Tag: #AccessUs

Heather’s brief is to help Merrick grow

Heather Waight has joined Merrick Solicitors as practice manager with a brief to help the company grow.

Heather, who has 15 years of experience in office management roles, is now responsible for areas as diverse as the law firm’s legal compliance, IT systems, recruitment procedures and staff welfare.

She took on the role after previously working for international executive searchers, a debt recovery agency, solicitors and civil engineers.

She was attracted to the role at Merrick by a belief she could help the business continue to evolve.

Evolving business

The Manchester-based company is renowned for its work in complex high net worth cases.

But principal Amanda Merrick is also keen to ensure it can help cover the gap left by the demise of legal aid for most divorce cases. In response, last year it launched #AccessUs, a high-quality, case-managed service to deliver advice where there is a case to answer and limited resources to meet it.

Heather said: “I like to feel that I’m helping a company to get to where it wants to go.

“I met Amanda and was sold on what she was trying to do. It’s very difficult not to be swept up by her enthusiasm and passion for the law.

“I’ve not been here very long but it already feels like more than just a workplace. You really, really want to do your best.”

Grow the team

Merrick has a clear strategy to grow its team and client base. It continues to look out for the best available talent in the world of family law.

While Heather gets to grips with ensuring internal office systems are slick and effective, she’s clear on why Merrick continues to attract new clients.

She added: “So many people come through recommendations. They’ve been advised that if they want good advice to get in touch with Merrick. Amanda is very upfront with everyone, she tells you what you need to know.”

Click here for more about Merrick’s service offerings



A new year but always focussed on clients

Last year marked the start of major changes for Merrick and in 2019 we’ll be doing more of what we believe it means to be a firm of family lawyers in today’s world.

The legal profession is undergoing a good deal of upheaval. From challenges to its long-established services, to the pace of technological change and the continued lack of availability of legal aid that means funding for clients is only infrequently available.

Our response to this has been rooted in both the traditional and a fresh perspective to ensure our service continues to add value.

First and foremost, we’re about helping people when they need it most; it’s why we exist. We call it #LawforGood.

Family is fundamental to our lives. Problems with our closest relationships can impact all areas of our lives from financial to social and everything in between.

It’s because no aspect of life is untouched by family issues that the expertise we can offer people is so important.

Out of reach

The withdrawal of legal aid for most cases has had a negative impact for many in failing relationships. Without that financial assistance, many believe qualified legal help will be too costly and out of their reach.

Because of this there’s been a large increase in people representing themselves to save on costs. This puts them at a distinct disadvantage when they find themselves dealing with all the complexities of the law.

Such is the concern of one judge that in October he used a documentary to highlight the difficulties faced.

His Honour Judge Stephen Wildblood QC, the most senior family court judge at Bristol Civil Justice Centre, spoke as part of a BBC investigation into the pressures on the family court system.  He stressed the challenges of litigants in person going into a courtroom full of barristers, experts and other professionals.

#AccessUs one of the initiatives we launched in 2018, is designed to help.

If there is a case to answer and limited resources to meet it – we believe people should still be able to access qualified legal support. After witnessing the eagerness with which it has been taken up, we hope to expand it so that the profession embraces this social enterprise in the same way.

By offering comprehensive support at a price to fit stretched finances we’re doing all we can to ensure people have access to the help they need at a crucial time in their life.

High net worth litigation

While we’re excited about #AccessUs, we’re also delighted that our reputation for dealing with complex and high net worth litigation continues to be recognised.

We were named Divorce Law Firm of the Year in England in the Global Law Expert (GLE) Awards 2018 for our client services.

And we’re grateful to all those who kindly recommend our services. Rest assured this will remain a strong focus for us in 2019.

We also believe in a holistic approach. Getting divorced or separated is one of the most stressful life events. It’s not uncommon for people to feel disoriented and a little lost.

Self-care such as eating healthily, exercising and getting enough rest can often be forgotten about in the pressure of the situation. We launched Merrick Life in recognition that sometimes people need more than family law advice.

A helping hand in lots of related areas such as health and well-being or adapting their role as a parent to fit new circumstances is all very much appreciated.

We’ve connected our readers to a lot of experts in the last year. We believe this is of benefit and we want to continue developing these relationships in 2019.

The feedback from both clients and our family of experts has been very encouraging. In 2019 we will build on this platform to ensure it helps those who reach out and connect with it. Watch this space.

2018 was the year we laid the foundations of our purpose and the vision that is #LawforGood.

In 2019 we will bring that vision and purpose to life.

Our thanks go to everyone who has been part of the journey so far; without you we wouldn’t be where we are now.

