In this instalment of Realm Talks To, Associate Consultant Lucy Wickham spoke to Mark Heppinstall, Family Solicitor and Director at Freeths in Leeds. During their conversation, Mark explained why he decided to become a lawyer, the benefits of Resolution for both lawyers and families, and how Freeths is different from other law firms.
Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
During my undergraduate degree I worked part-time for a charity where I had the opportunity to instruct and liaise with lawyers nationally and internationally, representing some of the most vulnerable in society. This triggered a real passion for the law having the opportunity to see first-hand the difference that we can make in moving people from a bad place in their lives to a better one. The motivation to get up and do something that makes a difference every day is still here 10+ years later and is as strong now as it was then.
You are Chair of the West & North Yorkshire Resolution Regional Committee. Why do you think this is such as important organisation for lawyers and families alike?
Resolution represents a membership of 6,500 family lawyers across the country. It encourages a non-confrontational approach to the resolution of family law issues. Intrinsic to this is the recognition that a dignified and sensible approach to family law disputes can help encourage better and more successful outcomes for separating parties and their children. Resolution’s code of conduct and good practice guides help to promote this and they lobby widely for reform (no-fault divorce being a more recent and topical example). Locally, our committee in West & North Yorkshire organise a number of training and networking events over the course of the year which are often heavily attended by regional practitioners. It is a privilege to play a small part in the invaluable work that they do.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome so far in your career?
The job of a family lawyer is often about resolving and managing conflict on behalf of people that may well be instructing us from a place of distress; not creating it. This requires a particular skill set and philosophy to practice. The job comes with the highest of highs but on the other side of that we also often see people at their worst. We must never take that for granted and the job comes with real responsibility.
What makes Freeths different?
I have worked at large national law firms and smaller niche practices. Freeths is a large national run with the culture of a small niche. I have had tremendous support from the Board and Partnership at Freeths to grow our department since my arrival in 2019 and we have developed our client base organically. Almost all our work comes from personal referrals and we have been able to scale the team quickly with all the right ingredients to move from a small niche department to one that is growing year on year and now servicing the needs of our clients across the North of England and beyond.
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
Believe in yourself and go for it.
What app can’t you live without?
I love a good Ted Talk and although I don’t have much time to read anymore (at least for pleasure!), Audible is the next best thing!
Where’s your favourite holiday destination?
My favourite – somewhere quiet in the middle of nowhere with no phone signal. My kids’ favourite – Center Parcs. Not quite the same. They usually win, but rightly so!
About Mark Heppinstall
Mark Heppinstall is a Director at Freeths and head of the firm’s family team in the North.
Mark is a Resolution accredited specialist with recognised expertise in complex financial remedies and private children matters. He is also Chair of the West & North Yorkshire Resolution Regional Committee.
Mark is recognised in the latest editions of both The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, with Chambers & Partners listing him as an Associate to watch in Family Law.