I'm over the moon to be working with Munday's Graham Coy again. I mentioned last week we were lucky enough to have two former clients come back into the fold. Well, this week I had the very pleasant task of travelling to Cobham, Surrey, to catch up with Graham and his team to talk about work after a three-year hiatus. It was sublime. Together with his colleague Sarah Duckworth we always had a ball chasing up PR opportunities, thinking of creative new angles and hearing their unique take on all things family-law-related.
Graham and Sarah are big proponents of mediation, collaboration - and more recently arbitration - in family cases. When occasion demands they can be as hard-hitting in Court as any City divorce law team - indeed they are famous for it. But they are mindful of the trap for lawyers in fanning the flames of antagonism between the parties, which may make for a great legal case but is not at all necessary in the best interests of the family. Especially where children are involved.
"Sometimes a full on court battle is exactly what's needed to sort out a difficult, intractable situation between two people. But sometimes the opposite is true. Particularly where children are involved, it can be vital to preserve relationships as much as possible, as the couple will need to have a continuing dialogue over the children's future. Can I say that I've never seen a divorce lawyer on the other side whip up the bad emotion between a couple, to suit their own interests and encourage the inevitability of a big expensive fight in court? I'm afraid I can't. And that's quite shocking actually.
"Sometimes the right thing to do is to fight tooth and nail and not hold back, using everything in the legal armory and hitting hard. But sometimes the right thing is to encourage your client to take a more conciliatory approach. Even to the point of recommending that a couple see a relationship counsellor rather than divorcing at all, which we have done on more than a few occasions.
"The point is, it's a big responsibility handling someone's divorce: your client can be emotionally quite vulnerable - even clients who are the very top of their own profession or industry. People who are usually logical, dispassionate and capable of making very fine judgements find it a completely different kettle of fish when they're looking at something so personal and emotional as their own marriage. This can put their legal adviser in quite a difficult position. You need to be their voice of reason, reminding them what's in their best interests in the context of the bigger picture. But how much should the legal adviser lead and guide the client, and how much should they just follow, doing what they're asked to do? The answer is different every time and it takes years of experience to perfect these nuanced points."
Of course Graham and Sarah too have this experience in spades. If you were to ask their clients what they appreciate most about how they handled their divorce, this is exactly what they would point to. Graham sits as a mediator too, so he sees divorce from all sides. And that's a very valuable perspective to be able to give a client.
It's good to be working with you again Graham!
Much amusement in our office when auto-tuning hit the political mainstream this week when the remix of Nick Clegg's mea culpa video, apologising for the Lib Dem's broken promises on tuition fees, blared suddenly from the BBC News channel on our office TV screen.
The original apology video had been released a few days ahead of next week's Lib Dem conference in Brighton. But no sooner uploaded on YouTube, than savagely - and brilliantly - pilloried, as an auto-tuned remix. By Thursday morning it was among the top trending topics on Twitter. The remix that is. Not the original. No.
But did he redeem himself by giving permission for the mock video to be released on iTunes to raise money for charity? Or did he just add insult to self-inflicted injury? Watch the video again here. You decide.
I had forgotten how much poetry and story were part of the whole Pre-Raphaelite movement. We wandered around the gallery soaking up the iconic paintings such as, among others, Sir John Everett Millais' Ophelia (pictured) from Shakespeare's Hamlet; Holman Hunt's Isabella from Keats' gruesomely dramatic poem Isabella, or The Pot of Basil; also his breathtaking rendition of Tennyson's Lady of Shallot from Arthurian legend. Reading the excellent curation notes that brought so many of my favourite stories and poems so well to mind, linking them to the magnificent paintings, I was struck by the almost multi-media nature of the experience. This Victorian Avant-Garde really was ahead of its time.
The exhibition runs to 13 January 2013. If you've seen it, or plan to, do share your thoughts.