Family law partner, Manchester

My dad was a role model to me growing up and he inspired me to become the first woman in my family to go to university. He worked in the steelworks when I was a child but then became a mature student and studied for a degree while I was in primary school. As someone from an underprivileged background, my path to becoming a lawyer wasn’t always clear. My secondary school eventually went into special measures and was closed down not long after I left. I didn’t know any lawyers growing up and Ally McBeal was my only source of insight – that turned out not to be an accurate representation of life at a law firm. 


I joined the debating society in sixth form and excelled – I had the ‘gift of the gab’. I loved creating persuasive arguments during debates. It was that skill and the ability to be analytical and solve problems which triggered the idea of studying law. After graduating from Sheffield University I toyed with the idea of going into employment law. However, during my training contract that seat was full and I was put into a family law seat instead. I fell in love with the work and have never looked back. It’s a familiar tale for solicitors that many of us don’t end up where we thought we would.

In family law, you need to be empathetic and personable to build trust and rapport with clients. I enjoy going through a journey with a client and supporting them through difficult periods of their life. I know that I can help clients through a complex divorce or negotiate a pre- or post-nuptial agreement in a way that makes the process a little less daunting.

'My path to becoming a lawyer wasn’t clear. My secondary school eventually went into special measures and was closed down not long after I left. I didn’t know any lawyers growing up and Ally McBeal was my only source of insight'

You can’t just suddenly become a divorce lawyer to the stars. I was fortunate at the start of my career to find myself in a very successful family law team in the north-west, with an extremely high-calibre quality of work and clients. From the outset I was assisting on large complex divorce cases involving tens of millions of pounds and financial assets strewn across the globe. I was fortunate to get that exposure at such an early stage of my career. It’s my expertise in that work and the reputation I developed over time with entrepreneurs, celebrities and sportspeople which led to more and more referrals.

I knew I wanted to be partner before I was 35. Perhaps with my background, I always felt I had a point to prove. My life now and the clients I work with are a world away from where I grew up. The work I do is interesting and challenging and no day is the same. I’m direct and honest with the clients. No matter how successful they might be, it is important not to be intimidated into simply telling them what they want to hear. At the end of the day, it’s about giving good, solid advice and finding solutions for them.

Having recently joined Hill Dickinson’s Manchester office, I’m looking to build a team that’s ambitious, dynamic and engaged. It’s not just a solo effort when serving clients in the celebrity and business world. You need to have a team around you that functions in a way those clients expect. High levels of service are a minimum, but it’s the responsiveness that sets you apart from the competition, as well as the specialist knowledge they need.

If I’m doing my job well, then no one in the media will know I’m doing it. Our goal is nearly always to reduce the risk of any publicity and ensure clients can keep their private life confidential. You will never know the names of the most famous people I have acted for and that is the way we want it. We occasionally get media enquiries, particularly during a high-profile celebrity divorce, with journalists fishing to try to find out who is representing them. The answer is always to refuse to engage.

We will go to great lengths to keep a low profile for clients: home visits, secret names on files and controlled access to information. At a previous firm we once lost a famous footballer’s wife after trying to get her into the office discreetly via a back door. She somehow managed to take a wrong turn and ended up locked in the basement. We had to send a search party to find her!