From Criminal Solicitor to Family Solicitor: The Perfect Crossover

From Criminal Solicitor to Family Solicitor: The Perfect Crossover

I have been a solicitor at NLS for just over two years now. My grounding was in criminal law as a Criminal Duty Solicitor for many years but I began running a small caseload of family/childcare that would fluctuate over the years.

My work as a criminal defence solicitor necessarily involved daily interaction with individuals from differing backgrounds accused of a range of crimes from the petty to the very serious. My work involved really understanding what motivated people, made them tick and to effectively represent them, it was key to earn their trust and confidence. I would frequently have to attend court at the last minute and think on my feet in a fast-paced environment.

Fast forward to the current day and I am a full-time childcare lawyer. I empathise and handle life changing situations, but in a different legal context. Interestingly, the empathy and skills required in the criminal law context are completely transferrable to this different area of law.

My crossover to a different area of law has meant that my clients get the happy benefit of two solicitors rolled into one! Childcare cases often involve a criminal element, in particular regarding allegations of non accidental injury, child neglect and domestic abuse, so I have found that am well placed to deal with both areas of law from a technical perspective whilst having the experience and emotional energy to support and advise my client.

To provide an example of a real life scenario, I was recently representing a vulnerable parent in care proceedings involving an alleged non accidental injury to a toddler. My client told me, that she felt really comforted by the fact that I could put the legal evidence into a context which she could understand as she was petrified of being charged because of evidence arising in both the criminal and family arena.

Another recent case involved an intervener (a person who is joined to care proceedings due to serious allegations having been made, often against them, during a particular time frame) and advising on the weakness and unreliability of the evidence. I was able to critically review the evidence, using my family lawyer skills and my criminal lawyer experience, and confidently advise that giving evidence in the care proceedings, would be very unlikely to result either in (a) findings being made in the family court that he had caused harm to the subject child; or (b) evidence that could be disclosed to the police to support a conviction in the criminal courts.

It is so important to never lose empathy when helping our clients in this area of law. The court is making life changing decisions that will have repercussions for years to come. Having a foundation in criminal law, I believe, has provided the core skills I needed to make the “perfect crossover” to family law, and provide my clients with a broad range of skills, experience and expertise, to provide them with rounded and holistic advice.

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