I joined Ascroft Whiteside in January 2014 to practise Family Law, working under Lauren Riley the family solicitor at the firm.
I have always been interested in Family Law due to its relevance in many aspects of daily life such as children, marriage and separation. I was a little apprehensive that working in this field would be upsetting or emotionally testing. However, I was looking forward to learning new skills and developing my legal knowledge as well as with working closely with clients on a daily basis.
I was keen to see how court hearings were conducted and how financial settlements, especially in Divorce, were reached. I quickly adapted to Lauren’s style of working and sat in on meetings that she conducted with clients’ including initial interviews. Eventually I was given the opportunity to conduct interviews unassisted and found this very rewarding. I attended court and got to see the workings of a financial hearing in relation to Divorce; on this occasion an FDA was converted to an FDR and a settlement was reached.
I had the opportunity to develop my drafting skills as I drafted instructions to counsel on a few matters; including a somewhat complex cohabitation matter. It was also interesting to see how counsel and solicitors worked together in practice.
I advanced my interviewing skills and learnt how to gather all the relevant information from a client at the initial interview. On many occasions clients would get emotional and it was essential to support them but also give clear advice and information at the outset. I learnt early on that you had to be somewhat firm but remain empathetic.
As a new trainee based at a desk in the “healthy” office I soon adapted to herbal tea and high protein lunches. I was informed that bread had no nutritional value and that “clean eating” was the way forward. I embraced this concept whole heartedly even joining a local Gym in an attempt to achieve a healthier lifestyle (and to keep up with the talk in our room of bootcamps and squats).
This however has seemed to have an adverse effect turning me into a secret eater (a programme Graeme Booth and myself discuss occasionally with amusement). Vikki buying me chips on “fat Fridays” and donating the occasional chocolate bar has been a welcome relief from the “clean eating.” It seems food has been crucial to this stage of my training!
In conclusion being a family lawyer in training has been satisfyingly, challenging and interesting. As a family lawyer you have the opportunity to help an individual and support them through a difficult and emotional time in their lives. Hopefully resulting in them achieving the outcome they desire.