Niche Family Law Practices are now becoming widespread across the U.K. as an alternative, more bespoke way of offering specialist family law advice rather than being a tag on to a larger corporate business. Whether the model is a sustainable one only time will tell, however, last month we celebrated our 9th anniversary in business since we first opened the doors of Major Family Law in Ponteland.

Our offices originally situated at 10 West Road opened for the first time on April 1st. The date being deliberately chosen as one myself and my landlords Liz and John Scott Batey, who have both since tragically passed, as being a memorable one. “Perhaps I’ll be the biggest fool”, I remarked to John, in ignorance as to what lay ahead.

It wasn’t as tricky setting up as you’d imagine. The Law Society were helpful and told me I just needed insurance and my practicing certificate so to start with I worked from home for a few months until I secured the premises at West Road.

It took 2 months before we gained our first client. The phone never seemed to ring and the door remained firmly shut! It was anxious times and back in 2009 we were just crawling out of the recession. However, I was pragmatic and thought if it doesn’t work I’d pick up my handbag and get a job.

But come June the phone did ring and clients started instructing us. The same year I took on board my first two loyal and committed staff, Jane and Anna, both now my fellow Directors along with Lucinda Connell who was promoted to Director in January this year.

We quickly expanded and by late summer 2010 had moved next door to Number 12 and taken over the upstairs of Number 10. We’ve since refined our brand and our premises were given a make-over in 2015 to reflect our company ethos which is to provide a comfortable environment for consultations. Feedback from clients and professionals alike is extremely positive. “Our offices are very different from other practices, very homely but stylish.” Clients tell us that they do not feel intimidated by our offices which is important as, for most of them, this is the first time they have had to deal face-to-face with solicitors. We demonstrate a strong commitment to client care and this is borne out by the high proportion of work that has come to us through recommendations. Our clients tell us we provide a more sensitive and personal service than our competitors in the city law firms. And of course we always aim to achieve the right and fair result for each of them.

Running a business isn’t as easy as it may look from the more comfortable shoes of employment and once you’ve taken the plunge you have to accept it becomes another member of your family that you nurture and care about every day of your life. I’ve become braver by reflection and try always to learn from setbacks. Sustaining and growing a business requires strategy, focus and most importantly getting the right team in place to deliver what our clients expect of us – a professional service.

From a standing start back in 2009 we are now a team of 16 and shall be shortly joined by 2 more lawyers. We are a firm that people want to work in, with and have working for them. As we move into our ninth full year of trading, we are delighted at the high level of client satisfaction. We are the David taking on the Goliaths of this world.

Today we are a well-regarded Practice with able lawyers and a dedicated supporting staff alike but most importantly for me is that we all get along together. My journey of self-employment has had many challenges this past 9 years but the support and loyalty of our burgeoning team is the constant and is the core to our continued success in the market place.