Managing difficult clients—family law
Produced in partnership with Ursula Rice of Family First Solicitors Ltd

The following Family practice note produced in partnership with Ursula Rice of Family First Solicitors Ltd provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Managing difficult clients—family law
  • Basics
  • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Standards and Regulations 2019
  • Angry clients
  • 'Slippery' clients
  • Vague clients
  • Issues of capacity
  • Termination of instructions
  • Practice points

Managing difficult clients—family law

Family work is demanding in many ways that have nothing to do with the complexity of the black letter law. By their nature the family client is upset, distracted and being driven through emotional responses rather than logical ones. However, in the case load of every family lawyer, there may be clients that above all others seem hard to manage. Recognising such clients and tailoring an approach to them can save the lawyer from unnecessary complaints and the client from much unnecessary cost.


Setting the scene with all clients at the outset of a case can help keep expectations at a manageable level. Calm manners, with a determined focus on the issues that are legal, will ensure that all information is gathered at the outset. Initial instruction should be taken on a pro forma, which will help the solicitor stay on the necessary path to gathering full instructions. See Precedent: Client instruction sheet BFLS 1E [21002].

Often the first time a full interview is conducted the family lawyer will know that the client, rather than the case, may be a stumbling block to successful resolution. Sometimes the client becomes 'difficult' because of a change in circumstances. A change of solicitor or an upsetting event in the case, or delay can often turn a case that was manageable to one that is forever demanding

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