She has won Lawyer Monthly Women in Law Awarding for Family Law – UK in both 2020 and 2021.
Stephanie is a Senior Associate at Gardner Leader. She is based in the Maidenhead office.
Stephanie is well known within the Home Counties. This is reflected by the fact that her workload primarily comes from recommendations made by past or current clients. She is a member of Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers committed to dealing with divorce, separation and other family problems in a non-confrontational manner. She seeks to finds solutions for clients with sensible discussion and negotiation wherever possible.
Outside the office Stephanie has a keen interest working within the community. She spent five years with girls aged from seven to eleven on a voluntary basis developing the girls’ self-awareness, confidence and leadership skills. She has also assisted with Business Enterprise within a Local Secondary School.
Stephanie’s personal interests are varied. Stephanie rows at Marlow Rowing Club and she enjoys exciting activities such as white-water rafting and indoor sky diving.
I start my day at Marlow Rowing Club with a morning scull. The water is usually tranquil and it’s a great way to set you mind for the day ahead.
The office is getting busier as more people return to the office. Normality has not yet returned with the majority of my colleagues still work remotely and only attend the office on allocated days due to covid protocols.
I have been working as a divorce lawyer since the early 1990s. The last 18 months has been incredibly difficult for families. Furlough, redundancy, remote working and home schooling has all taken its toll on family life.
My workload has remained steady throughout the pandemic with an increase in new clients after the end of each lock down. Initially more wives were seeking advice but in the last few months, the trend is husbands.
On a Monday morning, it is common to have urgent calls and emails that require response usually in relation to difficulties between separated parents regarding failed weekend contact with children or domestic abuse between separating spouses still living in the same household.
A key issue for spouses when a relationship is failing is poor communication between. We encourage spouses to work to improve their communication. Where appropriate and particularly where children are involved we signpost parties to Mediation. Mediation helps the parties continue to communicate to reach an agreement with one another outside the Court system. We also encourage clients to complete the Separated Parents Information Program (SPIP), which they can attend separately but helps each focus on managing arrangements for children moving between households focusing on the children’s needs, stability and security. The parties needs can swamp those of the children on occasion so it is good to refocus.
New client video meeting with a lady seeking advice regarding divorce and resolving the financial issues. Video meetings have worked well during the pandemic and are likely to continue. Clients feedback that they are less stressful and easier to fit in with their working day. I explain the process, discuss the clients aspirations regarding results and manage the client’s expectations regarding how long the process will take and the outcome possibilities.
I grab a sandwich and a coffee in the office kitchen and catch up with colleagues.
I have a Court hearing for a client at 2.30pm. Very few cases are currently taking place in person, which is understandable due to the pandemic but not ideal for clients. The Court hearing will take place via Cloud Video Platform today but there is no uniformed approach so it could have been via Teams, BT Meet Me or other providers. This adds to the stress my client is already suffering. My client and I join the hearing from different locations and devices, with his wife and her representative, and then the court clerk will join the Judge. In some cases, the Judge manages the joining process directly particularly if the hearing is by telephone hearing. New technology is not for everyone and fraught with issues. My hearing is for the Court to give Directions as to how the finance case is to proceed. The wife’s representative repeatedly attempts to join the hearing but after several unsuccessful efforts is left to join the hearing by audio only. Unfortunately, despite the hearing bundle being filed well in advance of the hearing with the court the Judge does not have the papers. This is hugely frustrating. My client is then faced with either having the case adjourned and relisted which could mean a delay of more than four months and a duplication of costs or seek to progress the matter without the bundle being before the Judge. My client agrees to proceed. The Judge takes a pragmatic approach, and we manage after some debate between myself and my opponent to persuade the Judge of the merits of what we are seeking, and we achieve an Order that meets my clients objectives.
The client and I speak to discuss the hearing and next steps. Clients can feel slightly removed from what is taking place at a hearing as most of the dialogue is between representatives and the Judge.
I work on the emails and post received. I draft a Consent Order and complete a Form E in relation to a client’s financial disclosure.
I leave the office and head home.
I join via zoom a ladies networking event, Thames Valley Women in Business. The group share information regarding our business and collaborate on how we can help one another grow our businesses and clientele.
I change into causal clothes and relax with a cup of tea (or on a tough day a glass of wine).
I love the diversity of my job and the opportunity it gives me to support and guide a person through a traumatic period in life to begin the next chapter.