by Adam Vella – Solicitor at Tiyce & Lawyers
For many law students and recent graduates the prospect of finding work that they find rewarding can be somewhat a stressful and daunting experience. Fortunately for me, an opportunity to work in family law arose two years ago, when Michael Tiyce – the director of Tiyce & Lawyers approached me and asked whether I would be interested in a paralegal role in his firm. With little legal experience and not knowing anything about family law I took up the opportunity and have never looked back.
Having started at Tiyce & Lawyers knowing little about family law, I enrolled myself in a number of subjects that I thought would become both interesting and useful in anticipation of my career as a family lawyer, undertaking subjects such as Family Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Advanced Criminal Law and Corporations Law. Despite not being all directly related to family law, these subjects have proven to extremely useful in understanding the work of a family lawyer and even more so when I came to the realisation that I would like to work in the field.
Family law does not simply entail divorce and children. It is far more complex than most people think. I have found it encapsulates a variety of different areas of law including: property, taxation, trusts, evidence, financial agreements as well as litigation. The last two years at Tiyce & Lawyers has shown me that family law is by far the most varied and certainly a very interesting area of law.
I have found my exposure to matters involving children in the spheres of family law to be a highly rewarding experience. Tiyce & Lawyers undertakes a significant amount of work as the Independent Children’s Lawyer in highly contested parenting matters, representing the best interest of the child or children involved in a parenting dispute. These types of cases are challenging and at times difficult as they can involve children being exposed to varying levels of harm arising from exposure to a variety of situations such as domestic violence, abuse, as well as drugs and alcohol.
In addition to this, family law with respect to children encapsulates an element of international law – a passion of mine that has allowed me to put what I learnt throughout the course of my international relations studies into practice. Working alongside my colleagues and their clients, I have been lucky enough to work in matters preventing international child abduction to countries which are not members of the Hague Convention. Involvement in these types of matters can be extremely frantic at times but simultaneously an incredibly satisfying experience in the effort to protect the best interest of the child.
Working various jobs throughout high school and university and now having transitioned into the legal sector has taught me the importance of communication. Being able to work with people in a highly communicative environment has been one of the primary reasons I have chosen to work in family law. The idea of communicating, developing a strong rapport and building strong relationships with people has always been a big part of my past jobs and throughout my internship.
Since starting working with the team at Tiyce & Lawyers I have learnt that within family law communication is a vital quality in being able to resolve a client’s matter. My observations of the team of solicitors at Tiyce & Lawyers and their clients, whose matters and needs all vary, has taught me the importance of not only what you say but also how you say.
Despite being clichéd, the idea of being a ‘people person’ sits well within the spheres of being a soon to be family law practitioner. I have enjoyed putting into the practice the skills that I learnt throughout university and those that I am currently learning at the College of Law by meeting with clients, whether at the office, in conference with solicitors or when their matter is in court but also when working with barristers and professionals within family law.
Often when I tell people that I work in family law, they look at me as if I was mad and ask – ‘why did you choose family?’ Every day at work I am faced with new and exciting challenges. This has been one of the most exciting elements of transitioning from student life to becoming a family lawyer.
What I have learnt and come to appreciate the most is that every client’s matter whether it is property, financial or parenting or a combination is unique and requires special attention. There are days when you are about to leave the office and the phone rings, deadlines arise unexpectedly and you have to drop everything and run to court and despite trying to be as organised as you can there are times when you cannot plan for the unexpected. Having said this, I have found the work to be incredibly engaging, albeit very intense at times but immensely rewarding.
When reflecting upon those who question my career choice, my response is simple – ‘Why wouldn’t I choose family law?’