Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/19)
Family

Kristanic speaks her clients' language

Toronto family lawyer Barbara Kristanic prides herself on speaking her clients’ language.

Kristanic, partner with Nathens Siegel Barristers LLP, likes to steer clear of the complicated terminology favoured by many legally trained professionals.

“I avoid legalese because I find it’s only lawyers who speak that — nobody else understands it,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

From the first meeting, Kristanic, who provides service in both English and Croatian, speaks to her clients in a straightforward and intelligible way.

“Mine is a common-sense approach. I want to give them a general idea of what the issues are and possibilities for resolution, without overwhelming them,” she explains.

Kristanic says it’s hard to remember a time when she didn’t have her sights set on a law career.  

“I was going through my old high school yearbooks awhile ago, and all I ever said was that I was going to be a lawyer,” she says.  

At that time, she admits her view of the profession was heavily influenced by what she now knows are unrealistic courtroom dramas.

“I envisaged myself as one of the heroic criminal lawyers you see on television,” Kristanic says.

However, that all changed when she took a family law course during her studies at Osgoode Hall Law School

“It really made an impact on me, and I realized I found family law very interesting,” she says. The chance to work closely with people was something that appealed to me.”

And Kristanic hasn’t looked back since, practising exclusively in family law since her call to the bar in 2004. After articling with a sole practitioner, she moved to a boutique family law firm, before settling at Nathens Siegel in 2007, where she was admitted to the partnership in 2009.

Kristanic assists clients with a broad range of family law issues, including custody, access, child and spousal support, complex property division and separation agreements. She also has experience in pre-marriage matters, drafting and negotiating cohabitation agreements and marriage contracts.

Throughout her career, Kristanic has strongly embraced alternative methods of dispute resolution.

“Litigation is sometimes unavoidable, but it can be a very expensive and detrimental process for all parties,” she says. “I like to think I’m fairly settlement oriented, and I see the benefit of mediation, arbitration and the collaborative process for bringing matters to a cost-effective resolution for clients.

“Those options are something we talk about in the first meeting because many people are unaware they exist,” Kristanic adds.

When litigation proves necessary, Kristanic calls on her extensive experience of the courts in the Greater Toronto Area to advocate fearlessly for her clients.

Outside of the office, Kristanic plays an active role in the legal community, as a member of the Ontario Bar Association, Family Lawyers Association, Peel Law Association, and various other collaborative law organizations. 

Otherwise, she can be found out jogging, travelling or spending time with friends and family, including her husband and two young children.

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