This article was written in support of Resolution's fourth Family Dispute Resolution Week, running from 23-27 November 2015.
This awareness-raising week aims to highlight the alternatives to court for separating couples and their families. Support the campaign on Twitter using #childrenfirst, #ResolutionWeek and #familylaw.
Penny Rogers (Director and mediator, Devon Family Solutions)
What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am the Director of mediation business Devon Family Solutions in Exeter, Devon. This means I own and run the day-to-day business and work as a mediator seeing clients for all aspect of dispute resolution.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?
I was a practising family law solicitor for approximately 20 years, 16 of which I also spent undertaking mediation. I was a member of Law Society Family Law Panel, Children Panel and the Mediation Panel, and was also a collaborative lawyer.
I have now been a Director at Devon Family Solutions for almost 3 years, and am also qualified to carry out direct consultation with children.
What are the people you work with/for like? Any memorable stories?
They are entertaining, efficient, professional and perfect in every way!
Although faced with a sudden staff shortage recently, I hired a temp who I found in floods of tears sat on the floor of the office with paper all over her as she didn't know how to photocopy. We soon remedied that - anyone involved in family law will know the amount of paperwork we have to get to grips with can be colossal, and mediation is no different!
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?The best part of the day is when there is a good outcome from a mediation and you can see that working through the process has really helped people see a way forward, or at least make a start on the right road to settling their issues.
The worst is when you have a difficult client and you feel the exact opposite because you know they are simply not going to entertain the prospect of non-court dispute resolution...and sometimes, unfortunately, they're just not very nice to you!
What adjectives best describe you?Professional, efficient, compassionate, entertaining, amusing, and always wants high standards!
What keeps you motivated?Money - because if I do't make enough of it I simply can't keep the business going, and since the changes made by LASPO everything has become an awful lot harder for everyone in the family law field.
Tea or coffee?Chamomile tea (or sometimes a decaf skinny latte).
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?Think about it carefully, as it really is a vocation.
What song do you listen to the most?The Look of Love - Dusty Springfield.
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?Latin dancing, walking, going to the gym, boating and quilting.
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?To stop all the cuts to the courts and use District Judges instead of magistrates as they are able to deal with a wider range of issues quickly and make orders immediately. Alternatively, allow the legal advisers more powers to enable them to do the same.