Family law proves a big draw

John Malpas reports

SOLICITORS have flocked to a series of free seminars on the family law reforms which were staged up and down the country by 36 Bedford Row.

In all, 375 solicitors attended the seminars which were held in Northampton, Leicester, Lincoln, Coventry, Grimsby, Luton and London.

The set, led by James Hunt QC, claims the initiative represents one of the largest briefing exercises ever undertaken by a chambers. And it has secured recognition from the Law Society which agreed to award solicitors who attended the sessions continuous practice development points.

At each seminar members of the chambers' 31-strong family law team were on hand to talk the delegates through the reforms. An introductory session on the Family Law Act was followed by talks on specific provisions such as family violence, mediation and pensions.

Practice manager Peter Bennett hit on the idea of arranging the seminars during the stormy passage of Lord Mackay's family Bill through parliament.

"I felt that most people would be confused about the reforms and their implications and they would welcome being talked through it by some of our experts," he said.

"It was our way of saying thank you to our existing clients as well as highlighting our expertise to any solicitors who attended who do not currently instruct our barristers."

Barrister Jamie De Burgos, one of the speakers at the seminars, said: "I thought it was extremely helpful, not only for those who came to the seminars, but also for us because it forced up to think critically about the new legislation."

Connor Willliams, of Northampton firm Scott Fowler, who attended the Northampton seminar, said: "I'm aware that it was an attempt by the chambers to raise its profile, but I was most impressed. They handled it well and I was surprised at the number of people who turned up."

The chambers is offering the information pack on the reforms, which was distributed at the seminars, for £15.