Laura Martin-Read is an Associate Solicitor at Milton Keynes Family Law Group, a practice based on Upper Fifth Street that specialises in all areas of family law. She has been with the company since 2015 and works in the matrimonial team.
Laura lets All Things Business magazine know all about her typical day…
Laura starts her day at 6am and gets herself and two children (ages two and four) ready for work and nursery. After a short commute across Milton Keynes, Laura makes it into the office just after 8am and her first job of the day is making herself a cup of tea!
Laura’s work day begins with a check of her emails and diary and a chat with her PA to plan her day. She also checks in with the rest of her team to see what they have on for the day and whether they need any help or supervision. If Laura is in court, she leaves the office just before 9am as most hearings start at 10am and the court expects parties to attend 30-60 minutes ahead of the listed time. MK Family Law is located opposite the Magistrates and County Court buildings on Silbury Boulevard where most family law cases are heard. On a court day, Laura can be there for a couple of hours or all day – it depends on how the hearing goes.
Laura tends to work through and rarely takes a lunch break. When she’s in the office, she has client appointments staggered throughout the day, often working around her clients and their diaries. Lunch can be any time of the day. If Laura is in court, she can miss it completely! Otherwise she tends to squeeze it in around client appointments, usually eating at her desk.
Most days Laura will have emails and correspondence to deal with. A good few hours of each day is also spent working on legal documents. For example, when working on a divorce, the finances is where the real work usually lies. This can mean hours of delving through bank statements, business accounts and pension information. The key is to ascertain what is actually available in each family pot for division and sometimes this means a forensic approach.
Laura also liaises with professionals in a range of areas for expert advice to complement the legal advice. She deals with the high-net-worth cases which involves large asset pools and complex income arrangements, so expert advice is often necessary. For example, Laura will deal with pension actuaries so will need to obtain expert advice on pension options where clients have large or complex pension assets. She also uses accountants and tax specialists, estate agents and surveyors frequently. Preparing for court hearings is also key. On a finance case, the advocacy on the day is only half of the battle – the case must be well prepared on paper! Sometimes Laura does her own court hearings, but often, on high-net-worth cases she will instruct a barrister to work alongside her and they do the hearings. It gives the client two heads on their case, which is always better than one.
From about 3pm each day, Laura usually spends an hour going through the work that the more junior solicitors want her to check. It’s an important part of her role and it’s good for clients. The more junior solicitors are charged out a lower rate but clients have the benefit of knowing that a more senior solicitor is checking and supervising their work.
As an Associate Solicitor, Laura heads up a team of two other solicitors, a trainee and a PA who all work with her in the matrimonial department. The team specialises solely in divorce, matrimonial finances and separation for unmarried couples.
For the last hour or so of each day, Laura checks the post that her secretary has worked on during the day and makes sure she has returned any calls she needs to.
Laura typically finishes work between 5pm and 5.30pm. Occasionally she will take work home, such as if she has a court hearing the next day and wants to re-read papers in preparation.
After work it is back to being Mum and often cooking an evening meal from scratch, which Laura loves to do.
Laura is part-time, working four days a week and taking one day off a week with her children. In her absence her PA and trainee keep everything ticking over for her.
“I love my job,” says Laura. “I love the fact that every case is different. Every divorcing couple has a different financial picture and different issues for the breakdown of the marriage. Nothing is boring in family law!”
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