Q&A with Ciara Pugh – Solicitor

Ciara PughCiara Pugh
Solicitor, London

Why did you decide to become a family lawyer?
I always wanted a job that would have meaning, and as cheesy as it sounds, one where I would be helping people. When I started my training contract, my first seat was family law and all other practice areas afterwards didn’t quite match up. I enjoy solving problems and I wanted a solid career, so family law seemed like an obvious path.

What have been your most memorable cases so far and why?
I worked in collaboration with another solicitor from a different firm where we each represented one client from a separated couple, one of whom was terminally ill. We fast tracked the divorce so that the ill husband could marry his new partner. I have always enjoyed thorough preparation on behalf of all my clients, and when this is shown in court I get a real sense of achievement, both for the client and on a personal level. I have had a recent case, where we were instructed a week before a final hearing, and I think we were more prepared than the other side!

What 3 qualities do you think every family lawyer needs?
Julian, our Senior Partner, said it before, and I will say it again – empathy. Dealing with everyday people and very real situations regarding breakdown of marriages and arrangements for children means there are lots of emotions involved. I think you must be relatable and be able to sympathise with their situation but also not get too involved in the emotion of a case. It is important that you can keep a cool head and have a compassionate ear.

Good communication – I think delivering tough advice to a client is a skill which needs to be highlighted. Providing advice your client is may not like is not always easy but putting a positive spin on it is a skill you aren’t taught in law school. Effective communication goes a long way with your client and the journey you go on with them. It is vital to be able to communicate complex legal jargon in a clear way which clients can understand.

Non-judgmental – It is important to remain unwavering and reassure clients they can trust you despite what information they divulge.

What advice would you give to a trainee who is thinking about specialising in family law?
Gain as much experience as you can working in people-centred jobs. You are dealing with people all day every day from all walks of life and so you need to have a wide range of transferable skills, which rely on emotional intelligence. I have been fortunate as I have always had influential mentors, so if you can find someone senior who you can learn from – stick to them like glue! The law is constantly evolving, and law firms are dynamic workplaces, so always keep your knowledge is up to date.

Which part of your job do you enjoy or dislike most and why?
I really enjoy client satisfaction. When you initially speak to someone who is scared, worried or upset and you provide them with knowledge and arm them with some confidence that there is a solution, that leaves you with a feeling of fulfilment.

What would you do if you weren’t a lawyer?
I would love to have Louis Theroux’s job. Making documentaries by interviewing people on interesting topics.

How do you relax?
I enjoy playing a game of chess online on Chess.com – reach out to me if you fancy a game! I am a box-set nerd and do enjoy binge-watching TV series (Game of Thrones, The Wire, any BBC/ITV drama and of course, Love Island!)

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Probably to fly – I am originally from Belfast so would save a lot on flights. Also, wouldn’t need to get on a tube again.

I work within the Talent Acquisition team here at Stowe with a particular focus across the North. I post a variety of blogs from family law to environmental, wellbeing to progressing careers. Subscribe below to be the first to receive our latest family law newsletters.

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