Irwin Mitchell partner Sarah Balfour tells her clients that the family law system is, by nature, ‘discretionary’. Outcomes, in other words, can’t always be guaranteed.
‘However, I guarantee that I will work as hard as I can for them, and that every stage of the process they will receive exceptional and empathetic service,’ she adds.
And the evidence supports her case. Irwin Mitchell’s matrimonial finance team in the Midlands has doubled in size in the last year, making it the largest in Birmingham.
The team also deals with complex international and children work, and has the distinction of being the only Birmingham family law team to have been in the Court of Appeal twice in the last year.
Unfortunately, Balfour observes, the court system has begun to buckle under the sheer pressure of cases. It has been ‘worn out by a chronic lack of investment,’ she says. ‘For clients involved in family disputes, the court process can feel fraught at the best of times.’ As a result, she believes that every family lawyer should be considering Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – a tool that her team has used for some time. ‘We also use arbitration. Moving outside of the court arena, where appropriate, gives clients a private, efficient and dignified process.’
‘I love my job,’ concludes Balfour. ‘I tell friends that I’m privileged to help clients through what is often the hardest time of their lives. The joy, relief, and sheer positivity they feel at the end is contagious.’