2021: 10 years of FM Family Law

2021: 10 years of FM Family Law

Throughout 2021, FM Family Law has been celebrating our 10 years of excellence in family law.

In celebration of our 10th anniversary, our Norwich and Cambridge offices have each donated in support of their chosen local charities:  Cambridge – Blue Smile (www.bluesmile.org.uk): a charity promoting a whole school approach to mental wellbeing, including one-to-one counselling and therapy for children aged 3 to 13. Norwich – The Daisy Programme (www.daisyprogramme.org.uk): a charity supporting men and women living with or who have been affected by Domestic abuse. Both charities are extremely worthy causes and we are pleased to be able to support them in offering essential services to those that need it most.

A decade of excellence in family law has also given us the opportunity to look back on our achievements over the past 10 years. We hope you enjoy this countdown from 10.

10      10 years ago in April 2011, FM Family Law began business from a standing start of 1 lawyer.

9        FM Family Law is now a company of 9 (Carla Morphett and Laura Clay-Harris having joined in 2021).

8        No 8 Thorpe Road is where we started our journey in Norwich with the lovely people at no 8 Thorpe Road.

7        FM Family Law has 7 specialist family lawyers.

6        6 years ago Sue Bailey opened the Norwich office of FM Family Law.

5        5 years ago FM took on rooms at 72 Thorpe Road and now  occupies the whole premises.

4        We have 4 family mediators.

3        We have 3 collaborative lawyers

2        2 months ago, we were awarded the Norfolk & Norwich Law Society Excellence in Individual Client Services Award.

1        We have 1 trainee – Laura Tuddenham who qualifies under the CILEX scheme in Summer 2022

 We look forward to the next 10 years of excellence in family law.

Good Divorce Week 2021 – How FM Family Law can help

Good Divorce Week 2021 – How FM Family Law can help

The image above has been generated from client feedback when they describe their experience with us. 

It’s Good Divorce Week this week (29 November – 3 December) and we are supporting Resolution with promoting the practical and constructive ways in which separating and divorcing couples can reach an agreement.

FM Family Law are keen advocates of the Resolution and Good Divorce Week message.  We favour a non-confrontational approach and encourage finding a solution together. In every case, we provide clients with detailed information in respect of the full range of resolution options available to help them make informed decisions about the best way forward for them and their family.

We have summarised below some of the main resolution options which can avoid the need to go to court and are generally available to couples separating or divorcing:

Mediation

Mediation is a forum for discussing and resolving issues with your spouse/partner away from lawyers and away from court. The role of the Mediator is to facilitate and support your discussions, as well as help you explore various options. The Mediator does not give legal advice and their role is impartial and neutral.

At FM Family Law, we have 4 Resolution Family Mediators.

Negotiations between lawyers

Letters and emails are written setting out your respective proposals and negotiating towards an agreed settlement. Negotiations and discussions can also take place by way of face to face meetings, which you would also attend (known as a round table meeting).

Collaborative Law

This would involve meetings between you, your spouse/partner and collaboratively trained lawyers.  A Participation Agreement is signed by all confirming that everyone will work together for the benefit of each other and the whole family in order to reach an agreement. You agree formally not to involve the Court other than to endorse any agreement, when required.

You can find more information about the collaborative model at www.resolution.org.uk/collaborative

FM Family Law have 3 collaboratively trained lawyers who can assist.

Arbitration

An arbitrator is appointed make a decision for you if you and your spouse/partner cannot agree. You and your spouse/partner must have legal representation. The arbitrator hears arguments from both sides about your case before making a decision. The decision is binding. Settlement can be achieved in a less formal atmosphere such as court, and it can reduce delays and minimise costs.

You can find more information about arbitration at http://www.resolution.org.uk/arbitration/ and at http://ifla.org.uk

There are so many benefits to exploring alternative forms of dispute resolution for you and your family.

The team at FM Family Law would be happy to discuss the options available for reaching an amicable divorce or separation. To arrange an initial meeting with one of our lawyers please contact us on 01603 44333333 (Norwich) or 01223 355333 (Cambridge).

