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Although it's been 3 weeks since my last blog, with all the Bank Holidays this will actually be my first 5 day week. The Firm have been very gentle with me to date - allowing time to read into files and get to grips with the procedures (both office and Court) which dictate how things are to be done. I must admit I find it comforting working within a structured regime where there are right and wrong ways of doing things. This helps keep a consistency of approach and, vitally, (as I keep being told) impresses the Court and the Judges, which in turn smooths the path for all of us as a firm and so, by implication, our clients when we're at Court. It appears that a well prepared bundle filed with plenty of time to spare is the legal equivalent of a shiny green apple on the teachers desk.
If I'd had any doubts (which I didn't!) as to whether or not the Firm's approach was the right one, they would have been laid to rest by official confirmation of what everyone working here knew already, when Heaney Watson won the Family Law award at the Liverpool Legal Awards this weekend. It's an amazing achievement for the Firm and the fact that we're promised a party to celebrate makes that victory all the sweeter.
I've not been to Court yet but I'm becoming increasingly keen to get on my feet. It may have been a hangover from the glory of the weekend, a reaction to my fairly sedate start, or simply my intention to disprove absolutely everyone else regarding the fearsome nature of the Liverpool bench, but at our regular morning meeting on Tuesday I thought I would put myself forward for a 7 day finding of fact hearing next week. It's fair to say it took my boss a fraction of a millisecond to dismiss the suggestion and move on. With the benefit of hindsight I can see his point that it's probably better that I get a few directions hearings under my belt before moving on to the heavy stuff.
Back down to earth, we've been grappling with the new funding schemes which came in on 9 May. As I plough through the Private Family Representation Scheme and Family Advocacy Scheme it's at times like these that I'm grateful I don't have to "unlearn" as much as my more experienced colleagues, and that I come to these new schemes, as to the new FPR, relatively fresh.
It's increasingly clear that the biggest challenge I face will be doing the work required to the standards expected by my Firm, my clients and the Courts within such an unforgiving funding regime. It's not going to be easy but I'm assured, by those who know and who, within 2 years have built up the best Family Law team in Liverpool, that it most certainly can be done.
Kate Gomery has recently qualified as a family law solicitor. She works at Heaney Watson in Liverpool where she is exposed to all types of family law work but particularly publicly funded family law cases. Prior to qualification Kate spent several years doing general crime and then serious fraud work. She trained at Pannone in Manchester.
The Red Book is the acknowledged authority on practice and procedure