The very wealthy are the only ones who can afford to have a lawyer represent multiple generations of a single family. It is a very different definition of "family lawyer," but one which can be quite lucrative. If this is something you think you would be interested in doing, consider the special requirements involved.

General Practice or Multiple Disciplines

When you represent a wealthy family, you will need a general law degree or specialise in several disciplines that will be effective in defending the living generations of the family. For instance, you may need a degree in real estate law; another in wills, trusts and inheritances; and another in criminal law, in case the youngest generation of the family gets into trouble. You may also consider additional specialisations in divorce law, Canadian vs foreign or international laws, and even business law. When you are hired to represent a wealthy family, you will be expected to defend them on multiple and potentially unrelated cases.

Forming a Firm That Covers All Branches of Law

When you alone cannot cover all the branches of law that your wealthy client expects you to cover, you may want to join or start a firm that provides the wealthy with all of the legal defences they need. When your own law degrees are enhanced by others, you might find that your firm and its team are in higher demand by more wealthy families in Canada. Defending notable families brings prestige, wealth, and ongoing contracts with the generations of these families, something you might find enjoyable as well as valuable.

Being Mindful of the Competition Between Powerful Families

Some things you do have to keep in mind, should you choose to represent multiple generations of a wealthy family, are:

  • Never represent members of the family who married in but are now divorcing out. It is a conflict of interest, and you will have to represent the family that hired you, not the spouse.
  • Avoid representing other powerful and wealthy families who may be in competition with the family you represent.

In your contract with your current client, the family undoubtedly stated who you are allowed to represent and who you are not. If they didn't, just remember professional courtesies when signing on new families to represent.

Multiple Generations Means Multiple Secrets

As a lawyer, you are already well aware of client-lawyer privileges. When you represent multiple members of a single family, you still have to treat every member and every case as though they are individuals. You cannot share case details with another member in the same family unless the member you are representing is a minor. Ergo, if the patriarch wants to know what his son is doing in real estate, that is not for you to discuss, despite the fact that it is the patriarch who signs your checks. This may be very stressful for you, so keep it in mind when you are offered a financially generous opportunity as a family lawyer for an entire family.

For more information about the intricacies of family law, contact a firm like Valerie Little.