Should You Work for Family Members?
Representing your own family members in legal matters may not be something you’ve considered before. However, when your immediate or extended family members find themselves in need of legal help or representation, they may turn to you for guidance. While there are advantages to representing relatives, there are also important factors to consider before assisting a loved one in a court of law.
First and Foremost, is Representing Relatives Legally Possible?
While lawyers are technically allowed to represent their own family members, there may be specific regulations and limitations depending on the state where you practice and the nature of the case. Divorce and end-of-life matters, in particular, can raise complex issues, so it’s crucial to thoroughly research and understand the legal requirements before proceeding.
What Are Some Benefits of Working for Family Members?
If you do choose to represent a family member in court, there are several advantages to consider:
- The person you’re representing already has a high level of trust in you, as they sought out your help in the first place.
- Representing family members can help you expand your client base, enhancing your credibility and confidence as you grow your practice.
- Depending on your relative’s financial situation and the closeness of your relationship, you can offer pro-bono services or discounted rates. However, it’s important to establish clear expectations from the beginning, as some family members may assume their legal fees will automatically be waived.
The Possible Downsides:
Despite the benefits, there are potential downsides to representing family members. To minimize negative outcomes, it’s crucial to maintain open lines of communication and ensure that everyone involved understands the implications. Be honest with your family member about the likelihood of success in their case and the potential consequences if it doesn’t turn out favorably.
If you represent a family member who loses their case, it may strain your relationship with the rest of the family. Emotions can run high in legal proceedings involving loved ones, and it’s important to assess whether your personal ties could affect your objectivity. Can you maintain emotional composure and impartiality to deliver the best possible outcome? Consider whether the risks of representing your family member outweigh the advantages.
While representing family members is not inherently unethical, there are ethical gray areas to be aware of. For example, offering legal advice at a family gathering could inadvertently create an attorney-client relationship. If a family member insists on discussing legal matters such as employee or landlord issues, redirect the conversation to a scheduled consultation during your office hours.
Above all, it’s essential to maintain transparency and adhere to the highest professional standards when representing your family members. If you feel that you cannot fulfill these obligations while representing a relative, it may be necessary to decline the opportunity. Your closest and most understanding family members will appreciate your commitment to upholding professional standards for your firm.
Thank you to all the fellow attorneys and followers for reading! I hope this article has provided helpful insights. Have you ever decided to provide legal services to a family member? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please share in the comments below.
Wish to receive bi-weekly updates and insights from Garrity Traina? Be sure to sign up for my RSS Feed!