Many believe that when they hire an attorney, their attorney is a walking and talking encyclopedia of law. So, when they ask an attorney a question, they believe they should get an instant answer on every topic. They might even believe that the attorney ought to know exactly what the judge will do in their case.
The reality is that in the law, there are statutes (legislation passed by legislatures and signed into law by governors) and case law (which often involves the interpretation of these statutes). While some statutes may be clear on their face, more often, statutes often have some ambiguities that require courts to interpret them.
In many cases, a divorce or family law client may have a specific fact pattern that might largely fall under a particular statute. But the reality is that the statute might not be entirely clear on its face. There might be case law that shows how courts have interpreted that statute as it relates to a specific case.
Ultimately, this means that an attorney ought to look at case law in their jurisdiction to see how family courts have interpreted a particular statute as it relates to cases in which they are representing clients. To accomplish this task, lawyers used to have to pull the law books off their shelves.
Now, most lawyers do their research online through one of the various legal research software out there. The common ones are Westlaw, Lexis/Nexis, Fastcase, but there are others.
Additionally, the reality is that new cases come out regularly. This means that any lawyer who wants to be skilled in divorce and family law needs to regularly study newly reported cases that have come out in their jurisdiction (as it relates to cases they are representing clients) because these new case decisions might end up having an impact on a particular client’s case.
Many clients wrongly assume that lawyers do not do research. They might also not want to pay the time for the lawyer to do research.
But performing solid legal research when representing a client is almost always required. An attorney must provide competent, diligent, and communicative representation.
If you are going through a divorce or family law matter in Springfield, Missouri, or elsewhere, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. You can call us at 855-805-0595.