No-fault divorce on the horizon at last

The Ministry of Justice has announced that the Government has reintroduced the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which will bring in a system of no-fault divorce, to Parliament. The Bill was first introduced in June 2019, but was lost due to the General Election.

If, as expected, the Bill is passed it will not be the first time that Parliament has passed an Act bringing in no-fault divorce. An Act that did that was passed back in 1996. However, the no-fault divorce provisions in that Act were considered by some to be unworkable, and never became law.

 

Statement of irretrievable breakdown no-fault divorce image

The new Bill will retain the one ground for divorce as at present – that the marriage has broken down irretrievably – but will do away with the need to prove irretrievable breakdown. Accordingly, it will no longer be necessary to show that the other party has committed adultery, that they have behaved unreasonably, or that the parties have lived separately for a certain period of time.

Instead, it will simply be necessary for one or both of the parties to file with the court a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

If the statement is filed by only one party, the other party will not be allowed to contest the divorce. Defended divorces will therefore become a thing of the past.

As drafted, the Bill provides that there must normally be a 20-week ‘period of reflection’ after the start of the proceedings, before the party or parties that filed the statement can apply for the divorce to continue.

The court will then make a conditional divorce order, equivalent to the present decree nisi. As now, it will not usually be possible to apply for the final divorce order (equivalent to the present decree absolute) until six weeks has elapsed after the making of the conditional order.

Commenting upon the Bill Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC MP said:

“The institution of marriage will always be vitally important, but we must never allow a situation where our laws exacerbate conflict and harm a child’s upbringing.

“Our reforms will stop divorcing couples having to make unnecessary allegations against one another and instead help them focus on separating amicably.

“By sparing individuals the need to play the blame game, we are stripping out the needless antagonism this creates so families can better move on with their lives.”

The Bill has been generally welcomed by family lawyers and those working in or around the family justice system.

 

When will it become law?boy with family cutouts

It is not yet clear when the Bill is likely to be passed and, if it is, when its provisions will come into effect. The Bill had its first reading in the House of Lords on the 7th of January, and its second reading, when all aspects of the Bill will be debated, is yet to be scheduled. After that the Bill will have to go through committee and report stages, before passing through the House of Commons, and finally receiving Royal Assent.

The Bill is supported not just by the Government but also by the other main parties. It is therefore expected to pass. However, much work remains to be done, including the making of the necessary rules to give effect to the new law, and it seems unlikely that it will come into effect until late this year, at the earliest.

The Bill will also make similar changes to the law governing the dissolution of civil partnerships.

It should be noted, however, that the Bill will not alter the way in which financial arrangements between the parties on divorce/dissolution of civil partnership are dealt with.

You can follow the progress of the Bill here.

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What will a divorce lawyer ask me?

Consulting a divorce lawyer can be a worrying prospect for some.

Divorce lawyer in a meetingDivorce is such a personal matter, and many people are reluctant to give details of their private life to someone who is, after all, a stranger.

So exactly what information will your divorce lawyer want from you?

Well, apart from basic personal details like names, addresses and dates of birth, the answer depends of course upon what your case involves. We will look at some of the possibilities in turn (note that we are only giving examples of the information your solicitor may require).

 

Information relevant to the divorce

If you are instructing your solicitor to issue divorce proceedings, then they will require details of when and where the marriage took place. Provide your solicitor with your marriage certificate, if you have it.

Otherwise, your solicitor will need information to prove to the court that your marriage has broken down irretrievably (this will no longer be necessary once the Government introduces a system of no-fault divorce). What information is required depends upon how you intend to prove irretrievable breakdown.

If you are alleging that your spouse has committed adultery then your solicitor will need to know the date when you first become aware of the adultery and, if known, the dates and places where the adultery took place. They will also want to know if your spouse is likely to admit the adultery. They will not, however, usually need to know the identity of the other party involved.

If you are alleging that your spouse has behaved unreasonably, your solicitor will need some examples of that behaviour, including the worst and most recent incidents.

If the divorce is to be on the basis of separation, your solicitor will need to know the date of the separation and the date upon which you came to the conclusion that the marriage is at an end. If the divorce is to be on the basis of two years’ separation, your solicitor will also require confirmation that your spouse consents to the divorce.

