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A day in the life Of...
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A Day in the Life of ... David Williams QC

Date:11 OCT 2016
Queen's Counsel and Mediator

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

I am a QC and Recorder. No two days are the same – that is the great privilege in what I do. One day I might be in the High Court trying to prevent the return of a child to Somalia and the threat of FGM, the next sitting as judge deciding an application for an interim care order to remove a child from her parents, and the next arguing in the Court of Appeal about the extent of the parens patriae jurisdiction. The next week I might spend all of it writing – either a book or a skeleton argument.

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

I became a barrister in 1990, started specialising in children work and international cases in about 2005, and took silk in 2013. My wife and children would say I do what I do because I like arguing. I like to think it is a bit more nuanced than that. The work I do combines the satisfaction of really being able to help someone in a crisis by making a difference with the challenge and excitement of being at the cutting edge of family law. The arguing is simply a bonus.

What are the people you work for/with like? Any memorable stories?

Family law and international family law brings me into contact with the whole range of humanity from the very best to the very worst – and that is just the other lawyers. My colleagues and clerks in 4PB are a brilliant team; dedicated to securing justice as well as great fun. When a leading silk shimmies past your office door doing a moonie you know you’re having a good day! The bravest and most dignified person I have ever met was my client (a cleaner), who re-abducted her children from a war-torn east African country, risking her own life, so that they could grow up in England.

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

Being with my family!

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What adjectives best describe you?


What keeps you motivated?


Tea or coffee?

Coffee all day, every day.

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

Go for it – you will never find any other career which has the same mix of challenge and satisfaction. 

What song do you listen to the most?

Mr Brightside by The Killers.

How do you enjoy your time outside of work?

Listening to Mr Brightside, while drinking coffee with my family!

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

Introducing multi-disciplinary Family Centres to intervene early in family breakdowns to provide the therapeutic, legal or other help to minimise the damage to the family.

David Williams QC and Stephen Trowell QC are General Editors of 
Rayden and Jackson on Relationship Breakdown, Finances and Children.

Volume 1 deals with the law of relationship breakdowns and the financial applications that flow from those breakdowns. The FPR 2010 are analysed and explored and the ever-developing case law is set out in the text.

Volume 2 brings together statutes, procedural rules, case-law and analysis in self-contained sections and covers all areas of family law relating to children, including international aspects, local authority duties, appeal and costs.

4 Paper Buildings Chambers is shortlisted for London Chambers of the Year at the 2016 Family Law Awards. To find out more and place your vote, please visit the Family Law Awards homepage. 

To book your table for the Awards ceremony click here. 

If you are interested in sponsoring an award please contact Becky Wall.