William is a Senior Consultant in our Family team, but what makes him stand out from the crowd? We sat down with William to find out some more about him, from his crowning achievements to his personal interests...
What's your biggest achievement - professional or personal?
I have 2 actually! One relates to a specific case and the other a professional achievement.
1. I represented the father of 2 young children. Tragically, my client had terminal cancer. His wife left him with no warning and disappeared with the children. He was terrified he would not see his children again before he died. With historical family connections in Curacao and South America, locating his wife and children was no small undertaking – but I did it and traced them to Amsterdam. We then issued proceedings under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction for an order for the immediate return of the children to England. Unfortunately, the family court in Holland applied the law incorrectly and refused to make the order. We successfully appealed that decision in the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam. The wife was ordered to return the children to England and my client was able to see and spend time with them before he died a few months later. It was a heart-wrenchingly difficult case but my determination and strong sense of justice won through.
2. Qualifying as a Collaborative Family Lawyer and being appointed to the Resolution Collaborative Working Party. I feel strongly that family law cases need, and deserve, a sensitive and constructive approach. The Collaborative Family Law process provides exactly that and ensures that the long lasting emotional and financial cost of confrontational court processes is avoided. It also helps to preserve future relationships and communication which is so important where dependent children are involved. My work with the Collaborative Working Party involves promotion of the benefits of the collaborative process to both the public and fellow family law professionals, advising and supporting trained collaborative practitioners and the evolution and improvement of collaborative practice for the future. I feel proud to be part of that and feel passionately that the collaborative approach provides the best possible outcomes for separated families.
Tell us a bit about your background...
I have lived in North Yorkshire since the age of 3. I went to school in York and lived in the city until 2015 when we decided as a family to move to a more rural area, between York and Harrogate, following the arrival of children.
I haven’t always wanted to be a lawyer. My interest in the law arose when sharing a house as a student with two others studying for a law degree. I found their course far more interesting than my own and went on to undertake a law conversion course.
During my training contract and upon qualification I worked with a general practice law firm, undertaking all areas of litigation. That included family law cases which I quickly found to be the most interesting, challenging and rewarding. It is a privilege to be someone’s trusted adviser at their hour of need and very rewarding to help them resolve matters and move forward positively with their lives.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I am a keen sportsman, having represented the GB Triathlon Age Group Team at a number of European and World Championships events across the globe, including Spain, Germany, and New Zealand. While I still keep fit by running and cycling, the demands of a young family (and age!) have curtailed my training and racing opportunities.
I love the outdoors and being close to nature. Owning a smallholding with numerous animals ensures there are always jobs to do.
Most importantly, I love spending time with my two young daughters who never fail to put a smile on my face.
What about the way you approach your work makes you unique?
I am regularly complimented on the patience and sensitivity shown to my clients. There is sometimes a risk that people feel ‘processed’ by lawyers, which is not what is needed when dealing with the emotions and difficulties around relationship breakdown. I pride myself on very high service levels and a personal touch which often gets overlooked. Anxious clients often say that they always feel so much better, and reassured, when they have spoken to me. This means a lot as the emotional dynamic in family law cases is just as important as the legal framework.
With over 25 years of specialist family law experience, and an eye for detail, my technical expertise provides a real advantage in negotiating good outcomes for clients and ones which are meaningful and meet their own needs. I have acted in many cases with substantial (£10 million +) assets and an international dimension.
I am undertaking training to qualify as a family law supervisor. This will enable me to provide vital pastoral support and care to other family law professionals, recognising that working with relationship breakdown is emotionally demanding and can give rise to wellbeing issues.
Where did you study and what training and education do you have?
I completed a first degree at Newcastle University before undertaking the Law conversion and finals courses also in Newcastle. I qualified as a solicitor in 1996 having completed a two-year training contract with a firm in North Yorkshire. I have over 25 years specialist family law experience with particular emphasis on the financial aspects of relationship breakdown and the benefits of adopting the Collaborative Family Law process.
Additionally, I am an accredited specialist member of Resolution and part of its Collaborative Working Party.
If you need support from William, or any of our Family lawyers, call the team on 01423 543 108.