But we did not settle in Birminghamand we moved to London in 1981. After three incredibly unhappy and frustrating years at another firm and after 8 months as a locum (still one of the most enjoyable times of my career and something I would highly recommend), I was most fortunate in 1985 to join Theodore Goddard and especially to work with Mrs Blanche Lucas. She was one of the world’s top family lawyers of the second half of the twentieth century. It was doing very substantial asset work (that horrid term, “big money divorces”). Because of her immense personal and professional foreign connections, a lot of the work had international aspects. In due course I became a partner and Head of their Family Law Dept. I learned a huge amount, about law and practice, about people and about life during that time.
After six years, and as part of the fall out of private client work in the City, Theodore Goddard decided to stop doing family work so Mrs Lucas and I, our two assistants and our four secretaries and all our clients decamped to Frere Cholmeley Bischoff (now part of Eversheds), also a City firm but still doing a lot of private client work. Like TG, they did a lot of entertainment work which matched an area of my expertise. Sadly in 1994 Mrs Lucas died. Working with her was one of the best periods of my career, a real privilege.
In 1995, I left to set up The Family Law Consortium, England’s first practice (probably the world’s first practice) to combine family lawyers, mediators and counsellors. We had 3 equity partners, 2 other professionals and 3 secretaries; small beginnings. But we hit a wave of public and professional acclaim. It was at the time of the (subsequently ill fated) Family Law Act 1996. The governments (Tory and later Labour) publicly came to our offices and encouraged us as an example to the profession. We were immensely successful. Over eight years we grew to over 30 people. It was in many ways a super place to work; relaxed, innovative, fresh, young and enthusiastic and right in the centre of Covent Garden! My own practice grew hugely and very successfully. I had an excellent team of three top quality assistants working with me, and a very supportive PA. Alas, in late 2002, the three younger of the five equity partners decided they wanted it to go in a different direction – although I am still not sure which – and they effectively ended the practice I had helped create and make highly successful.
Accordingly, in mid 2003, I moved some of my team with most of my clients to another top London practice.