What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am a barrister at Tanfield Chambers. Each day is very different, but I represent people - usually parents or separating couples - in court at least twice per week. The rest of my time is spent preparing cases, providing legal advice or researching some (usually arcane!) point of law. I also keep up to date with new law and deliver lectures or provide commentary on matters I think are interesting or controversial. My specialisms are matrimonial finance, trusts of land and private children disputes, but I also advise on contested probate and inheritance act matters.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?
I have been a tenant at Tanfield Chambers since being invited to join in 2010. The set at which I did my pupillage, with two other pupils, did not take any of us on, so we all (successfully) applied elsewhere for tenancy via a 'third six' pupillage. I was a late starter in the legal profession (I retrained when I was in my early thirties), having been a database designer and an actor beforehand. I've acted badly in some terrible short films and (rather better) in some excellent stage shows. I have designed some awesome databases, too!
What are the people you work for/with like? Any memorable stories?
My colleagues in chambers - both barristers and staff - are very good company indeed, and several of them are extremely witty. Several of us climbed Snowdon together this year, and Tanfield always enters teams for the Great City Run and the London Legal Walk, both of which are fun to do together.
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?
I love those moments in court where a judge is suggesting a way forward, resolving a problem or asking questions of counsel, and the 'answer' to a particular family problem is emerging. I obviously like 'winning' too, but family law is not so cut and dried, and sometimes the best outcome (the 'win'), in the long term at least, is a negotiated outcome.
The worst part of the day is when a court hearing means I have to travel back through somewhere like Waterloo or Victoria in the evening rush hour to get back to chambers, or when I forget to drink enough water at court...
I like fixing things - making a situation better through the advocacy work I have done. I also like it when a court hearing improves communication between parties and has some, dare I say, therapeutic element to it, too. It does happen!
Tea or coffee?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?
Work hard at your work/life balance. Being a barrister eats up your life, and the all-consuming nature of the job (the only reason you can justify time off is - despite heavy medication - if you are so incapacitated by illness that you are physically unable to move). Also, other people's lives need to matter to you. If people don't matter to you, don't become a barrister. Finally, a barrister needs to actually be interested in the law! Read the law reports. If you don't like reading law reports, or keeping yourself up to date, then don't become a barrister.
What song do you listen to the most?
At the moment it isNo Time to Think by Bob Dylan, closely followed byGone Hollywood by Supertramp. I likeHold Up by Beyoncé, too.
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?
Seeing family and friends, singing in a Duran Duran tribute band, watchingFamily Guy, running and adventuring!
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?
I would remove the jurisdiction of lay justices to hear private children cases, and I would give jurisdiction back to the Family Court to deal with TOLATA 1996 matters as it did back in the olden days! Gwyn is shortlisted for Commentator of the Year at the 2016 Family Law Awards. To find out more and place your vote, please visit theFamily Law Awards homepage.
To book your table for the Awards ceremonyclick here.
If you are interested in sponsoring an award please contactBecky Wall.