Who? Edward Cooke, family lawyer and mediator, Edward Cooke Family Law, Chichester and Brighton.
Why is he in the news? Featured in the Sun and Telegraph, which reported that 'Divorce Day' enquiries are set to fall this year. The first working Monday of the new year has come to be dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ – a nickname that is controversial among many family lawyers.
Thoughts on 'Divorce Day': 'I have always found the concept of a “Divorce Day” at the start of January to be not only rather distasteful but also not borne out by the reality on the ground. I have never noticed a particular “spike” in enquiries in January – if anything, September tends to be a busier month after the long holidays. Moreover, the suggestion that people file a petition on 4 January is ridiculous, as people often take weeks, months or even years from first seeing a lawyer before taking that step. This year, most family lawyers I have spoken to have observed different trends. The initial lockdown period was very quiet for many, as many clients put things on hold, while they dealt with immediate issues. Many family lawyers then reported being very busy indeed. However, my view is that much of this was due not to relationships breaking down because of the pandemic but because lockdown had perhaps highlighted fissures that already existed.'
Dealing with the media: 'My dealing came out slightly by chance, via a Twitter shout-out from a journalist. I gave my thoughts to the Telegraph and then to my surprise, found my comments had been picked up by the Mail, Sun and other outlets. I had hoped the media would publish my comments that Divorce Day is a myth, as plainly it is! However, I was pleased my comments that lockdown and the pandemic have had different impacts on couples were reported – in particular, my observation (backed up by conversations with couples counsellors) that some couples have actually found they have been better able to resolve issues in their relationship because of lockdown.'
Why become a lawyer? 'I did a history degree at Bristol University. I wasn’t sure what to do next and friends were applying to large City firms. I got a training contract at Slaughter and May. While that was a great grounding, I soon realised I was more interested in human relationships, so moving into family law was a natural progression.'
Career high: 'Setting up my own boutique family law firm in 2018 and seeing it grow from just me and my PA to now having nine in our team. Our main office is in a beautiful, converted barn in the heart of the South Downs and this month we opened our second office in Brighton.'