December is a natural time to look back on the challenges and achievements of the previous year. For us, it’s a particularly fitting time for reflection, since it marks Connect’s one year anniversary.
When Simon and I decided to launch Connect Family Law in late 2015, our intention was to create a progressive law firm built on a dual foundation of legal expertise and strong community. We sought to attract innovation-oriented lawyers who wanted to do family law differently, which includes investing more humanity into our clients’ experience. From our perspective, being truly progressive means responding to not just the legal but also the social and emotional aspects of separation and divorce.
How did we set out to make this happen?
We grew our team exponentially and expanded our offerings.
Since opening our doors last December, we have welcomed lawyers Alex Boland, Jessica England and Samantha Stepney, Legal Assistant Doris Nadan, and Designated Paralegal Sylvie Walker. To our special expertise in the areas of asset and property division and the other financial aspects of divorce, we have added team members specializing in the complex parenting and custody issues that many families face.
We have explored ways to increase access to and affordability of legal services.
Mindful of the concerns recently raised by a number of top Canadian judges, we give our clients the opportunity to hire us to provide discrete “unbundled” legal services – such as reviewing a court document or helping a client prepare to represent themselves in court – at either a fixed fee or on an hourly rate basis.
Because not every task during the life of a legal file needs to be completed by a lawyer, we also provide clients with options for not only how services are provided, but also by whom. Designated Paralegal Sylvie Walker is trained and qualified to conduct many aspects of a family law matter (under a lawyer’s supervision) at a lower hourly rate than our lawyers charge. Where appropriate, we invite our clients to choose whether to have a lawyer perform every aspect of their file, or to integrate Sylvie into the process.
We created a space for individuals dealing with separation or divorce to learn from and connect with others going through similar experiences.
Whether you were a parent concerned about your child’s separation anxiety, a dad feeling isolated as he adapts to less time spent with his children, a woman considering a return to work, or anyone ready to start dating again post-divorce, our in-house Divorce Salons were a place where real-life conversations came to life in a professional and social way.
We gathered together a community of like-minded professionals who provide non-legal services that are central to the divorce decision.
By collaborating with business, real estate, financial, child and parenting experts, we are better able to serve families both professionally and compassionately, reducing the strain and easing the transition of divorce.
We tried to communicate all of these things to you in ways that were authentic and accessible.
We shared stories, images and ideas that were both modern and personal and invited members of our community to do the same, in-person at our Salons and through social media.
And that was just Year One. We knew there were opportunities to improve how legal services are delivered, but we never imagined we would encounter so much interest in doing family law differently!
Bring on 2017…