24 NOV 2015
A day in the life of ... Suzanne Kingston (Partner, Withers LLP)
This article was written in support of Resolution's fourth Family Dispute Resolution Week, running from 23-27 November 2015.
This awareness-raising week aims to highlight the alternatives to court for separating couples and their families. Support the campaign on Twitter using #childrenfirst, #ResolutionWeek and #familylaw.
What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?I am a partner in the Family team at Withers. Every day is different! I do litigation and also prepare cases and go to court, sometimes I mediate couples - with and without solicitors present - I have a number of collaborative cases at any one time and am drafting lots of pre-nups. I also teach family law arbitration and collaborative practice.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?Four and a half years. I started off working in the provinces and then made the move to London in 2001. I had been gradually doing more and more work with London law firms and thought that I would like to see what it was like to live and work in the city! I have loved it - the theatre, restaurants and, most of all, just feeling as though you are really in the thick of things in an interesting, engaging and cosmopolitan city.
What are the people you work for/with like? Any interesting stories?I work with all of the assistants in our team and they are great. They are so client-focused and driven and hardworking. Also, more broadly, there are many brilliant practitioners and whenever I attend a Partners conference it reminds me of the fun and collegiality that we have together.
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What is the best and worst part of the day for you?I am a really early morning person - love to walk to work and come in with thoughts and ideas and get on with the day. Of course, I have worked late into the evening but now I tend to go to a number of events after work which I thoroughly enjoy. Nowadays, none of us are really ever free - we are slaves to Blackberrys!
What adjectives best describe you?With friends and family the following words came up: optimistic, kind and organised.
What keeps you motivated?I think it is important to try to be the very best that you can be in whatever context. When working for clients it is making sure that you were offering them the best service you can give, and making sure that the experience for them is handled as sensitively as possible. When dealing with firm projects, I try and make sure that whenever we have got to get something done, we get together as a team to achieve our goal. Finally, in recent years, I have been particularly motivated in spearheading various types of non-court dispute resolution. I thoroughly enjoy working as a trainer in relation to financial arbitration and will soon be expanding that to children arbitration - I really hope that, in years to come, arbitration will be the norm for many couples.
Tea or coffee?Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?Follow your passion - do something that you enjoy. Be compassionate.
What song do you listen to the most?Happy by Pharrell Williams.
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?Spending time with friends and family; travelling; challenges such as a marathon or a 10k at least! And, of course, Glastonbury!
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?I would create a system in which the clients fully understand all forms of non-court dispute resolution and could be sign-posted/channelled to the right process option for them early on. I feel sure that this would prevent a good deal of the heartache, stress and trauma the clients experience and, although for some people the court is the only way, I believe that pursuing other alternatives can work well. I do not think it really matters to clients what we call the various non-court dispute resolution methods but I think we should be seen as problem solvers helping people resolve their disputes in whatever way is best for them.