McAlister Family Law: surviving COVID-19 « McAlister Family Law


McAlister Family Law: surviving COVID-19

Nicola Wilburn-Shaw


Could you provide a bit of information about your organisation for those who are unaware of it please? 

Part of Beyond Group, which establishes specialist law firms, McAlister Family Law is a niche child and family law firm, with offices in Alderley Edge, Manchester and London. We’re proud to say we are unlike almost every other family law firm in the country, as McAlister Family Law is one of the very few that specializes not only in divorce and finance but also child law.

How did the coronavirus outbreak affect your organisation? 

It actually had a positive effect. The Group invests heavily in state-of-the-art IT systems and we work on a paperless basis, so it was business as usual: we were able to look after our local, regional, national and international clients without any break in service. We moved seamlessly to a collective home-working environment - for some of us, the only question was whether to set up the “home office” in the spare room or go for a more mobile “hot desk” style by way of the ironing board!

How did your organisation feel about COVID-19's effect on the business? 

Most importantly, we were the first port of call for multiple domestic violence charities, and we worked harder than ever to support vulnerable children caught up in the challenging situations that arose directly out of the lockdown. We have two specialist children teams and they frequently worked through the night to help protect those most at risk.  In addition we were of course concerned about the health of our people and our clients, given the many unknowns, but our collective resilience both as an organization and as individuals within that organization ensured we have survived the outbreak from a business perspective; we acknowledge that we have been fortunate to do so and we are all immensely proud to be part of such a forward-thinking firm.

How has your organisation adapted during the coronavirus outbreak? 

We very quickly set in place our work from home protocols and the feedback we’ve received from our clients and our people is that we have successfully managed to continue business as usual. Having said that, the outbreak did hit our Alderley Edge office hard from the perspective of not being able to operate on a drop-in basis, and we missed that face to face contact and interaction with our clients, friends and fellow business owners within the village community.

How are you presently operating as an organisation, at a time when some coronavirus restrictions have been lifted? 

We are currently working towards opening up again, with plans for our Alderley Edge office to open first at the beginning of August, once we are sure we have put in place all the requisite measures to do so safely for both our clients and staff. It is still very much business as usual - albeit remotely - until that time and we are, in fact, incredibly busy!

If you had to give reasons to feel positive as an organisation at this present moment in the coronavirus crisis, what would you say? 

  • We can be proud that as business we survived the crisis with no negative impact
  • Our significant investment in IT and introduction of forward-thinking office procedures has proven to be intrinsic to our unrivalled customer service offering
  • We have genuinely embraced the concept, and value, of work/life balance and learned that despite a lawyer’s tendency to work long hours, it is achievable
  • We even recruited two young professionals during the lock down period!

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Due to Covid-19, many separated parents are trying to manage the shared care of their children, manage home schooling, and ensure that they are protecting themselves and their families from the virus. In recent weeks, we have seen in the press that many separated parents are fighting each other through the courts over whether their children should return to school as the lockdown is eased. Solicitor Jonathan Casey examines the issues.

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11 May 2020

Occupation order: what you need to know

As the COVID-19 lockdown continues, some people find themselves forced to socially isolate at home with partners and spouses on a 24/7 basis. In some very difficult instances, this may lead to a situation where they are stuck in a property with an abusive partner. What protections are available?

Under Section 33 and 35 to 38 of the Family Law Act 1996, the court have powers to make a protective order known as an occupation order.  Assistant solicitor Aaron Williams explains.

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