Ian Walker

Ian Walker – Founder/ Director/ Solicitor/ Mediator/ Arbitrator

Why choose us

What differentiates us from other family law solicitors/mediation services?

I founded Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors in 2012, I qualified as a solicitor in 1992 by 2012 I had spent 20 years working in a variety of solicitors practices. These varied from a multi-office High Street practice to regional corporate law firm heavyweights, as well as various points in between. I had worked with some outstanding solicitors. There were good and bad things about everywhere I worked.

When I founded my own practice, I wanted to draw from the very best that I had experienced, and I wanted to avoid everything less than good practice. I also wanted to make the best use of technology. Technological advances since 1992 have been immense in the law industry as well as in the wider world. Technological change is something to be embraced and utilised to improve the service provided to clients.

But I also wanted my practice to be somewhere where there was ultimately a genuine team working together to provide the very best service and the very best legal advice and representation and mediation practice for our clients.

So, what differentiates us from other family law solicitors and mediation services?

legal 500 leading firm logoBeing a large team of specialists

Most family Law solicitors work within practices which cover a range of practice areas. Within these practices the family law team’s may be quite small.

We only practice family law (including as a mediation service). We also have one of the largest and most experienced teams of family lawyers in the South-West. This means we have strength in depth within the team. This is important to providing clients with the best service possible. It means that it is easier for us to ensure that cases are properly looked after during periods of holiday or illness. Strength in depth also means that it is less likely that a problem will arise with the case that one of the team has not already encountered. But if an unusual or novel problem does arise, then we have multiple and experienced heads to discuss.

Strength in depth also means that junior team members have experienced colleagues on hand to oversee and support them.

Whilst we may be smaller overall than our competitors – our team of family lawyers is larger and more experienced than most.

The advantages of being niche

A significant advantage of only practising in the area of family law is that all of our investment into our business (for example: improvements to our case management software and training) is beneficial to our clients (who only instruct us for family law matters).

In law firms which practice multiple areas of law there will always be competing priorities for investment. There will inevitably be a negotiation between business owners over how to invest to improve their business – and ultimately your service to their clients. We are entirely focused on family law.

But aren’t there advantages with a firm which practices different areas of law?

In a more traditional legal practice, there might be other lawyers within the practice who have different specialisms who are able to assist with the client overall (for example a divorce case might be assisted by there being an in-house conveyancing lawyer (transferring a family property) or private client lawyer (making wills). We cannot offer those services in house – but that doesn’t mean that we can’t assist clients with such needs.

Long gone are the days of general practice solicitors who did a bit of everything. We only practice family law. There are other firms with other specialisms. Where clients have a particular need which we cannot meet in-house – then we will make a good referral.

Just because a firm offers multiple areas of practice – it doesn’t always mean that one team is a strong as another or that communication between teams is as good as it should be. By making external referrals our only thought is to make the best referral that we can.

If a case is particularly complex and crosses into other practice areas (for example company law) then we will find good expertise to partner with for the case for the benefit of our client.

Award winning South West Family Law SolicitorsClient care

No legal practice will say on their website that their client care is not as good as it might be or could be better. Where client care is mentioned – everyone says that they will offer a fantastic service.

We also endeavour to provide our clients with an outstanding service.

But our offer of an outstanding service is not simply words. We also offer a client service guarantee. In brief, this means that if a client does not feel that they have received an outstanding service during the period of the last bill – then we will make a no quibble refund to the client of 10% of that bill. Since this client service guarantee was introduced, we have barely been called upon to make any refunds.

It is inevitable that there will be (rare) occasions when everything does not go as well as we would have hoped. Our culture is that if there is a problem – we want to deal with problems when they are small problems rather than allow them to become big problems. I am always pleased to hear from clients if they are less than totally happy with how their case is looked after. I want to resolve problems and I want all our clients to be happy.

Transparency

Legal services are not cheap. Running legal practice carries a lot of overheads including the professional indemnity insurance which is there to protect clients. We invest heavily in training and professional development so our lawyers can be the best lawyers that they have potential to be.

We recognise that when potential clients are deciding who to instruct, they need to see something tangible concerning possible cost when comparing potential law firms.

We have always published our hourly charge rates on our website.

Hourly rates does provide a comparison between different solicitors – but how much a piece of work will actually cost is more complicated – we have written more on the subject here

Adding Values

Adding real value to a client is about good legal advice, outstanding service but it is also about values and approach.

As a practice we are very committed members of Resolution and subscribe to the Resolution Code of Practice. This isn’t simply lip service. This comes with a commitment to trying to resolve clients cases in the best way. This means assisting our clients to actively choose negotiation options such as mediation or collaborative family law or arbitration.

I have been the elected chair of the Devon region of resolution for nearly a decade. Our Head of Divorce – Lauren Preedy is Chair of Somerset Region of Resolution. We expect all of our team to be members of resolution and to follow the code of practice.

Not all lawyers who practice family law are members of Resolution and this includes practices which are specialist family practices. All lawyers are not the same.

Adding values is fundamentally important. Clients choose to instruct is because they want their case to be resolved in the best way. Resolving problems is not one size fits all – it is finding the best outcome for a family through the path of least resistance.