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Catching-up with Family lawyer Melissa Gire

Associate Solicitor, Melissa Gire, joined our Family team at CooperBurnett LLP in September 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. She was looking to return to work, after the birth of her first child, and had previously been based in London.

“I recognised that I now wanted some flexibility in my work life,” says Melissa. “I discovered that CooperBurnett was advertising for a part-time role in its Family team, to support Partner Gemma Gillespie. I applied and, during the interview process, was encouraged by how friendly everyone was.”

Since then, Melissa has gone on to have a second child and is now back again at CooperBurnett, working a couple of days a week.

She qualified in 2014 and was drawn to family law as ‘every case is different’.

“I enjoy getting to know our clients and guiding them through the process,” she says. “It’s important to help to understand what their aim is when they first arrive and to then help them to achieve that as far as possible, within a legal framework. It’s important to be non-judgemental and supportive; clients have to feel comfortable enough to be honest and open about their situation.”

She adds: “From what can be a really emotional start, it’s great to see clients then move on with their lives in a positive way.”

Melissa’s work includes divorce and the associated financial settlement negotiations, arrangements for the children, pre- and post-nuptial agreements and unmarried couple disputes.

“We are busy in the Family team at the moment,” says Melissa. “Even though the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce last year has made the process of divorce more straightforward, as couples can do it online, it is still sensible to get advice before applying for the Final Order (previously known as the Decree Absolute). This is particularly important as the financial settlement needs to be finalised and recorded in a Court Order before applying for the Final Order.”

She continues: “Here at CooperBurnett, we are encouraging couples to settle out of court wherever possible and if appropriate in the circumstances. The family courts are extremely busy and agreeing matters will avoid a costly and lengthy court process. As a team, we try to encourage other forms of dispute resolution where possible, such as mediation, arbitration and private FDRs (Financial Dispute Resolution hearings).”

Having joined CooperBurnett during Covid and then being on maternity leave, Melissa is enjoying the opportunity to really get to know her colleagues.

“This has been helped by the introduction of regular catch-up sessions over lunch with all the fee earners,” explains Melissa. “Each time, there is a presentation by one of the teams, where they talk about what they do. This makes referring work within the firm much easier.”

When she’s not at work, Melissa likes to spend time with her family and, when time allows – and two small children - she enjoys foreign travel, the theatre and live music.

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August 3, 2023
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