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Career growth within Family Law Group - Jonathan

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Many members of the Family Law Group team have joined us at the start of their careers and worked their way up to senior positions.

We spoke to some of our colleagues who have grown through the firm about how they did it and why family law is the career for them.

Jonathan Corbishley’s initial career was in the public sector before moving into the legal profession and joining Family Law Group as a paralegal in 2008.

 

Why did you choose to build a career in family law?

I have always had an interest in law but after university I moved to London and had a number of roles in the civil service, including at the Home Office and the General Social Care Council. Through these roles I realised that what I really wanted was a career working with people doing something that had a real and beneficial impact on their lives. I looked into legal careers and knew very quickly that family law was the area that really interested me. From there I returned to university to do the GDL part time and started my journey towards qualifying.

 

What was your first role at FLG?

I joined the firm as a paralegal on 1 December 2008. I had no previous legal experience, my daughter was 3 months old, my wife was on maternity leave and I took a significant cut in pay to join. It was a leap of faith both on behalf of the firm and myself but was an opportunity I had to take. My daughter is now 13 years old and getting ready to start her first year of GCSEs and I’m still here so it was a leap well worth taking!

 

How did you progress through the firm?

In September 2009 I left the firm to complete the LPC full time and then rejoined in July 2010, initially in a paralegal role. I then started my training contract in September 2010 and qualified as a solicitor in March 2012, with time to count reducing my training contract to 18 months.

Following qualification my aim was to learn and gain as much legal experience as I could. I had great support to develop my legal knowledge in all areas of family law from a number of people within the firm including the directors. In August 2015 I became a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel and was promoted to an associate of the firm in September 2015.

In 2016 the firm supported me in qualifying as a family law mediator and in September 2017 I was promoted to a senior associate of the firm. Shortly after this I took over the role of heading up the Derbyshire offices and my focus and learning shifted significantly to the business and management side of the firm.

In May 2018 I became a member of the Law Society’s Advanced Family Law Panel with a specialism in private law children and domestic abuse cases. The following year I was promoted to a Non Executive Director of the firm in September 2019 and more recently I have taken on more of a firm wide management role.

 

What have been your career highlights?

The role that I have is incredibly varied, both in respect of the types of cases I am instructed on and my responsibilities. My highlights are therefore wide ranging and specific to each stage of my career. In terms of personal achievements, qualifying as a solicitor, each promotion and Law Society panel membership were all highlights. Each and every one of these achievements were hard earned and special in their own way. I was supported by the firm through each of the applications and once achieved were a fantastic reward for the hard work.

I have had many cases where we have achieved fantastic outcomes for the families we are involved with, but from a legal perspective some stand out ones are:

  1. Being told by a Judge at a pre-trial review that we couldn’t achieve the outcome our client sought. Following legal research, a thorough position statement and a day of cross examining 3 witnesses the Judge made the order they had indicated couldn’t be made and our client wanted.
  2. Achieving a transfer of residence in private law proceedings where our client’s child was suffering emotional harm in the other parent’s care.
  3. Representing a client who had 4 previous children removed from her care and managing to persuade the Court that her 5th child should remain in her care following significant changes she had made, both at the interim and final stage.

The work that we do as family lawyers is so important to our clients and to achieve these outcomes for them is why I do the job!

From a business perspective, taking over the Derbyshire offices, leading it through a significant growth period that saw us triple our turnover within 4 years and has led to us opening a new office in Derby earlier this year is a real highlight.

 

What would you say sets FLG apart from other law firms?

For me the main thing that sets FLG apart is the autonomy that it offers to all its solicitors over the work they do and the challenges we can take on. I have been enabled and encouraged throughout my career to push and challenge myself, from representing a client at a contested final hearing after only being qualified for 4 weeks to growing and developing the Derbyshire office and team. The firm has encouraged me to embrace and welcome responsibility in all facets of my career.

Alongside this is the opportunity and variety the firm affords to its solicitors. I have worked in Nottingham, Oakham, Wellingborough, Rotherham, Sheffield, Chesterfield and Derby. I have represented clients in Court from straightforward directions appointments to complicated final hearings and everything in between. I still undertake work in all areas of family law and mediate without the pressure of having to specialise in one area.

It is the freedom, responsibility and trust that I have enjoyed since being a part of this firm, alongside the support available throughout my journey that makes FLG stand out to me. It has enabled me to work my way from a paralegal with zero experience on day one to now sitting with the directors in a management capacity. The great thing is that this journey is open to anyone who has the right desire and work ethic.

 

What are the 3 main personality traits you need to succeed at FLG?

Resilience – the work that we do can involve highly emotional people and very difficult, painful and upsetting issues. The amount of work we need to do at certain times to achieve the best outcomes for our client is significant. To succeed it is important to be able to be resilient in the face of both of these challenges. If you manage this, you are half way there.  

Empathy and respect both towards our clients and towards each other. Our clients need to trust and have confidence in us. We are dealing with some of the most important issues in their lives and they need understanding and empathy from us to empower them to deal with these issues. To succeed at FLG you also need to be able to respect your colleagues. We are all dealing with difficult cases and all at different stages of our careers. To be able to understand that, encourage and support each other and ultimately to enable each other to be the best at what we do and take responsibility is crucial to progressing in the firm.  

Determination is the 3rd trait that anyone must have to succeed in the firm. Our clients need us to get the best outcomes and not back down from what is right. We have to be determined in the way we approach our cases, the way we approach our work and the way we approach our career whilst always balancing this with empathy and respect.

If you have these traits, you can learn and develop the rest but you will also need a sense of humour!

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