A look back as we begin a new year in family law

Stowe Family Law|January 2nd 2017

After yesterday’s look back at a very successful year on the blog, we thought we would wind the clock back still further today, right the way back to the very beginning.

The Marilyn Stowe Family Law and Divorce Blog will celebrate its tenth birthday this year, believe it or not. The first two posts on the then brand new site– in October 2007 – were actually reprints of stories from the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Yorkshire Post respectively. We were still finding our feet of course. The very first specially written post actually appeared a couple of days later, on November 2.

Entitled From The Other Side…, it recounted my own experiences on the other side of the meeting room table, as a litigant for once, rather than a lawyer. Nine years on, the legal issue that took me into that solicitor’s office has long since been resolved but the experience has stayed with me and I think the conclusions I reached back then remain just as valid today.


Recently I have had to instruct solicitors to act for me – not in a divorce but on a matter that has been deeply upsetting and has caused me real concern. For the first time in nearly 30 years I have found out what it’s like to be on the other side of the desk. It isn’t a pleasant experience!

First of all there is the lack of control. I had to travel a long way to see my new lawyer and, as with many of my own clients, this experience removed me from my comfort zone. Instead of advising, I was being advised. Was he giving good or bad advice? I didn’t know. Certainly, it would cost me a small fortune if I lost. So much depended on that lawyer’s skill and the trust I had placed in him.

The opulence of his offices only made me more fretful. When I walked through the door and noticed the firm’s uniformed concierges and stainless steel glass lifts, I saw that the place was steeped in affluence. I wondered how much of this I would be paying for – a concern that was exacerbated an hour into my appointment when the lawyer, clearly wanting to get away for lunch, began glancing at his watch.

Worst of all, when I left his office I felt uncomfortably dissatisfied. My fears, anxieties and worries had not been soothed. It seemed that I had paid a small fortune, yet had received little concrete advice and had instead been left floundering. Why hadn’t the lawyer taken my worries on his shoulders and endeavoured to let me walk out of his office feeling lighter and reassured? That is what I try and do with all my clients.

I decided to give this man the boot and am jolly glad I did. My retained lawyer delivers exactly what I’m looking for and I’m confident of a win. Should clients have to put up with my experience? Scared rigid at the thought of my case in his hands? Left churning inside out? I hope not.

In the week following my own experience, I have placed myself firmly in the shoes of our clients at Stowe Family Law LLP. I have let the clients talk – really talk. I didn’t interrupt as lawyers are often tempted to do. The truth is, empathising with my clients and taking the time and care to understand their needs puts me way out in front.

I also believe that I have been right to keep our office bright, welcoming and cosy. Clients don’t need the most ornate offices on the planet. When it is their own money they are spending and not the company’s money, what they want is a lawyer in whom they have the utmost confidence – and who can be trusted to spend their money wisely. Above all, when they walk out of the lawyer’s office, they want to have left many of their worries behind.

Anxieties will never affect the outcome of the case. But having a strong lawyer who understands you, is there for you, is strong for you and relieves you of your fears, is priceless. And that, believe me, is worth paying for.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Lawyers make awful clients as doctors make awful patients.
    I once acted for a silk (which sounds like Private Eye, I had that XYZ in the back of the cab once) who told me that sitting in the waiting room in a set of chambers in the Temple he had felt just like a client waiting to see his QC. I just managed to bite my tongue and not say that that is exactly what he had been!

  2. Andrew says:

    “Above all, when they walk out of the lawyer’s office, they want to have left many of their worries behind.”

    Per Groucho Marx: When you got problems you need a lawyer. Then you got more problems but at least you got a lawyer!”

    Back to work tomorrow and it’s just as well, isn’t it?

  3. keith says:

    its good that some Family Law Solicitors or even Barristers want to providing the best possible service for parents during a very crucial time of their life. unfortunately from my experience of Childrens services, Family courts, Solicitors and Barristers i have no faith in Legal Aid defence and offencive action what so ever. and after two years ive heard it said so many times from others who have been dragged through the same God forsaken process that they felt totally let down and were simply not represented properly. the bottom line seems to suggest that family law solicitors or Barristers just dont put the effort in and are simply not aggressive enough at challenging the often corrupt Local Authorities and the sometimes fabricated Case files Social Workers present to the courts. in a nut shell they have no Teeth and its the Teeth we need the most.
    i cant count how many times ive read that Solicitors are Useless at fighting Local Authorities. i believe the problem could lie in the lack of training which should include elements of criminal Law to tackle Falsified Case files and general dishonesty that has been proven to exist and also the Lack of willingness to go after these criminals and have them outed and brought to justice by the police etc. Far too often Social workers falsify Documents and lie on Oath but are allowed to walk away scot free with no repercussions and in many cases keep their jobs and go on to do more damage to other familes. This cant be allowed to continue and its time Solicitors and Barristers got tough in the family courts and make shure justice is done. they need to make shure Judges are kept in check and not allowed to cut corners and allow corruption to go unchallenged. Maybe then the public will begin to have faith in Family Law Solicitors again.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Keith
      Family law can be divided into public law and private law. Public law involves local authorities and private law disputes between individuals.
      My firm only deals with private law. I don’t believe in handling areas of law we as a firm aren’t specifically trained to do and public law is one of those areas. Other family lawyers do that work and generally are accredited to do it so must achieve a certain standard.

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