_MG_5336Devon Resolution is a vibrant Resolution region with around 160 members. I am very proud to be its longstanding Chair.

We are able to arrange our own training to meet the specific needs of our members.

I am especially looking forward to our 4th Annual Conference on 11 May 2018, which promises to be our best yet.

In the meantime we are running an update for our child law specialists. This is open to solicitors who are not members of Devon Resolution. (We have awarded ourselves a discount, but the full price is still outstanding value)

Children Law Experts

The Children Law specialists from Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors will all be going, namely;  Kim Stradling, Carrie Meikle, Karen Elliott and myself.

Flyer below…

Devon Resolution Public Law Training 2018

Devon Resolution Public Law Training 2018 2See you there..

 

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_MG_53362017 was a really good year for Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors, but 2018 promises to be even better. Below is what I can tell you about our plans for 2018, but first, the highlights of 2017 (in no particular order):

2017

  1. Child Law specialist Kim Stradling joining us. This was a very big event. Kim was previously a partner and head of family law at Devon practice Everys. Kim is one of the leading childcare law specialists in the South West. She chose to join us because she liked our vision and business structure. Most importantly Kim has settled in very very well.
  2. Recruiting Stephanie Hinde. Stef joined as a Solicitor in November. unfortunately she will be leaving on maternity leave at the end of January(ish), but we will look forward to welcoming her back when she is ready. Stef has a lovely manner and has slotted seamlessly into the team. Whilst relativily junior, she clearly has it in her to her to be an outstanding family solicitor. Our flexible and homeworking policy will assist Stef to return to work in a sensible way.
  3. In the Summer we added Hannah Elliott as a paralegal. Hannah was fresh from University of Exeter and a very good 2.1 law degree. Hannah is now combining working for us with part time study on her Legal Practice Course and LLM Masters Degree at the University of Law. Hannah has passed every study unit so far with flying colours and she has been a great help around the office. In due course she will be an outstanding Solicitor as well.
  4. Beth Hazeltine has been a brilliant member of the team. Beth joined in February. Ever helpful and willing. If only she could have been free when we attended the Somerset Resolution quiz night, we would have picked up enough points in the food and drink section to have won.
  5. In October I attended the Resolution Dispute Resolution Conference in Nottingham and had the great pleasure of chatting at length to Family Law legend Henry Brown (Former Solicitor to Nelson Mandela, founder of mediation in UK, founder of Family Mediators Association and CEDR and the person who trained me as both a family mediator and a civil mediator) Henry is now 80 and is nearly completely retired. I was honoured when Henry told me how much he liked our website. In return I recommended him the pleasures of chess.com
  6. In 2017 I was re-elected as the Chair of Devon Resolution for a third 3 year term. This is a great honour. Together with my committee we have established the annual Devon Resolution Conference. A great annual get together for Devon family lawyers. We have a truly vibrant region.
  7. I also joined Resolution’s Dispute Resolution Committee. As a solicitor/collaborative lawyer/mediator/arbitrator I practice what I preach, which is helping clients to resolve their cases fairly through sensible negotiation. The work of the national committees is important in encouraging good practice and it is important for those from the regions to join in.
  8. Our clients are extremely important to us. I had great pleasure in completing a difficult case for a very nice and (too)longstanding client in December in a very favourable way. This will allow them to finally moving their life on.
  9. The team is also very important. I haven’t mentioned Carrie Meikle or Karen Elliott above, but they have been so important in us being able to move the practice on. For the time being at least we are the magnificent 7! Its fundamental to work with people you get on with, where everyone is pulling in the same direction.

2018

  1. At the beginning of February 2018 the practice will be 5 years old. We have brilliantly surpassed our initial 5 year plan. The start was kind of staggered for various reasons, but I started in the office at the start of 2013. To celebrate we will be having a small get together. My initial guest list of those I wanted to invite was over 150, so I have had to pare the list down by quite a bit, but if you would like to join our celebration then don’t be shy and let me know. Apologies in advance for those I couldn’t fit in.
  2. From 01 February we will be moving our Exeter service to The Senate, Southernhay Gardens, Exeter.the senate This is a prestigious office block which is much more convenient for the Court and is within the “Legal Quarter” of the city, and so will be better for our Exeter clients. It also gives us extra capacity to grow our Exeter service. We are recruiting, so if you can add to the team, please let me know…
  3. I have plans to promote the use of Arbitration and our Mediation with Arbitration Service. Arbitration has been slow on the uptake, in large because it is different, (and practitioners are cautious about change – even if it is for the better) but it does offer a genuine and viable and more cost effective way of resolving cases than the public courts for less complex cases. I have a plan…
  4. And more… I wish I could say, but I can’t for now, but do watch this space for further exciting news

Thanks to all who have helped us get this far. I am looking forward to 2018

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_MG_5336In 2017 the family Family Solicitors organisation, Resolution published a briefing paper on the future of family law called : Law and Justice briefing ; The current landscape and direction of travel

Here is a link to the paper:  http://www.resolution.org.uk/editorial.asp?page_id=1292 but it is in the members only section.

