I assist busy family law lawyers and select appeal clients by providing high-quality, creative, and cost-efficient advice and research-related services. My strategic and practical services are customized to your particular file, taking into account your timelines and workflow schedule.
By providing research and advice you can trust, you can focus on other critical tasks.
|Litigation and dispute resolution strategies, brainstorming potential resolutions, and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a case|
|Drafting factums, statements of law, submissions, and other court documents|
|Drafting appeal materials (e.g., seeking or opposing leave to appeal, stay pending appeal materials, further evidence on appeal materials, and substantive appeal materials including the notice of appeal and factum)|
|Lengthier legal opinions / research memos|
|Shorter emails / informal memos highlighting relevant legislation, cases, and commentary|
I’m service-oriented and dedicated to making your practice more manageable. I know how challenging your job can be, and that family law clients rely on their lawyers to handle their private and often most important issues.
I also understand the realities of everyday practice and where research fits within the overall context of a particular file.
More than “Just” Research
I provide a unique service where needed that goes beyond just research – I collaborate with my clients to help them develop innovative arguments and new strategies to resolve complex and multi-faceted legal and emotional family law issues.
My clients benefit from my specialized knowledge and focus, honed over 10+ years in traditional and non-traditional family law settings. Given my experience, I’m particularly well-equipped to offer solid and strategic insight, in a helpful and respectful way. This may include advice and research related to:
About Vanessa Lam
I’ve been providing freelance legal advice and research-related services to other family law lawyers since 2012.
By focusing on family law strategy, research, and written advocacy, I’ve developed a specialized expertise. I can quickly grasp important issues and apply the law and a common-sense approach to a particular scenario based on this expertise and my past related experiences.
After graduating from Queen’s Law at the top of my class, I clerked for the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and then worked at a prominent boutique family law firm in Toronto. I started as a traditional associate, but was fortunate to transition my work to align more closely with my interests in research, knowledge management, and appeal work.
I’ve contributed towards various papers and continuing legal education materials. I co-author Cohabitation Law in Ontario with Ann Wilton and Gary Joseph.
I’ve also developed plain language family law materials for the public through my various roles with CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario).
- Called to the Ontario Bar (2009)
- Juris Doctor (JD) from Queen’s University (2008)
- University Medal in Law – Highest Standing (highest cumulative grade point average for the program)
- The Law Society of Ontario
- The Ontario Bar Association
- Public Affairs Liaison of the Family Law Section’s Executive Committee (2019 to 2021)
- Volunteer and Member-at-Large of the Family Law Section’s Executive Committee (2018 to 2019)
- The Canadian Bar Association
- Member-at-Large of the National Family Law Section’s Executive Committee (2018 to 2021)
- Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers
- Speaker at the 15th Family Law Summit (Law Society of Ontario webinar, to be held on April 12-13, 2021). I will be speaking about family law appeals.
- Speaker at Institute Series: Serving the Family (Ontario Bar Association webinar, held on February 3-4, 2021). I spoke about recent family law legislative updates (mainly on relocation and updated appeal routes).
- Speaker at Motions to Change: Your Complete Guide – Part 2: Navigating Motions to Change in the COVID Era (Ontario Bar Association webinar, held on July 21, 2020). Read my related articles “A Huge Problem Without a Clear Answer: COVID-19 and Support Obligations (Part 1 of 2)” and “Access to Justice Challenges: COVID-19 and Support Obligations (Part 2 of 2)”.
- Speaker at Parenting During a Pandemic – What Family Law Lawyers Should Know (Canadian Bar Association webinar, held on May 11, 2020). Please contact me if you would like a copy of my paper 10 Themes from the COVID-19 Parenting Case Law.
- Speaker at Divorce Act Amendments: Open Dialogue on Continuity & Change in Custody (Ontario Bar Association program, held on October 24, 2019). Read my paper “Divorce Act Amendments: Overview of Amendments Most Likely to Impact School & Education-Related Issues”.
