Fiona joined Becket Chambers as a Pupil in October 2022. She welcomes work across all of chambers’ practice areas, though she is particularly experienced in matters relating to Private family and Public family law.
Fiona previously worked as a social worker, having qualified in 2003. During her career in social work, she gained over 11 years’ experience as a frontline and court social worker, including two years managing the court service in a busy London local authority.
She also spent eight years working for CAFCASS as a public law children’s guardian and private law family court advisor.
This experience has given Fiona an in-depth knowledge of the workings of the court system and the processes and priorities of local authorities in public law court proceedings. She understands proceedings from a CAFCASS perspective, as well as how local authorities reach the decisions that they do. She is able to identify where there are gaps in evidence that either a parent or local authority need to address in order to strengthen their position.
Court work was always Fiona’s favourite aspect of her social work role, so this extensive knowledge and experience made becoming a barrister the logical next step when she felt that it was the right time to pursue a new challenge in her career.
Her years as a social worker have given Fiona a unique ability to see matters from the perspective of the child, the parents and, in public law cases, the local authority. She welcomes the opportunity to advocate for parents and guardians and to ensure that they get the support they need. Her prior experience enables her to assess a situation from a pragmatic point of view, and to sensitively give her clients a realistic assessment of their position.
Fiona’s natural empathy for her clients makes her sensitive to their situation, and whether in Public or Private Law, her priority is to find the best outcome for the child(ren). Although a strong advocate, able to fight a parent’s corner, she also takes a balanced and fair approach and encourages her clients to consider things from the children’s point of view. She will always give her clients an honest assessment of the likely outcome of their position.
Fiona has strong analytical skills and is experienced at dealing with lengthy bundles, rapidly assessing complex information, and preparing reports for final hearing at short notice where necessary.
As part of her social work training, Fiona was trained in working with vulnerable clients with mental health and learning difficulties. She is experienced at working with people whose first language is not English, or where the services of a translator are needed.