For those who don’t know, I have been a member of Resolution for over 20 years and I am the longstanding Chair of the Devon Region. I am also a member of the national Dispute Resolution Committee.

The paper was written by my old friend Angela Lake-Carroll who I first met nearly 20 years ago when I was one of a handful of solicitors invited by the Legal Aid Agency to participate in their FAINS: Family Advice and Information Networks project. Angela is well respected in the family law community and also a member of the Dispute Resolution Committee.

Threats to family law practice

In summary, the paper analyses the market for the demand for and the delivery of family law (and mediation) services and discusses threats and opportunities.

Threats will include:

  • Artificial Intelligence and automation
  • Increasing demand for unbundled and pay as you go services
  • deregulation
  • government reforms; including reducing funding of the courts and the ongoing crisis in Legal Aid
  • The decline in marriage (and consequently divorce)
  • the move to a non-court future
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_MG_5336Outstanding Family Lawyer

Growing, dynamic, specialist Family Law Solicitors Practice seeks additional team members.

Ian Walker founded the practice from scratch in 2013 with just a computer. We are now team which includes 4 Solicitors and a Legal Executive plus support. Ian is the longstanding chair of the Devon region of the family solicitors organisation Resolution and is a past member of the Law Society Family Law Committee. Ian is also an accredited mediator and a child law Arbitrator (private judge).

We have an experienced and respected team. We have grown through recommendation and good business planning.

We enjoy the work we do. It is important to us that we do our work in the right way; also that we all get on with each other and that we are a genuine team. No office politics please. We have a commitment to Legal Aid and fair charging.

We are already one of the larger family law teams around Devon and Somerset and we have more growth planned in 2018.

Our clients are from around Devon and Somerset. We have a permanent presence in Exeter (from 01 February; the Senate) and Taunton (Exchange House) but our main base is in Honiton; so that we don’t have to drive through commuter traffic every day.

Flexible working is encouraged. Our practice software is all cloud based.

Part time applicants also considered.

The Role – Solicitor/ Legal Executive

We are looking for a Solicitor to help us grow the Exeter/Honiton axis of our business.

We will be pleased to hear from candidates with all levels of experience. We can adjust the role to right person. What is important is that they either are already or want to become an outstanding family lawyer who wants be part of our growth.

For the right candidate there are genuine equity prospects.

Remuneration is dependent on PQE. We can offer salary or fee share or a mix.

Person Specification

Most importantly we are looking for someone who will fit into the team, who is hardworking and self-motivated with a good sense of humour.

Essential

  • Passion for family law
  • Technical knowledge; demonstrated by panel memberships or willingness to gain
  • Resolution Member
  • Team player
  • Car owner and Clean driving licence
  • Tidy and organised

Desirable

  • Experience of working in another leading family Law team
  • Trained as Mediator and/ or collaborative Lawyer or interest in training.
  • Advocacy skills
  • Willingness to attend networking events/ interest in practice development
  • Outstanding IT skills
  • Familiarity with SOS connect case management software
  • Knowledge of legal aid including legal aid agency case management system
  • Good academic background
  • Already based in Exeter/Devon

Apply with letter and CV to ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk

 

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_MG_5336Practice Manager

Growing, dynamic, specialist Family Law Solicitors Practice seeks additional team members.

Ian Walker founded the practice from scratch in 2013 with just a computer. We are now team which includes 4 Solicitors and a Legal Executive plus support. Ian is the longstanding chair of the Devon region of the family solicitors organisation Resolution and is a past member of the Law Society Family Law Committee. Ian is also an accredited mediator and a child law Arbitrator (private judge).

We have an experienced and respected team. We have grown through recommendation and good business planning.

We enjoy the work we do. It is important to us that we do our work in the right way; also that we all get on with each other and that we are a genuine team. No office politics please. We have a commitment to Legal Aid and fair charging.

We are already one of the larger family law teams and we have more growth planned in 2018.

Our clients are from around Devon and Somerset. We have a permanent presence in Exeter (the Senate) and Taunton (Exchange House) but our main base is in Honiton; so that we don’t have to drive through commuter traffic every day.