 

Information about your children

If there is any dispute about arrangements for any dependent children then your solicitor will need full details.

These will include the children’s personal details, with whom they are living, mother and childwhat schools they attend, what arrangements each parent is proposing and why, any special needs that the children have and, if they are old enough, whether the children have expressed any preferences about what the arrangements should be.

 

Financial information

Your solicitor will want to know whether you have agreed financial arrangements with your spouse.

If arrangements have been agreed then your solicitor will still want some basic details of the financial circumstances of yourself and your spouse, including your incomes, the value of any assets, what is to happen to the former matrimonial home and whether either party has a pension.

If arrangements have not been agreed then your solicitor will want full details of all financial matters (note that if you have to ask the sort to sort out finances then the court will require both parties to disclose full details of their means).

 

Where there has been domestic abuse

If either party is alleging that the other has abused them then your solicitor will require full details of any such allegations, including what happened, when and where. If you have needed medical treatment for injuries suffered at the hands of your spouse, then your solicitor will want details of the treatment.

*

As stated, the above is not an inclusive list of everything your divorce solicitor will ask you – it is just intended to give an indication.

As will be seen, your divorce lawyer will not generally want intimate personal details of your marriage, as the court will not usually require such details. Your solicitor will only request the information that the court will require, and sufficient information to allow them to properly advise you.

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Can you divorce without a solicitor?

It’s a common question. Getting divorced is likely to cost money, and divorce lawyers are expensive, aren’t they?

Why not save money by doing the divorce yourself, rather than paying a lawyer to do it for you?


Solicitors meeting - Can you divorce without a solicitor?

A deceptively simple answer

The answer to the question is simple: yes, you can get divorced without a solicitor. There is no requirement that you must have a lawyer do it for you, or that you must take legal advice.

But that simple answer is deceptive. Just because you can get divorced without using a solicitor does not mean that it is a good idea. And as we will see, even if the divorce appears to be straightforward, there are traps that you can fall into if you do not take proper legal advice.

In fact, there are so many potential pitfalls involved in doing the divorce on your own that we could not possibly list them all here. Instead, we will just mention some of the more common problems that can arise.

We will do that by breaking down the divorce into its constituent parts: the divorce process itself, sorting out arrangements for any children, and sorting out finances.

 

The divorce process and divorce adviceboy with parents cutout figures

At the moment we still have a fault-based divorce system, at least unless the parties have been separated for two years, and they both agree to the divorce. Hopefully, this will soon change, as the new government has pledged to introduce a system of no-fault divorce.

Until then, however, anyone who has not been separated for two years (or five years, if the other party does not consent to the divorce) will have to prove to the court that the marriage broke down as a result of the other party’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

But there are pitfalls here. Common ones are unnecessarily naming the ‘other party’ in an adultery divorce (which can make the divorce more complex than it need be), and upsetting the other spouse with unnecessarily serious allegations of their unreasonable behaviour, which could encourage the other spouse to defend the divorce, thereby making things much more complicated.

A lawyer will be able to advise you whether you need to name any other party, and what behaviour allegations are sufficient to prove to the court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

 

Sorting out children arrangements

Sorting out arrangements for any dependent children can often be the biggest area of dispute when a divorce takes place.

One of the reasons for this is that often the parents do not know what sort of arrangements a court would expect in any given situation. If they did know this at the outset, then they would be far more likely to resolve matters by agreement, rather than having to ask the court to sort out arrangements for them. All too often cases go to court simply because one or both of the parents has unrealistic expectations.

An expert family lawyer will be able to advise what arrangements a court would consider to be appropriate and if possible will help you to resolve matters amicably, without having to go to court.

 

Sorting out financesStacks of pound coins

This is the area where there are perhaps the most potential pitfalls. Without proper legal advice parties often have little idea of their financial entitlement on divorce. Are they entitled to maintenance, what should happen to the former matrimonial home (especially when there are dependent children), and do they have a claim against the other party’s pension?

How often has a party walked away from a divorce without their proper financial entitlement?

These can be complex issues that really should not be considered without expert legal advice when filing for divorce.

