Evolve is delighted to announce that family law solicitor Ellie Stokes has joined the team at Evolve Family Law.
Ellie previously worked in Staffordshire where she maintains strong ties and plans to continue to work with family law clients in Staffordshire as well as with new clients in Cheshire and the Greater Manchester area.
As a new recruit who professes to enjoy quizzing, we quizzed Ellie about her reasons for joining Evolve Family Law and her career plans:
Why Evolve Family Law?
I was looking to join a niche family law practice in the North West and Evolve Family Law fit the bill as I wanted the opportunity to gain experience from senior family lawyers. With founders Robin Charrot and Louise Halford’s nearly 50 years of combined legal experience and the friendly supportive team at Evolve, I had no hesitation in saying yes to the move.
The first week at Evolve has already been insightful and I feel like I am learning so much directly from my colleagues. Judging from my first week, I just know I am going to learn so much and enjoy the variety of family law work at Evolve.
Your path to becoming a solicitor?
My working life started at McDonalds flipping burgers but with a degree in International Management with Spanish I knew that I needed to find a career that suited a tidy and organised mind whilst allowing me to get to meet people. A career in law seemed to combine the two.
Time spent as a legal intern in the USA working at the California Innocence Project confirmed that qualifying as a solicitor was the right career path for me. The internship was challenging and combined both legal know-how with helping those incarcerated who had nowhere else to turn to for help. I learned a lot and think that my time in the USA made me the advocate that I am today; feisty and prepared to stand up for what is right.
Why family law?
Whilst training as a solicitor, I worked in a variety of departments, some of which I enjoyed, others less so. However, I was still yet to find an area of law which I found resonated with me most as a person.
Just by chance, I was asked to sit behind a barrister on a contested final hearing in relation to an application for a child arrangement order. Within 15 minutes of that hearing, I knew family law was for me and luckily, I was able to do my final seat in family law and qualify as a family solicitor.
I’ve always been passionate about making a difference in people’s lives in my work or making people’s lives easier during potentially the most awful times of their lives. I feel like family law fits the bill in that sense.
What areas of family law do you specialise in?
I advise on the full range of family law because I love the variety but I have particular expertise in financial claims on relationship breakdown and in helping resolve the financial and property claims of non-married couples, LGBTQ+ partners, and married and civil partners.
As a family lawyer, I am keen to get the message across that your legal rights are very different if you are in a cohabiting relationship rather than if you are married or in a civil partnership. Cohabitees have to rely on property rights. However, if you are married or in a civil partnership the court has wide discretion to make orders that meet your needs rather than orders based on property and trust law.
In the LGBTQ+ community, there is a particular need to understand your family law rights and options, such as the use of cohabitation agreements, civil partnership and prenuptial agreements, as well as the need for specialist children law advice on topics such as parental responsibility for your children or achieving parenthood through international surrogacy.
In every family law matter, you are helping someone at an important point in their life whether that is:
- New relationships – with cohabitation agreements, declarations of trust, prenuptial agreements, or changes to their Will
- Extending the family – with advice on parental responsibility and child arrangement orders, surrogacy, and parental orders
- Relationship breakdowns – by trying to help couples reach a property or financial resolution that works for them by providing constructive legal help focussed on what can be agreed to enable both of them to move on with their lives
What gets you up in the morning?
Other than my 5 alarms, a large cappuccino is my answer to getting going and seated at my desk. Once I am at work, I am kept busy with lots of client calls, meetings, document preparation, and court hearings. No 2 days are ever the same and that is what makes life as a family law solicitor so interesting.
I’m at the start of my career but I look forward to the day when I am advising on international surrogacy using my Spanish language skills as I have a keen interest in this subject. Until then I generally find myself knee-deep in financial disclosure trying to unravel complex financial paperwork. For example, when 1 party to a marriage or civil partnership has moved money or assets or is a director and shareholder in a family business and there is a need to understand movements and discrepancies in a director’s loan account.
Is there life outside Evolve Family Law?
There is definitely life outside of Evolve and family law. Whilst I live in Staffordshire, I am an ardent Liverpool football fan and I get to all the matches I can. I combine my love of football with being a lead guitarist in a local band and being a quiz buff. My claim to fame is winning ITV’s tipping Point and being cast for ITV’s The Chase. My ultimate quizzing goal is to be an Egghead though I have got some way to go in achieving that ambition.