice available to clients. No one paid a great deal of attention to the missing middle: tens of thousands of separating families on average incomes effectively priced out of the market for family law services. This could be about to change, not least because the reduction in the availability of legal aid has seen the vagaries of market forces replace the relative sure-footedness of public subsidy.
In response, impacted lawyers are busy discounting hourly rates and fixing fees in a desperate bid to make themselves affordable to the same clients who can no longer pick them up on legal aid. An unintended consequence is that referrals to legal aid family mediators have fallen off a cliff while those who were supposed to mediate are heading off to court – often unrepresented – to throw more sand in the wheels of the judiciary. While the Ministry of Justice sits on its hands, this farce-like situation points to a commercial opportunity that more and more family law departments are cottoning on to.
A different way?
What if there existed a way of earning around £2,500 a time for helping an average income divorcing client resolve contested issues relating to finances and child arrangements? And what if it didn't require you to negotiate with another lawyer or write any formal
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