And even if matters appear to straightforward, for example because there are no dependent children and neither party wishes to make a financial claim against the other, there is still the possible problem of one party making a financial claim against the other, possibly long after the divorce. A lawyer can ensure that this does not happen.

In short, you can divorce without a solicitor, but to do so is to take a risk that could end up costing far more than the solicitor’s fees.

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Ian Walker Divorce Lawyer Photo headshotIan Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors are now 7 years old. We are a specialist Solicitors Practice based in Devon and Somerset. Our specialism is family law and family dispute resolution.

From a legal point of view this means we specialise in the law of divorce, divorce finance including high new worth divorce, separating non-married couples and their finances, child arrangements including where children reside and how they should spend time with family members, surrogacy and adoption. We also specialise in the law of child protection representing children and their parents (and grandparents) when there is intervention by social services.

From a family dispute resolution perspective, this means we assist as lawyers by giving advice and providing representation. We also assist as neutral family mediators.

Good family dispute resolution means finding the best dispute process to enable clients to achieve sensible outcomes. There are various processes through which disputes can be resolved; sometimes asking a Judge to decide is the only way, but most cases can be settled through negotiation. There are various ways to negotiate, these include; round table meetings, arm’s length letter writing, collaborative family law, divorce mediation, mediation with or without lawyers, mediator for family conflict, mediation with arbitration, early neutral evaluation, arbitration or combinations of these!

As specialists, we work with clients to find the best way to negotiate.

In the last 7 years, we have grown from me with a computer into one of the largest family law teams in the South West.

Join our team in 2020

This year we have exciting plans and are currently recruiting for 3 new positions:

Head of Divorce and Finance https://familylawandmediation.co.uk/we-are-recruiting-head-of-divorce-finance/

Head of Child Law https://familylawandmediation.co.uk/we-are-recruiting-head-of-child-law/

Finance Manager https://familylawandmediation.co.uk/we-are-recruiting-finance-manager-new-role/

All are exciting opportunities and together with other plans will help us to progress the practice to the next level

Award-Winning

In 2019 I was honoured to be Highly Commended as Practice Manager in the Law Society Recognising Excellence Awards.

In February 2020 I will be attending the Modern Law Awards in Manchester where we have been shortlisted for Boutique Law Firm of the Year 2020.

I have also been shortlisted in a further prestigious award which I cannot share yet.

These are all humbling, but what is most important is always doing the best for our clients.

New Year Message

I was thinking about a new year message to end this blog.

A lot of cases we deal with are high conflict, often unnecessarily so. Conflictual mindsets can get in the way of clear thinking and achieving sensible long term solutions.

I came across the following blog from New Internationalist about peace https://newint.org/features/2018/09/18/10-steps-world-peace

Item 10 on the list is particularly relevant:

10 Look within

Peace starts with you. Ordinary citizens can make a difference. When’s the last time you said sorry? Think about who loses when you win. Are the people around you heard and respected or marginalized, ignored and left out? Make a decision to care about what happens to them. Start a constructive conversation with someone you disagree with. Challenge ‘them-and-us’ thinking in yourself as well as in others. Every one of us can choose to make society more just and peaceful, or more unjust and warlike.

We could all follow this advice. All agreements require some form of conversation and the best and most durable solutions come from the best conversations (which include mutuality, understanding of the other and respect). If we want others to listen to us we need to listen to them.

Let’s make 2020 more inclusive, respectful and peaceful…

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Finance Manager (New Role)

We are one of the largest and fastest growing family law practices in the South-West. We are committed to achieving the best outcomes for our clients in the right way.

We have exciting plans for 2020 and we are seeking an additional member of our support  team who will assist us in progressing the practice to the next level.

Us

In the last seven years we have built a leading family practice in Devon and Somerset. Our achievements include:

  • Gaining and retaining Lexcel Accreditation 6.1 with minimal non-compliances.
  • Building a strongly performing website (traffic has increased by more than 4x even in the last year).
  • Establishing a business model which has delivered a growth in turnover of around 50% each year for the last 5 years.
  • Building a strong, committed and experienced team.
  • Embedding a strong commitment to our IT infrastructure and innovation.
  • Embedding a grown-up and supportive working environment where smart and flexible working are encouraged – no silly rules.
  • Our founder being Highly Commended in the category of Practice Manager of the Year in the Law Society Excellence Awards 2019.
  • Being shortlisted for Boutique Law Firm (11+ employees) 2020 in the Modern Law awards.

