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07 JUN 2019

A day in the life of ... Paul Infield

Paul Infield

Barrister, Mediator, Family Arbitrator

A day in the life of ... Paul Infield

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

I am a barrister, family arbitrator and mediator. I do family finance work from 36 Family, 4 Field Court, Gray's Inn.
 

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

I was called in 1980, so nearly 39 years, though I’ve only been at 36 Family for 5 years. It is really the only job I ever wanted to do. My grandfather was a silk and I remember going to court with him when I was 14 or 15 and being absolutely fascinated by it.
 

Any memorable stories from your career so far?

Probably the most memorable was the case in which I had to cross-examine a husband on a judgment summons who had dressed up as Darth Vader (complete with the mask and the cape - security at the RCJ having already taken his ‘light-sabre’ off him). I began with one, fairly mild, question and he responded with a volley of several minutes of foul abuse. So I asked the judge, Wilson J., whether he thought that there was any point in me continuing and he said 'No, Mr Infield, I don’t think there is'.
 

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

The best part of the job for me is cross-examination, particularly when it goes well. The worst part is, of course, losing a case. I think that if a barrister ever gets to the stage where they don't mind losing, they should leave the job.
 

What keeps you motivated?

I love the cut and thrust of debate and the feeling that we are helping people through what is probably one of the supreme crises of their lives. I also enjoy working with the great team we have at 36 Family, who are far and away the best, friendliest and most supportive team I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
 

Tea or coffee?

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

Do it if you really want to, but only if you really want to. It has greater highs and lows than almost every other job.
 

What song do you listen to the most?

Bach's St Matthew Passion. It’s probably rather long to be described as a song but I sang it with a choir a few years ago and it still moves me.
 

Who inspires you within the world of family law?

My colleague, Hannah Markham QC. Although she specialises in children’s law, whereas I deal only with family finance, I am constantly impressed not just by her abundant energy but the kindness and generosity she shows to clients and colleagues alike. 
 

How do you enjoy your time outside of work?

Reading, theatre and travel.

 

What book would you recommend to others?

 

What would be your alternate career?

Journalism.

 

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

You mean apart from bringing back Legal Aid for finance proceedings and making HMCTS into a service that is fit for purpose? Well then, I would like to see enhanced rights for cohabitees after they had had a child or lived together for a few years. The Law Commission recommended this in 2007 but it has never been implemented. The current position leaves many people, mostly women, in an appalling predicament when, having often lived together for many years and hobbled their own career, for instance to bring up children, the relationship breaks down.