Members of the Family Section Advisory Group share what they have learned in 2016 and what they’ll be focusing on in the year ahead.
Solicitors are still wary of the ‘new’. Arbitration is still viewed with suspicion when it could be a really useful tool to add to the resolution of issues. It is going to be a slow burn.
Know yourself and your foibles. Know why you react the way you do and it helps you to understand why others react the way they do. If you think you shouldn’t say or write something then don’t. Karma is the absolute devil.
Karen Dovaston, deputy head of family law department & family law arbitrator at Jeffries Solicitors.
My biggest lesson after a busy 2016 has been ensuring that I take the steps I need to make my job easier. Being a family lawyer is of course a demanding, and at times stressful job, and although it can be very rewarding I think it is easy to fall into the trap of working yourself into the ground.
I am a big believer that being empathetic does not have to mean becoming personally involved. Whilst it is incredibly important to have an understanding of our client’s emotional state, it is important to keep a distance between yourself and your cases. I find this leaves me better equipped to deal with challenging situations, as I retain the ability to look at situations in an objective way.
I also find it very helpful to talk through a challenging situation with colleagues. A fresh perspective can be incredibly useful, as can the reassurance that you are handling things in the right way.
Joanne Radcliff, Associate, Brabners LLP
Not that I’d describe it as a challenge as such, but however experienced we might be, we are constantly learning. There seem to be more developments in family law than when I first qualified – they seem to happen much quickly too. Resources like Family Law Hub, available to members of the Family Section, are very useful. We need to be on top of any changes swiftly so that we can do the best for our clients.
I was delighted to be shortlisted as Jordan’s Family Law Commentator of the year. In addition, I was honoured to be granted the title of visiting fellow in family law by the University of Reading. One of my team also made the legal directories for the first time and I am delighted that she has received the recognition she deserves.
Prepare for the situation or issue as best as you can, if possible. Gain control of it rather than allowing it to control you. Go back to first principles and construct your position logically from the ground up. If time permits, sleep on it and revisit the next day. Share the situation with your team or fellow partners, gaining their input and support.
Tony Roe, principal solicitor and family law arbitrator at Tony Roe Divorce & Family Law Solicitors.