The role

  • You will be based in Exeter (outskirts).
  • You will report to our director and practice manager.
  • You will progress our legal aid bills and payment claims including in liaison with our external costs draftsman.
  • You will undertake some legal cashiering.
  • You will assist with payment control.
  • You will assist with billing and credit control.
  • Assisting with digital document management.
  • (Providing some reception cover when occasionally needed).

Hours

Full-Time but part-time (three full days or shorter days) also considered.

Salary

Market rate/subject to experience.

Candidate specification

  • Excellent IT skills.
  • Previous experience of legal aid billing (essential).
  • Previous experience of cashiering in a law firm or knowledge of Solicitors accounts rules are essential.
  • Familiarity with SOS practice management would be desirable although is not essential.
  • We are a relatively small and happy team and personality is important – because everyone needs to get on.

How to apply

Please send your C.V. and covering letter in confidence to Ian Walker; ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk

 

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Ian Walker Divorce Lawyer Photo headshotThe role

We are one of the largest and fastest growing family law practices in the South-West. We are committed to achieving the best outcomes for our clients in the right way.

In the last seven years we have built a leading family practice in Devon and Somerset. Our achievements include:

  • Gaining and retaining Lexcel Accreditation 6.1 with minimal non-compliances.
  • Building a strongly performing website (traffic has increased by more than 4x even in the last year).
  • Establishing a business model which has delivered a growth in turnover of around 50% each year for the last 5 years.
  • Building a strong, committed and experienced team.
  • Embedding a strong commitment to our IT infrastructure and innovation.
  • Embedding a grown-up and supportive working environment where smart and flexible working are encouraged – no silly rules.
  • Our founder being Highly Commended in the category of Practice Manager of the Year in the Law Society Excellence Awards 2019.
  • Being shortlisted for Boutique Law Firm (11+ employees) 2020 in the Modern Law awards.

We have exciting plans for 2020 and we are seeking a Child Law specialist Solicitor to lead our Child Law Team and who will assist us in progressing the practice to the next level.

  • You will be based in Exeter.
  • You will lead our highly experienced Care Team.
  • You will grow your team.

Candidate specification

  • You will have good Child Law experience.
  • You will either be a current or former member of the Law Society Children Panel or with a background in working for a Local Authority and/or if you’re not currently a member of the Law Society Children Panel, you would seek membership at the earliest opportunity.
  • You will have a good understanding of Lexcel and regulatory compliance and Legal Aid.
  • You will be committed to the values of Resolution.
  • You will have a willingness to take on some management and training responsibilities.
  • You will be a leader and also a team player.
  • You will be a car driver.
  • You will have good IT skills.

What is most important is that you are an outstanding children lawyer, you share our values and that you have a good sense of humour.

What we offer

  • Going rate salary and bonus scheme.
  • Genuine equity prospects.
  • Flexible working.
  • Opportunity to join a committed and friendly team and to build this further.
  • Opportunity to further establish a reputation as one of the leading Child Law specialists in the South West.

Don’t join us if you want to work as part of a corporate machine where it might seem that all that matters is your ever-increasing billing target and the number of hours you are sat at your desk.

Do join us if you truly believe that the Resolution way is the better way and you would like to improve your quality-of-life/work-life balance by working not far from the seaside and Dartmoor in Exeter, Devon (the capital of the South West).

How to apply

Please send your C.V. and covering letter in confidence to Ian Walker ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk

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The Modern Law AwardsMore recognition – We have been shortlisted – The Modern Law Awards 2020 – Category: Boutique Law Firm of the Year 2020

Hot on the heels of our founder Ian Walker being Highly Commended in the Law Society Excellence Awards 2019 in the category of Practice Manager of the Year, we have now been shortlisted in the category of BOUTIQUE LAW FIRM OF THE YEAR (11+ Employees) in the prestigious Modern Law Awards.

