We assist busy family law lawyers and select appeal clients by providing high-quality, creative, and cost-efficient advice and research-related services. Our 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|
We are service-oriented and dedicated to making your practice more manageable. We 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.
We also understand the realities of everyday practice and where research fits within the overall context of a particular file.
More than “Just” Research
We provide a unique service where needed that goes beyond just research – we collaborate with ours clients to help them develop innovative arguments and new strategies to resolve complex and multi-faceted legal and emotional family law issues.
Our clients benefit from our specialized knowledge and focus, honed over a combined 18+ years in traditional and non-traditional family law settings. Given our experiences, we are particularly well-equipped to offer solid and strategic insight, in a helpful and respectful way. This may include advice and research related to:
- About Us
About Vanessa Lam
Vanessa has 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, she’s developed a specialized expertise. Vanessa can quickly grasp important issues and apply the law and a common-sense approach to a particular scenario based on this expertise and her past related experiences.
After graduating from Queen’s Law at the top of her class, Vanessa clerked for the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and then worked at a prominent boutique family law firm in Toronto. She started as a traditional associate, but was fortunate to transition her work to align more closely with her interests in research, knowledge management, and appeal work.
Vanessa has contributed to various papers and continuing legal education materials. She co-authors Cohabitation Law in Ontario with Ann Wilton and Gary Joseph.
She has also developed plain language family law materials for the public through her 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
- Newsletter Editor of the Family Law Section’s Executive Committee (2021 to 2022)
- 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 2022)
- Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers
- Speaker at the The Six-Minute Family Law Lawyer 2021 (Law Society of Ontario, December 1, 2021). Vanessa spoke about determining the valuation date.
- Speaker at the 15th Family Law Summit (Law Society of Ontario, April 12-13, 2021). Vanessa spoke about family law appeals. My material was republished, with permission, in the Ontario Family Law Reporter, Volume 34(11), © LexisNexis Canada Inc. 2021.
- Speaker at Institute Series: Serving the Family (Ontario Bar Association, February 3-4, 2021). Vanessa 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, July 21, 2020). Read Vanessa’s 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, May 11, 2020). Please contact Vanessa if you would like a copy of her 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, October 24, 2019). Read Vanessa’s paper “Divorce Act Amendments: Overview of Amendments Most Likely to Impact School & Education-Related Issues”.
- Law’08 grad named Ontario Bar Association’s top volunteer (Queen’s Law news, August 20, 2021).
- A wave of domestic violence, divorce and custody cases comes as court backlogs rise (Canadian Lawyer, June 26, 2020).
- ‘No one knows what tomorrow will bring:’ Urgent matters for kids, families persist as pandemic rages (Canadian Lawyer, March 26, 2020).
About Maria Golarz
Maria provided comprehensive legal research and strategic advice at Legal Aid Ontario for over six years before joining Lam Family Law. She has experience dealing with all areas of family and child protection law, and has litigated on behalf of clients at various levels of court. She also contributes to LexisNexis’ Practical Guidance on family law issues.
Maria is a dedicated advocate, committed to delivering the best law and strategy for your case.
- Called to the Ontario Bar (2011)
- Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Toronto (2010)
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Minors in Behavioural Science and English Literature (B.Arts) from McGill University (2006)
- The Law Society of Ontario
- Family Lawyers Association (Ontario)
- Ontario Association of Child Protection Lawyers
About Rebecca Winninger
Rebecca has practiced family law exclusively since she was called to the bar in 2014. She worked at family law firms in downtown Toronto and Oshawa, and represented clients in courts throughout the GTA.
Before pursuing family law, Rebecca held a number of research-intensive positions. While attending the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, she worked as a research assistant, and summered at the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Rebecca graduated as the silver medallist and clerked at the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
Rebecca believes that her core skills lie in legal research, analysis, and drafting. She is pleased to be able to combine these skills with her practical knowledge of family law and procedure at Lam Family Law.
- Called to the Ontario Bar (2014)
- Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Toronto (2013)
- Master of Arts in English from Western University (2009)
- Honours Bachelor of Arts in English, Minor in French Studies from the University of Toronto (2008)
- The Law Society of Ontario
- Family Lawyers Association (Ontario)
Our 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 our clients have to say about our 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.”
“Vanessa Lam’s research and drafting skills are superb and first-rate. She has been an incredible resource for my family law practice. I am a sole practitioner. I typically do not have sufficient time to conduct thorough research in regard to my family law cases. Vanessa’s assistance has been extremely helpful in providing me with needed research from time to time and for drafting Factums. The quality of Vanessa’s work is as good as I have ever seen. I strongly recommend her. She can be of assistance to senior sole practitioners who do not have the time to research legal issues. She would also be of tremendous assistance to junior family law practitioners who need guidance and would benefit from her knowledge of the law.”
S. Lawrence Liquornik
“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
“Vanessa is a genius and I do not use that term lightly. She is able to review, process and synthesize information very quickly. Her work is excellent. She is a sharp and talented lawyer who came recommended to me by another family law colleague. I was especially impressed with her ability to cut to the heart of the matter and draft a high quality, succinct brief within time and budget constraints having no prior familiarity with the file. I will certainly be seeking her assistance again in the future when I am inundated with back to back deadlines. She was a lifesaver.”
“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 was extremely helpful to me in both strategizing and drafting my factum for the Court of Appeal. She is extremely knowledgeable about the Rules and Forms as well as the substantive case law. She was able to accomplish tasks more quickly than I believe I could have thanks to her familiarity with the subject matter. I will be consulting Vanessa for trial and appeal strategies going forward.”
Partner in a small firm in Southern Ontario
“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 Vanessa by phone or e-mail when they have a request.
If you request work for a specific client file, we need to do a conflict check. After that, we can discuss the timeline and scope of the project. We will send a short retainer letter to confirm your instructions.
We usually charge a reasonable hourly rate, but we are more than willing to discuss an hours cap or flat-fee arrangement.
We work with our client’s preferences in how they like things done. Our goal is to get you quality work as seamlessly as possible.
We will get back to you as soon as possible, no later than 24 hours or one business day after your call or e-mail. If this isn’t possible, you will get an out of office message.