News

A busy start to the year…

Did you know that January is the busiest month of the year for family law solicitors?  It has been said that there are twice as many people getting divorced in January than any other month of the year.  Our Managing Director Clive Iain Rebbeck says: “January is always busy but contrary to the prevailing view, I think our busiest time is late summer / early autumn at the end of the long summer holiday.  Draw your own conclusions, but that does seem to be the case.  Perhaps it’s the stress of those hot foreign holidays with the kids running amok!”

With 2019 well under way, our busy specialist family lawyers can settle down and process all the new instructions and cases that have come in through January.  It is not only divorce work.  There are civil partnerships, matters relating to cohabitation; and of course, disputes about where children should live.

The firm offers pay as you go arrangements and a monthly direct debit scheme so clients can get started and worry about payment over the course of the year.  Subject to credit search in some instances just £200 on account can mean that work will start and the beginning of the process to resolving problems can begin.  We have a Payment Agreement Form for client and Solicitor to sign in order that there are no mistakes.  It sets out the basis for payment and how much is due.  Clive Rebbeck again: “I wanted a transparent system that set out all the charges up front.  We want clients to be happy and to know exactly what things are going to cost right from the outset.  Whatever arrangement is agreed, the Payment Agreement Form sets it all out and everyone can then concentrate on the job in hand; getting the best possible result for the client”.

HRS Family Law Solicitors aim to offer a price competitive service with the very best customer care.  That is why we don’t meddle with areas of law that are peripheral to our expertise.  That is also why you can be assured of receiving the very best advice available in the select areas of law that we do offer.

Eight offices, one firm. HRS Family Law Solicitors Ltd

35 lawyers. One team.

 

Q: What other types of law do HRS cover?

A: We are specialists in Family law, we do nothing else, however family law to a member of the public is wider in scope than some practitioners pretend. That is why for some years now we have been running our Entourage service for people who like the firm but have issues in and need help with other areas of law. Typically, we access the best advice in the country from specialist counsel and facilitate matters for the client.  It has worked well.  As of 2019 two new products have been launched; Family immigration and Family finances.

Q: What do these involve?

A: Family immigration is the law connected to migration of family members such as blood relatives or wives, short or longer term.  We offer affordable sensible advice as per our main model.

Family finance is the law pertaining to running the family household and balancing that household’s books.  It encompasses employment law and consumer disputes such as the rights of the buyer and recovering losses due to breach of contract.  Think in terms of what effects the family finances and then you can answer if a particular family law dispute will be covered.  All interviews are free as usual so if in doubt please just ask.

 

“I am excited about the renewal of our website.
We really are at the forefront of our industry and client’s like that.” – Victoria.

 

Moving on up!

Congratulations to Lauren Garner in our Walsall office.  Lauren has been a paralegal with the firm since the summer and has excelled helping out in the care department.  In recognition of her efforts the firm has awarded her a training contract that means she will qualify as a Solicitor in September 2021, all being well.

An integral part of our tight management system over the eight offices is that we have a specialist panel member in each office who is recognised by the Law Society as a specialist in their chosen field of family law.  Sana Ahmed joined the family law panel in 2018 and now has been appointed as the Supervisor for Wolverhampton.  The Supervisor system ensures compliance with the Specialist Quality Mark awarded to HRS in 2007 and maintained by the company ever since.

SATURDAY OPENING

At HRS we want to be available to our clients.  In the C21 it is imperative to realise that we all have busy lives and methods for allowing access to legal servies are an essential part of a modern law firms methodology. That is why we always have one or more offices open on a Saturday.  Currently our Erdington office is open every Saturday so Ruby and her team can give free initial advice to any who book in.

Did you know that we can also do free first interviews by skype for those with mobility or travel issues?

Networking

The new year brings decision time for HRS fee earners.  All our lawyers are expected to undertake networking at least once per month in order to get involved in the community and give something back.  Some choose to join organisations such as the Lions in order to contribute by volunteering or fundraising.  Others choose activities such as volunteering at the CAB or attending Court meetings.  There is an endless number of possibilities.  Stakeholders such as other lawyers and business organisations provide a valuable alternative through mechanisms such as the TSG and networking groups.  Ultimately, it does not matter what you choose to do as long as you get involved and do some good!  We are always on the look out for new arrangements in order to put something back and widen our horizons so if you the reader have something in mind please let us know.