What are the Modern Law Awards

These national awards are organised by the Modern Law Magazine. This is essentially a periodical for legal professionals.

This is how Modern Law Magazine describes itself:

Modern Law Magazine has established itself as one of the leading B2B publications in the legal industry. As a number of distinct trends start to emerge out of the legal landscape, rather than being apprehensive of the scale of the change, now is the time to embrace the opportunities it will bring. Modern Law is focused on covering those trends and helping your law firm and/or organisation become more efficient, productive and sustainable in an increasingly competitive market.

As the needs and expectations of customers and clients are changing so are the expectations of our readers. We will continue to bring you high-profile interviews as well as views from the Top 100, regional outlooks and start-up diaries. Our expert panel of editorial board members will lead the discussion and provide our readers with exclusive insight into the ‘business of law’. In every issue you can expect to read about new technologies, AI, finance and funding, marketing for your law firm, best business practice and lots more. We are all about putting the modern into the modern law firm.

The Modern Law Awards

This is what Modern Law tell us about the awards:​

Now in their seventh year, the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards were launched to celebrate and identify sparkling talent and success in entrepreneurship, market development, business management and best practice in the modern legal services arena. These exclusive awards reflect the ever-increasing reorganisation, new legal entities and business dynamism of legal service providers since the Legal Services Act came into force.

The Modern Law Awards offer a unique and timely opportunity to celebrate not only innovative business leaders, but those changing the face of business strategy and development, regulation management and client care throughout the organisation – for both short and long-term gain. Champions in ABSs, new legal entrants and pre-existing law firms that have successfully led engaging, relevant and new strategies for gold-plated services and business growth will be praised in the third of these national awards. The Modern Law Awards are the perfect opportunity for the sector to showcase and set the benchmarks for best practice in the ever diverse, challenging and exciting landscape for the business of law.

Who are the Judges?

This year the Judges include:

  • Simon Davis: President of the Law Society
  • Michael Napier CBE QC (Hon)
  • Sarah Walker-Smith – Chief Executive, Shakespeare Martineau LLP
  • Professor Thom Brooks – FAcSS FHEA FRHisS FRSA – Dean of Durham Law School, Chair in Law & Government
  • Shawnna Hoffman – Global Cognitive Legal Co-Leader – IBM
  • Professor Joan Loughrey – Deputy Head of the School of Law, Leeds
  • Tony Fisher – Senior Partner – Fisher Jones Greenwood
  • …and more legal industry experts….

In other words this is a weighty and knowledgeable panel of Judges.

This in turn means that these are prestigious national awards.

BOUTIQUE LAW FIRM OF THE YEAR (11+ Employees)

We have been nominated in the category of Boutique Law Firm of the Year (11+ employees), but what does this mean?

Here are the criteria for the category:

  • A firm who practices in a niche/specific area of law
  • A practice that has performed exceptionally in terms of establishing itself in its chosen market
  • Within the last year, has demonstrated extensive development and progress as a business, including, but not limited to; strategy, growth, financial performance, employee development, diversity and training
  • An innovative practice that can demonstrate its ability to creatively and effectively compete with multi-practice firms
  • A practice that exceeds the expectations of basic client care and professionalism

When are the winners announced?

The awards ceremony is on Thursday 6th February 2020 in Manchester

What does being shortlisted mean for us?

Ian Walker founded our practice in 2013. Since then we have built a fantastically experienced team and have expanded the area we serve across Devon and Somerset.

We have had 50% growth year on year for the last 5 years. We have achieved lots of good outcomes for clients and their children.

We have made good use of the current technology and early adopters of innovative software.

Our growth has been a team effort. It is always nice to have peer recognition. This recognition allows us to step back and remember how far we have come and the effort and contribution that everyone has made toward this.

It is particularly nice to receive this recognition as we move toward the Christmas holiday and a welcome rest.

Thank you to everyone and we are looking forward to 2020…

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Head of Divorce/Finance

The role

We are one of the largest and fastest-growing family law practices in the South-West. We are committed to achieving the best outcomes for our clients in the right way.

