5 Things We Learned From Episode 4 of Never Mind the Keywords with Laura Guillon

laura guillon - episode 4

In 2022, Embryo took the next step to elevate the agency in the digital sphere by creating the podcast ‘Never mind the Keywords’. The series is hosted by a variety of experts at Embryo, from a range of sectors of the business. They interview a variety of guests to find out more about their industry, insider tips and information – while revealing life lessons for others to adhere to in the industry.

This blog shares the five key takeaways from episode four of the podcast, which features Laura Guillon, who is a Senior Associate Solicitor at a leading law firm, Hall Brown Family Law, based in Manchester.

In this interview conducted by Digital PR Strategist, Tamara Siddiqui, alongside co-host and Content Executive, Dylan Heath, Laura reveals how she became a specialist in family law, how she deals with sensitive cases and how she strives to achieve a work-life balance – as well as debunking some of the myths and misconceptions around the practice of law.

We bring you the inside trips, tricks and tell all in this open and honest discussion with Laura – but if you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can find it on Spotify, Youtube or Apple podcasts.

 

  • The challenges of working in the Family Law sector

One of the biggest challenges Laura has had to overcome as a Family Law solicitor is trying to not get too emotionally invested in cases which she believes come with experience.

To be good at your job, you have to have a degree of empathy and humanity, it’s a really personal situation. But you also have to be really careful not to become too involved in a case, because then you become the problem, not the solution.

Paying you for a role, which you need to do properly – can’t do it if you become too emotionally invested in the outcomes. If you do, you are going to lose all objectivity. It’s about having the balance”.

She also shares the challenges in not becoming a client’s councillor and keeping objectivity in order to maintain balance in her role – especially when there are children involved.

But despite the challenges, Laura revealed that her role is extremely rewarding, commenting:

When you see the start of their journey, where people are going through one of the worst times of their lives, through to the end where they are starting a new chapter of their lives”.

 

  • Debunking the myths of the law sector: Family law is female-dominated and isn’t as ‘nice’ a role as you think

Laura shared that while the law sector remains a male-dominated industry, family law is very female-heavy..but isn’t as ‘nice’ a role as people may think.

Out of 50 members of staff in Hall Brown Family Law, just seven of these are male – a staggering 86% of the law firm are female. Laura reveals that this is common across family law.

There is a misconception when people are deciding what area they want to go into that family law is going to be the nice, touchy-feely one – when actually, it’s something my boss says to me, ‘what we do is a contact sport’.

“It is really hard because..it’s quite confrontational -it is two people arguing about something that is emotionally driven, and we try to take the emotion out of it. It can get very hearted, both in terms of the advocates on either side and the parties involved. It’s a very litigious area of law. I think there is this slight misconception that people will be sitting around talking about their feelings”.

Laura challenged the post lockdown divorce influx, as she argued that despite media news suggesting a spike in divorce rates, this was not entirely accurate.

Laura explained that when we first went into lockdown, a lot of people, understandably, didn’t want to start a divorce whilst living together – especially due to the uncertainty during the pandemic, that affected many industries

She commented:There was an influx when lockdown lifted, but that wasn’t necessarily a result of people thinking ‘we’ve been locked down together and this has all been terrible’. It was probably people who were thinking about it before anyone but thought, ‘I’m going to hit pause because of the lockdown, and nobody knows what’s going on’”.

 

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to achieving a work-life balance – things don’t always go to plan!

Having spent over 10 years in the family law arena, Laura still finds it difficult to achieve a healthy work-life balance – but advises people not to put too much pressure on themselves if things don’t always go to plan.

Day-to-day, it’s really simple things like try not to look at your work emails after a certain time. At 10 o’clock at night, there’s nothing you can do about something, but if you look at your phone at that time, it’s something you’re going to be thinking about when you try to get to sleep.

“I think it’s trying to be relatively strict about when it is your work time and when is your time and when is your home time, and it doesn’t always work that way and you have to not be too hard on yourself. Otherwise, that’s just another thing to beat yourself up about”.

Having a dedicated area of work really makes a difference if you can shut that door and both physically and psychologically disconnect from work. A journey home can also be a time to switch off from work.

Laura’s busy schedule transcends her working life, as she describes moments in her personal life as hectic too – she revealed that she got married and moved house in the same week.. And it was Christmas!

But she is able to break through the noise by giving herself something to look forward to, such as booking a holiday and assigning a period of time to help her unwind from her busy lifestyle.

 

  •  When it comes to networking, you learn as you go.

As a lawyer, Laura has to build a network of people whom she works with. Although she believes that networking comes easier the more you do it, as is something you learn along the way, she shared her top tips for anybody starting out:

  • Join committees in the city you’re working in
  • Go to events – you get to know people
  • As a lawyer, there is no hard sell, but it’s more about brand awareness for your personal brand and for the company you work for
  • When you network effectively, people remember your name when something relevant comes up

Laura also spoke about her experience as the Chair for Future Pro Manchester, which is a committee in which various young professionals from around the city, from various companies, are able to network, build ideas and create larger events.

I’ve been on the committee for about five, six years and where we meet regularly to put on seminars, socials and plan big events, such as the made in Manchester Awards.

“It’s a really nice committee to be involved in. It involves deciding some of your time and resources, but because it’s part of pro-manchester- a fully functioning company – they organise the events. Being on the committee is more about brainstorming, getting ideas together, and building your own network”.

 

  • Delving inside the law sector, from desired personality traits to industry updates 

In any sector, particular skill sets will help you excel in your role. Laura revealed the desired personality traits in the law sector – and shared the skills that she found most challenging to master.

You have to be quite organised. Not everybody is, but it makes the job much easier. There are a lot of spinning plates and various, different things you have to do, so being organised and learning how to prioritise and as you get more senior, learning how to delegate – I think that was the skill that took me the longest”.

She commented:I think a lot of lawyers are naturally control freaks, but that doesn’t work because eventually, you’ll completely burn out.

“You’ve got to bring other people behind you. I think that was probably the skill that took me the longest to learn – I’m not entirely sure I’ve completely perfected it”.

In terms of innovation in the law sector, the industry is very structured and regulated – and this transcends into updating laws and regulations in the UK and there reveals that it is not necessarily politically a priority to reform divorce laws.

However, Laura shared that there are set to be big industry updates in 2022, with ‘no-fault divorce’ regulations coming into place. Up until now, the law required blame to proceed with a divorce, unless you’d been separated for two years. This was a structure in place from 1973, yet the new update will allow divorce proceedings to be much more accessible to two people without having to assign blame.