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Archive for March, 2014

Interview with Lauren Harris (trainee Solicitor)

Tell us about yourselfphoto

I joined Venters in November 2008 as an Office Administration Assistant. I was promoted promptly to a Paralegal with this firm, before most recently becoming a Trainee Solicitor in 2013. I have assisted June Venters QC throughout the majority of my time with Venters.

Prior to my employment with Venters, I had been working for a Conveyancing firm of Solicitors in Guildford as a Legal Secretary.

As well as undertaking full time employment I commenced the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) course and completed Levels 3 and 6 of the same at Guildford College. After six years of studying CILEX and working full time, I then undertook the Legal Practice Course at the Guildford University of Law in the hope that I could qualify as a Solicitor.

What drew you to the law?

I haven’t always aspired to be a lawyer, however I have always had a strong passion for justice. I have witnessed many individuals struggling to achieve justice and the consequences that this had on them and their families. It is my experience of this which drew me to the law, as I wanted to be in a position to assist individuals who were desperate for justice to be achieved.

What do you offer clients?

I hope that I offer clients the reassurance and peace of mind that I will deal with their case in an efficient and professional manner, in order to achieve a resolution of the issue for them and their families.

What do you do when you are not working?

Up until last year, most of my spare time would be taken up by studying or taking law examinations. Now that this is no longer required, I enjoy attending exercise classes with British Military Fitness and have taken up running as a hobby. I have entered my first half marathon for which I am fundraising for a charity.

Sum up in five words

Dedicated, approachable, enthusiastic, diligent and reliable.

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The Best of Both Worlds

Individuals, some organisations, and members of licensed professional bodies can instruct barristers to represent them in court without the involvement of a solicitor or an intermediary. This is called direct access. However, by using direct access to a barrister you deny yourself access to a solicitor.

Solicitors are able to act as advocates in court because their professional rules allow them to do so. Barristers can’t practice as solicitors because their professional rules don’t. By instructing a solicitor at Venters you get the best of both worlds – the services of a solicitor and a court advocate in one and the same instructed individual.

June Venters QC has been a solicitor for some 30 years. Her advocacy skills were recognised by her appointment as a Queen’s Counsel in 2006. By instructing June you get both direct access to an extremely experienced solicitor and a top-tier advocate.

June Venters QC at Elizabeth House Surgery

Free 30 minute Introduction Meetings

We offer a 30 minutes free introductory meeting to enable you to meet with a solicitor who will discuss with you brief details of your case in order to assist you to identify what options are available to you and which pricing structure we would recommend.

There is no obligation to instruct us at the end of this meeting.

The purpose of this meeting is for you to have the opportunity to meet with us and to receive sufficient information for you to decide on what legal advice/representation you need and what level of service you require.

Venters trainee finishes half marathon in support of the Lucy Faithful Foundation

Venters Trainee Solicitor Lauren Harris completed the Mizuno Reading Half Marathon on Sunday 2nd March in 2 hours 22 mins.

She was raising money for the Lucy Faithful Foundation and has raised £615.00 so far.

For further information on the Lucy Faithful Foundation click http://lucyfaithfull.org/ 

The changing face of legal advice and representation

In today’s times of austerity where we all have to watch what we spend, legal costs can be a worrying addition to anyone’s budget.

Many people believe the solution is to represent themselves but at what cost?

Remember even if a person is unrepresented a Judge still has the power to order costs against them if their case is unsuccessful.  Advice from a Solicitor can save you money in the long run.

Venters Solicitors provide Venters Self Help Solutions in order to combat the general anxiety held by many that costs can run away with the case and secondly to meet the needs of many people who since 1st April 2013 are no longer eligible for legal aid in cases involving divorce and children issues such as contact and residence.

It means that clients can arrange an appointment to meet with a qualified experienced Solicitor in order to receive advice on family law matters as and when needed.  However, the difference between the conventional instruction of a Solicitor is that the client will be “acting in person.”  The Solicitor will provide them with a written note of the advice before they leave the appointment and the client will pay for the appointment on a “pay as you go” basis.  There will be no further costs incurred unless and until a further appointment is arranged because no further work will be undertaken by the Solicitor.

Appointments can be used to seek advice on any family law matter, prepare statements, court documents, letters etc.  A solicitor can also be appointed to represent you at court.

As well as Venters Self Help Solutions we continue to offer a conventional service where we are instructed on behalf of our clients and represent them throughout.

Venters Solicitors, Champions for Justice, are a niche firm of dedicated family law specialists, who uniquely are led by the first and only woman Solicitor Advocate Queen’s Counsel.

Domestic Violence and Contact – are they being properly investigated?

I am currently researching how effectively the courts are properly investigating allegations of domestic violence when considering applications for contact having had a recent experience where a court’s failure to do so caused a mother and her children three years of emotional turmoil as she struggled to convince the professionals involved that she was not implacably hostile to contact but had genuine and legitimate child protection concerns.   She was only vindicated when some three years later the Fact Finding Hearing was listed and determined.   I am reminded of what Dame Butler Sloss said in Re L [2000] 2FLR 334 at 341-2

‘If the allegations might have an effect on the outcome, they must be adjudicated upon and found proved or not proved. It will be necessary to scrutinise such allegations which may not always be true or may be grossly exaggerated…In cases of proved domestic abuse, as in cases of other proved harm or risk of harm to the child the court has the task of weighing in the balance the seriousness of the domestic violence, the risks involved, the impact on the child against the positive factors (if any) of contact between the parent found to have been violent and the child. In this context, the ability of the offending parent to recognise his past conduct, be aware of the need to change and make genuine efforts to do so will be likely to be an important consideration.’ 

I am in contact with Dr Danya Glaser consultant psychiatrist who was instructed by the Official Solicitor at that time to prepare a joint report with Dr J.C. Sturge, to advise on the four appeals with a view to considering the situation further.

If anyone has any similar experiences where the courts are either not listing cases for fact finding hearings in such circumstances or who are accepting “watered down” admissions so as to change significantly the nature of the allegations made thus making them less serious I should be grateful if you would send me details.

June Venters QC

 

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