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A day in the life Of...
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Sonny Patel
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A day in the life of ... Graeme Fraser
Date:5 APR 2019
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Partner

Graeme receiving his award for Family Law Commentator of the Year at The Family Law Awards 2018

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

I am a Partner at OGR Stock Denton in North London, and I specialise in complex financial remedy claims and TOLATA Cohabitation. I will become Head of Department in May. I am also Chair of Resolution’s Cohabitation Committee, which has an agenda to improve the laws in relation to cohabitation; promote good practice; and provide specialist skills training for family law professionals.

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

I have been a solicitor since 1996, a Partner since 2011, and became Chair of the Cohabitation Committee in 2015. I come from a family of lawyers. My father was a solicitor for 40 years, and at one time chaired the Law Society's Legal Aid Appeals Committee. My uncle was a Circuit Judge for many years in London and the South East. One of my cousins has been a Federal Court Judge in Australia for about 10 years.

Any memorable stories from your career so far?

I can’t be fact specific because of confidentiality but I believe that a number of my cases could have been turned into Hollywood films, given the personalities involved, the drama of the situations, and the twist in terms of the outcome. I do feel sometimes that the outcome can be life changing, and hopefully more often than not in a good way for my clients. 

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

The best part of my day is the early morning. I’m an early starter and I get some of my best work done then. The worst part of the day is the end. It is increasingly difficult to say though, when the end of the day has come. The World has been transformed by the internet and the internationalisation of the law. It’s now a 24/7 job and client expectations have never been higher. 

What keeps you motivated?

I enjoy the challenge of working in an area where our laws are constantly evolving and the law and its practice are forced to develop in line with changes in society. I feel particular satisfaction in taking my clients from what is often a difficult and uncertain part of their life to hopefully a better outcome where they can move on with greater clarity
 
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Tea or coffee?

Tea is the answer to everything! 

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

Although the law is constantly challenging, its also very rewarding. In many ways, our work is about solving a crisis. Always be prepared for changes in the law and changes in the way people live their lives. It can be very fulfilling but its always a learning curve. 

What song do you listen to the most?

Golden Brown” because unfortunately, that is the ringtone of my colleague’s mobile phone, who sits near me! 

Who inspires you within the world of family law?

Lord Wilson for his knowledge of the law, and for his humanity in how he runs a Court. He has a complete understanding of the papers, asks sensible questions, and treats people with dignity whatever the outcome. It was a privilege to appear in his Court.

How do you enjoy your time outside of work?

Travel and running, and sometimes combining the two. I have run lots of marathons in Europe, the USA and Japan. 

What book would you recommend to others?

Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. The basic theory that it takes 10,000 hours to be a World beater at anything has much to recommend it. Time, and the way we use it, is the most precious resource we have. Unfortunately, everyone I know seems to have less and less time nowadays .

What would be your alternate career?

If I hadn’t been a lawyer, I would have been interested in advertising as that can be a dynamic and creative media. 

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

The introduction of family law reforms such as cohabitation law reform which better reflect the needs of modern families. I believe that this aspiration is within reach once the Government of the day grasps that the changed demographics of our society towards more informal relationships is here to stay.

What has winning the Family Law Commentator Award meant to you?

It’s been a tremendous feeling to have my work recognised in this way firstly by being shortlisted by a superb panel of judges, and then to be voted for by my peers. The Award was recognition of my work over many years in spearheading Resolution’s campaign to improve the law for cohabitants and to make the public and policymakers more aware of the need for specialised legal advice in this area of law during lifetime and on death. I have felt deeply honoured to receive this acknowledgement.

The Family Law Awards 2019 are now open. Submit your entry before midnight on Friday 7 June at www.familylawawards.co.uk

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