A trainee’s first week with the family team

4 October, 2017

In the trainee solicitor blog this week, we caught up with Tristam Razzell to hear more about his first week in the family team.


My first day in the team saw my attendance at a Financial Dispute Resolution (or “FDR”, for those who like snappy lingo). Parties to a divorce are encouraged to use an FDR to reach agreement on financial matters in issue between them. The parties will be guided by a Judge, who will express a view about the likely outcome of the dispute should it proceed to a Final Hearing.

What made this FDR unusual is that it was a Private FDR. A Private FDR is a fairly recent concept, and in being conducted at a private venue of choice (in this case at Cripps Pemberton Greenish’s offices rather than at court), they can offer great advantages such as allowing the Judge more time to read the papers beforehand and to gain a firmer grip on the nuances of a particular case, as well as having the Judge’s undivided attention for the day.

My role as a trainee was to take a concise note of the meeting and the hearing and to properly record all proposals put forward and the views and opinions of the Judge, Sir Paul Coleridge, a retired High Court judge.

It is integral that all the issues and discussion points are properly recorded at the FDR to ensure that the proposal you put forward is one that has the best chance of being accepted by the other party.

It was certainly an exciting and new experience, not just for me but for my colleagues, too (this being the first Private FDR conducted at Cripps Pemberton Greenish’s new office).


My second day in the family department started equally as frenetic as I made my way bright and early to our London office, which is located in Central London (just up the road from Charing Cross Railway Station). I was to attend a seminar that evening entitled The Search for Principles: A Review of Recent Family Finance Cases which was being hosted by The 36 Group of barristers.

Working from the London office was again a new experience for me, and it was exciting being in a new Cripps Pemberton Greenish environment in the heart of the Capital.

That morning I had coffee with my supervisor which was an invaluable opportunity to find out more about the family seat in general, and how I could make the most out of the next six months.

Throughout the day I undertook various tasks such as compiling updating disclosure to the other side and research into the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

At 17:30 I left the office together with two colleagues to attend the seminar. The seminar itself provided an update on recent financial cases, such as Mills v Mills and Birch v Birch, and it was fantastic to hear the opinions and thoughts of leading barristers.

Wednesday and Thursday

Wednesday and Thursday saw my first full days in the Tunbridge Wells department. As with any seat move, it is very much a case of settling in on your first few days in a new department.

Over the two days I undertook various tasks such as putting together updating disclosure to the other side, drafting replies to a schedule of deficiencies and undertaking various research tasks.

I always think it is a good idea when you enter a new department to ascertain from a colleague some general ‘go-to’ Practical Law articles that can provide a good overview on some of the key areas that you will be working in. To that end I also spent the two days compiling a good collection of articles and reading these and taking a note.

On the Thursday my colleagues and I attended a working lunch with a wealth management company. This was an invaluable opportunity to understand how the wealth management sector can assist our clients and our work. It is important to remember that to be a good solicitor you need to recognise your own limitations and signpost clients to other professionals to assist when you are unable to assist on matters outside of your own expertise.


On Friday I was again working from the London office as I was to attend and take a note at conference with counsel. The conference concerned an application for an Occupation Order and so I spent the 55 minute train journey refreshing my LPC knowledge (particularly the s33 (6) FLA 1996 factors!) and applying this to the particular facts of the case.

I attended the conference at 1 Hare Court, together with two colleagues. It is always a fascinating experience sitting in with counsel as it provides a unique opportunity to understand how you should tackle the particular issues of the case, and what the tactics and approach are to be with the other side going forward.

The meeting lasted for around two hours and I took a note on all that was discussed.

Following the conference with counsel I returned to the London office and finalised my note. I supplied a copy of the note to the client for good order.

This being Friday, I left the London office at around 17:45 and met up with some friends for a few well earned drinks!