Appraisals

The new year also brings the much misunderstood “Appraisal” into view.  The system provides for all of our staff to fill out an appraisal questionnaire in which thy consider their role and performance for the previous year.  This is then followed up by a discussion with a member of the management team.  Together they devise a set of targets and goals as well as action for the forthcoming 12 months to include key skills to be achieved and training to undertake,

Although this is part of the Specialist Quality Mark that the company holds we find it to be a system that helpfully focuses on the key issue of staff development.  Our training system is the envy of many firms and encompasses external courses combined with a bespoke scheme for staff depending specifically on their level of experience and responsibilities.

Training is key to delivering excellent legal services and so at HRS we prioritise it.  That may be why there is such demand for our paralegal and training contract opportunities.  As always, if you, a friend or a relative has an interest in working for our progressive firm please email our Practice Manager William Raine; wr@hrsfamilylawsolicitors.com

Probate

HRS Family Law Solicitors Ltd are pleased to confirm our prices for Probate work which as per new SRA regulations is noted on our website through this monthly newsletter.  We charge from £150 plus VAT for a last Will and Testament, 1% of the estate (with a minimum of £500 plus VAT) and disbursements for Probate work, and £750 for a Lasting Power of Attorney.  There is a discount available if more than one piece of work is involved.  All travel time is included but mileage is charged.

Clive Iain Rebbeck, Director, Managing Director. 5th February 2019.

Where there’s a will.. there’s a way.

Did you know that you can have your will written at HRS Family Law Solicitors?  All of our offices have expertise in non-contentious work.  We will prepare a Last Will and Testament from just £250 plus VAT.  Preparing a Will is often a good idea in case of divorce because otherwise your spouse remains your main beneficiary until decree absolute and afterwards it may be that your assets do not go to whom you would wish.

We also prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney and Living Wills at very competitive rates.  £1000 plus VAT and £750 respectively.  Just ask at any of our receptions for an appointment with a member of the non-contentious team.  Probate can be hard work.  We offer a very competitive price of £1,000 plus VAT and disbursements or 1% of the total estate depending on the circumstances.

HRS Family Law Solicitors aim to offer a price competitive service with the very best customer care.  That is why we don’t meddle with areas of law that are peripheral to our expertise.  That is also why you can be assured of receiving the very best advice available in the select areas of law that we do offer.

Eight offices, one firm. HRS Family Law Solicitors Ltd

35 lawyers. One team.

Q: How much does a divorce cost?

A: If it is only the divorce itself with no children or financial issues then it is inexpensive.  If no court attendances are required then at HRS we charge a fixed fee.  Its £750 plus VAT for a petitioner and just £500 plus VAT for a respondent.  Court fees are extra but you might qualify for an exemption fee.  Please ask at your first free interview.

Q: How long does it take?

A: Law is not an exact science but usually it is possible to get divorced within three to six months.  Allow six months or up to twelve if there are children or financial issues.  At HRS we give it to you straight and that is how long it takes.

 

Moving on up!

In 2018 we opened our eighth office.  Victoria, Ben and Namita are eager to help the people of Kings Heath address their family law and associated problems.  Ben has returned to the firm from a year away studying legal practice.  Victoria, the office Supervisor is, of course, a Director of HRS.  Namita brings her wide experience to the office having worked in the law for many years.

We are delighted to announce that Claire McCallum and Nisha Bakshi have been promoted and appointed as associates with the company.  Both have been with HRS for over five years and now commence a quasi managerial role whereby they will learn the ins and outs of the business as the first step in widening our managerial team.  Both are already office Supervisors at Birmingham and Bearwood respectively and members of specialist legal panels.

Aime based in Birmingham and Delores at Wolverhampton are stepping up in to fee earning roles and are now paralegals at the firm.  They will both work in the care department supporting the front line staff and maintaining legal help work which is vital in helping people who are involved with but have not yet been the subject of Court action by social services.  They join the largest Care department in the West Midlands which is busier than ever.

Mobeen Tasadiq has moved in to a specialist advocacy role to replace Todd Killeen who left for pastures new.  Mobeen, in turn, is replaced by Bryan Reed, a Solicitor of considerable experience with particular expertise in divorce and finance.  We are very pleased to have Bryan join our Birmingham team.

Great Success

We are delighted to announce the qualification of Kiran Sumera as a Solicitor on the 1st of December.

Kiran is the 15th Solicitor who has trained and qualified through HRS.  She like the others trained with the firm after first excelling as a paralegal and earning the privilege of a training contract.  There are currently six trainees at the firm who will now work to follow Kiran’s example.  At HRS we believe in training our own.

