I’m handing over the blog to Emma Ingham who has recently joined LKW Family Mediation for the whole of December. Emma has some great thoughts to share and has been kind enough to also give a personal perspective on her life to give some insight into what inspired her to become a family mediator. Over to you Emma………
Well, I might as well say from the off. This is a first for me. I’ve never written a blog before. When Louisa asked me to write a four-part series for LKW Family Mediation this December, I felt slightly panicked. OK, a lot panicked, but excited too. I’ve faced quite a few challenges in the last 12 months or so. Every single one has been worth the worry. So here goes.
The first thing to say is that I am absolutely thrilled to be joining Louisa at LKW Family Mediation. Like you most probably, I have been reading Louisa’s brilliant blogs for a long time and they are an invaluable source of information and practical tips. I love the positive and holistic approach that Louisa takes to family mediation and I’m excited to work with her and learn more along the way.
If you will indulge me, I thought I could tell you a little bit about me. I came to family mediation from a legal background. I did my law degree at Swansea University, a Master’s degree in Child Law at Keele University and my Legal Practice Course in Cardiff. Yes, that is five years of study and no-one was happier than my parents when I got an actual job. I trained and qualified as a lawyer in Cardiff and had many happy years there. When my husband got offered a job in Surrey, I took the opportunity to have a career break and stay at home for a few years with my two daughters.
Now, I am not a natural stay-at-home mum but I loved being around for the girls when they were little. I did, however, miss my job. I started to realise how much when one of my very dear friends separated from her husband. Me and a few other close friends became her support network and my role was to provide jargon-free, easy-to-understand legal information – along with providing copious amounts of coffee and cake, naturally. A few months later, my friend said to me – “why are you not doing this anymore? You need to go back to it”. She was right.
But when I started thinking about going back to work as a lawyer, something was holding me back. It’s true, the hours were long and the workload and pressure was tough but I loved my work. I loved working with my clients. Getting to know them and their families, supporting them through a really difficult time and seeing them move on was so rewarding. But I did not want to go back to the stress and the strains that the court process puts on my clients and myself. Don’t get me wrong – there are situations where it is absolutely necessary for a Judge to decide what to do. I just wasn’t sure I could do it all again. When supporting my friend through her divorce, I realised that, while my knowledge of the law and the legal process was invaluable, what I really missed was talking to people about their situations and helping them get through it. My friend had used a Family Mediator to help with her situation and I realised that this was the way forward for me too.
I absolutely loved the family mediation training. From the very first day of the course, I felt like the old me again. Oh, it is difficult in the beginning. As a lawyer, I was used to taking a problem from my client, seeing the solution and doing my best to get the best outcome for them – whether it be through negotiation or at court. That’s not what family mediation is about. I had to stop seeing the solution. It was my job to help my clients find the solution for themselves. It took me a while, but now that is the aspect of mediation I love the most.
By far, being a family mediator is the most professionally rewarding work I have ever done. If I can play some part in helping my clients gain a better understanding of how the other person sees a certain situation, it is the best feeling. I also love seeing the ways that communication between clients can change positively over the course of a few sessions. One of the best comments I have ever had from a client after a session was “thank you for helping us talk to one another”. Simple, but it makes all the difference.
In this series of blogs, I am going to be giving you my take on the different roles of solicitors and mediators and how they can work together, what I think about the challenges 2020 brought for everyone and in particular to family mediation and finally focusing on the Christmas and new year period.
So, the only other thing to say is thank you. Thank you for reading my first-ever blog. The panic was definitely worth it.