Manchester Legal Awards: Family lawyer who campaigned for no-fault divorce wins lifetime honour


A loved ones attorney who assisted lead a marketing campaign to introduce no fault divorces in England and Wales has been honoured for his lifetime’s work at the North’s major lawful awards.

Nigel Shepherd, of Mills & Reeve, was final night offered with the Life span Accomplishment Award at the Manchester Legal Awards.

Hundreds of users of the North West legal neighborhood gathered at the Midland Lodge for the black tie occasion to honour colleagues doing the job in fields from prison law to spouse and children and employment legislation.

Mr Shepherd was a well-liked winner of the Life time Achievement title, which honours folks who have experienced “an unrivalled effects and long lasting contribution to the lawful companies marketplace in the region in the course of their lifetime”.

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Other winners integrated Brabners, Eversheds Sutherland and DWF.

Mr Shepherd was two times the national chairman of Resolution, the national association of famiy justice professionals, exactly where he aided push for vital legal reforms.

In their citation for Mr Shepherd last night time, the awards judges claimed: “Reforming divorce regulation has been a specialist and private mission for most of his career. In his initially stint as chair, he led Resolution as a result of the very billed political discussion that resulted in the Family Regulation Act 1996, which would have released no fault divorce but was hardly ever executed.”

Resolution at that time experienced just 1 team member – so Mr Shepherd persuaded associates to fund lobbying and PR support as a result of a levy on leading of the membership charge.

The judges explained: “As a end result, the organisation was in a position to punch effectively previously mentioned its fat and make a important contribution to the passage of the legislation. It also represented a stage change in the organisation’s profile and impact.

“Nigel recognized the invitation to turn into chair once more largely mainly because he and Resolution saw no fault divorce, and other crucial challenges of regulation reform, as unfinished company. In his very last two-yr term at Resolution, he continued to market the arguments and be the critical spokesperson for adjust via the print and broadcast media, briefings with politicians, communications with customers and by his membership of the advisory board supporting Professor Liz Trinder’s Locating Fault study.”

In 2018 Mills & Reeve effectively used for Resolution to intervene in the extensively documented Supreme Court docket proceedings of Owens v Owens, which revolved all around the interpretation of so-identified as “unreasonable behaviour”.

Whilst Mrs Owens did not get her divorce, the case was a catalyst for transform as the Supreme Court known as on Parliament to choose action. As a end result the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 – which gets rid of fault from the divorce process – was handed and was implented on April 6 this calendar year.

Legal scholar Professor Liz Trinder has said: “During his two stints as countrywide chair of Resolution, Nigel has been an definitely tireless campaigner to assist the development of both equally very good family members law apply and great loved ones law. He has carried out so with great humour, infinite enthusiasm and passion. I simply cannot believe of anybody who has completed additional to try out to safe divorce law reform in this nation.”

Mr Shepherd stated: “I arrived up for what was then Manchester Polytechnic in 1975,did my diploma, met my wife in the first expression, and we appreciated it in this article so we stayed. Most of my life has been right here, in contrast to becoming in the south the place I was born.

“Since then I have seen the sector improve phenomenally, the career is seriously distinctive now. I indicate, I started off off in a very small two partner company undertaking my teaching in Gately, then I moved to a effectively recognised agency called Slater Heelis, and I did all kinds of litigation perform.

“I did felony perform, family, commercial litigation, I did some prosecuting for the division of social security. So, I’ve usually performed family, I started to do extra and extra of it and in the finish I finished up specialising totally in loved ones legislation.

“I begun specialising in relatives law do the job significantly and then I moved to do practically nothing but spouse and children law when I arrived into the metropolis centre in 1993, and I have stayed considering the fact that.

“I have generally had an affinity with family members legislation and I genuinely get pleasure from the function. I begun to not delight in the felony work as significantly as I had carried out in the early days.

“It became much more tough, the authorized assist predicament turned additional hard. I however completely relished the court docket get the job done, but I gravitated toward accomplishing extra and additional relatives and then I received this opportunity to develop into a companion in a city centre agency so I took that and that was it.

“I’ve often been heavily involved in the countrywide household justice group termed Resolution. I turned a member of that in the mid 80’s. It was started in 1982 – so early days.

“I was included in the original steering committee in Manchester to get the regional team set up and then I turned one of the early regional chairs of Resolution.

“Then I stood for their nationwide committee, which is like their board, and obtained onto that, and then I at some point labored my way up turning out to be countrywide chair in the mid 90’s.

“I was closely involved in that. I led the organisation by a marketing campaign for ‘no fault divorce’, and that was in the mid 90s. We acquired the legislation, but it was by no means implemented. So I remained on the board of Resolution and continue to dedicated to seeking to get this major alter in the legislation through and I acknowledged the invitation to come to be countrywide chair once again in 2016 – the only person to have finished it 2 times.

“I did it pretty substantially simply because I noticed ‘no fault divorce’ as unfinished enterprise and we felt that we could get it by. We carried on the campaigning and at some point we received the ‘no fault divorce’ laws handed in 2020 and it obtained implemented on the 6th of April this year.

“So, we have succeeded in shifting the regulation, it truly is the most substantial change to divorce legislation for fifty percent a century.

“It signifies that we have now acquired a new method of divorce for any one commencing from the 6th of April, which isn’t going to have to have blame hooked up at all, it’s just a notification.

“One man or woman, or for the to start with time ever, equally men and women, can jointly do it. There would not have to be alleged adultery, no unreasonable conduct allegations, none of that blame match.

“It presents men and women a much superior possibility of ideally preserving the temperature down and obtaining a much better possibility of sorting things out, which is the big objective.

“Resolution users consider to lessen conflict, to advertise settlement and recall that men and women are nevertheless parents even if they’re not going to be collectively any more. If you can decrease the temperature you can give people a far better possibility of sorting things out amicably.