 

Openings for a new generation.

At HRS we believe that training is not just important but essential to help grow our expertise and ensure that all our advisors are truly prepared for the task of giving the best advice to our clients in perhaps the most important area of applicable law to people’s lives.  When you instruct a Solicitor you need to know that the advice you receive is the very best available.  That is why we at HRS Family Law Solicitors specialise in what we do.  Not only are we a specialist firm but we also specialise within that framework and divide our work in to private and public law.

There are three vacancies across offices and departments for paralegals to join our specialist firm.  The successful candidates will learn the vital skill of preparing and arguing for Domestic Violence injunctions known as Non-Molestation orders.  They will issue divorce cases and attend Social services’ meetings.  The role is client facing and taxing with the reward of a possible training contract to become a Solicitor for those who excel.

Those who join us may be just three years away from qualification as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court in England and Wales.  The firm pays for the required external training and requires that all staff undertake our market leading in-house course that teaches all aspects of practice when advising and assisting clients’ in the C21.

To apply, please email William Raine the Practice Manager at wr@hrsfamilylawsolicitors.com with a cv and covering letter.  We have positions available now and want people to start asap.

It only remains for me to with all our staff and clients a very Happy New Year!

Clive Iain Rebbeck, Director.

Women’s Aid, Resolution and the Law Society are right to highlight the problematic reality that alleged abusers regularly cross examine women, or men, that they are accused of abusing.  The issue of the abuse suffered and the gravity of it are frequently at the very centre of disputes about the future of the former couples’ children, such as where they should live and how much contact, if any, they should have with their parents.

We have a good relationship with Women’s Aid and frequently represent people in the Family Court who have suffered domestic abuse.  I am a member of Resolution and ,of course, as a Solicitor I am also a member of the Law Society in England and Wales.  That said, all the named organisations should appreciate that the matter is more complicated than simply one of protecting the rights of the vulnerable.

There is, crucially, the issue of the rule of law or rather the rights of those accused of abuse to a fair trial, Article 6 the ECHR, the right to family life, Article 8, both enshrined in our law by the Human Rights Act.  In short, we all have the right to test the evidence of those making accusations against us.  Were that not to be the case how could findings of fact made in such cases be assuredly “safe?”  The issue is more complicated than simply asserting a blanket ban for people acting in person being able to question, or “test”, the evidence given against them.

One option would be for the Judge to take on the role of the advocate for the accused.  The obvious difficulty there is the tarnishing of impartiality that may follow, if only in terms of perception.  Women in such unfortunate circumstances can request, and are often granted,  a screen to be hidden from the view of those who have, allegedly, abused them.  Helpful perhaps but of limited value.  A second possibility is for the Court to grant a Guardian for the children who can then be represented and thus take on the cross examination role.  This is, however, problematic because the Legal Aid Agency view that as a circumvention of the law that abolished legal aid in such cases.

Until LASPO in 2012 men, or women, accused of Domestic Violence or other abuse against their partner could obtain means and merits tested legal aid to be represented in Children Act cases thereby ensuring that the “victim” was not being personally cross examined by the very person they accused of harming them.  With the new regime legal aid is never available, even in the most extreme cases, for such alleged perpetrators even if they vehemently deny the claims made against them.  It is a direct and foreseeable consequence of the abolition of legal aid in most private law Family Court cases.  This was made clear to the Government during the consultation at the time.

As my beloved aunt used to say, “You cannot have your cake and eat it.”

 

Clive Rebbeck’s letter to the Times in response to an article by Frances Gibb Legal Editor, yesterday’s edition

Mel’s blog

January 17. It has been a busy start to the year for me with new requests for annual leave and a new training year to organise. We operate a twinning scheme so that no office or role is left without cover even during the busy summer holiday season and during school holidays. If one “twin” is away then the other is working. In this way things carry on smoothly but one consequence is that everyone wants to get their requests in first!

As for training although the SRA have consigned the CPD requirements to history we still run an extensive and compulsory policy so that all fee earners receive ongoing training. They have to do 16 formal hours of training each year on top of monthly and quarterly sessions here at the firm. Guess who has to organise it all?

I am also catching up on miscellaneous calls which involves asking people about their experience with the firm. We know that being the best we can be requires that we regularly ask the people who know best; our clients. What is pleasing is how many people are genuinely pleased to help and share their experience with me. That must show that they have a good feeling for the firm.

I better get back to it. I will write again next month.

Mel N.

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