'I have recently returned to Chambers after spending the last eighteen months living and working in New York City. I return as a dual-qualified practitioner, having been admitted to the New York State Bar, and with an in-depth knowledge of matrimonial law and practice in New York.
I was fortunate enough to spend over a year in the matrimonial department of a renowned New York City law firm under the American Bar Association International Legal Exchange program. I gained a great deal from the experience. Not only have I been able to learn about the functioning of another important common law system, but I have also acquired a detailed understanding of New York matrimonial and children law practice. Moreover, I have been able to build a broad network of contacts within the family law fraternity in New York City.
Although I initially intended to be away from chambers for a shorter duration, the firm I was with extended me an invitation to lengthen my time with them. I am glad I did, as the longer period gave me a chance to fully immerse myself in their busy practice.. I was exposed to a varied diet of generally complex private children and money cases, including many with an international flavour. Of particular interest was a case involving the enforcement of an English Financial Remedies order in New York and another involving the use of the Hague Evidence Convention. I was pleased to regularly attend Court during the year with the firm’s partners.
This short note is not the place to embark on a detailed analysis of the differences and similarities I found to exist between our two systems. Instead I am planning to present a short seminar on the topic later this year. I certainly left New York feeling that there was much that our two systems could learn from each other. I suspect, however, that the practice of counsel discussing the merits of their case with the judge off the record (without the parties present) in the Judge’s chambers is unlikely to catch on here!
During my time in New York I was also fortunate to be invited to a number of events including the local IAFL Christmas party on Long Island, the New York State Bar Family Law Section summer meeting in Vermont and the annual meeting in Manhattan. I also attended numerous seminars including a talk by Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor. I was subsequently able to attend the U.S. Supreme Court for a tour and to watch oral arguments; a truly memorable occasion.
I feel hugely privileged to have spent this period in New York learning from our American counterparts. I consider it to have been an invaluable experience and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend. I have a renewed perspective on the work that we do with keen enthusiasm for returning to my practice.'
With thanks to all of my colleagues at Lee Anav Chung White Kim Ruger & Richter, LLP, in particular to Judith E. White, Esq. and Aimee L. Richter, Esq. who were willing to offer me this opportunity in New York.