As this is meant to be an honest column about life as a junior family lawyer working doing publicly funded work - I may a well be honest and say that I simply have not had the time to write it over the past few weeks. So immersed have I been in my new caseload that the weeks have flown by and I can't quite believe six weeks have now passed since I relocated back to Manchester.
Occasionally, when I put my head up for air, I get snatches of what's going on out there in the real world and have just about enough time to read around the hot topics to gain an understanding of the general response to each. And it has been pretty busy out there; the LASPO Bill going through the House of Commons (bad), the Family Justice Review being published (good) and the Supreme Court judgment in Jones v Kernott (very good).
It is at times like these when you realise how much the profession must have changed over the years. I'm sure that years ago, a caseload of this size and variety would have been more than manageable, when it was almost entirely focused on what I come to think of the "front office" work, namely client appointments, court hearings and correspondence and negotiation with other parties. In that regard I very much hope and expect that my clients' needs are being met. But it's the "back office" procedure and paperwork which takes the same time as the client-facing work and which, inevitably, when you are as suddenly and overwhelmingly busy as I have been recently, it is easy to fall behind on. I have always prided myself on my file management but now I live with the reality of a constant, unsightly pile of post and filing on the corner of my desk (which I WILL deal with today) and for a while the uneasy sense that, for the first time in my career (pre and post qualification) I didn't know each and every one of my files inside out.
Touch wood, It appears that all the missed lunch hours and bedtime (non-chargeable!) reading of legal help divorce files may be starting to pay off. I don't want to be too premature but over the last week or so, I have begun to have a sense that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I'm pretty sure there are no hidden gremlins; that all the hearings are in the diary and no filing deadlines have been missed. And as a bonus I've had time to write this column and later this week I even get to spend a whole afternoon away from work at the Resolution Code in Practice course which I am looking forward to.
The last few weeks has given me an increased respect for more experienced practitioners who not only manage a heavy caseload but also contribute regularly to journals and blogs as well as maintaining an active presence at legal networking events and seminars. Now if that can be taught, it is a course I would love to attend.
Kate Gomery has recently qualified as a family law solicitor. She works at Heaney Watson in Manchester where she is exposed to all types of family law work but particularly publicly funded family law cases. Prior to qualification Kate spent several years doing general crime and then serious fraud work. She trained at Pannone in Manchester.
The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.