Flexible working is encouraged. Our practice software is all cloud based.

Part time applicants also considered.

The Role -Practice Manager

You will be responsible for:

  • Running the office
  • Ensuring file management standards are met
  • Overseeing Client care / client experience
  • Organising promotional events
  • Team welfare

You will work with Ian who has undertaken a lot of these tasks in order to allow him to undertake more fee earning.

We are also recruiting an administration assistant who will be primarily responsible for; reception, preparation of bundles and archiving; but you will also be expected to assist with these duties as needed.

Person Specification

Most importantly we are looking for someone who will fit into the team, who is hardworking and self-motivated with a good sense of humour.

The successful candidate will have/be most of the following:

  • Previous experience in a similar role
  • Alternative relevant experience;  e.g. as a solicitor or legal cashier or accountant
  • Experience of legal aid
  • Outstanding IT skills
  • Educated to graduate level
  • Professional knowledge of family justice system
  • Tidy and organised
  • Team player

Apply with letter and CV to ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk

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_MG_5336We are a niche family law practice. We are committed to family law and the use of mediation and the principles of Resolution.

We are currently a team of 4 Solicitors and a Legal Executive plus support.

We are looking for an additional Assistant Solicitor/Legal Executive to join our growing team.

We are genuine team: Personality is very important. No office politics. Unlike most solicitors we are not run by a committee that doesn’t really understand family law.

Looking for the right personality

We all need to work together and enjoy each others company. We have a flat structure and make good use of IT and cloud based technology. This means that we are adaptable and flexible.

Home working and smart working is encouraged. As specialists we know our area of work and can innovate. We are not competing against other departments or inertia in a multi discipline practice.

But we are serious lawyers who want to be the best at what we do. We have access to a premium law library and practice support. Gaining and maintaining panel memberships is encouraged.

We have been successful in generating a good flow of both Legal Work and Mediation Work and there are clearly opportunities to generate more. We are receive referrals from satisfied clients and by word of mouth.

In the last four and half years we have come a long way and there is clearly room for further growth.

We have the following opportunities:

Assistant Solicitor/ Legal Executive: Divorce and finance specialist

We are looking for a solicitor with:

  • Good academic background.
  • Good grounding in divorce/finance law (ideally within a larger practice/team)
  • Good IT skills
  • A team player with sense of humour
  • Passion for family law

Genuine long term opportunities.

Help me grow the business and have greater control of your future.

Small and Relaxed

We are looking for the right personalities, who are able to work hard and effectively but can have a laugh at the same time.

Ideally we will have a team of around 8 lawyers. We want to be a team, working for each other, with the ability to adapt to changes in the market. Neither too big or too small, but just right!

Be part of our journey?

Please send your CV and covering letter to Ian at ianwalker@familylawandmediation.co.uk

We are recruiting for long term growth.

No agencies

Thanks

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ChristmasWe know that Christmas is not a happy time that everyone. Indeed it can be very lonely and depressing. Some parents are for various reasons unable to spend time with their children on the main days of the Christmas holiday or even at all.

Family disputes in the run-up to Christmas

In the run-up to Christmas we deal with a surge in cases where separated parents are in dispute over the arrangements through which children will spend time with each parent over the Christmas holiday. Here are some hopefully helpful thoughts.

Think about arrangements from a childs perspective

Children don’t  want to see the adults around them arguing. Children want to enjoy everything that is going on. They will quite naturally want to see all of the important adults in their lives if possible. If they are taking part in a school play or similar performance children will normally want this to be watched by their important family members. Most importantly of all (again) children do not want to witness arguments; children wants to have fun and be happy.

Have realistic expectations of what the other will agree

If it has not been possible to agree arrangements for children to spend time with the adults who they do not live with during the year, then it is unlikely that there are going to be any significant changes agreed for the Christmas period. Equally, if the amount of time that the non-resident parent spends with their child is quite limited, then it is unlikely that it is going to be agreed that they can have loads ofadditional time over the Christmas holiday. Anyadditional time that can be agreed is likely to be along the lines of what is already taking place. Asking for more than is realistic will probably be counter-productive and will only lead to arguments.

Make use of other family members  for handovers

If separated parents cannot get on with each other normally, then it is unrealistic to expect significant change over Christmas. Moving between one parent and another can be very stressful for children as well as for their parents. Sometimes the situation can be improved if a family member or friend can on a regular or even specific occasionassist with the move between one parent and the other.

