Professionals and partisans: Lessons for family lawyers from a study of fee-charging McKenzie Friends

Leanne Smith, Emma Hitchings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

This article seeks to shift the focus of recent debates around the work done by fee-charging McKenzie Friends in some family law disputes. It takes some key findings from a study of fee-charging McKenzie Friends conducted by the authors and situates them in the context of two bodies of literature: first, work exploring challenges to traditional legal services made by non-lawyers; and secondly work exploring the practices of family lawyers. Through an analysis of the services offered by fee-charging McKenzie Friends (the ‘partisans’ of our title) and the views of their litigant in person clients, we argue that the service offered by many McKenzie Friends appears to contrast with aspects of the services offered by lawyers (the ‘professionals’) that have been recognised as problematic in family law for decades. This presents a challenge for family law practitioners, policy-makers and researchers – namely, to reflect on whether the appeal of fee-charging McKenzie Friends highlights a need to address some long-recognised shortcomings in the support that family lawyers are able to offer to their clients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-364
Number of pages22
JournalChild and Family Law Quarterly
Volume31
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • McKenzie Friends
  • family lawyers
  • non-lawyers
  • professionals
  • partisans
  • emotional and legal support

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