Q&A

Sally Clark, an ac­cred­ited me­di­a­tor, fam­ily lawyer and founder of Clark Fam­ily Law in Harrogate.

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS / NEWS -

What’s the big­gest de­vel­op­ment you have seen in the le­gal world dur­ing your ca­reer? In my field I would say the change in the pre-ac­tion pro­to­col for par­ties to en­gage in me­di­a­tion prior to is­su­ing court pro­ceed­ings in pri­vate fam­ily law pro­ceed­ings. Un­less there are ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances, par­ties now have to at­tend an as­sess­ment ap­point­ment (MIAMS) for me­di­a­tion be­fore is­su­ing di­vorce pro­ceed­ings. This change came into force in 2015 and has for­tu­nately had a pos­i­tive im­pact on the way not only clients, but also lawyers ap­proach court pro­ceed­ings.

What law would you like to see changed? I would like to see co­hab­itees ob­tain sim­i­lar, if not the same rights as mar­ried cou­ples upon relationship break­down. There is still a huge mis­con­cep­tion about the ‘com­mon law’ hus­band or wife. In law there is no such thing and many non-mar­ried par­ents find them­selves with­out le­gal re­dress on ma­jor is­sues af­ter lengthy re­la­tion­ships.

What’s the most ex­cit­ing work you have ever done? I am not sure ex­cit­ing is the right word how­ever I find it a real priv­i­lege speak­ing to chil­dren as part of the me­di­a­tion process and be­ing part of a process to make their lives bet­ter fol­low­ing di­vorce by help­ing their par­ents to com­mu­ni­cate and fo­cus upon what is best for them in very dif­fi­cult times.

Who do you ad­mire most in the le­gal world? My dad. He is se­nior part­ner in a law firm in South and West York­shire. He works tire­lessly for his clients, is mod­est, hard-work­ing and has an ex­cel­lent le­gal mind. He in­spired me to do law and con­tin­ues to do so.

What ad­vice would you give some­one start­ing out in the pro­fes­sion? Get as much ex­pe­ri­ence as pos­si­ble in as many set­tings as pos­si­ble. Vol­un­teer for pro-bono work, work with coun­sel, solic­i­tors, char­i­ties and deal with peo­ple as much as pos­si­ble in a va­ri­ety of set­tings.

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