Agree arrangements as far in advance as possible

The best time to discuss the arrangements for Christmas is in the spring of the year before. This allows ample time to undertake mediation. If agreements cannot be reached then an application would need to be made to the Court. Securing court time is not always easy and if there is a dispute over the Christmas arrangements, if an application is made to the court in the middle of December it is unlikely that the case will be able to get before a Judge in such a way that decisions can properly be made. The later a court application is left before Christmas, the less likely it is that a satisfactory outcome will be achieved

Record agreements in writing

Courts make decisions based upon evidence. If an agreement has been reached between parents and it can be proven that an agreement existed then the starting point of the Court is likely to be based upon making the parents keep to their agreements (unless there is a good reason for change)rather than starting completely from scratch

Don’t Forget Safety Issues

Some parents sadly do not see their children or have their time with their children restricted because there are issues about safety. Examples of this can be where there has been domestic abuse or even abusive or unsafe behaviour involving the children. Sometimes the parent with whom the child lives places the question of safety to one side in order to try to be nice to the other for Christmas or because they want to give their children what they think their children want. Risks are unlikely to diminish simply because it is Christmas and if a parent places themselves or their children in an unsafe situation then they could be unfortunate consequences both with some problem arising and also with the possibility that social services could become involved with the family because of concerns over a parents failure to protect.

Try family mediation

The best arrangements for children are ones where their parents are able to communicate well with each other and where both parents have confidence that the other will deliver their side of the agreement. The best arrangements are where parents are able to trust each other. Unless there is a significant safety issue the best way to achieve the best arrangements is through the parents talking to each other and finding a way to put past difficulties behind them. Mediation can be an excellent forum for achieving this. The starting point to a successful mediation is both parents accepting that there is a problem that needs to be resolved and both wishing to do something to resolve the problem.

Get good Legal advice

Where advice is required it is always a good idea to do this as soon as it becomes clear that the problem will not easily be solved. In our experience problems do not easily go away if nothing is done to try and solve them. Reasonable arrangements for children over the Christmas period often include Christmas Day being shared or children spending Christmas with one family one year and with another the next. However, all situations are different. Getting specific legal advice is usually a good idea.

We are a Firm of Solicitors specialising in family law and a mediation service that is based in Honiton in East Devon. We also have branch offices in Taunton. Our mediation service is contracted with the legal aid agency to offer legally aided mediation in Honiton Exeter and Taunton. If you qualify for legal aid for mediation then the mediation will be free of charge.We are members of the family solicitors organisation Resolution. Ian Walker is currently the elected chair of the Devon region Of Resolution

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stef 3On Monday 30 October our specialist team family lawyers was further strengthened by new addition Stephanie Hinde who joins us as a consultant solicitor.

Stephanie joins us from Somerset firm Pardoes, with whom she trained. Stephanie was previously based at their offices in Taunton and Bridgwater.

Educated in Somerset, Liverpool and Paris

Stephanie has a strong academic background. Before gaining a good LLB English and French Laws with French Language degree at the University of Liverpool, Stephanie was educated at Bridgewater College and Haygrove School, Bridgwater. Her degree involved spending a year Universite Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne, Paris, France. Not surprisingly Stephanie is a fluent French speaker.

After university gained a commendation for her Legal Practice Course before undertaking her solicitors training contract with Pardoes.

Stephanie’s special expertise

Stephanie chose to specialise in family law after qualification and her particular expertise is in representing clients in divorce proceedings with particular interest in representing teachers. Having previously undertaken voluntary work in a classroom assistant role at Penrose Special Needs School in Bridgwater and having at one point considered teaching as an alternative career path, Stephanie has particular insight into the additional demands and stresses upon teachers at times of relationship breakdown.

To the same end, Stephanie has gained an understanding of the stresses upon parents whose children have special needs and the additional problems this can lead to when arranging fair child arrangements –  which are focused upon the unique needs of the child – which can be lost sight of in times of parental dispute.

Part of our team

We are very pleased that Stephanie has chosen to join us. Her patient and methodical team working and commitment to the Resolution way of working should allow her to fit comfortably into our team.

At Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors we work as a team and with our recruitment policy and procedures we endeavoured to recruit new team members who will be another essential part of our team jigsaw.

One of the largest specialist family law teams in Devon and Somerset

Stephanie joining us means that our team now consists of 4 specialist solicitors (Ian, Kim, Carrie and Stef) together with chartered legal executive Karen.

This means we have 5 specialist family lawyers who are very ably supported by our paralegal/trainee solicitor Hannah and client care manager Beth. This means that we are now one of the larger family law teams in Devon and Somerset, and we have room for more growth yet.

