I’m very grateful to be celebrating 3 years of Clare Madeline Mediation. This year I’m feeling more reflective so I’m taking a look back on why I set up this business in the first place and why I chose to leave my career as a family lawyer to develop this business which I am so passionate about.
So how did Clare Madeline Mediation come about? In 2016, I realised I had reached a stage in my career where I really wasn’t enjoying the work I was doing. I had been on a hamster wheel since I began practising law in 1999 of non stop work, long hours, continuous professional development, completing higher education in advocacy, applying for as many professional accreditations as I could, going on to train as a collaborative lawyer and then a mediator. Looking back, I was striving in my professional life to find the right way of working for me and for my clients that really offered value.
I realised when I took the space to work with a professional business mentor that I wanted to make changes as my love of an area of law I was so passionate about was fading. The family justice system itself had changed during this time and I was finding that clients were experiencing delays and outcomes could not be predicted. I had also been absorbing the trauma my clients experience on divorce and separation for many years without taking the time to offload since my work life balance was an unhealthy one. I then found out I was pregnant with my son, at quite a late age and this came as an unexpected but very welcome surprise. I reassessed.
I always had a vision from early on in my career. That vision was to create a bespoke, holistic, truly emotionally intelligent and personalised service where likeminded clients could come to work through the issues they faced and put their children at the heart of everything. So this vision came about which was to set up a professional yet very personalised service demonstrating that there is a better and more civilised way to divorce which aims to minimise the emotional damage. I decided to offer this service at my home where I worked hard to create a walm, calm and welcoming space for my mediation clients.
I remember at the time that some solicitors frowned upon this idea. Why would I want to offer this in a home environment? It was not the norm for a profession which can be old fashioned and not open to change. This was a conscious decision. I looked at many office spaces. They were all cold. They had no personality. I put myself in the position of a client facing the unimaginable, stressed and full of fear about their future, walking into a solicitor’s office or a cold meeting room just adding to the emotional stress clients feel. I felt that the service I was able to offer fitted what I really felt clients needed. They needed the option of something different. A warm approach and a welcoming space where they can come to a neutral space to discuss the issues they face, away from their homes. Taking the conflict away from their home and into my home where it is safe to talk.
So, Clare Madeline Mediation was born more or less alongside my son. I spent the next 18 months planning, preparing and putting things into place and launched the business when my son was 6 months old. It enabled me to offer something which I truly believed would benefit those who came to me whilst also balancing my own personal need to be present in the life of my son.
It has not been easy but it has been so rewarding in many ways. I’m privileged to be able to look back on all the clients and children who I have been able to help. I also run a learning and development practice for other mediators so I feel I am giving something back to the mediation community by supporting other mediators through their training, accreditation and career. I’m able to be flexible to meet the needs of clients and offer a bespoke service. I’m also able to be there for my son and enjoy him growing up whilst also keeping my professional work status.
I’ve learnt many things along the way. I’ve adapted. I’ve made changes. I’ve been able to grow as a business owner. I certainly didn’t plan for coronavirus though! Working through a pandemic was not in the business plan. It’s interesting though as those old fashioned solicitors who questioned my vision are now working from home themselves which coronavirus has necessitated. We’ve all faced the dilemmas of work/ life balance. We’ve all had to adapt to the demands of those who need us in our home and professional lives.
So, this blog ends with heartfelt thanks to the clients who have chosen me to work with them at a deeply stressful time of their lives and to those professionals who continue to trust me to help their clients navigate through divorce and separation. I remain grateful each day that I can continue to offer this service to those in need whilst balancing my personal need to be present in the life of my son and in the best possible place to help others.
I wish all those reading and following Clare Madeline Mediation good health, love and light.