What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am the sole Director of Hepburn Delaney
, a niche family law practice. I have practiced in all areas of family law, including relationship breakdown and complex financial remedy cases. However, as a member of The Law Society Children Panel
, on a day-to-day basis, I represent children in private and public law family proceedings.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?
I’ve been a family solicitor since qualifying in 2008 and a director of Hepburn Delaney since its inception in 2013. I was very fortunate to train in a large regional practice, where I remained for my first year after qualifying. However, I soon realised that a smaller, niche practice would suit me more. I therefore moved to a small high street practice where I worked closely with the family Partner, Jane Hepburn. In 2013, we took the decision to set up Hepburn Delaney together. It has been quite the ride!
Any memorable stories from your career so far?
Too many to recount! That is the joy of family work – other people’s lives and experiences are so interesting. Being a business owner also has its fair share of excitement, whether its employees being stuck in the lift of your building, an office opposite burning down or clients that steal the toilet paper for reasons unknown, my day is never dull.
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?
The best part is the direct contact with clients and colleagues. The worst is the frustration at the lack of resources available, whether that be from the court, schools, health or social services. But we all do our best with what we have.
What keeps you motivated?
In family law, most clients are in crisis. Their situations can be devastating and at times humbling. I do what I do to help where I can.
Tea or coffee?
Flat white out and about, tea in the office.
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?
Do it because you love it. Otherwise being a lawyer is very hard work, very stressful and often less well paid than you expect, particularly if you work in the high street or in legal aid. But if you love it, that will be the reward.
What song do you listen to the most?
Who inspires you within the world of family law?
A barrister that I know who was a solicitor in private practice, then worked within Local Authority and then switched to the bar. Her expertise, passion and compassion never fail to impress and inspire me.
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?
Spending time with my son and my dog. I get to spend my working days alongside my husband, so I’m allowed to exclude him for this purpose. I love going for walks and playing with them in the park. For grown up time, I love fine dining and small batch gin.
What book would you recommend to others?
What would be your alternate career?
If I had been any good at science, I would have loved pathology. I like problem solving, so I think this would be fascinating. But in reality, if I hadn’t ended up doing law, I probably would have been a computer programmer – most of my family are in this field.
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?
There are many small things that all practitioners might think of, but the overwhelming issue in the family justice system is legal aid. The increase in litigants in person in the private family law sphere, and the gradual decline in the numbers of solicitors willing to undertake legal aid work because of the erosion in recoverable fees in the public family law sphere has had, in my opinion, a widespread negative impact on families, their access to justice and their human rights. The system is being maintained by the seemingly unending commitment of those working within it, the lawyers, judges, social workers and experts. This is commendable but I fear unsustainable.