The renowned Childcare Team at Wilson Browne Solicitors is one of the largest in the Midlands, with a number of new faces, although historically childcare was perhaps an area of law often overlooked. Here we shine a light on the challenging but essential and rewarding work that Childcare Solicitors do.
What does a Childcare lawyer do?
We act for anybody who find themselves being taken to court in relation to care proceedings, such as a parent, grandparent, a child (who is usually represented by a children’s guardian), an extended family member or other connected person.
Have you seen any noticeable increase in cases as a result of lockdown?
Sadly, yes. Lockdown has brought with it problems that can lead to children suffering significant harm. This is where having a large care team is truly helpful. Even if a solicitor is engaged on another matter, or on annual leave, we have other team members that are able to step seamlessly in to ensure our clients still have the same level of service and help.
What, if anything, do you attribute that increase to?
Families have been under increasing stress in recent months – financial, emotional and other factors such as job security. The pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone and sadly that means that some families struggle to cope.
What do you find so rewarding about the job?
It’s a job like no other. It’s varied and keeps you on your toes. We deal with different people all day every day and no two cases are the same. We have the privilege of helping others, often at times when they are at a really low point in their lives and that’s incredibly rewarding.
Are you ever appointed on the child’s behalf by, for example, the courts or other parties and if so who?
When care proceedings are issued the court appoints a children’s guardian to represent the children; the guardian will then instruct a solicitor to act for the children. So, we are instructed to act for children in a slightly different way to how we are instructed by other parties. Sometimes a child’s view differs from that of the guardian and, in some cases, they can then instruct their own solicitor.
It must be very distressing for any parent to have social services involved – how do you deal with that?
Our children are the most important things in our lives and so when something goes wrong it can be very upsetting and distressing. Having someone to listen and offer sensible practical advice is invaluable.
What about the children – how are their needs, emotional and otherwise, considered?
Children are paramount in care proceedings. They will all have a guardian appointed to represent their wishes and feelings within any care proceedings that go to court. The guardian will speak to the children to understand what they want and then advise the court on what is in the child’s best interest.
What does your ‘day in the life of’ look like?
No two days are the same! We explain the law to our clients and give simple, honest advice. Our days can involve reading case papers, attending meetings, arranging appointments for our clients with experts such as psychologists or doctors and attending court hearings.
Contact Wilson Browne Solicitors on 0800 088 6004.