What keeps you motivated?
I always try to improve myself and improve the lives of those around me. Being better motives me. Not being better than anyone else. I just want to be better than the man or lawyer that I was yesterday. If I can see that I have had a positive impact on a client, a colleague or a case, I know that I am doing what I set out to. That makes me feel good.
Tea or coffee?
I had to switch to decaf in January after my GP advised that I was suffering from caffeine withdrawal. I mistook it for anxiety. I am glad it wasn’t something so serious.
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?
Learn to listen, be honest and don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and muck in. When a person’s family is falling apart or they are faced with losing their children or assets that they have worked hard for, they don’t just need a lawyer. They need a shield, a springboard and a safety net; someone that they can count on, that will make them feel protected and give them the confidence that they need to move forward. Be real. You can’t fake it.
What song do you listen to the most?
At the moment I have Paloma Faith’s version of Make Your Own Kind of Music on in my car. The lyrics just hit me when I heard them. I spent a large part of my early childhood struggling to fit in. The moment I let go of my own hang ups, I made friends and went on to achieve. I am a real believer in people dancing to their own tune. Life would be so dull if we were all the same.
Who inspires you within the world of family law?
I am a huge champion of women as I have three sisters and was raised by a single mother with support from my grandparents. Listening to Brenda Hale speak at the Resolution Conference
was a real privilege. The image of her leaving behind her a whole series of smashed glass ceilings filled me with admiration and confidence for the next generation of family lawyers, women and men alike.
As Jo Edwards
forgot to give a nod to Mandy in Listing
in her Q&A, I suppose I had better give her a mention. I’m waiting for a date for a trial and I’m hoping she might read this and help me out.
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?
I wish I had more time to visit my grandparents. I love nothing more than to help my grandfather pot plants in his greenhouse and I would walk over hot coals for one of my grandmother’s Yorkshire puddings. I also have three nephews under the age of 5. We will often go hunting for dragons, unicorns and wizards. We usually find slugs.
What book would you recommend to others?
The Next Home catalogue. Pure escapism.
I recently read a fantastic book called The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k
, by Sarah Knight. The one thing that I took from it is the habit of having a F**k budget. The whole philosophy behind it is controlling what you care about and, most importantly, what you don’t. I spent a large part of my early career worrying about more than I needed to. Whilst the book didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know, it did reaffirm the values that I had established as I was moving into my thirties. I no longer sweat the small stuff.
What would be your alternate career?
As I am about to buy my first restaurant, I suppose I would have to say restaurateur. Although, I would have loved to have been an interior designer. I enjoy being creative. Art was my favourite subject in school. Give me a piece of charcoal and an easel and I’ll entertain myself for hours. I am forever being sent colour charts by friends asking me which colour they ought to paint their kitchen. I might start charging them!
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?
I would like families to be given the time and quality of representation that they need and deserve. I don’t blame the Judges, the self-represented parties or the lawyers. They work tirelessly and do the best with what limited resources and funding options they have. Aside from death, family breakdown is usually the most grief-stricken period that a person will experience in their lifetime. Having to go through that alone, or to feel as though they are not being given a fair chance, be that because of delays, a lack of professional resources or time constraints must be soul-destroying.
What has winning the Family Law Award meant to you?
It made my grandfather even more proud of me and I now wear a crown in the office. My award sits on my desk at home. I have to confess, after the awards had finished last year I took it to a club with me and I dropped it. It now has a small dent in it. I celebrated hard that night. It meant the world to me to be recognised on a national stage alongside some of the best in the business. There are plenty of other awards out there, but to be nominated by those that work in the same field as you is the best kind of compliment. I shall always be thankful to those that nominated and voted for me.
Nominations close for the Family Law Awards 2018 at midday, Friday 15 June.All Family Law A day in the life of... profiles can be found here.