In January of this year I celebrated 20 years as a family law solicitor and I mean celebrated because I remain as fulfilled by my job twenty years on as when I first started out as a trainee at a local firm in Edmonton. My training was a baptism of fire. I was thrown in at the deep end and within six months of starting my training contract I was in court every day practising advocacy. I still remember practising for hours in front of my husband before my first court appearance. It was five minutes long – a hearing today that I would not think twice about. Getting into court early on in my career was great training. Advocacy is a skill that I still use today representing clients in financial settlements, children’s disputes and injunction cases.
From early on in my studies I knew that I wanted to specialise in an area of law that gave me lots of client contact. I am by nature someone who wants to help, who wants to find solutions. During my training years I was lucky to get lots of exposure to family law work. I was expected to earn my keep even when I was in training and shortly after I qualified I was sent off to another office to set up a litigation and family department which consisted of just me and my electric typewriter!! I took on anything that came through the door to build up my practice which often meant taking on cases that involved new and as yet unchartered legal territory. I came to rely on some trusted barristers for help. By working on my own without colleagues to bounce thoughts off, I quickly learnt to work independently and to rely on my own judgement.
In my professional journey over twenty years my work has moved from legally aided cases that gave me early exposure to disputes involving children, domestic violence and smaller value divorces to more complex divorces involving businesses, trusts, pensions as well as investment and property portfolios. I still love getting stuck into a complex financial dispute and chasing the money. I enjoy the preparation of arguments for negotiation. I am always looking for an angle that will give me an edge over an opponent.
I feel very fortunate to have worked with clients from all walks of life. Regardless of the value of a case, my dedication to my client never falters. As soon as a new client walks through the door, I am completely committed. I want the best outcome. Sometimes, my job involves tough talking if I know that my client’s expectations are unrealistic or unlikely to be achieved. It’s really important to me that I am honest with my client from the outset about what they can expect from the process and the outcome. Sometimes my advice can be unpalatable but by being honest from the start, my clients are prepared for what will come. I won’t sugar coat my advice to get the work. In my experience, this inevitably leads to disappointment later on and a damaged professional relationship. When I wave my client good bye I want them to leave the process feeling supported and professionally cared for.
I expect to be around serving clients for a good few years to come unless I am in luck on the lottery!!!. It’s the big 50 for me next year which I can’t say I am looking forward to. I certainly don’t feel my age and my energy and enthusiasm for the law is a strong today as it was when I qualified twenty years ago.
If you are thinking about separation or you have a dispute about the children and you are looking for a sympathetic solicitor, please call me on 020 882 9850.