My clients range from solo and small firm practitioners to lawyers at larger firms. They are usually in the GTA and other parts of Ontario.
Here is what some of my clients have to say about my services:
“Vanessa Lam has provided me with invaluable support with research and complex drafting of Facta. She is efficient, timely and respectful of the budget that I give her. Her work is thorough and her analysis is detailed and insightful. When Vanessa sends me back the draft Factum, Research Memo or Case Brief it is ready to go to the Court or client without any further work required by me. I have no hesitation in recommending Vanessa for all of your research and drafting needs.”
Lorna M. Yates
Cohen Peeters Yates LLP
“I have a small law firm and outsource all of my research to Vanessa. I have worked with her for many years. The quality and timeliness and analytical rigour of her work is fantastic. I have worked for many years on large national law firm platforms and have not previously seen a researcher as skilled.”
“We can not thank Vanessa enough for her support, including legal research, drafting and strategizing in our cases. Vanessa’s work exceeded our expectations in terms of her knowledge and quality of her work. We are beyond grateful and continue to refer to all our colleagues.”
Ritu and Reena Horra
Horra Family Law
“Vanessa is my secret weapon. She is gracious and generous with her knowledge and skills, always going above and beyond. Her assistance has been the key to making solo practice work for me.”
“I’m delighted I found Vanessa. She exceeded my expectations regarding the quality, timeliness, and cost of her work. Her report helped me settle a difficult case. She was a pleasure to work with. I couldn’t be happier I found her and will use her skills again.”
The Family Law Coach
“I have used Vanessa’s services on a couple of occasions when I needed some legal research done (sometimes on short notice). She is very knowledgeable about the law and efficient in her legal research. She presents her findings in a clear and concise manner and highlights the best arguments I should make for my clients based on the research she has found. Using Vanessa’s services undoubtedly saves me time and my clients’ money.”
Family Law Lawyer
“I was referred to Vanessa through another lawyer. Since, I have used her services several times. Simply put she is amazing. Not only is she very professional, but her work is excellent. I have relied on Vanessa’s services for the drafting of court materials and research. I have not been disappointed. I do not hesitate to refer Vanessa to other lawyers.”
“I am a sole & senior Family Law practitioner. I retained Vanessa for research into a technical inter-jurisdictional conflict of laws problem. Vanessa was a pleasure to deal with, was very accommodating, met two tight deadlines (which were unfair of me to impose yet I did anyway – twice), and the work was top notch. Vanessa provided me with an excellent outline which was clear, concise, and very helpful, I will be making my life easier in the future by asking Vanessa to help me with research. I highly recommend Vanessa’s research work.”
“Vanessa is an excellent resource for family lawyers requiring assistance with legal research and, in my case, drafting a factum for an appeal and assisting with the preparation of other appeal materials. I highly recommend her and will definitely use her again.”
“I retained Vanessa for legal research and found her work prompt, efficient and effective. I would recommend her to anyone looking for family law specific research.”
“Vanessa is an efficient yet thorough legal researcher and a skilled writer. She is very responsive to her clients and is very knowledgeable about various legal issues.”
“Vanessa’s research and writing skills are superb. The only thing that prevents me from hiring her more often are client financial constraints. I recommend her without reservation.”
Bourque Family Law
“Retaining Vanessa Lam is like having a top tier family law boutique backing you up, at the cost of a junior associate.”
Usually, lawyers contact me by phone or e-mail when they have a request.
If you request work for a specific client file, I need to do a conflict check. After that, we can discuss the timeline and scope of the project. I will send you a short retainer letter to confirm your instructions.
I usually charge a reasonable hourly rate, but I am more than willing to discuss an hours cap or flat-fee arrangement.
I work with my client’s preferences in how they like things done. I’m flexible because my goal is to get you quality work as seamlessly as possible.
I will get back to you as soon as possible, no later than 24 hours after your call or e-mail. If this isn’t possible, you will get an out of office message.