FM Family Law wins Norfolk & Norwich Law Society Excellence in Individual Client Services Award

FM Family Law wins Norfolk & Norwich Law Society Excellence in Individual Client Services Award

Pictured: (LtoR) Carla Morphett, Karen Fox, Sue Bailey, Jenny Humphrey, Laura Tuddenham, and Laura Clay-Harris

FM Family Law are proud winners of the Norfolk & Norwich Law Society Excellence in Individual Client Services Award 2021 which was awarded at the Annual Dinner on 15 October.   This category recognises exceptional individuals, teams or firms working with individual clients who have gone above and beyond to impact their firm and clients.

FM Family Law are passionate about the work we do – we understand that family matters.  We are therefore delighted that our incredible team has received recognition for its exceptional level of service to clients as well as the firm being recognised for providing an outstanding working environment for its staff.

We are proud to highlight the following from our submission:

“We don’t tend to regard ourselves as working for a client but more working alongside them. Our business model is based on ‘one client one lawyer relationship’. We continually reassess our business to improve, adapt and meet the needs of clients. The ‘one client one lawyer relationship’ is at the heart of our service, enabling us to establish and maintain close working relationships with clients. Our technological resources allow us excellent speed of response and engagement with clients and associated third parties and lawyers.”

 

“Our biggest success at FM Family Law is how our staff feel about our team…We are proud that members of our team reflect on how they have never felt as supported or valued by other employees and that, as a consequence, they feel able to give their best selves to provide an excellent service to our clients.”

 

“We are not only passionate about looking after our staff and clients, but also the wider community in which we operate. For that reason, many of our staff members hold additional posts and volunteer their time for the benefit of the community and/or profession.”

For more information about the awards, visit the Norfolk & Norwich Law Society website here.

Company Day at FM Family Law:  Balance, resilience and professional experience

Company Day at FM Family Law: Balance, resilience and professional experience

FM Family Law invited me to meet the team on their Bi-annual Company Day, to see what really makes them tick. What I found was a highly energized group of women, dedicated to supporting their clients and their families, but moreover, 6 women with a wealth of life experience and a diverse set of skills, far more deeply reaching their professional accomplishments.

All of the lawyers told me it was the personal aspect of Family Law that really drew them to the profession. ‘It doesn’t pay as well as other areas of law typically yet it is the most challenging. You deal with people in crisis. Not contracts or buildings.’

It’s this challenging yet ultimately rewarding aspect which captured the imaginations of FM Family’s lawyers – from Karen, practicing for 34 years since answering an advert for a trainee legal executive aged just 18 – to Sue, who began to advocate for the needs of students during her law degree as Vice President of Education and Representation at the Student Union. There’s an emotional connection to cases, Karen explains, and all the associated quirks of dealing with real people. Sue nods in agreement. Early experiences using her problem solving skills and her nurturing side stood her in good stead for a future in Family Law.

Nevertheless, ‘you have to be resilient’ says Fiona. Dealing with real people, the most challenging thing can be to balance so many competing aspects of various aspects of the law (not just family law) with the complexities of human behaviors. You also have to be ‘pretty tough and robust as well as kind, patient, available and responsive’

Fiona stepped away from her role as head of the Family Law team at  a large Cambridge law firm to set up her own firm in 2011. Christina was on the opposing side in court in those days, but the connection when they worked against each other led to Christina being the first to join Fiona at FM Family Law in 2014. I get a sense that this partnership is built upon an understanding of balance: professionally accomplished women with families, who were uniquely able to empathise with the needs of their clients, whilst creating their own family-focused working environment.

Certainly their own families influenced their career progressions. Christina, determined to build a career to support her young family, enrolled at ARU and has been Cambridge based from the start. Starting her own firm certainly gave Fiona the flexibility she needed to work around family commitments, too – an ethos shared by FM Family Law’s employees. ‘It’s different from anywhere I’ve worked before’ says Kate, Cambridge Office Manager, ‘Fiona recognizes that juggling family life can be hard’. Their kids went to the same village school, which is how they met. Again, a personal connection that led to Fiona asking Kate to join the firm when Kate’s 25 year tenure at a national bank ended. Whilst keeping the office impeccably organised, Kate still manages to make it home to spend time with her children – who are now well into their teens.

In her time away from the office, Kate and her husband go for Sunday morning runs along the Cambridge riverside stopping at some favorite local cafes to re-fuel: No. 30, Stir or Fitzbillies for coffee and a sticky Chelsea bun.

