What is your position and what you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am a solicitor working at Spring Law based in London’s Covent Garden. I work on a broad range of private family law matters although the bulk of my caseload is divorce and financial claims. Our client base is quite varied so I never know what to expect and every day is different. On any day, I could be in client meetings, drafting advice or settlement letters, going through financial disclosure or attending court. When not doing client work I read cases and articles or work on my blog and media presence. I usually attend one or two networking events a week so meeting people is a big part of my work as well.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?
I actually tried really hard not to be a lawyer! I hated the assumption at university that the only logical follow on from a law degree was the Legal Practice Course and then a training contract. It was working for a legal advice charity in Berlin in 2008 that made me reconsider. It gave me an insight into the practical side of law and how lawyers could help people.
I did not set out to be family lawyer either but have always pursued what has interested me. After working on a high profile divorce during my training I wanted to learn more and my interest just grew from there. I qualified into the Family Team at Spring Law in 2011. You get the best of all worlds with family law: client interaction; application and development of legislation and case law; and the opportunity to be creative in finding solutions. I love what I do and I am always looking to increase my knowledge or find interesting cases and issues to write about. Family law is a very dynamic field, so there is no shortage of topics.
What are the people you work for/with like? Any memorable stories?
I’ve had the privilege of working with some extremely talented and committed people at Spring Law and I am always aware of the benefit of being able to call on the expertise of others from different practise areas if needed. My colleagues and I get on well together but we don’t always see eye to eye. We can get into some pretty heated debates but it is great to be somewhere where you can express your opinion, argue it out and still have a good laugh over a drink in the evening.
One of the highlights of the year is the firm Christmas party. Last year we held it in an old county court and one of the partners put on a wig and held a mock trial. Ironically, I had a hearing listed for that afternoon so I missed most of the festivities but I have high hopes for this year’s party!
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?
The best part of the day is when the post arrives. You never know what might come in! It could be that court order you’ve been waiting for or an invitation to an exciting networking event. The worst part is leaving my two cats every morning. They sit behind the door and stare at me as if I’m abandoning them forever!
What adjectives best describe you?
I would say I am creative, determined and committed. One of my colleagues says I always fight my corner unrelentingly which I think is a nice way of saying I can be stubborn.
What keeps you motivated?
The desire to do an excellent job. I also want to give people something to think about. The moment we stop thinking and just accept things as they are presented to us is when we stop moving forward.
Tea or coffee?
Coffee AM. Tea PM.
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?
Try it out. The law is diverse and first-hand experience is the best way to find out if something is for you. Get involved. With the internet and so many social media platforms there is no excuse for not keeping up to date and participating in discussions. It will improve your knowledge and demonstrate your interest in, and commitment to, your chosen field. Be honest with yourself. They key is to find something you love doing even if it is not what you thought it would be.
What song do you listen to the most?
I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ by the Scissor Sisters. It makes me feel like dancing.
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?
I am Chair of my local scuba diving club which keeps me pretty busy. I also like running, fencing and eating out. Working in Covent Garden fuels my restaurant addiction!
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?
I would introduce ‘no fault divorce’. It is embarrassing having to explain to clients that they have to write disparaging and potentially inflammatory particulars if they want to proceed but that those particulars are unlikely to have any bearing on the subsequent proceedings. It unnecessarily increases costs and hostility which is counter-productive to encouraging people to settle any disputes amicably. Giving people the option to issue a divorce petition without having to assign blame, or wait two years, seems like an obvious way to improve the divorce process. Emma Nash has been nominated for the Family Law Commentator of the Year Award. You can find out why she was nominated and place your vote here.
Emma runs her own blog exploring developments in both UK and international family law. You can follow her on Twitter at @EmmaFamilyLaw.
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As part of this feature we are asking a wide range of people who have links to the court system and family law to respond to the above questions and give us some information about what their role entails. We hope to get a wide cross section of people - to this end, if you would like to contribute please email firstname.lastname@example.org.