And to the team – #YouGotThis





We’re delighted to reveal that Merrick has won an award for its client services.

The practice has been named Divorce Law Firm of the Year in England in the Global Law Expert (GLE) Awards 2018.

Shortlisted candidates were judged on client testimonials, key cases, legal rankings, overall reputation, publication contributions, speaking engagements and the general performance and standing of teams and individuals.

GLE said it conducted an extensive nomination and research process for its 9th annual awards

Year of development

The recognition tops a busy year of development for Merrick which has launched a series of initiatives to transform the business.

To counter the erosion of legal aid available in divorce cases we’ve started #AccessUs.

This is a unique case-managed service supervised by our experienced team. It delivers advice where there is a case to answer and limited resources to meet it.

Our monthly Merrick Life newsletter gives practical support and advice for those going through relationship breakdown.

And we now take our services on the road to Cumbria and London. Our #LawtoDoor service means we can meet clients wherever is most convenient for them.

Principal Amanda Merrick said: “We know that relationship breakdown is tough. We want our clients to understand that we’re with them throughout the whole process.

“From the feedback we get we know that is very much appreciated. To have that approach recognised by a formal award is the cherry on the cake.”

Legal recommendations

A GLE spokesman said: “During the recommendations stage we received more than 180,000 responses. These were from business directors, in-house legal counsel, independent law firms, business consultants, high net-worth individuals, bar association members, visitors to the GLE website and LinkedIn users.

“These recommendations were combined with GLE’s own independent research in order to create a shortlist for each award category.”

Don’t let TV put you off seeking the legal advice you need

Don’t let TV put you off seeking legal advice | Merrick Solicitors
People in need of legal advice about their relationship are being urged not to be put off by recent negative headlines.
The BBC’s new drama series, The Split, portrays the larger-than-life antics of high-end family lawyers and their even wealthier clients. The programme has sparked a rush of newspaper articles comparing the fictional series with real-life counterparts at some of the country’s biggest law firms.
Much of the coverage has focussed on the fees charged by some of the London circuit’s highest-profile family lawyers.
Karen Leadbetter, associate solicitor with Merrick, said it would be a concern if those who needed it were put off seeking qualified legal advice for fear of being landed with exorbitant costs.
She said: “If you’re trapped in a relationship or marriage you want to get out of, it must be frightening to see some of these articles and their talk of charges of £600-an-hour.
“That’s not the norm and we always discuss whether clients have tried or are willing to consider marriage guidance. Divorce should be a last resort.”
Don’t let TV put you off seeking legal advice | Merrick Solicitors

Associate solicitor Karen Leadbetter

Withdrawal of legal aid
The withdrawal of legal aid for most divorces has left people with two options when a relationship irretrievably breaks down.
If they have the means they can instruct a solicitor to act on their behalf. If funds aren’t available, they can endeavour to handle their own divorce or separation. This has led to a huge spike in the number of DIY – or litigant in person – divorces reaching the courts.
To counter this, Merrick is pioneering a new service structure. This includes payment tiers intended to ensure charges are commensurate with individual circumstances.
One of these is #AccessUs which offers the firm’s years of legal expertise at a heavily discounted rate to those with limited finances.
Karen said: “For many people it’s not by choice they end up representing themselves but because legal aid isn’t available or they cannot afford legal fees.
“There are risks involved in doing this and the individual going into this process alone can be at a disadvantage.
“There is often distrust with feelings running high between the two parties. Trying to deal with matters yourself in these circumstances can be a hindrance to obtaining a settlement. People can also sometimes rush to proceedings, without attempting to negotiate a settlement.
“Proceedings can also take longer because litigants in person are not familiar with the process and the language used. When children and complicated finances are involved it’s even more important that qualified legal advice is available.”
People need to protect themselves against risk
Karen, noted in the profession’s Legal 500 as someone who ‘fights hard for her clients’, added: “There are risks that people need to protect themselves against.  For instance, upon divorce, where circumstances allow, the obtaining of a financial clean break court order is needed. Without this the parties may be able to bring a financial claim in the future.”
Merrick is committed to ensuring that, whatever their resources, clients can access the information needed to make informed decisions. This has come as a welcome surprise to some looking for help.
Karen said: “When we’ve had a consultation and been through the financial circumstances they have sometimes been surprised and relieved that our rates are based on their financial means. Otherwise they would have to walk away, not able to engage us.”
Each Merrick fee earner is committed to #AccessUs. The work stays with that solicitor and isn’t instead passed to a junior member of the team.
More on Merrick’s services can be found here.
To contact the team email info@merrick-solicitors.com or call 0161 838 5410.
Merrick is based in Manchester but regularly takes its services on the road to London and Cumbria.