Another visit to some family law websites

The New Year is traditionally a time for family law solicitors to experience an upsurge in appointments to discuss divorce or separation, as an argument over whether this year’s Christmas no 1 was better or worse than last year’s (or some such) proves the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The effects of the recession may exacerbate this problem, and indeed English legal firm SAS Daniels reported that they were four times busier than normal in December with divorce cases ( Mind you this is the same firm whose employment team recommended sacking people on Christmas Eve (, so it’s entirely possible that they were trying to get cases into court in time to serve papers on the 25th – “Dirty Den” style (

In any event, family law may well be the flavour of the month this January, so here’s a quick roundup of some relevant sites in that field.

CALM Scotland

When I last reviewed this site exactly four years ago, I hated it. Thankfully, it has improved substantially since then. Goodbye to awkward picture-based “mystery meat” navigation ( Hello, professional and simple text links to all the main areas of the site.

There are still one or two accessibility issues which need to be dealt with (a missing “alt” tag on the large image on the front page being the main offender) but, by and large, the site is now very good.

In particular, I thought the “find a mediator” feature worked very well, allowing you to make direct email contact with your mediator of choice. The information provided on the site is very full and detailed. This includes information about the cost of mediation and copy standard documents to download. There is also a nice seven minute video which introduces mediation and includes a dramatised mediation session to give people an idea what’s in store for them.

This is a great idea, but the site insists that you download the video to view it. Why not embed it in the site? It’s not even difficult: just pop it on YouTube (, cut and paste the “embed” link and there you have it. More people will now take the time to watch your lovely video.

Family Law Association

The website of the Family Law Association subdivides itself into two distinct “centres”. The Advice & Information Centre is aimed at potential customers, while the News Centre is aimed at the profession.

Despite this potentially confusing division, the site remains easy to navigate. The advice and information section includes a page headed “How can we help?”, which in truth is a series of short articles on family law topics, such as divorce, cohabitation and financial problems. These are well written and easy to understand and, although I know next to nothing about any of these topics, seemed to be a good starting point for new or existing clients.

Also of use is a very full A-Z legal jargon dictionary, explaining legal terminology you might come across in a family law action. Again, the explanations were useful and to the point and the navigation tool was nicely done too.

Finally for the discerning consumer who is new to all this, a search function enables them to locate a suitable FLA member and practitioner in their area. It is no doubt very useful to be able to search by area and to specify whether the solicitor in question offers legal aid, is a mediator, a family law accredited specialist or a collaborative lawyer.

If you are already an FLA member, you are presumably already familiar with the section for lawyers on this site. If not, it explains how to join and why you should do so as well.

One small point: the links to the Scottish Government’s website and its useful information and publications are all broken and need fixing.

Scottish Collaborative Family Lawyers

If you were wondering what a “collaborative lawyer” is, then wonder no more – they have their own website which explains all. As well as defining the term, it goes on to explain the process involved and also provides a helpful list of FAQs, which you can read online or by downloading them as a single PDF (a good idea).

It shares some accessibility problems with the CALM Scotland website, but the loss of information entailed is repeated on every page, compounding the error. The cascading frames beside frames which appear in the section for finding a collaborative lawyer, grate a little too. That aside, the website is attractive and simple to use, providing a good platform for an innovative way of delivering legal services.

There is also a members’ area, but as I am not a member, I cannot reveal what goodies lie therein.

Who writes this column?

The website review column is written by Iain A Nisbet of Govan Law Centre


All of these links and hundreds more can be found at

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