What is your position and what you do on a day-to-day basis?
On paper I am sole principal of a divorce and family law firm. In reality, I am simply one of a team of committed family lawyers in our niche practice, whom I like, respect and admire.
I need to be a business person as much as a lawyer. One is conscious that family law is transactional. As such, one needs a very good flow of quality work.
We are based in Berkshire but have clients up and down the country, as well as abroad. We offer all forms of dispute resolution.
I am a family law arbitrator. I was lucky enough to be asked to chair the marketing sub-committee for the Forum of Family Law Arbitrators. We have put a lot of effort into explaining why family law arbitration is such a useful and versatile tool in the box.
On a day to day basis, I look after our clients, supervise the office, oversee our financial aspects and ensure regulatory obligations are complied with. I am conscious that we spend a third of our lives working so try to make it as enjoyable and interesting as possible for everyone in the practice.
I have always loved writing and been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to write articles on various topics for leading publications like Family Law. I am honoured to have been shortlisted as its Family Law Commentator of the Year. Good luck to all those in the running for the Awards.
I sit on the Law Society's Family Section Advisory Group, for which I have written and presented webinars, as well as presenting and helped producing some of its events.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?
I have been a family law solicitor for over 25 years. I set up this firm in 2008, at the start of the recession. My previous firm, a medium-sized commercial practice, where I was a partner, decided it no longer wanted to offer family law. They closed the department but did me a favour. I took the work and set up in an old brewery in a former coaching village with excellent modern day transport links. I was soon joined by one of my solicitor former colleagues and we have continued to grow since. We are now looking to recruit additional junior lawyers and paralegals.
What are the people you work for/with like? Any memorable stories?
They are loyal and committed individuals with a good sense of humour. They are also very good lawyers. We have social events for the team. These might be outings to open air Shakespeare which we support or child friendly lunches with our youngsters.
We have compared notes over some of the more bizarre cases we have had. At the top of the list are two separate financial disputes. One was a matrimonial dispute over curtain rings. The other involved a rubber plant.
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?
I’m more of a morning person. However, I really enjoy what I do and the work we carry out for our clients. I particularly like getting back home to see my two sons, aged almost four and two and a half. No matter how challenging the day might have been, they put things into perspective.
What adjectives best describe you?
I asked my colleagues about these. Amongst their adjectives were “committed”, “caring” and “straight talking”. I might add “driven” as well.
What keeps you motivated?
I thrive on doing the best job I can for a client. A family lawyer is only ever as good as their last case. Learning all the time keeps one stimulated. I found my family law arbitration training very rewarding and have met some great fellow arbitrators. I felt that it was only fair that, if I was investing in that level of training for me then I should do so for others in my firm, so one solicitor trained as a mediator and another obtained Resolution specialism accreditation.
Tea or coffee?
It has to be tea. Yorkshire Tea. From Yorkshire, you know. We buy it by the truckload. I’m a Yorkshireman.
Having said that, the team can choose a vast array of teas and coffee to choose at our firm’s office.
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?
My firm has links with the University of Reading where we sponsor a family law prize. I am invited to give careers talks. I encourage the students to work as hard as they can because it is so tough to get into my field. I suggest that they read around their intended area of practice, reading websites like Family Law, in addition to registering as a student member of Resolution as soon as they can. This year we have sponsored a prize at Keele University for the very first time. The prize winner is due to take up a placement here in September.
What song do you listen to the most?
Probably “Szła dzieweczka do laseczka...” This is a Polish folk song which has become a favourite bedtime song in our house. It’s really an innocent love song about a girl meeting a boy in the woods. My Polish partner sings the words rather more fluently than me...
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?
Mainly spending time with my family. When I get chance I love walking and climbing hills. I find cooking a great tonic for the demands of running a practice, too. Music in a wide variety of genres is a favourite, also. We regularly attend WOMAD (World of Music & Dance) festival with our boys.
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?
Law reform for unmarried cohabitants.Tony 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.
Tony has written articles for a wide number of publications, including Resolution’s Review, The Times, and Family Law. You can follow him at Twitter at @TonyRoeDivorce and @RoeArbitration.