I’d like to write a blog post but I don’t have the time…

Things are busy here.

I don’t have time to say anything terribly considered or even very interesting, but I just place this marker down that the workloads for all of us are not reducing (judges, lawyers, social workers, court staff…), and things are really tough out there.

9am hearings, lunchtime hearings, 4pm or even 4.30pm hearings – even in non urgent cases – are becoming normalised in the family court. This should not be happening. I challenge it when I can – for my own sake and that of colleagues – but our commitment to our clients and our cases sometimes makes this a hard line to hold. I do not pretend that I have not agreed on occasion, in particular cases. I’m not a militant or a purist, but I am really worried.

I know judges only started doing this out of necessity themselves, but I can feel us sliding ever faster down a very slippery slope, and my digging my heels in is no longer enough to counter the momentum that has begun to gather. 8am starts, 6pm finishes even on a non-trial day – and hours and hours of prep before and after. How did we get to this? When are we supposed to eat, sleep and breathe? When are we supposed to percolate? I need percolation time to be my best barristery self, to brew those eureka moments.

Once again, I hope and pray that someone up there (senior person not heavenly being) will find a way to make it stop. Not just for the sake of the lawyers, but for the judges too. They are not imposing such listings for fun, but the once unthinkable has very quickly become normalised. And they will all be burnt out too, if we aren’t careful. As if ‘lack of availability of judges’ is not a big enough problem already…At a time when we are standing out care final hearings for want of a judge and some parts of the country are taking half a year to get a Cafcass report working longer hours is not actually the solution it might seem to be.

Not long ago when I protested in a meeting about the idea of early or late listing, a colleague helpfully countered by saying ‘Well I do what is necessary to protect the needs of my client’, the implication apparently being that anyone who doesn’t agree doesn’t give a sh*t. Solidarity is in short supply these days, but we have to have each other’s backs. We must politely resist when we can  to protect ourselves, our colleagues (especially the more junior, who may often have care responsibilities for little ones) and to protect the integrity of the system – for the benefit of all our clients. It’s not selfish. It’s essential.

As we say here at familoo towers every morning before school : Have fun, work hard, try your best, be kind. But don’t give in to extended operating hours by stealth. (ok, we don’t say that last bit, but you get my drift)

Oh, and just like that – I seem to have written a blog post! Huzzah.

12 thoughts on “I’d like to write a blog post but I don’t have the time…

  1. Oh dear, poor poor over worked highly paid family court lawyers and judges..what shall we do to make life better for these desperate people??? How dare the loving fathers and his soon to be alienated children be so demanding on such overworked and over paid destroyers of lives – it’s criminal…I do have a suggestion which will ease the burden on such pillars of the community. Here goes – Have one big hearing say at 11ish, where all victims can attend.. to save room (and time) notify ALL fathers via email ( no right t reply or attend any hearing) they are alienated from their child/dren for a period of 10 to life with no right of appeal based on the following 5 false allegations: 1) Drug user..2) DV abuse..3) Controlling..4) Rapist and the Pièce de résistance 5) child abuse…To celebrate and reward. Because so much time’s been saved a big party in the magistrates chambers for the victims – the mothers ( no pesky child/dren allowed) can be held to ensure these poor poor victims can at last be with their partners in crime and professional child traffickers ….Answers on a postcard please to: Corrupt Family Courts, The Crooked Mile, Bent Avenue, United Kingdom..CB99 BL9..

  2. If social work reports contained the truth, and only the truth, you would all find yourselves a lot less busy as the number of children going into care would reduce dramatically.

  3. Sorry, I forgot. The truth has no relevance in family court does it.

  4. “I need percolation time to be my best barristery self, to brew those eureka moments.” – Yes! This! And because I no longer commute to court so I don’t have my marinating/percolating time in the car, I don’t know when or how to fit it in. I had some of my best ideas on my commute.

  5. Hearings as late as 4.30pm ? How do you manage it?
    8pm starts and 6pm finishes ? My heart bleeds for you……….
    How do you survive at weekends without any judges to admire you?
    Ah well, it’s a hard hard life …………..

    • As I’m sure you know Ian, time spent in hearings are not the half of it.

      • I wonder why my comment regarding the lack of truth in ‘professional’ reports to the courts was not worthy of any response?

        • because it wasn’t worthy of a response?

          • It’s a shame. Everyone so very busy and yet the truth in these family cases is completely irrelevant. It’s the children who suffer, from all this ‘work’ being done.

  6. Goodness me ! I have only just had time to read this blog Lucy – ha ha ! And I for one whole heartedly agree with you . What people clearly don’t understand is that you can’t just magically walk into a court room at 10am and leave at 4pm with your day done . It is the long hours preparing cross examination and writing written submissions outside of these hours that make the days so long . Next time you get someone who doesn’t appear to understand this offer to swap jobs with them for a week and see how they get on ! No sickies allowed either !!!

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