• April 19, 2024
 A day in the life as a family lawyer

A day in the life as a family lawyer

Today is Monday, well its actually Tuesday as we’ve just had the Easter bank holiday but feels like Monday and now my whole week will be out of sync, with the added benefit that I have a whole week of work to fit into four days!

I open the emails… the first task is to review and consider a draft consent order received from the applicant wife’s Counsel.  I acted for the respondent husband.  The parties attended a private FDR last week and agreed settlement terms a few days after.  I knew this forum would suit both parties and it was clear judicial intervention was needed given the complexities of the case. Neither could afford or would want to wait for the Court listed FDR or the final hearing thereafter.

Why is there still pushback for Non-Court Dispute Resolution I wonder?  I sometimes find I have to work very hard with lawyers on the other side for their clients to agree. In this case the other side’s client was reluctant to consider NCDR, but it proved successful.

Calling the client to confirm an agreement had been reached and hearing the relief in his voice and his elation that he can now move forward with his next chapter certainly makes the job worthwhile.  Should I also take pride in securing this outcome for my client, knowing the Private FDR was the right forum, and pitching his proposals fairly, yes, why not? This job is hard enough and we should always allow ourselves a moment to congratulate!

The emails are coming in, clients reporting child arrangements over the Easter break, questions on offers from the other side, a draft pre-nuptial agreement to approve, new client enquiries…

Talking of which, the phone rings… it’s another new enquiry…

Three hours of chargeable time recorded, and then a call from one of the Partners to talk about last year’s financial target, which I met, and to discuss this year’s new target…gulp!  Best get back to the desk and start the clock again.

An urgent email comes in from a client who has had a terrible weekend filled with stress and worry over the breakdown of her marriage and the financial pressures. I reassure her, advise on the process and the realistic timescales and possible outcome.  While I would like to say, ‘it’ll all be sorted out soon’, offering clients false hope is not what they need.  Clients need to be given realistic timescales and to know this is not an overnight process.  We discuss how I can assist in managing her pressing financial concerns and we agree a letter which I will prepare to send to the other side. We also discuss her making an appointment with her GP about how she is feeling.

The lunch hour comes and goes.

Straight into the afternoon’s meeting, a conference with Counsel to discuss a possible TOLATA claim, discussing strategy and how the Courts are likely to approach the case.

Two hours later, back to my desk, and the emails have built up again.  I need to call another very anxious client on a pressing matter. No sooner have I put the phone down, a reminder pops up about a 4:30pm catch up meeting with the firm’s trainees and newly qualified lawyers. We discuss their case load, what work I can delegate, recent case law and the rule changes we need to be aware of.

Now to finish that consent order which has been open since 9am this morning…

To do list for tomorrow… reporting to the client on the conference earlier, drafting, contacting a new client, reviewing matters and cost estimates, a client meeting, prepare a case for hearing…. best do some business development as well and reach out to my referrers.

As I head home, having finally agreed the consent order and spoken to the clients who needed to hear from me today, I take my seat on the train.

I begin to think about the client I spoke to earlier, and hope she sought support from the GP and family and friends. I then think about the approach I should take with the case going forward.  And then I start wondering whether I should be recording all this as strategic thinking time…

Oh, I remember… there’s an article on wellbeing in the workplace I need to read. As I open it, another urgent email arrives!

I call my Team Leader for a catch up, thank goodness I can and that I work for an understanding and supportive team.

It’s 8pm as I arrive home from the train station, time to stop thinking about work for today and cook some dinner and cuddle the dog!

Tomorrow is another day, it’s Wednesday, or is it Tuesday? Oh no!

Lisa Payne, Wilsons Solicitors LLP

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