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A day in the life Of...
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A day in the life of ... Nigel Shepherd (Head of Family Law at Mills & Reeve and National Chair, Resolution)

Date:9 JAN 2017
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Nigel Shepherd, Head of Family Law at Mills & Reeve and National Chair, Resolution

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

Head of Family Law at Mills & Reeve and also National Chairman, Resolution.  In my day job for Mills & Reeve I combine ongoing client work with involvement in various projects such as effective working strategies, training and learning and business development. 

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

Family law has always formed part of my practice since I qualified over 35 years ago. In the early days, I was a 'general practitioner', combining my family law work with crime, commercial litigation and even some prosecution work. For the last 25 years or so, however, I have been a family law specialist. I became Head of Family for Mills & Reeve in June 2016.

I joined Resolution in the mid-1980s. I chaired the North West region for a few years until I got elected to Resolution’s National Committee in 1991.  I have been an NC member for all but 2 years since and was previously National Chair of the organisation between 1995 and 1997, the only person to have held the role twice!

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

Mills & Reeve is a great firm and it’s a pleasure and privilege to be heading up a national family law team full of colleagues who are knowledgeable, committed to our clients and wherever possible to resolving issues in a constructive way. And they manage to do all of this with a sense of humour and perspective.  There are lots of memorable stories, but discretion is the better part of valour!

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

Generally, I am an evening rather than a morning person, but you obviously have to do what it takes to get the job done and if this means an early start I can cope. 

What adjectives best describe you?

I would prefer others to answer this (risky though that might be!), but I have been told that 'strategic' and 'client focused' are fair descriptions.  My wife would say 'untidy'.

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What keeps you motivated?

It sounds trite, but making a difference, whether that is helping people going through what can be one of the most stressful times of their lives or through my role at Resolution helping to influence changes in the law and practice that are of real benefit to our members and the clients they serve. 

Tea or coffee?

Coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon.

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

Be prepared to work really hard and take risks.  Ensure that you don’t let the work overwhelm you and strive wherever possible to maintain a balanced view of the successes and challenges that you will face. 

What song do you listen to the most?

No one song.  I have a very wide taste in music from Beethoven to Bowie.  I have also written music in the past (including the music that my elder daughter came down the aisle to when she got married). In an effort to ensure that I don’t forget them, some of my own compositions get played quite regularly!

How do you enjoy your time outside of work?

Family, music and sport.  I fairly recently took up playing football again, which many may consider inadvisable at this stage of my life, but it’s reminded me how much I used to enjoy it and it keeps me fit.  I also play tennis and golf.  I have grandchildren that I am trying to spend more time with. 

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

This is an easy one.  I would like to see no fault divorce introduced before I retire or, at least, before I shuffle off this mortal coil.  I was chair of Resolution in the mid-90s when the Family Law Act 1996 introduced no fault divorce, before it was subsequently abandoned.  I am as optimistic as I have been since then that we might now be able to persuade Parliament to tackle the issue again.  As far as I am concerned, ending the current blame game is a no brainer.

Nigel Shepherd is one of the authors of the annual Family Law Update - essential training providing the very latest case-law developments, legislative and procedural changes across all need-to-know topics. Nigel will also be speaking at the Birmingham Update on 15 February and the Manchester Update on 16 March.

For more information and to book your place at one of our nine Family Law Update events across the country click here

See also 'Resolution’s new Code of Practice' by Nigel Shepherd and Margaret
Heathcote in January
 Family Law.

You can follow Nigel on Twitter: @topfamilylawyer