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A day in the life of ... Edward Bennett

Date:2 JAN 2020
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Barrister

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

I am a practising barrister at Harcourt Chambers. Most of my cases concern children or vulnerable adults and have either an international dimension or concern more esoteric legal or practical issues. I am also fortunate enough to edit the International Family Law Journal
 

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

I had a damascene conversion to family law whilst transferring from a solicitor at a city firm to the bar. It was extreme good fortune that led to my becoming Legal Secretary to the Head of International Family Justice, a role that has defined my practice ever since. 
 
Following an enjoyable pupillage and tenancy, I moved to Harcourt in 2015 and have not looked back. It combines a size where most members of chambers still know each other, with a fantastic reputation, particularly for international family law. 
 

Any memorable stories from your career so far?

Acting for a parent as a junior in a case (my first) concerning the withdrawal of life support to their baby child, was a singular privilege 
 

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

Best – reading a final version of your well drafted skeleton argument. Worst – reading a final version of the other side’s 
 

What keeps you motivated?

The sense of responsibility that this profession in this field demands. 
 

Tea or coffee? 

Coffee am. Tea pm.
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What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field? 

Work very hard, and always aim just out of reach. 
 

What songs do you listen to the most? 

When not listening to Leider, Jake Thackray.
 

Who inspires you within the world of family law?

Frances Judd has been an inspiration in every conceivable respect. 
 
Anne-Marie Hutchinson gave me my first international and significant brief as a pupil, and I continue to be inspired by her continued willingness to encourage and take a chance on younger members of the legal professions. 
 
In the world of international family law, Sir Mathew Thorpe’s unparalleled contribution – achieved in many instances through the sheer force of his personality and in spite of official scepticism and bureaucratic lethargy – remains a remarkable testament to the cause of securing optimal outcomes for children caught at the centre of international family disputes. 
 
Whilst not from the world of family law, I would wish to pay tribute to the formidable Philipp Wahl, my supervisor whilst a trainee solicitor, who died only a few years ago, far too young. Whilst it was obvious from pretty early on that neither he or I saw my future in Mergers & Acquisitions, he was one of the best examples of the consummate lawyer and professional that I have had to date and he remains a model of how a lawyer should act that spans the differences between the legal professions.   
 

How do you enjoy your time outside of work?

Trying and failing to catch up on home and family life.  
 

What book would you recommend to others?

 

What would be your alternate career? 

I have read and re-read too much John Le Carre to not secretly want to be George Smiley.
 

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

I would completely reform/replace the Family Law Act 1986. Anyone who has been involved in an intra-UK cross border family case will understand why.
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