Partner, Makin Dixon, Keighley

Coming from a legal family, I was always fascinated by my father’s office, the comings and goings of all walks of life, and his passion for helping people in his high street practice. A career in law seemed like a natural progression.

My time spent studying for the LPC seemed little preparation for starting in a legal aid firm in Bradford. I began as a paralegal at family law specialists Makin Dixon Solicitors, straight out of university. Nothing could have prepared me for the level of poverty and complexity of family issues I was advising on. The training given by Makin Dixon was fantastic. As a trainee, I was not held back, but supported and encouraged to challenge myself. The training contract was hard work and hands-on, boasting experiences such as clerking in the High Court and working on complex child abduction cases.

The introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act has undoubtedly been the greatest challenge of my career. Being unable to provide legal aid services to vulnerable clients who desperately need help and legal advice has been very difficult.

The murder of a domestic violence client, who had received advice urging her to seek immediate protection and then subsequently became reconciled with her husband, has highlighted to me and colleagues the importance of urgent advice and same-day action. Domestic violence can never be underestimated and requires the same-day service we pride ourselves on delivering. In this instance, the client simply did not wish to proceed and unfortunately this had a tragic outcome for her.

The highlight of my career has been the joining of two new partners, Hannah Jarockyj and Jennifer Noel, into what is now a four-strong female partnership. Caroline Makin, Hannah, Jennifer and I are all in our 30s. We work flexible hours and juggle five children between us with one on the way (Jennifer has joined the partnership at five months’ pregnant). Hannah and Jennifer have both been with the firm for several years; Hannah joining as an assistant solicitor in 2004 and Jennifer as a paralegal in 2007.

Makin Dixon is entering a new phase and new partners bring new possibilities. I am optimistic about our future, and we will continue to offer a high standard of client care across all of our locations.  

The hardest sort of clients are parents who love their children very much but also face challenges of their own and are unable to care for them. Advising and representing these clients with little prospect of success, while the client continues to hope for reunification, is particularly challenging.