My legal life

I featured in the Law Society Gazette’s “My Legal Life” section this year. Below is the text of the article, which can also be viewed here

Growing up, I wanted to be a writer. I used to spend hours boring family and classmates with my storytelling. This grew into a leaning towards journalism after covering a murder in Bristol while on work experience. I then spent a year in Barcelona at the British Chamber of Commerce, where I organised events for members including British expat lawyers. Conversations with them sparked my interest in the law. I still write as much as possible – I have my own blog and often write on developments in family law.

After graduating from Exeter with a degree in English and Spanish, I did the GDL (or GD-hell as it was affectionately known). My lasting memory is an evening spent in tears struggling to understand trusts. It certainly toughened me up, and you have to be the right level of tough to be a family lawyer. I found the LPC much more relevant to what I perceived a career in law to entail.

I won the Bristol Resolution prize for best overall performance in family law at LPC, so I must have done something right.

The hardest challenges come from other lawyers. As a member of Resolution since my student days, I’ve developed my approach in line with the Resolution Code of Practice. Working in Bristol this is very much championed by my colleagues locally.  Sometimes, though, a lawyer can be the block to progress, which can be really frustrating for the client, leading to protracted proceedings and increased costs.

I was lucky enough to be awarded CSR Individual of the Year at the Bristol Law Society awards. More recently, I have been appointed chair of National YRes and am an elected member of Resolution’s national committee. I have also become a Resolution-accredited specialist in complex financial remedies on divorce and children law.

The level of support for junior family law practitioners is improving. For example, Resolution will be offering a mentoring service for family lawyers under 10 years’ PQE, something which a survey of our junior lawyers suggests is a much-needed source of support.

Family lawyers are becoming more innovative and family-focused in the way we work, which includes unbundling and embracing advances in technology, but there are still constraints. It will be interesting to see how SRA changes to regulation affect service provision.

The introduction of no-fault divorce is a no-brainer. Having to point the finger of blame reopens healing wounds and distracts from the bigger issues.

Cohabitation law needs reforming. Marriage is declining and the number of couples living together is on the rise. With this societal change, it is only right that our laws evolve accordingly.

Dispute resolution options could be better advertised and explained to the public. The court process is rarely the best way of resolving family matters and rarely provides a long-lasting solution. Clients often aren’t aware of, or don’t fully understand, the other routes available.

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