This last Monday saw the inaugural meeting of the 1st Dorset Family Dispute Resolution Hub. Those people/organisations involved are listed on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/1stDorsetFamilyDRHub
We haven’t changed the World yet (we’re aiming at Dorset for starters, but I have high hopes). However, the early signs are looking very good:
- a very enthusiastic group of like-minded professionals
- great ideas & imagination to think beyond the boxes of mediation/ collaborative family law / “traditional” process
- an open-minded attitude towards changing the way the public & other professionals approach solving family problems
We’ve decided that before we hold a launch event (then we can have “lift off!”), that we need to research what others have done already in order to get both our Hub model and a needs analysis/assessment process right, so that we can convey a clear and focused message on who we are and what we’re doing as a group.
If you have any ideas or experience, please feel free to share:
- as comments to this blog, or
- as comments on our Facebook page, or
- email me direct firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hub is meeting again at the end of April.
For the time being my next task is a joint presentation in East Dorset about Solving Family Problems by Kiteleys Family Dispute Resolution Team and Dorset Family Matters Service (for full details http://www.kiteleys.co.uk/solvingfamilyproblems/) See you there? If you can’t make it, I plan to video the event and upload to Youtube, so fingers crossed for that IT attempt…
Whilst building up a new Family Law caseload virtually from scratch, my preparations are ongoing to meet the challenge of Legal Aid effectively coming to an end from 1st April for routine family cases, in the absence of domestic abuse, and so heralding what some say will be a flood of cheap services from former legal aid family lawyers. Also, the recent publication by the Legal Ombudsman’s report and article on complaints about divorce cases makes essential reading (see links below).
My view on the future of successful Family Law practice is that this is likely to fall into 2 main groups:
1. Cheap and costs driven (with the risk of being “cheap and nasty”, with focus on short-term gain for the practice without looking to the long-term benefit of building the respect of a solid customer base), or
2. A practice based on an excellent service level with a competitive price which provides the customer with transparency and certainty of what they get for what they pay.
For those of you who have read my previous blogs, it will come as no surprise that I strongly favour the latter option, with value pricing and a focus on excellence of service. What is more, I believe that the acceptance that lawyers do not hold all the solutions for solving a family problem remains vital. It is with this in mind, 27th March is an exciting date for my diary, as the Kiteleys Family Dispute Resolution team are joining up with Dorset Family Matters Service (http://www.dorsetfamilymatters.co.uk/) to provide a joint presentation on how non-legal services can benefit many families who are breaking up. Full details can be found via the following link: http://www.kiteleys.co.uk/solvingfamilyproblems/
This is part of my wider project to set up the 1st Dorset Family Dispute Resolution Hub, to establish a close network of different organisations who each have complementary services to support struggling families in Dorset. This remains a work in progress with the first meeting of Hub Partners next week. I invite you to check out and “like” the Facebook page (and also the link to Youtube), with more details to follow: http://www.facebook.com/1stDorsetFamilyDRHub/
Watch this blog for more details…
Legal Ombudsman’s Report – http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/downloads/documents/publications/The-price-of-separation-LeO-report.pdf
Well, I’ve now completed my 1st full month at Kiteleys. Thank you for following my journey so far. Highlights from this past week include:
- A number of stimulating and thought-provoking meetings with non-legal professionals, including family conflict counsellor and thought pattern management expert.
- A planning meeting with the rest of the Family DR Team and a family support specialist in advance of a joint presentation next month.
- A meeting with a future focused and client centric independent financial advisor, with a view to arranging a future joint presentation.
- Last, but by no means least, being joined by my secretary Sharon (formerly of Coles Miller) – sorry to those at CM who she’s left behind, I know Sharon will be missed (but her fantastic secretarial and admin skills are now mine, all mine!! *manic laughter*)
There are still a few IT issues to iron out in the office, and don’t get me started on the +2 hours I spent on the phone over the weekend with Three Customer Services in order to get my wife’s new iPhone and iPad to work!!!!
Exciting times are ahead, but it’s half term and so Centre Parcs Longleat awaits….
More to follow, probably towards the end of this month.
Within the past week or so, 2 important developments in family law have been:
• Marriage (Same Sex) Bill – this draft legislation has passed through one of its preliminary steps on its passage through Parliament by a majority vote of 125 in the House of Commons, so that “gay marriage” will become a fact of life in the very near future, despite fierce opposition from some politicians and faith groups.
• Children and Families Bill – this draft legislation has been published and will now start it’s own passage through Parliament, so that in 2014 we should expect Orders for “residence” and “contact” to become redundant and in their place “Child Arrangement Orders” will come into effect.
On a more local and personal note, some family issue enquiries through Kiteleys are now converting from free advice to full private funded work, with a the offer of fixed prices for initial key stages proving an inviting prospect for those clients who are understandably anxious about embarking on a legal course of action and incurring legal fees.
I am also continuing the development of my thoughts on how best to spread the word about the true meaning of Family Dispute Resolution in Dorset. My aim remains to encourage a range of non-legal professionals embrace the essential role they too can play when families have problems and break down. This remains a work in progress for now, but more updates will follow….
On completing my second full working week at Kiteleys Solicitors, I remain as positive as ever about the life choice I have made on moving to work for this forward thinking progressive organisation. It’s been years since I have looked forward so much to going to work each day.
This past week, I have met other members of the team – Samantha Lindford and Graham Cole – who are both equally enthusiastic and open minded individuals who want to achieve the very best in providing a top quality legal service to the local community. Also, it’s barely 2 weeks before I’m joined by my former secretary Sharon Jones, who has very kindly decided to leave her current job to help me set up the Family DR (Dispute Resolution) Team at Kiteleys. Having already worked with Sharon for the past 3 years, I’m now champing at the bit to get up to full speed with all my plans.