Give Stephanie a call

Stephanie will be meeting clients in both Honiton and Taunton.

To arrange a meeting call our administration number 03339390188 or either: 01404 819098 or 01823 429183

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_MG_5336

Chair of Devon Resolution (again)

I was very proud to be asked by the Devon Resolution Committee to stand for re-election at our recent AGM and then to be re-elected for a further 3 year term in office.

I think this a recognition of our success in promoting the aims of Resolution which are founded on sensible advice and working together with other professionals to achieve good outcomes for our clients.

Devon Resolution has around 170 members. We are one of the largest regions of Resolution

Devon Resolution Conference 2018

Our main event is a conference which attracts around 120/140 lawyers each year to share quality training and to catch up with each other in a relaxed environment. Having good relationships with other solicitors helps sensible negotiations to take place. This save clients time and expense and stress.

We decided to hold our own conference in 2015 because none of the major family Law conferences ever seem to come to Devon, and it can be a long way to travel to get to them.

Our keynote speakers have so far included Mr Justice Baker, HHJ Robertshaw and National Resolution Chair Nigel Shepherd.

Our speakers have included: Sir Peter Singer, Sue Jacklin QC, Valentine Le Grice QC, Andrew Bagchi QC, Susan Campbell QC, Christopher Sharp QC, Kate Brannigan QC, Chris Wagstaff QC , Will Tyler QC ,Charles Hyde QC.

The conference is very popular and we are now in the process of putting together our best and most prestigious conference yet for 2018.

11 May 2018 – save the date

It will be held on the 11 May 2018

So far our list of speakers will include; Margaret Heathcote (Who will be Resolution Chair in 2018) Claire Wills-Goldingham QC and more to follow.

Family Solicitors … save the date….

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_MG_5336What is a fair price to pay for family law legal services?

We are a practice that is very open about how much we charge for our services. Unlike most practices we publish our charge out rates on our website. Most solicitors do not publish their charge rates. Clients only find out how much they will be charged if they ask when making an initial appointment or at that  initial appointment.

The promise of a free initial meeting can be used to get new clients into the solicitors office. They can then find themselves putting a foot on a conveyor belt of charging which they haven’t necessarily contemplated or have researched alternatives.

We will talk about “free interviews” below, but first of all we will talk about hourly charging rates.

How much do senior solicitors charge in Exeter and Taunton?

We carried out some discreet research this summer and found that the “going rate” for senior solicitors in Exeter and Taunton (mostly at partner level, but not all) is currently around £250 + VAT per hour. The highest hourly rate we were quoted was £295 + VAT per hour. There were several in between.

These were all experienced solicitors, but we also found that other senior solicitors who were charging less. Some of these would in our view be equally competent, the difference being that they worked for smaller practices or were based outside of Exeter or Taunton.

For the record, I currently charge £200 plus VAT per hour. I am a solicitor who has been qualified for 24 years. I am a member of various accreditation panels and have also served as a member of the national Law Society Family Law Committee which represents the solicitors profession in consultations on law reform. I am the current chair of the Devon region of the family solicitors organisation Resolution. My team charge less than me.

Why the difference?

Reasons to justifying/ explaining higher charges could be:

  • Particular expertise
  • Large city centre offices and firm infrastructure is expensive and this needs to be funded.
  • Firms may charge the time of family lawyers at a comparable level to those undertaking commercial work.
  • The owners of the practices may have a greater expectation of making profits to smaller firms and will set their lawyers fee targets each year which can more easily be met with higher charge rates.
  • They believe that their clients are willing to pay more for their prestige.

Having worked in larger city centre practices I know full well the pressure within firms to make billing targets.

However there are other factors.

We subscribe to a family law legal library and practice support service which contains around 40 books and periodicals and also gives us access to practice support including case law updates, precedents,webinars,  library research and helpful materials for clients. As a service it is not cheap, but as it is charged on a firm rather than user basis, it is the sort of thing that larger specialist teams will have, but smaller and more general practices will not have. For a lawyer, this type of thing is invaluable, but it is part of the firms overheads, which needs to be paid for, one way or another.

Good lawyers can prefer the comfort and security of working in bigger practices and can demand higher salaries as well. Although it is definitely not the case that all good lawyers work in large city centre practices. Indeed, many smaller niche practices (like us) have been founded by lawyers fed up with the demands of working for larger practices and set up by themselves so that they can offer their services to clients in a more flexible and less expensive way.

Keeping our charges down

We aim to offer city centre excellence, but in a more accessible and less expensive way

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