In this instalment of Realm Talks To…, Family specialist Lucy caught up with Andrew Meehan, Managing Director of Harrogate Family Law. During their chat, Andrew shared which books he’s reading, what he looks for in a lawyer when recruiting for his team and his greatest achievement.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the law?
Firstly, keep an open mind. I don’t recommend that people pigeonhole themselves too early. By keeping an open mind, you are more likely to find an area of law that really grabs you, and this might have been something you might have discounted.
Second, get as much experience as you can so you can see what different areas of law are truly like, ideally by shadowing someone.
Third, don’t give up. Law is extremely competitive with lots of high-quality candidates, so you will inevitably face some rejection – but you only need one good opening to enable your career to flourish. If you are determined enough and good enough, you will get there.
When it comes to recruiting, what do you look for in a lawyer?
Family law revolves around people, so I look for first-rate people skills. I look for someone who I think can give advice or represent a client with calm authority, coupled with empathy and a sense of humour – our clients are going through a very hard period and we often must give news or advice they don’t want to hear. A client wants to know that you are on their side and humour is a good way to diffuse some of the tension they experience when things get tough.
I also look for people who communicate very clearly and succinctly – a sign of a good lawyer is being able to distil complex concepts and arguments into simple, easy to understand language.
Most of our cases involve splitting assets and income in a divorce, so a high degree of numeracy and arithmetical ability is a must. Whilst computers help when you are in the office, they are not much good when you’re at court trying to thrash out a settlement and must think quickly.
I also look for someone who is proactive as well as hungry to learn and make a name for themself – someone who is prepared to push themself out of their comfort zone and take responsibility. Family law also tends to be one-off work so I look for someone who is hungry to build their reputation and market to bring in work.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement?
Seeing Harrogate Family Law go from a one-man firm set up in uncertain times in a credit crunch to a thriving, established one with four partners who are surrounded by other excellent legal and non-legal staff.
What is your go-to work-from-home snack?
Confession time – I am a bit of a greedy guts, so eat absolutely anything. It’s also usually slim pickings in our fridge at home, so it tends to be whatever is in there which doesn’t need much, if any, preparation, basically, toast and butter. This is why I am glad that, for me at least, working from home is no longer a thing – one person in the team, in particular, is a real “feeder” so there’s always something like chocolate, fruit, cakes, crisps or cheese straws I can dive into.
What’s your favourite book?
Being completely honest again, I don’t tend to read a book more than once. Instead, I read a lot of crime fiction by writers such as Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, Elmore Leonard. I read a lot of biographies; I have a Winston Churchill one and another on Eddie Jones on the go at the moment.
Do you prefer a night in or a night out?
I like both. I really love comedy nights; I went to one gig last night and have another coming up at the weekend. But I also like unwinding in front of the fire at home devouring a series on Netflix, Prime or the iPlayer or having dinner with friends.
About Andrew Meehan
Andrew is the Managing Director of Harrogate Family Law. He is an experienced family solicitor who qualified in 2001 and founded Harrogate Family Law in 2010. Andrew is passionate about client care and loves helping people out of their rough patch and on to a fresh start. His passion for helping others shines through his whole family law team who are equally as committed to providing an amazing service to their clients.