Other exciting developments include meeting with a couple of non-legal professionals who share my vision for a holistic client centric approach to providing family law legal services, and the opportunity to present these ideas to a local community group in West Moors.
More updates to follow….
Well, I’ve completed my first full working week with Kiteleys Solicitor in Bournemouth and I am very impressed by the positive and determined attitude of all members of staff to provide the very best level of client service. Essentially, at Kiteleys it is the fact that this attitude is shown by staff from the very top to the level of Management to “the bottom” (but equally as important) staff who undertake the basic tests of general office assistance and reception.
In my experience of other legal service suppliers, traditionally too much focus has been on the fee earners because they are the only ones seen as providing the legal service and billing the clients. However, this focus has too often ignored those staff in front of house and back office who are the real backbone of any organisation. Their “buy in” and active involvement with presenting an organisations ethos to the public is essential in this increasingly competitive legal market.
I remain as excited as ever with the task of working with this new team to help them fulfill their potential to the fullest and legal the development of providing legal services in Family Dispute Resolution in Dorset.
Watch this space to read more as I continue my journey….
Further developments on my move from Coles Miller Solicitors to Kiteleys Solicitors are:
- My last day with Coles Miller will be 17th January (cakes all round!!!)
- My first day with Kilteleys will be 18th January (more cake or pop the Champagne?)
- I’ve set up a new twitter account @DorsetFamilyLaw which goes live from 18th January. You can “follow” now.
- I’ve plans to develop a Kiteleys LinkedIn Company Page to include full details on all legal services
- A bigger & better Youtube channel for Kiteleys is also a must have
More updates will follow from 18th January.
Now, how do I change my WordPress Blog name to DorsetFamilyLaw…?
The latest news on my move from the family team at Coles Miller Solicitors to head up family problem solving at Kiteleys Solicitors, is that my start date has been brought forward 2 whole months to 1st February 2013!
This is great news, as I’m very eager to crack on with bringing into effect new ideas for how family dispute resolution is dealt with and made available to the public, but the time available is now significantly shortened for me to smoothly pass on my existing caseload to my colleagues at Coles Miller. Only 16 working days left, and I’ve got some holiday to also take before the end of the month!
More updates to follow….
Now is the time of year to make plans and New Years resolutions. I’ve just taken the first step on my new journey, by handing in my notice today to leave the Family Team at Coles Miller Solicitors in Poole, and head up a new team of family problem solvers with Kiteleys Solicitors in Bournemouth (start date by 1st April 2013, allowing for my contractual notice period).
For the avoidance of any doubt, I very much like working with all of the staff at Coles Miller and I wish them all the very best for the future. But, why then leave Coles Miller?
Well, what I want to do is develop a better and more progressive approach to family dispute resolution and I believe that joining Kiteleys provides me with the best opportunity for doing this. Whilst the quickly changing legal services industry presents many threats to the more traditional High Street Firms of Solicitors, there is also tremendous opportunity to harness IT, social media and value pricing, whilst maintaining exceptional levels of customer care. I believe that the ability for the consumer to enter a high street office as well as interface with their legal advisor via IT provides the consumer with distinct benefits and a level of service which I think national providers such as Co-Op Legal Services will struggle to achieve.
This is my dream, which I plan to make a reality. I invite you to join me on my journey, and follow my updates via this blog.
Happy New Year, One and All!
The Government has recently undertaken a national consultation on whether the current family law should be changed to ensure that children are able to maintain a relationship with both of their parents following family breakdown. This consultation follows the Family Justice Review when senior civil servant David Norgrove conducted an independent review of the family justice system in England and Wales between 2010 and 2011.
The Family Justice Review recommended against introducing any new legislation to promote shared parenting, because of the risk of creating a perception of a parental right to equal time for childcare arrangements. However, on publishing the results of the recent consultation, the Government has set out proposed new law to promote “shared parenting” as part of a wider package of measures to help parents resolve disputes about their children following family separation.
The overall aim of this new law is to help parents focus clearly on their children’s welfare and needs, rather than on a parents perceived “entitlement”. Some organisations such as The Law Society criticise this plan as “seriously flawed”, whilst other organisations such as Family’s Need Fathers welcome the move and described it as “very positive”.
The Government’s decision to push ahead with this controversial new law is based upon the results of the recent consultation which did include:-
- 52% of those who took part in the consultation (“Respondents”) supported the legal presumption that both parents should be involved in their child’s upbringing.
- 57% of Respondents thought that a change in the law would change a courts final decision in children cases, but this did include both positive and negative changes.
- 56% of Respondents thought that a change in the law could present risks to a child, such as emotional or physical abuse, as well as an expectation that the child should share their time equally between parents.
- 48% of Respondents thought that the children’s views could be taken into account more fully in court proceedings, but there is a significant concern that there are insufficient resources for properly trained people to speak to the children about their wishes and feelings. There is also concern that a child’s view might be inappropriately influenced by one parent.
- 52% of Respondents thought that better education about parenting and relationships was a useful non-legal action the Government could take to encourage parents to remain involved in their children’s lives after the family break-down.
The next step towards this new law will be for a draft Bill to be debated in the Houses of Parliament. The earliest that this might take place is 2013 with new law affecting children coming into force at the earliest in 2014. As to whether the new law is a good or a bad idea, only time will tell.
Department of Education website – http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/families/familylaw/a00216607/family-justice-reform-shared-parenting
Government response to consultation – http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/g/government%20response%20to%20the%20shared%20parenting%20consultation.pdf