In the last seven years, we have built a leading family practice in Devon and Somerset. Our achievements include:

  • Gaining and retaining Lexcel Accreditation 6.1 with minimal non-compliances.
  • Building a strongly performing website (traffic has increased by more than 4x even in the last year).
  • Establishing a business model which has delivered growth in turnover of around 50% each year for the last 5 years.
  • Building a strong, committed and experienced team.
  • Embedding a strong commitment to our IT infrastructure and innovation.
  • Embedding a grown-up and supportive working environment where smart and flexible working are encouraged – no silly rules.
  • Our founder being Highly Commended in the category of Practice Manager of the Year in the Law Society Excellence Awards 2019.

We have exciting plans for 2020 and we are seeking a Divorce/Finance specialist Solicitor to lead our Divorce Finance Team and who will assist us in progressing the practice to the next level.

  • You will be based in Exeter.
  • You will lead our Divorce/Finance team.
  • You will grow your team.

Resolution Member LogoCandidate specification

  • You will have good HNW experience.
  • You will have a good understanding of Lexcel and regulatory compliance.
  • You will be committed to the values of Resolution.
  • You will be a Collaborative Family Lawyer or a willingness to train.
  • You will have a willingness to take on some management and training responsibilities.
  • You will be a leader and also a team player.
  • You will be a car driver.
  • You will have good IT skills.

What is most important is that you are an outstanding family lawyer, you share our values and that you have a good sense of humour.

Ian Walker Portrait photoWhat we offer

  • Going rate salary and bonus scheme.
  • Genuine equity prospects.
  • Flexible working.
  • Opportunity to join a committed and friendly team and to build this further.
  • Opportunity to further establish a reputation as one of the leading Divorce/Finance specialists in the South West.

Don’t join us if you want to work as part of a corporate machine where it might seem that all that matters is your ever-increasing billing target and the number of hours you are sat at your desk.

Do join us if you truly believe that the Resolution way is the better way and you would like to improve your quality-of-life/work-life balance by working not far from the seaside and Dartmoor in Exeter, Devon (the capital of the South West).

How to apply

Please send your C.V. and covering letter in confidence to Ian Walker ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk

 

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We are seeking a solicitor NQ+ or very experienced or both to join our child law team.

The successful candidate will either a be a member of the Law Society children panel or they will have ambitions to join. (and we will support them to do this)

We already have one of the strongest child law teams in the south-west. This includes three current members of the Law Society child law panel and two former members. We regularly represent parents, children, grandparents and undertake local authority agency work.

Ian Walker Portrait photoWhy join us?

Our progressive niche practice is owned and run by Ian Walker who is one of our children panel members – so you won’t have to worry about our commitment to children law! (In the last 10 years quite a number of firms – some of whom have had large and reputable child law teams – have surrendered their legal aid contracts).(We are also a real living wage employer).

We are a dynamic and growing practice. Ian is the Chair of the Devon Region of Resolution and has been Highly Commended in the practice manager of the year category in the 2019 Law Society Excellence Awards.

There is an opportunity to work with and learn from our existing team. This includes Kim Stradling who is one of the leading child law solicitors in the south-west.

Our IT structure is cloud-based and easily supports flexible working and homeworking and paperless working. Flexible/smart working is positively encouraged.

We hold Lexcel accreditation. We have the practice support you would expect including LEXIS PSL and software to create our own electronic bundles.

Salary will be based on experience, but will be competitive.

We are also happy to consider both fee share consultancy.

As the legal market develops it is becoming increasingly obvious that niche practice’s such as ourselves enjoy a competitive advantage over traditional high Street practices.

We attract quality work from across our office network which is in Exeter, Taunton, Torquay, Honiton, Yeovil and Weston-super-Mare.
This is a fantastic opportunity with long-term prospects.

If you don’t already work in Devon and Somerset, you are really missing out, and this is a fantastic opportunity to improve your quality of life.

Person specification

The successful candidate:

  • will have a passion for children law
  • will have good/good IT skills
  • will have willingness to undertake advocacy
  • will be a team player with a sense of humour
  • will have a good knowledge of legal aid and good time recording discipline
  • they will either be a member of the Law Society children panel or ambitions to gain membership as soon as possible
  • Be a car owner/driver

A bit more about the job

You will be based on the East Devon side of Exeter.