Jenny is a runner too – with a fiercely competitive streak and a history of some rather stellar half marathon finishing times. Having studied Interior Design, Jenny started her own business ‘Little Bird Interiors’ which she now enjoys as a past time only for very special gifting occasions. Karen takes walking trips in the Highlands with her Collie dog, her Sprocker, and partner of 19 years.

In their desire to help people in the hugely emotive field of Family Law, taking a step back is of the utmost importance. As Karen explains, a successful family lawyer must remain calm. They must listen carefully, and ultimately recognize that they themselves are not at the centre of the apex – it’s the client who is the priority. Meeting FM Family Law I’ve come to understand the challenge of being a good family lawyer, a balancing act of competing interests and measured judgments, grounded upon many years of experience. They work daily with families in crisis:

‘a wife heartbroken after 27 years of marriage, a husband desperate to reconcile, a spouse desperate to retain their lifetime built-up pension, as well as the interests of  the immediate family supporting those clients.’

Whilst on the subject of the balancing act, Fiona tells me her early career as a waitress stood her in good stead.  Embarking on her gap year during the 1980s’ recession before law school, Fiona easily embraced the hospitality industry – as well as the tips! – that came with high-end service. Working at Pizza Hut and then Adlards Restaurant in Norfolk (now Roger Hickman’s), Fiona’s love of food and restaurants was established and it certainly continues to this day. As a career, hospitality is all about people, and how to make them happy. What the restaurant industry also taught Fiona was how to support real people and their competing demands, whilst remaining commercial and cost effective.  There’s a parallel between helping people in a busy restaurant, constantly prioritizing customers with different wishes and demands at different times, with helping divorcing clients.

‘You have to have ten pairs of eyes, be available, constantly reprioritizing and never drop the ball’

The FM Family law team were heading out that very evening to celebrate the team’s achievements: cocktails followed by dinner in Cambridge at Parker’s Tavern and Varsity Restaurant. Before they rounded-up proceedings, they told me about the importance of stepping away from work to focus on life. It can be an intense and all-encompassing career, but as Sue tells me, ‘my experiences before entering law truly enriched me as a person’ and, she adds, that her year out made her a better lawyer. After another year of advising supporting, mediating and resolving, the FM Family Law team head off to dinner together. Before Law School it was the acclaimed US TV show Ally McBeal that first inspired Sue: the vision of a successful day’s work rewarded in a smart Manhattan bar. It shaped up to be a far different – and more rewarding – career than she had first envisaged in the early days of Law School. But tonight at Parker’s Tavern, cocktail in hand, each of the FM Family Law team can reflect on their own achievements, safe in the knowledge that they have struck an excellent balance. But there is always more work to do. And on Monday they will be back at their desks in Cambridge & Norwich, relishing the challenges of their caseloads once again.

Author: Katie Underwood, Writer & Director at Kunderwoo.com

 

 

 

Self Care – The Oxygen Mask Approach

Self Care – The Oxygen Mask Approach

‘Put on your own mask first, BEFORE you help others’

Facing your first Christmas and New Year after separation can be a challenging time. In December we shared information about some local outdoor spaces – places to take long, reflective, healing walks with family and friends over the holiday period. But now that the holidays are at an end, it’s a difficult time with many of us re-entering the workplace and adjusting to the start of the kids’ school term.

Many of us have news we aren’t quite ready to share, or feelings that we that we want to keep hidden. Time for you is key and at this busy time, at the start of a new year, we want to remind you to make time for you. Scheduling time to look after yourself, to pursue your own interests and to care for your own health is not selfish. Those who depend on you will experience the benefits too. So with that in mind, here are some Self Care recommendations.

 

Retreat

Imagine a ‘breathing / bathing space’ with wooden hot tubs, a hilltop sauna and a terrace café close to the city yet out in the countryside. It’s a dream right? Wrong. PAUS Cambridge is our new ‘go to’ retreat. It’s open on weekends throughout the year.

It might be a bleak midwinter but Czech owner Alexandra recommends the winter months as the best time to maximize the restorative effects of the 40degree water. Book in with a group of friends for an afternoon, or take a look at their workshops and retreats. From ‘Coffee and Canvas’ painting classes to Santosha Yoga, the events are great opportunities to socialise and to try something different.

