Interview with Alison Bull

Posted in Interviews on 5 Nov 2012

What does your Twitter profile say? Specialist Family Lawyer, Family and Civil Mediator, Collaborative Lawyer and non-practising Counsellor.

Why law and why your particular area of expertise? I studied Law at university because I wanted a vocational course leading to an intellectually-challenging and people-orientated career. I decided to specialise in Family because I find the human element fascinating.

Describe your firm in three words. Collaborative, ambitious and innovative. It is genuinely a great place to work. The firm has the highest number of leading individuals rated in the top tier of Chambers, proportionately of any UK law firm!

What do you enjoy most about your job? It is an absolute privilege to be given permission to play a part in clients' lives in one of the most difficult times they will experience, particularly in the mediation and collaborative processes. It is fascinating to try to understand a client's practical and emotional aims and objectives and to help them shape their family's future. It is intellectually challenging to understand the legalities of their often complex finances and to help them find solutions to their difficulties. It is very demanding helping clients who are often experiencing high levels of conflict and distress. It can be hugely rewarding and it is also a privilege to work with wonderful colleagues across the firm and with other committed family focussed professionals.

In these tough economic times, what is the most challenging element of your job? Balancing spending enough time with people with the commercial cost of that time.

Tell us about your landmark case, the one that really stands out for you in your career; why was it so significant? There are so many and for a variety of different reasons. Those cases that have reached an amicable resolution in a cost-effective way and which have prompted a heartfelt expression of thanks are the ones which I prefer to think of as significant rather than those that have appeared in the law reports.

In your view what does the future hold for the legal profession; what will be the 'next big thing' in the legal industry? If only I knew! I would like though to see a significant change in the way we train our Lawyers. Intellectual rigour and legal knowledge are essential. Training in aspects of "emotional intelligence" (particularly effective human communication skills) is very important (and rather lacking) in a world where finding solutions rather than pursuing expensive processes is key whatever the area of law.

Who's been the biggest single influence or inspiration in your career and why? My partner of course! I am a Family Lawyer after all and know how difficult it is to keep relationships on track!

What advice would you give to an ambitious Solicitor at the start of their career? Take every opportunity to expand your horizons, to gain new skills and to understand how you and others think, behave and feel. These skills take a lifetime to finely tune and are relevant to all areas of your professional life.

What has been your greatest achievement so far in life? Sustaining a happy and so far healthy family life and a fulfilling career. At times, an almost impossible task!

Please tell us a little bit about you. I grew up in the depths of Devon; a country girl going to the local school with my two sisters. I enjoyed time with friends and family, sport and music and later on, travelling. I moved north to Manchester to attend university and then qualified as a Solicitor. I now live on the edge of the Peak District with my two wonderful children and partner. I spend a significant proportion of my professional life as a Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer as well as litigating when essential and helping to run the team and office. Spare time is spent as a School Governor, cycling (Mills & Reeve have just won the 100 miles Hercules Corporate Challenge!), running in the hills of the Peak District and North Wales and being with family and friends.

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