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The Brief

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THE BRIEF WOMEN IN LAW PROFILE… Christine Barker, managing partner at Laytons

Christine Barker, managing partner at Laytons

Christine Barker, managing partner at Laytons

Please describe a typical day
Having been recently appointed as managing partner for Laytons’ Manchester office and being head of the Family Law team I tend not to have a typical day.

As far as routine is concerned, I usually arrive in the office for 8.30am and start the day responding to clients’ emails. Mornings when I am in court vary although it is usually two to three times a week. Appointments are normally quite short, dealing with matters of custody and/or finance. Lunch provides a brief opportunity to meet with heads of practice to discuss business opportunities, events and other diary commitments.

Afternoons are spent with clients discussing outstanding issues and, in particular, if we are going to trial, moving things forward. Consultations with counsel tend to occur later, after court hours. On occasion, it is necessary to travel to London for court/client appointments, practice meetings and consultations with counsel.

What has been your greatest achievement?
As a family lawyer I deal with cases which involve divorce, child custody battles, domestic violence and even child abduction. For me, my greatest achievement has been advising and supporting my clients through these extremely traumatic times. To be in a position to assist and make a real difference makes my role such a rewarding one.

How has the law developed since starting out in your career?
A key development has been the decision of the House of Lords in White v White which has had a tremendous impact on family law. The case introduced a shift in thinking towards the contribution a wife makes to a marriage with equal sharing, as a concept, the accepted starting point for financial settlements irrespective of the traditional roles of money-earner and home-maker.

How do you like to un-wind?
Catching up with friends and family and walking the dog. Relaxing times are holidays, which I think are essential although the Blackberry remains on!

What advice would you give to someone starting out in their legal career?
My advice would be to gain as much work experience as possible prior to undertaking any professional courses to ensure that a career in law is right for you. Successful lawyers need to be hard-working and tenacious.

If you hadn’t gone into law …
From a very early age I have always enjoyed history, with a particular interest in the Second World War. If I had not pursued a career in law, I would have very much liked to have worked within a role which incorporated this interest such as a museum curator.

About Christine
Christine is Managing Partner and heads Laytons’ family practice based in Manchester. With over 30 years’ experience specialising in matrimonial finance involving high net worth individuals with complex business assets, pensions and trust and tax issues, Christine is a “consummate performer in this field” – Legal 500.


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