Team Story – Nicola Wingfield
We provide a clear example of how progression works within the Firm. Trainees don’t need to worry about it because there’s a proven track record of people advancing.
Q: Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your role at Butcher & Barlow?
A: I’m Nicola Wingfield, and I’m a Partner in the Family department at Butcher & Barlow. My focus is primarily on children’s law rather than divorce and finances. I also manage the day-to-day operations of the Bramhall office, which essentially involves handling everything that’s not everyone else’s job.
Q: Can you describe a typical day, starting from when you arrive at the office?
A: My days are quite diverse. I’m either in court for a significant portion of the day, usually three or four times a week, or I’m in the office. If I’m in the office, my day begins around 8:30 AM. I start by checking emails and prioritise tasks for the day. Then, I meet with clients, communicate with them over the phone, and work on various documents like drafting statements.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your current role?
A: One aspect I particularly enjoy is acting as a supervisor for younger lawyers in the Firm. It’s rewarding to see their progression. For instance, I’ve witnessed one of my colleagues go from being a junior to an Associate and building a busy caseload in private family law. That’s really rewarding
Q: Is this emphasis on mentorship and career progression a common theme at Butcher & Barlow?
A: Yes, it is. Many current Partners at the Firm started as Trainees here. It’s clear how you can advance and grow within the Firm. I began my career here as a Trainee.
Q: Do you believe this is beneficial for Trainees who may be considering joining Butcher & Barlow? What sets it apart from other law firms?
A: Absolutely. When people look for a firm to work for, they prioritise factors like salary, flexibility, and career progression. We provide a clear example of how progression works within the Firm. Trainees don’t need to worry about it because there’s a proven track record of people advancing. All of our Senior Partners also trained here.
Q: Did you always aspire to be a lawyer?
A: Yes, I always wanted to be a family lawyer specifically. People have said to me, “Did you watch Kramer versus Kramer when you were a kid then?” And I honestly didn’t. I think it was likely influenced by friends whose parents were family lawyers. I heard them talk passionately about their work, which piqued my interest.
Q: Family law is considered to be quite challenging or emotionally demanding due to the nature of the cases, and do you think it requires a specific personality type?
A: Family law is unique and can be emotionally challenging. It definitely requires patience, empathy, and being a people person. I couldn’t see myself working in commercial property, for example.
Q: Have there been any cases in your career that made a significant impact or of which you are particularly proud?
A: Family Law allows you to make a substantial difference in people’s lives. Recently, I handled a case involving young parents who couldn’t initially care for their newborn baby. The grandparents stepped in and cared for the baby for nine weeks, but there was a sudden change in social services’ decision. An urgent application allowed the baby to stay with the family, avoiding foster care. Cases like that mean a lot.
Q: Can you share your career progression at Butcher & Barlow?
A: I started as a Paralegal in August 2009, began my Training Contract in September 2010, qualified in September 2012, and became a Partner in August 2019 after a year of maternity leave.
Q: There is a significant level of responsibility given to Trainees and newly qualified Solicitors at Butcher & Barlow. Do you find this to be beneficial?
A: Yes, Trainees are given substantial responsibility here. I went to court on my very first day, but I was really well supported and that gave me confidence. This approach makes Trainees feel valued and allows them to develop into well-rounded lawyers. I’ve noticed that Trainees from Butcher & Barlow tend to have an advantage compared to those from other firms. A recent newly qualified team member who had trained elsewhere said that their training contract was teaching them to be a good assistant, not a good lawyer. I thought that was a really good way of putting it and was illustrative of the difference between the two ways.
Q: Does Butcher & Barlow’s flexibility policy, including the ability to work from home, benefit you?
A: Absolutely. I have a young son, and when he started school, I was able to do shorter days’ work just while he was settling in and make it up in the evenings. We can work from home two days a week and can decide which days those are, we’re trusted to do what’s best for us and our clients.
Q: How do you find collaboration within the Firm, especially working with colleagues from different departments?
A: Collaboration is essential. My team is spread between Runcorn and Bramhall, covering the entire Cheshire area and dealing with various authorities and professionals. We do refer work to other departments, such as personal dispute resolution when it doesn’t fit neatly into family law which is a massive help, for us and for the clients.
Q: What are your career ambitions, and where would you like to see your role develop in the future?
A: I want to build my team further. My specific team is relatively new, but we have a really strong foundation to build upon, and I’d like to take it to the next stage.
Q: Do you have any advice for individuals considering a career in law or thinking about joining Butcher & Barlow?
A: Be fearless and don’t be afraid to take on challenges. There will always be someone who knows less than you do. Don’t worry about being the best right away; just take the leap and learn as you go.
My three words to describe Butcher & Barlow are: friendly, inclusive and trustworthy.