 

Yoga

Satyam Yoga offer beginner and restorative yoga classes, as well as ‘women’s circles’ – a group experience with the opportunity to ’step out of your busy life for an evening of gentle reconnection’. Their website even explains,

‘Don’t feel you have to bring your best self or stay away because you are not feeling great. You are most welcome to bring your authentic self, just as you are right now in your own particular cycle of ups and downs’

 

Exercise

Hitting the gym is a New Year’s cliché, but we all know that breaking a sweat is a fantastic way to offload negative feelings, and feel better about yourself. Try losing yourself for a moment in an intensive activity, like Puregym’s ‘Sweat 30’ or ‘Burn It’ classes. Their new Grafton Centre branch has opened a stone’s throw from FM Family Law’s offices and we recommend their affordable no-obligation monthly memberships (£12.99), multitude of classes and spacious layout. If you have a hectic lifestyle and find it hard to schedule gym trips into your commuting or childcare schedule, the Leisure Park PureGym is open 24 hours. It has a handy app to check out busy times and quiet times and to keep tab on your attendance. The app allows you to prebook into classes to incentivize you to go. Just ask Fiona!

David Lloyd Gym is another excellent choice, especially if you have children. It has a  crèche available for children from 3 months old, kids play area and an afternoon kids club. These options give single or working parents the flexibility to visit the gym, to have a swim and sauna, or just a quiet coffee break. Their new Blaze classes create the ultimate immersive environment in a specially built studio. It is suitable for fitness beginners and the people (instructors and participants) are particularly friendly and encouraging.

 

Family Walks

Taking walks with family and friends can be a great healer. In the winter months, when we wake before sunrise and don’t feel the sun on our skin, our mood can become suppressed and the emotional toll of relationship breakdown can be confounded. We recommend the National Trust properties surrounding Cambridge – suitable for young and old – such as Anglesey Abbey. If the kids are distracted and happy, we all feel calmer: They have children’s maps with wildlife searching tasks, binoculars & magnifying glasses, an adventure playground and a cozy café.

Also try Ickworth House and Hotel, equi-distant between our Cambridge and Norwich offices. The grounds and gardens are wonderful for a visit, but if you’re in need of some R&R, the hotel has a spa, pool and kids facilities: a fully staffed crèche, kids high tea and baby monitors so you can eat dinner after bedtime.

Beauty & Alternative Therapies

We’re not talking about a ‘new you.’ But beauty treatments can give you the self-esteem boost you might need in challenging times, as well as the chance to really ‘do nothing’ for a change. For hair we like Bamboo on Mill Road, and Ella Cain’s-Sola at Maluku hairdressing – both with great conversation and excellent coffee, too. Lucy, originally from Glassworks, does Christina’s beauty treatments at her home salon, called Lucy’s Beauty. 

For massages and facials we recommend Jennie Hart Aromatherapy for her holistic approach to wellbeing. ‘Imagine that your only job for an hour is to listen to your heart (rather than your busy mind)’ she writes, ‘chances are that feeling more connected to your body, feeling cared for, and taking even an hour to yourself would do you the world of good.’ We hear you, Jenny.

Rosalind Bubb is an EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapist) and TAT (Tapas Acupressure Technique) practitioner. Personally recommended by Christina, she uses energy meridian therapies, as well as acupressure and modern psychology to help people feel happy, calm and well. Rosalind is a skilful and caring therapist, who will quickly put you at your ease. She is easy to talk to and has a light touch. There is often some laughter when you work with her – even when the topic is serious.

Seek Professional Help

Finally, it’s important to emphasise that self-care can take many forms. If you’re feeling low, isolated, or very stressed, seek help from a qualified counsellor or health professional.  Fiona is a trustee of Relate Cambridge, an organization with over 30 counsellors who have experience with individuals, couples, young people and families.

We also recommend Jane McCann of McCann Consultancy. She’s a counsellor and mediator on Burleigh St near our offices, and extremely well regarded in our community. What’s more, she’s a lovely lady and a good sport, too. Marie Edgar offers counselling and psychotherapy, with experience in addiction therapy. Her calm Scottish tones are very reassuring! Meeting good, kind people on this journey – sharing your story with them and asking for their support – is the type of self-care that will get you through the darker days.

Finally, if you need assistance in legal advice or mediation, FM Family Law can help. Getting information about your rights is empowering and liberating. We are experts with decades of experience in family law and we can help you help yourself. Our mediation process enables you to discuss all issues arising from your separation, but away from court and lawyers www.fmfamilylaw.co.uk/what-we-do/mediation/