Q&A with Priyal Patel, Stowe’s Senior Associate for Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire

Why did you decide to become a family lawyer?

I wanted to work in law from a young age, mainly because I loved a good debate. Specifically, I wanted to deal with real life and real problems, which meant that becoming a family lawyer was a natural fit. I wanted to help people going through one of the toughest periods of their lives with as much support as possible and to achieve the best possible outcome.


What have been your most memorable cases so far, and why?

I represented a mother in Children Act proceedings, which concerned two young girls and a history of domestic abuse and violence. I was instructed in the second set of proceedings, and the mother felt that just as she was moving forward with her life, she was served with another Children Act application that would drag her to a place she did not want to be. I don’t usually represent clients at contested hearings, but I represented this client and cross-examined the father. I remember feeling nervous ahead of the contested hearing and confident that I knew the mother’s case better than anyone else. I achieved the mother’s goal of no contact and an S.91(14) order, much to the father’s frustration. The mother’s gratitude after the hearing was immeasurable, and I remember thinking as she walked away that she finally got the respite she had been after for quite some time.


What three qualities do you think every family lawyer needs?

  • Skilled at analysis/research (paying attention to detail).
  • Good communication skills.
  • Be firm but empathetic.


What advice would you give to a trainee who is thinking about specialising in family law?

Be sure Family Law is the area of law you want to specialise in. It can take its toll on your emotions and be all-encompassing, but the end result is highly rewarding. You will need to be empathetic and compassionate and be expected to go the extra mile. Remember you are helping to guide someone who is going through one of the hardest moments of their lives, so it is always worth it.


Which part of your job do you enjoy or dislike most and why?

The part of my job I enjoy the most is that feeling you get when you achieve a good outcome for your client / your client’s goals have been achieved. There is no feeling like it.


What would you do if you weren’t a lawyer?

If I could spend all day painting and have all the fun with none of the admin, I would either be a party planner or a nursery schoolteacher.


How do you relax?

I enjoy drawing (particularly Walt Disney characters) and a good binge of a Netflix series.


If you could have one superpower, what would it be?


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