One month as a family trainee

Saphia Wyse, Trainee in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, criminal and financial crime team.
Saphia Wyse
2 min Read

Until last month my understanding of family law had been somewhat fuelled by two distinct channels of knowledge. First, a family elective during the LPC, completed from my parents' kitchen in the midst of a global pandemic. Second, the TV show Friends, specifically my investment in the journey of the protagonist - Ross - as he navigates through his three failed marriages.

Ross's recurrent encounters with his attorney had led me to believe that family law was synonymous with one word: divorce. This false assumption was reinforced by my university tutor, who albeit teaching us the vast spectrum of family law, concluded our course by announcing "if you find yourself as a trainee in a family seat, you’ll mostly be filing divorce petitions."

Three weeks into my seat in the family team in Bedford Row and I'm yet to file a divorce petition. Instead, my to-do list has been decorated by a comprehensive series of tasks, encompassing ideas and principles from a multitude of practice areas including business law and land law. Upon joining the team I was asked to draft a Declaration of Trust for a client purchasing a joint property. This required undertaking independent legal research, a skill I've quickly learned to adopt for other drafting tasks such as writing letters of advice to clients. Alongside legal drafting I've conducted investigative searches in attempts to ascertain family finances, whilst also familiarising myself with a range of cases spanning child maintenance orders to separation agreements.

Unbeknown to Ross from Friends, my experience so far at Russell-Cooke is testament to the varied workload and high degree of responsibility you can expect from a seat in the family team.

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