“It really is been very a great deal a crew energy, but I’ve variety of spearheaded it so I’ve been supplied this sort of nickname of Mr ‘no fault divorce’. It’s been a group effort, a lot of assistance, plenty of people encouraging which includes the staff members team at Resolution.

“I normally believed we may possibly get it but I wasn’t guaranteed it was going to be even though I was still skillfully involved in the Legislation or even now truly alive and kicking. I genuinely required to get it finished just before I retired, I actually needed to see that as a result of so it was great that we did.

“It can be a genuine honour to obtain this award. If you glimpse at the form of men and women who have acquired it in the previous, there are some definitely significant names of the Manchester authorized scene so to be in the same ballpark as them is a genuine honour and a privilege.

“It is really my hometown, it is my experienced household, so to get that recognition from your peers is specially special.

Mr Shepherd stated wanted to fork out individual thanks to “the corporations, notably at Mills and Reeve, have been amazingly supportive simply because I was a husband or wife in the business and they accommodate me turning into a chair at resolution yet again in 2016”.

He additional: “We labored in a way that I could do that, and designed space for all the work and campaigning I was executing. As a agency, we are deeply dedicated to resolution – all of our attorneys are customers and so we’re pretty supportive of it, we believe it is the right way to observe.

“Resolution associates, resolution committee associates and the personnel crew – could not have accomplished it without having them. Fantastic effort and hard work.

“And my loved ones, they’ve been placing up with me banging on about this for about as prolonged as my daughters have been alive, and it’s an indication of how significantly they invested in it.

“When we read that the legislation was heading to go by way of they purchased me a hoodie with ‘no fault divorce’ composed on it.

“You are not able to do this variety of things on your possess, without the need of that guidance, it just wouldn’t have been probable.

“It truly is a truly wonderful bookend to my occupation, I was really young when I started off this off in the early 90’s, so to see it as a result of over 25 a long time later on, it truly is just pleasant to experience type of as though my get the job done is accomplished.

“I’m nonetheless a specialist with the agency, I have what some may call a portfolio job now, but retirement is much far more comforting. I’m enjoying a ton far more golf, I nonetheless engage in football and I perform piano a great deal a lot more now that I have additional time to do it.”

Final night’s awards were organised by Manchester Law Modern society, with Interlink as principal sponsor. BusinessLive’s sister title the Manchester Evening Information is media husband or wife.

Paul Johnson, president of Manchester Law Culture and a partner at Ward Hadaway in Manchester, explained: “However yet again, this yr has noticed us get a big range of submissions and the regular has been really remarkable. The good quality of people submissions is testomony to the point that the Manchester legal career is flourishing and we all have a lot to rejoice and be proud of.”

Winners at the Manchester Authorized Awards 2022

Organization Assistance Winner/s of the Calendar year Award

Sponsor – Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Winners – Charlotte Dixon, Mills & Reeve AND Laura West, Anthony Collins Solicitors

Trainee/Paralegal/Apprentice/Lawful Executive of the Year Award

Sponsor – Manchester Metropolitan University

Winner – Jonathan Holling, JMW Solicitors LLP

Solicitor of the Year Award

Sponsor – Harbour

Winner – Moe Yassin, Over and above Legislation Team

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Winner/s of the Calendar year

Sponsor – Appleyard Lees

Winner – Brabners LLP

Corporate/Professional – Team of the Calendar year Award

Sponsor – Interlink Recruitment

Winner – Eversheds Sutherland LLP

Very Commended – Pannone Corporate

Criminal offense – Crew of the Year Award

Sponsor – Matrix 247

Winner – Slater Heelis

Extremely Counseled – Burton Copeland LLP

Work – Group of the 12 months Award

Sponsor – Matrix 247

Winner – Leigh Working day

Loved ones – Group of the 12 months Award

Sponsor – Shard Money

Winner – McAllister Spouse and children Law

Litigation – Team of the Yr Award

Sponsor – Quantuma

Winner – Weightmans LLP

Extremely Recommended – Brabners LLP

Particular Injuries/Clinical Carelessness – Team of the Calendar year Award

Sponsor – RMS PR

Winner – Stephensons Solicitors LLP

Non-public Client – Team of the Calendar year Award

Sponsor – Five Wealth Ltd

Winner – JMW Solicitors

Residence – Staff of the 12 months Award

Sponsor – Landmark Info Group

Winner – Eversheds Sutherland LLP

Really Recommended – Fieldfisher LLP

Regulatory – Workforce of the 12 months Award

Sponsor – Manchester Evening Information

Winner – DWF Legislation LLP

In-home Group of the Yr

Sponsor – Quiss Engineering

Winner – Lender North

Remarkably Counseled – Boohoo Team plc

Barrister/QC of the Yr Award

Sponsor – Manchester Law Modern society

Winner – Dr Christopher McNall, 18 St John Avenue Chambers

Companion of the Year Award

Sponsor – Legmark

Winner – Vikki Woodfine, DWF Legislation

Barristers’ Chambers of the 12 months Award

Sponsor – Weightmans LLP

Winner – St John’s Properties Chambers

Legislation Firm of the Year – Tiny (1-5 companions nationally)

Award Sponsor – Lawshare

Winner – Olliers Solicitors

Regulation Company of the Yr – Medium (6-20 associates nationally)

Award Sponsor – MFL Insurance policy Team Ltd

Winner – Over and above Regulation Team

Extremely Recommended – CFG Legislation

Regulation Agency of the Calendar year – Large (20+ associates nationally)

Award Sponsor – Harbour

Winner – TLT LLP

Lifetime Achievement Award

Sponsor – inCase

Winner – Nigel Shepherd, Mills & Reeve


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