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Five minutes with...Melissa Markham

When did you join Gullands? 

December 2006

Describe a typical day for you?

My days vary greatly depending on how many clients I have coming into the office and whether I need to go to court or not.  Most of my time is taken up dealing with incoming post, advising clients over the telephone and of course in person.

What are the benefits of collaborative law?

Collaborative law is an alternative form of dispute resolution which allows couples to retain control of their settlement rather than it being dictated by the court.  It involves a number of round table meetings between the parties and their collaboratively trained solicitors at which all four of them, together with any required experts such as accountants or counsellors, will work together to find the best solution for both parties and their children.

What impact will the government’s new proposals for ‘forced’ mediation have on couples?

For some this will assist them to avoid the court room although those couples will generally opt for mediation or collaboration in any event.  Mediation is not always a suitable process as the parties need to be able to discuss matters without one unduly influencing the other.  In many relationships there is one character stronger than the other which may result in the weaker party losing out.

What changes would you like to see in family law?

Certainly not the forced mediation currently proposed as I think if a party is paying privately they should be able to have access to whatever process they require.  Forced mediation is already in place for publicly funded clients which is right as they are spending taxpayers’ money.

What is your greatest achievement as a solicitor to date?

A few years ago I qualified as a Solicitor Advocate which gives me Higher Rights of Audience so I can appear for clients in all courts rather than having to instruct a barrister.  This is a qualification that very few solicitors have.

How do you relax in your spare time?

I am a new mum so relaxation time is very rare.  However I must confess to indulging in a nice glass of red in front of the TV once the little one has retired to bed.