Rebecca Stevens, Head of Family Department, Withy King LLPThis article was written in support of National Pro Bono Week, running from 2–6 November 2015.National Pro Bono Week is a nationwide campaign to celebrate the range and impact of voluntary free legal services provided by the legal profession. Support the campaign on Twitter using #NPBW2015 and #WeDoProBono
What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I work at Withy King LLP; my position is Head of the Family Department in the Swindon office. I specialise in children law including both public and private cases, usually on behalf of children but also on behalf of parents so my day usually involves being in court for most of the day. After court, I head back to the office and 'start' my day all over again by meetings with clients, answering emails and posts and dealing with any staffing issues.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?
I trained with Withy King and started my training contract in 2008 before qualifying in December 2010. What brought me here is a very long story best summarised as follows: I left school at 16 and joined my family firm. At 19, I decided engineering wasn't for me so I started night school studying a BNC/HNC. At 22, I married my husband who was in the Army (as bomb disposal). We moved to Oxfordshire and I started a law degree. At 23 I had my first child, and at 24 I had my second child who was diagnosed with a rare genetic terminal illness called Pompe's Disease. He died aged 4.5 months. At 27, I completed my law degree and had my third child, who was also very unwell. We moved to Canada where my third son had lots of surgery and a permanent gastrostromy tube inserted. I flew back from Canada for my training contract interview at Withy King and started there in 2008 after completing the LPC. During all of this time we had 5 moves and 5 tours of duty...
What are the people you work for/with like? Any memorable stories?
The people I work for/with are truly remarkable. They are down to earth, solid human beings who truly love the work they do and enjoy working with clients. I have to say that I am particularly close to the family team in Swindon and my Head of Department. We work long hours on often difficult and traumatic cases. We have kept each other going and I genuinely like all of them. As for stories: sorry to sound boring as there are lots, but it would be wrong to share them here!
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?
The worst part of the day is when I am trying to finish off what I am doing before the cleaners lock the office at night when I just need 10 more minutes, and the best part of the day is starting the day not knowing what is going to happen and then getting home to see the kids.
What adjectives best describe you?
According to my Head of Department, indomitable - but I don't know what that means!
What keeps you motivated?
Having been brought up by hard-working parents who set up their own business without any qualifications between them, which is now in its third generation, and where me and my older siblings started working aged 7. I've never struggled with motivation. It's in the blood.
Tea or coffee?
Tea, although, given the cafe closures in the courts, it is unlikely that either is consumed during the day!
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?
Do it if you genuinely love the job. If you want the status, dictaphone, secretary and work like balance, then childcare law is not for you.
What song do you listen to the most?
Anything which comes up on shuffle. I love music, but have too many favourite songs to narrow it down.
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?
What's 'time outside of work'?
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?
Without a shadow of a doubt, LASPO. It is shocking how many people are being denied access to justice.
You can follow Rebecca on Twitter: @rebeccastevens3