Although we have multiple locations to see clients, we are all based at the same office – which is the central location in our office network.

This means they need to come into the office at least once a week so that they are fully part of the team (no competing and divisive branch cultures for us). However, there is very ample scope for flexible/smart working.

You will probably be primarily responsible for our Somerset care work.

Our practice is very much built around its team.

To find out more about our practice visit our website at https://familylawandmediation.co.uk/
Please send your CV and covering letter in confidence to Ian Walker at ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk

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Highly Commended at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2019

We are delighted to post that our founder Ian Walker has been highly-commended in the Law Society’s Excellence Awards – the highest accolade for law firms in England and Wales.

The event in Central London – which attracted more than 1000 guests – is the most prestigious awards ceremony for solicitors in England and Wales. Professionals and their firms are recognised across a range of categories covering all areas of legal practice and business.

These are the most prestigious legal awards nationally.

Excellence in Practice Management

Ian Walker received a commendation in the Practice Manager of the Year category.

The Law Society Practice Manager of the Year category celebrates individuals who have introduced innovative change management initiatives which resulted in significant performance improvements.

The awards ceremony was hosted by BBC Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark  announced that:

“Ian Walker has founded and built a thriving firm in a relatively short period of time. His innovative “multiple client point” service impressed the judges”

Law Society President Simon Davis

Law Society of England and Wales president Simon Davis said:

“In such uncertain times, we must never forget the immense contribution that solicitors make to society. Our work is indispensable to upholding the rule of law. 

“At the Law Society Excellence Awards, we come together to celebrate outstanding success in the sector.

“There are more than 180,000 solicitors in England & Wales: to be highly-commended is to be recognised as among the best of the best.”

Ian Walker and our trip to London

Since Ian founded our practice in 2013 it has grown from being simply Ian and a computer to a team of 8 qualified lawyers and a support team of 7. We are now one of the largest and most experienced teams of family lawyers in the South West.

Ian Walker says;

Whilst my commendation was in an individual category, I am viewing this as recognition of our fantastic team.

There is only so much a person can achieve by themselves. So much more can be achieved through teamwork.

I have a brilliant set of colleagues. All are a pleasure to work with and it extremely rewarding to see the way they achieve the best results for our clients and in the right way.

Unfortunately we couldn’t all make the trip to the awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London. Ian was accompanied by team members; Leanne Cornock-Stark, Briony Phillips, Nicole Phare and Sandy Powell. (All in main picture together with Ian and Law Society President Simon Davis)

Because it was half term, Ian’s wife wasn’t able to attend, but Ian’s family were represented by Ian’s oldest daughter Naomi, who works in London, but has previously assisted in the office during university holidays.

What sets Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors apart and makes us unique

In the last 6 1/2 years we have built a practice based on:

  • Excellence in legal advice and representation
  • Promotion of sensible, child focused dispute resolution
  • Making best use of cloud based and other software solutions and flexible working
  • Using business centres to enable us to assist clients with city centre quality but over a wider geographical area
  • A commitment to access to justice via Legal Aid
  • A commitment to running a happy and ethical practice promoting diversity and access to the profession (e.g. Real Living Wage).

The area we cover now includes: Exeter, Honiton, Torquay, Taunton, Yeovil and Weston-Super-Mare.

Why being being shortlisted is so important for us

This is the first major awards we have entered (being too busy building the practice). This is the most prestigious Legal Awards, and being highly commended is fantastic recognition of what we have achieved so far.

Because we are getting on with what we do, it is easy to forget or to minimise what we have achieved. The Law Society Excellence Awards have allowed us to take a step back and to take stock or and take pride in what we have done so far. It has very much been a team effort.

We have exciting plans for the next five years, so this kind of marks the end of our beginning.

It is important that we don’t rest on our laurels or stand still. We know that we can do so much more.

We may find the time to enter some other awards, but our clients will always be our priority.

Watch this space to see what we do next….

 

P.S. If you are a family lawyer or mediator and are interested in becoming part of our journey, please email: ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk 

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