I must confess that I am an old fan of paper knowledge resources, having had a family law library going back to the 1970s. I am also not very technically savvy. It was therefore with some trepidation that I trialled LexisPSL Family.
I need not have worried. I found the product very easy to use, focused as it is around an excellent search facility.
As well as having the search facility, the homepage has four sections: Topics, News, Key Resources and International. The News section is bang up to date with reports of recent judgments and statutory instruments. Key resources include popular precedents like a deed of separation, popular Practice Notes prepared by LexisNexis and key family law developments. International includes various headings for example financial provision after overseas divorce, international enforcement and jurisdictional issues in children proceedings.
I tested it in a scenario with which I was very unfamiliar. I needed to apply for a warrant of possession where a wife was refusing to leave the former matrimonial home, which the court had ordered be sold and which she had been ordered to leave. I was rather on my own as my matrimonial barrister had suggested I take advice from a housing barrister and the housing barristers I approached were uncomfortable with the family side of the matter.
I simply searched ’warrant of possession‘. This gave me 48 relevant results. The search results covered different categories: legislation and guidance, Practice Notes, forms, news, precedents, drafting notes and clauses, Q&As and overviews. These included the relevant Form N325 as a PDF which one could complete, email to a client and lock after electronic signing. Alongside was a precedent statement in support. Moreover, I was also given details of the court fee which avoided me having to refer to the relevant statutory instrument.
Other search results included Methods of enforcement – an overview, which was helpful as to the options which might otherwise be available.
I searched again for a pre-nuptial agreement that I might want to draft. As well as the precedent, in a bar off to the right were Related Documents. These were grouped as Overviews, Practice Notes, Precedents, Drafting Notes and Clauses, Checklists, Diagrams and Flowcharts, Cases and Decisions and News. So I was able to access a handy checklist for my pre-nuptial agreement. I also found a useful news piece on whether appropriate reviews make pre-nuptials stick.
I also had access to LexisLibrary, a separate product. I was pleasantly surprised as to what publications were available on my virtual ’bookshelf’. These included the Family Court Practice (the Red Book), Family Law journal, Family Law Reports, Clarke Hall and Morrison, Butterworths Family Law Service and Rayden and Jackson, as well as the Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents. Browsing and searching each title was child’s play.
I spoke to a family lawyer who had bought a monthly subscription to Lexis Nexis PSL. She was very happy with the product and one thing that she identified as a plus point were the client guides on various subjects. For example, there is a very good client guide on pre-nuptial agreements, which can easily be adopted in a letter of advice to a client.
Not that I needed to use it, but there is an easily accessible contact page not only for technical queries but also for content queries and assistance finding documents.
All in all, a very worthwhile and wonderful piece of kit.