Shortly after we began our relationship my (now) fiancee, who grew up in Sussex before travelling and then settling in Australia, made it clear that she hoped to return to the UK someday – and that she wanted me to come with her. At first I felt some reluctance and more than a little trepidation – I had built up a successful practice helping people with their family law matters in Perth, Western Australia and the notion of relocating to the other side of the world and, to a degree, beginning my career all over again was quite daunting.
I’d visited the UK before, during various trips to Europe (I once undertook a year-long working holiday in Denmark and made the most of that opportunity to explore, eat and drink all things European), but I’d never contemplated the notion of actually practising family law under new and different rules and procedures.
With that said, though, I’ve never lacked a sense of adventure and the opportunity to explore British culture, live in Europe and re-qualify and practice in a foreign jurisdiction was, upon mulling things over, really quite exciting!
After contemplating various cities we chose Bristol as our new home – the city’s enthusiasm and positivity was infectious and we felt a genuine connection to Bristol within days of our first visit. My fiancee landed an excellent role and we quickly settled in to our new environment – one characterised by delicious vegetarian food, a disproportionate number of fantastic craft beer breweries and old-world architecture meeting progressive values.
It didn’t take long at all for me to find a role with John Hodge Solicitors and I quickly learned that family law clients have much the same priorities, here in England, as they do in Australia: they want a common-sense, goal-oriented approach to their matters and they want someone to help them navigate what can be a very tricky process towards quality relationships with their children and, subject to their individual priorities and needs, financial security in a period of economic uncertainty.
I’ve found that family law in Australia closely aligns with family law in England & Wales. There are some differences in procedure, which is to be expected, but by and large the substance and values are quite similar. All in all it’s been quite a smooth transition and, I have to say, I’m delighted that I overcame my initial reluctance and trepidation, took the plunge and relocated to Bristol.
At the date of writing this blog I’m preparing for my Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme exams – the re-qualification step I’ll take to become admitted to the Roll of Solicitors of England & Wales. It’s been quite challenging to undertake study again, particularly with so, so many different practice areas (most of which I’ve never actually practised!) that I need to become sufficiently familiar with to pass my exams.
I do love a challenge, though, and I feel quite privileged at the opportunity in front of me: to help a whole new range of clients traverse what can be a very difficult time and achieve the very best outcome for them – whatever their priorities or needs might be.
John Hodge Solicitors