The Inside Track With: Angie Brown | Head of Family | Dootsons Solicitors
- February 20, 2023
Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.
Interview with: Angie Brown | Head of Family, Senior Solicitor & FMCA Family Law Mediator | Dootsons Solicitors
WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?
On the days when I am working in one of our offices, I always try to get in a bit earlier as all of my days have to start with a nice cup of coffee. Today I am working from our Culcheth Office, where my team is based, as I am not in Court and have no out of office meetings, so it is a perfect chance to sit to my desk and enjoy working on my live casework.
My office door is always open (unless I am with clients) and throughout the morning, my team pop in and out if they have queries or just want to run something past me. As we work very much as a team at Dootsons, we also work on one another’s cases too, and support one another with diary management to try and ensure clients get priority.
My big tasks this morning include
- meeting with one client who is struggling to weigh up his options with the financial matters arising from his divorce to try and make an offer;
- draft a Statement on a children case which sadly relates to responding to issues of serious violence
- prepare for the first joint session in a financial mediation matter to see the couple later this week
- respond and deal with the emails in my Inbox
- prepare a detailed questionnaire in a financial court case based upon the evidence that has been filed by the other party
- set an agenda for a meeting looking into alternative funding options to help our clients manage their cases in a cost of living crisis
- review some of our team statistics in preparation for our department meeting later today
HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?
In Family Law, there is a natural trend in a greater amount of work just after Christmas and in the New Year, so as ever, we are really busy, which is fantastic. We are really trying to focus on ensuring that despite the new Online No-Fault Divorce System coming into play last year and more people choosing to do the divorce part themselves, that couples understand that the divorce process alone does not offer them financial resolution or conclude their financial claims they have against one another. We are finding that is a real area for concern in the family process at present as not enough people seem to understand or are being informed properly and fully about the impact of that.
We have also been very involved with the National Family Mediation Week which was 16th to 20th January and have also now been approved by the FMC (Family Mediation Council) to offer the Government Funded £500 mediation voucher scheme to mediation clients. We are a growing Family Team at Dootsons, with a strong wealth of knowledge and experience at each service level. We see ourselves as having firm local roots, but with an online national coverage offering for all clients at local high street prices.
HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?
Since my GCSE’s at school I had made my mind up that I was going to do law – much to the dismay of my parents who could not understand why I (at 16) had been so insistent on moving away from my all my friends at Sixth Form to go to an out of area College just because they offered an A-Level in Law!
Nonetheless, I was determined (or possibly stubborn about it, as I am sure my parents would argue) and I went onto get 5 A-Levels, whilst spending my holiday times working at a local firm of Solicitors who had ‘spotted’ me at a careers fair and invited me to join them. I continued working at that firm during holidays from Uni when I was home, determined to pursue a career in Law. This continued directly into the College of Law, and I was lucky enough to have been offered a training contract during the time when I was still at Law School.
To say, I never looked back probably would be incorrect. We all have days where we wonder what on earth made us do the job we are in. But I honestly could not imagine myself doing anything else.
For those odd times when we have a tough day, they are far outweighed by those moments where you have secured a fantastic settlement for your client in Court, or won a legal wrangle with a senior Barrister, or often (and more personally impressively in my view) just managed to enable a family to positively move beyond the chaos and turmoil of a relationship breakdown or helping children cope with those issues and difficulties.
For me, seeing the effects of a positive mediation outcome or previous clients telling me what a positive effect the work that I did for them had on their lives is just second to none.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
I have worked in award-winning firms and with award-winning teams, I have achieved fantastic settlements in Court. A lot of lawyers shout loudly about these achievements. For me, it is in the whispers where I have felt the greatest personal satisfaction. I get enormous pleasure in going to Court and seeing some of the brilliant Solicitors who I trained from apprentices or paralegals and trainees. I love watching a team thrive and grow in a practice that was originally a single solicitor workload. But mostly and I think most importantly, it is when you bump into a previous client and get to see them back at their best, having helped them through their worst times and knowing that you played a real part in helping them to achieve that and help their family evolve beyond those times.
WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?
Lawyer, would be David Lister at Ward Hadaway or Judge, would be Christine Bispham.
But like most, my real inspiration is always a lot closer to home and for me it is my parents. They have always my biggest fans, even when the road to qualification was tough and there were late nights of revision, bringing me cups of tea studying for A-Levels or sitting up at home when I was up late at Uni just so I knew I wasn’t up alone trying to get that dissertation finished.
WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?
“The Huge Bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside.
I have picked this book to read over lunchtime… I think it will give me a better insight into how children can cope with stressful times which will be enormously helpful as I embark on training to become a Child Inclusive Mediator.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?
Don’t miss breakfast!
HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?
In Family, the most anticipated change has been no fault divorce. This has been something we have been lobbying for through Resolution throughout my whole legal career. However, it has been the ripple effect of how these changes have been brought in that I think has had the biggest impact. I have already mentioned how people are turning to the new online system more readily themselves without solicitors, but the effects that we are seeing from that is that so few understand that that process in itself is not enough to conclude the legal obligations couples have with one another by virtue of their marriage. They are missing the point that they have continued financial obligations unless they get a financial order as well. I predict that this is going to be a surge area in the next few years and my worry is that further down the line, many parties may lose out on claims they previously had or find themselves worse off because they didn’t address it at the time of the divorce.
I hope I am wrong, but my message is for anyone going through relationship breakdown or divorcing online – please get some legal advice at the time so you can make an informed decision about what you want to do.
OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?
My family and friends. We are always extremely busy with activities, trips away, being outdoors and going for walks or adventures. Our home is a hive of chaos and crazy – but just the right amount!
AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?
Well it isn’t for everyone, but currently loving the “Parenting Hell” podcast from Josh Widdicombe and Rob Beckett. It makes me laugh out loud on my commute (often causing me some funny looks when I am not in the car!)
Dootsons Solicitors LLP is a long established firm with offices in Leigh, Culcheth and Newton-le-Willows. Founded some 126 years ago, the firm offers over 60 services to clients including family, wills & trusts, property, mediation and commercial.