Q&A with Madeleine Reardon

Bloomsbury Professional catch up with family lawyer and author, Madeleine Reardon.

1. What first garnered your interest in children law?

I volunteered for Women’s Aid as a student and saw the impact on families, not just of domestic abuse but of the terrible uncertainty and sense of powerlessness that prolonged court proceedings can bring about. Then I did a mini-pupillage with the late Joanne Harris, who must have been then about the age I am now, and watched her conduct a care case for a local authority. It was her deep-rooted sense of fairness that struck me – until then I had assumed that being a barrister was all about shouting your client’s case from the rooftops. I could also see how much she enjoyed the job and how much satisfaction it gave her.

2. What do you perceive to be the most influential children law case?

Ever?! There are a lot of strong candidates, and it’s tempting to pick something really obscure, but in the end I would go for Hedley J’s decision in Re L (Care: Threshold Criteria) [2007] 1 FLR 2050. I am sure that there are a substantial number of just-about-coping parents who have avoided losing their children as a result of paragraphs 50 and 51 of that judgment.

3.What advice would you give to someone entering the family law profession today?

Find the area of work that fascinates you, try not to worry too much about the money, and don’t specialise too early (those are possibly all inconsistent).

4. How do you think Brexit may influence children law?

I really don’t know. I would like to hope that we will be able to preserve in some form the level of international cooperation and agreement that has meant that a child living in London with a Latvian-Spanish mother and a French-Italian father will be protected in the event of their separation.

5. If you weren’t a family law barrister, what would you be?

I would write gruesome thrillers, of the kind my grandma (who was tiny, mild-mannered and white-haired) used to enjoy.


Madeleine is one of the authors of Child Protection and the Family Court: What you Need to Know. 

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