What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am the founder of the firm and its Senior Partner. Family law is a fascinating mix of trying to help people solve some of the deepest problems in their lives with using the law creatively to achieve that. My day is a blend of talking to clients, dealing with the stream of paperwork that is created by litigation, managing the business and making sure that everyone around me is working effectively and happily.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?
People question my sanity in leaving Australia to work in London. The weather is rather different, but the human problems are the same. I started my career in a two-partner rural practice in South Australia, dealing with everything – crime, family farms, estates – you name it. But as time went on I realised that family law is perhaps the field that brings you closest to issues that matter most deeply to people, which is why I found I was doing more and more of it to the point that I became a specialist practitioner. Geography still matters, which is why London is virtually the centre of the world for international family law issues, and why I got on that aeroplane to come here.
What are the people you work for/with like?
The core of the firm consists of myself, son and daughter. Perhaps I am a dictator, but I hope not! I find their contributions immensely helpful and I know I can rely on them. We are very fortunate in also having Aziz Malik and Maria Conesa on board. They too look at problems creatively and get straight to the heart of the issues, something that is not too common for lawyers.
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?
Best – seeing what the new day's emails have brought.
Worst – the frantic half-hour before the end of the day.
I am remarkably lucky in that I love my work, I like my clients, and I like the legal problems that have to be solved.
Tea or coffee?
Both, but no coffee after midday.
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?
Law is not for everyone. First, don't be dazzled by the big money stories. It is no more a meal ticket than any other field in life. Secondly, you have to get a buzz out of it. Maybe it's people, maybe it is academic questions, or maybe it is the satisfaction of drafting a complicated business deal. I think it helps to be a voracious reader. You have to be able to get to the point, and clear expression helps.
What song do you listen to the most?
'The Wild Colonial Boy'.
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?
Not an easy question! There has to be a lot of discretion because every case is different. However, that means that you cannot make a decision by just ticking off three or four boxes. So that adds to the expense because you can never be sure what issues may be determinative. When I dealt with industrial accidents you analysed in great depth just what happened in a moment of time. Doing that across the years of family life is impossible. I think that the courts could help by reducing the quantity of very expensive preliminary paperwork (much of which is wasted) and giving judges more time to consider cases properly. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org