Each month we are featuring one of our solicitors or chartered executives. We feel strongly that our clients should be matched with the right lawyer, so this is one way of finding out a little more about our team.
Our lawyer of the month for March is Cate Jewell. Cate is based at our Exeter office.
Q&A – Ten Questions
- What is your job title?
Family Law Executive (CILEx)
- How long have you been at The Family Law Company?
Since 29th October 2018 so I’m still a relative newbie.
- How did you come to be at TFLC?
I had known Stephen and Helen from the Childcare Team for a while after meeting them a number of times on courses, meetings and court hearings. In early Summer 2018 I saw Stephen at court – first thing the next day he sent me a text about a space on the team and I thought it was a good time for a change. Stephen had been ‘nagging me’ for a little while about making a change – all in good taste though! I had been with my previous firm for 14 years and I liked the sound of what TFLC offered to support and represent children and families both from a private law perspective, and particularly cases involving social services, which is what I specialise in. Working at a specialised family law firm had a big appeal, a change to a multi-disciplinary firm.
- What inspired you to go into family law?
Actually, this happened by accident many years ago. I was at another firm working in general insurance and mortgages, but the opportunity came up for me to join a family law department. This was at the time I was doing my training and studying with CILEX, and I took to it really well. I found it interesting and the chance to assist families at times of great worry appealed to me. I loved the role and continued my training and developing from there. I am a mum and I have always found that my own experience as a parent really helps with this work, understanding the worries that parents face. I can empathise when parenting is frustrating, the difficulties that it brings but also the rewards and joys that you also experience.
- Describe your specialism/s
I specialise mainly in childcare work, which involves children and parents and the involvement of local authority/social services. This incorporates all areas of child protection, care proceedings, and the not-so-nice side of parenting difficulties. It can include cases involving non accidental injury to children and sexual abuse. I also represent parents with learning difficulties or disabilities who find themselves involved with social workers and the family court. This area of representation can be quite rewarding particularly when with a little care and extra support, children can stay at home with their parent.
- What would you say are your key strengths as a family lawyer?
I think my own experience as a mum helps me to empathise with how difficult parenting can actually be. That said, common sense is also needed when practicing family law. It is also a job where there is a huge amount of emotional strain both for parents and professionals, so you have to be robust when needed. I like to think that I can apply an all-round perspective when dealing with a case representing a parent. I do my very best for clients, I tell them when they are doing well but I am also not afraid to pull a parent or any client up if I consider that they are prejudicing their case or aren’t listening to the professional advice given.
- What is the achievement you are most proud of in your job?
Some years ago, I was fortunate enough to be involved in the first ‘Forced Marriage Protection’ case in Devon. I learned so much from it, and it was a great experience from a professional perspective. Thankfully, the outcome achieved was wonderful for my client for whom we secured protection and a way of life that has allowed her to achieve some of her dreams – which until she took such drastic and protective steps to seek could have resulted in serious personal harm, even death. I also consider that any case resulting in a child being able to return home to a parent (or simply to stay within its family) with support and a better chance is a great achievement. It doesn’t always happen but when it does, it gives hope and a great deal of reward.
- Why do you think TFLC is different from other family lawyers?
The specialism of providing just family law is excellent. When people contact us, they know they are going to talk to someone who has the experience they need. Their enquiry won’t get lost in a mix of other departments. If you require a family lawyer, then TFLC is what you need.
- Are there any related volunteering roles you undertake?
I am new to Exeter so I’m only just building my knowledge of what is around and the volunteering options available. However, in my home town I engage with local charity work, particularly involving children and animals. I also used to sing in a country rock and pop band that performed regularly for local charities raising funds and awareness.
- What do you do to relax?
It used to be the band but it’s on a sabbatical. Other than that, I love live music and theatre. I have a love of travel and my husband and I have been very lucky to enjoy some fantastic holidays. My daughter now lives in London so I don’t see her every day now, but it does mean that I can enjoy weekend breaks with her which includes shopping (her love) and the theatre (my love). I also love animals. I have a cat called Iris, who is a British Blue but thinks she is human and rules the roost. She won’t let me have a dog, which I would also love to have. Hopefully, one day, I will!