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Profile of the week

Sarah Colley

Position

I have worked at Wilsons since 2008. I started as a caseworker in the family department, completed my training contract with Wilsons and qualified into the Family Law department in 2011.

I specialise in representing parents in care proceedings and I also carry out the majority of advocacy within proceedings.

My Week

This week I won an appeal in the family court.

The case involved the children potentially going into long term care. My client did not want this to happen and did not agree that this was the best option for the children. The children had both stated that they wished to live with my client.

At the first hearing I had undertaken the advocacy. I enjoy being able to conduct my own advocacy as I am able to assist the client from the start of a case through to the end. It is much better for the client to have this continuity. As an advocate I have to be well organised and prepared. I also have to remain calm and confident under pressure.

At the hearing a number of errors in law were made. I made objections to these throughout the hearing and made sure these were noted. I also explained to my client what was happening and what our next steps would be. Despite my client not agreeing to the children being placed in long term care, final orders were made to this effect.

Following this hearing, I then made an application to appeal the decision. At the appeal hearing, the judge agreed with the representations I had made at the previous hearing and the appeal was allowed.

Challenges

It is very important that people are represented in family proceedings to make sure they have a fair and just hearing. It can be an overwhelming experience for someone who does not have a solicitor to go to court and try and explain what they need without knowing the law.

The Future

I will continue to advocate for my clients and make sure they achieve the very best outcome.