Head of Family department
I qualified as a solicitor in 2004 after successfully completing my training contract and passing the Legal Practice Course with Distinction. I joined Watson Woodhouse in January 2010 and became Head of the Family Department in 2013.
I specialise in the area of financial separation both after relationship breakdown and divorce. I also assist clients in resolving arrangements for children on separation. I am well used to handling cases with complex financial and legal issues, to include cases that have been heard in the High Court as well as the Court of Appeal. I frequently represent clients at court, including conducting final hearings on their behalf.
I take great pride in ensuring that the procedure is handled as efficiently as possible which, in turn, I hope reduces the stress of what can be an enormously difficult time for most people. I offer a common sense, logical approach, whilst acknowledging the often deeply personal, and sensitive issues that can be involved in many family disputes.
I am a Family solicitor dealing almost exclusively in Child Protection cases - for example when Local Authorities bring Care Proceedings because they are concerned for the safety and welfare of children.
I have seen websites, on which some boast of their experience and say how good they are. I was brought up to speak plainly so I will stick to the facts.
I was born and bred in Redcar. I was lucky enough to study law at Cambridge University but returned to Teesside in 1976 to do my training at a solicitors' firm with offices in Redcar & Middlesbrough. I was awarded the William Hutton Prize in 1978 for exam results in the Law Society Final Exams (then worth £706, when a pound was worth a lot!). I was admitted a solicitor in 1979. I remained at the same firm until 1983 when I left to work for the Local Authority for 3 years, then I moved to one of the larger firms in the area where I stayed for 23 years (18 years as a Partner) until the firm decided to give up legal aid work. I decided to leave the partnership in order to continue my Child Care work, which is almost exclusively legal aid, but which shapes children's lives and, I believe, is the most vital area of legal work. I then went to another firm on Teesside for two years until, in 2011, moving to Watson Woodhouse to join the Family Department. I am still here as part of the team, doing legal aid work in Child Care cases.
So there you have it! In 2016 I have survived 37 years as a solicitor and, apart from three of those I have been involved in Family work. But for most of the last 30 years I have concentrated on Child Care work. I was made a member of the Law Society's Children Panel in 1988 and, over the years since then, I have acted for all parties in child protection cases - Parents, Grandparents, the Local Authority, the Official Solicitor, a well-known children's charity and, of course, I have been appointed to act on behalf of the Children themselves. Whatever else this shows, I must have a thick skin, or stamina!
Associate member of CILEX
I graduated from the University of Teesside with a LL.B. (Hons) (2:1) in 2007 and I am currently an Associate Legal Executive, member of CILEx. I regularly keep up to date with training and development and have worked in Family Law since 2011.
I have worked at various North East law firms since 2011. I joined Watson Woodhouse in 2015 as a specialist in domestic abuse, dealing with clients when they are at their most vulnerable. I have built a reputation with numerous local organisations, providing services to clients applying for emergency injunctions and orders regulating the family home. I have also built an awareness and reputation in dealing with additional issues that arise from domestic abuse cases, including child arrangements, child protection issues, divorce, honour based violence and forced marriage.
I work closely with My Sisters Place and Tees Valley Women’s Centre who support victims of domestic abuse in the Teesside area. I hold drop in legal surgeries and provide advice on a free of charge basis for those clients who do not qualify for legal aid and therefore would otherwise have no access to legal advice if they cannot afford a solicitor.
I have completed specialist training with Halo around Forced Marriage and Honor Based violence. I also have specialist training around supporting Eastern European Women living in the UK.
In-house advocate, called to the bar in 1984 and employed at Watson Woodhouse since 2007.
I deal with Criminal Law; Family Law; Prison Law, and Personal Injury cases. I appear regularly in the Crown Court, County Court, and before Parole Boards and in Courts Martial. I have also appeared in the Court of Appeal, the Administrative Court and the High court.
I am an accredited Pupil Supervisor and have helped in the training of a number of barristers who are members of the local Bar.
I am an experienced Family Law Solicitor with a focus on Divorce, Separation and Financial Arrangements. I also deal with Social Services involvement and Children Matters.
I work with my clients from the start of their case through to its conclusion, providing important continuity in their representation. As part of a team of experts I can draw on the expertise of my colleagues to ensure that I am providing the best possible service to my clients.
As a family lawyer I deal with people when they are quite often at their lowest point. They are dealing with a situation they probably never expected to have to tackle, and have lots of worries - emotional, financial and practical. I work hard to bring as much order to the chaos as possible, and to guide my clients along the, usually, unfamiliar path.
I provide advice which is clear, I am up front about all of the options and I do not rush people into making decisions.