Having always wanted to gain an insight into family law, I was certainly not disappointed when given the opportunity to do so at SA Law. During my seat, I was involved in a myriad of matters from divorce to complex financial matters and emotive situations involving children. Moreover, the quality of my experience was not diluted by large trainee numbers. In fact, as the sole trainee in the department, I was given a great deal of responsibility as well as client contact. Although this may seem daunting, it provided an extremely rewarding training experience, allowing me to develop skills integral to a successful career in law.
From my first day, I was involved in a highly intricate child contact case in which we were representing the mother and facing a volatile father who was a litigant in person. The matter had an international dimension, required input from numerous experts and had various applications running in tandem. It ultimately went to a final hearing and although I had already moved on to my next seat at this point, I was fortunate enough to be brought back on the case to see the fruits of our long labour. The hearing lasted four days and was before a High Court judge who described the matter as unlike anything he had ever come across in his illustrious forty-year career and who gave judgment in favour of our client. This case and its outcome is reflective of the high calibre of work that the family department, and the firm as a whole, undertakes and the complex matters with which clients entrust them.
The practice of family law also requires a commercially astute mind in order to disentangle the financial web that can come with relationship breakdown and to negotiate the best possible deal for your client. I gained first-hand experience of this during a roundtable negotiation between husband and wife whereby we were representing the former. The matter involved numerous assets including domestic and foreign properties, shares, pensions, savings and much more. Emotions ran high during the course of the negotiations and the entire process required a unique combination of empathy and commercial savvy on the part of the representing lawyers.
To be exposed to such a plethora of fascinating matters within a mere six months is not something to which, I believe, many trainees can lay claim. There is, of course, a great deal of hard work involved, but you are within an incredibly supportive environment at SA Law and you undoubtedly reap the benefits of your hard work in the form of unrivalled experience and opportunity.