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A day in the life of ... Lucy Reed (Barrister and Mediator)

Mar 19, 2019, 17:50 PM
family law, national pro bono week, npbw2015, legal aid, access to justice
The aim of "A day in the life of ..." is to provide a glimpse into the working day of a range of people working within the family justice system. It is hoped that these columns will foster a better understanding of, and provide greater transparency for, family law.
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Date : Nov 2, 2015, 03:45 AM
Article ID : 110769
This article was written in support of National Pro Bono Week, running from 2–6 November 2015.

National Pro Bono Week is a nationwide campaign to celebrate the range and impact of voluntary free legal services provided by the legal profession. Support the campaign on Twitter using 
#NPBW2015 and #WeDoProBono 

What is your position and what you do on a day-to-day basis?

I’m a family barrister specialising in children work. I also run the  Pink Tape blog, and am the chair of the Transparency Project.

How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?

I’ve been at the bar for 13years now, although I had never thought of being a lawyer until I was in my twenties. I found myself as President of the Students’ Union at Birkbeck (Uni of London) where I gained a reputation for advocating pretty relentlessly on behalf of individual students and the student body. I took myself dead seriously, and people kept telling me I should be a lawyer. Eventually, when I thought about it, I realised the bar was a pretty good match for the things I enjoyed and was good at. I did not want to become a family lawyer though, and kicked against it for quite a few years before realising what a great niche it was for me.

What are the people you work for/with like?

I’m proud to work with some passionate, creative and amazing people at St John’s, and the wider Bristol legal community is a fantastic community to be part of.

Any memorable stories?

Particularly proud of being (I think) the first legal blogger to be quoted in a High Court judgment (P (A Child) [2013] EWHC 4048 (Fam) (17 December 2013) link : http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2013/4048.html and http://www.pinktape.co.uk/rants/read-it-and-weep/).

When I was very junior I advised a very insistent client that his proposed appeal against a committal order was so weak I could not think of any grounds I could properly draft. I was persuaded by my equally insistent solicitor (against my better judgment) to have a try, based on the fresh evidence my client had obtained from a private investigator who had prepared a 'location report'. I did. To my eternal astonishment, after 2 long days before a circuit judge, I won the appeal. Whilst it was gratifying to have somehow pulled it off, it was excruciatingly embarrassing to have given advice that had turned out to be duff. It stays with me as a reminder that even apparently hopeless cases can sometimes succeed, and we should be ready to find ways to advance our clients’ cases, however seemingly forlorn they are.

What is the best and worst part of the day for you?

Worst part?
On a bad day it’s that moment not long after midnight when I realise I am past my best and will have to get up at four am to finish preparing. But on most days it’s that point when I realise I’ve slept through the third alarm.
Best part?
Hitting send when I’ve crafted a poetic skeleton that I’m happy with. And those rare occasions when a client says thanks.

What adjectives best describe you?

Ornery. Stubborn. Excitable. Idealistic.

What keeps you motivated?

The knowledge that people need my help more than I need a break. And my mortgage.

Tea or coffee?

Builder’s tea. With milk.

What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?

It’s amazing. Don’t do it.

What song do you listen to the most?

Honestly? It’s a draw between Let It Go (Frozen Soundtrack) and Best Song Ever (One Direction). If I had a choice (which I don’t) it would be Big Yellow Taxi.

How do you enjoy your time outside of work?

A lot of my 'spare' time is taken up blogging and writing, or working on other projects like The Transparency Project or the other litigant support initiatives we’ve set up in Bristol ( www.familycourtinfo.org.uk). Otherwise I knit, talk to my chickens, fail to exercise and spend time with my family.

If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?

Transparency. And I don’t just mean publishing judgments – I mean making our family court system clear, understandable, accessible. It is shamefully complicated, confusing and impenetrable for normal people (lawyers are not normal) and most of the projects I get drawn into are aimed in some way at changing that.
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