Alexandra Lewis, Owner, Alexandra Lewis Divorce and Family Mediation, and Consultant Solicitor, Moss Fallon Solicitors Limited
How long have you been working in your current company?
I left the inspiring family team at Manches LLP in October 2011 after ten years to set up my own mediation and consultancy practice. I also work as a consultant family law solicitor with specialist family law firm, Moss Fallon.
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position
Prior to Manches, I worked in family law in London at Bates Wells Braithwaite (now Hughes, Fowler, Carruthers) and Mischon De Reya.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
Every family and therefore case is unique and it’s the feedback from great clients at the end of a case that means most to me. I particularly enjoy celebrating when it’s all over!
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
The emotions that cloud negotiations and make meetings tense are a challenge. I have undertaken additional training in a variety of business and therapeutic approaches that have helped provide me with a tool kit to aid and improve communication as this is key. This is an ongoing and fascinating journey.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavor to do this?
It is important for me to maintain outside interests that are completely unrelated to law, preferably both physically active and mentally stimulating. My latest hobby is online singing lessons from LA to break up the day and I am considering joining the local “Outdoor Swimming Society “. I have combined dance and meditation for the last eight years.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
Encouraging tutors and above all great friends made on courses have made the difference between giving up and seeing it through and, eventually, laughing at the rough patches.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
Law remains essentially conservative and can create a climate where it is difficult to express oneself freely. I think the most effective method is to “do it anyway”. People will only get past the stereotype if they get to know you.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
I think the structure of a legal career helped me to keep focused on the next step to take. The options of litigation, collaborative law and mediation, together with a variety of clients with different needs, has meant that I have been constantly challenged to develop and grow in response to their needs - this has kept me interested.
What do you think have been the most significant changes in the legal industry over the past five years?
Family law has become less competitive and more constructive in tone and communication skills have improved considerably. Emotional intelligence is more highly recognised now. Clients are more likely to want to help themselves as much as possible. I also think that clients are less likely to want to litigate.