Age: 28 | Location: London, UK
With a grandmother who grew up in the jungle and a mother born in an East African convent, The Solicitor seems somewhat shy admitting that she was born in Portland Hospital, just over half an hour from where she lives now.
Still, she’s determined to travel the world, squeezing every hour out of her twenty-five days of annual leave by creating detailed Excel itineraries for all her trips.
‘Every single thing you could possibly think of. From wake up times at nine o'clock in the morning to what you're doing every single hour of every day. What location, what address, how much it's gonna cost, how long it takes to get there, what bus you need to get there.'
'If I wasn't doing this, I'd probably have my own travel agent company, right?’
In fact, she’s just come back from the Philippines.
‘I went free climbing up a massive limestone thing without a helmet or anything. But I didn't really follow the law because it was closed down to tourists because a couple of people had died there. So we just found a random guy in an alley and were like, we'll pay you to take us up there, and he said yes. Gosh, it could have ended badly, but instead it was really good.’
Her dad lives in Spain, so she often travels there too. She can keep up with the language, for the most part.
‘I can speak some Spanish. I can understand a bit of Urdu too, because my mom is from Pakistani Indian heritage.’
I ask whether her parents are together. I sense they’re not.
‘Yes, they separated.'
'Maybe it’s because I'm from such a dysfunctional family that divorce and family law seemed so normal.’
This is interesting to me. I’ve always wondered if there are more divorce lawyers out there who have parents who are married or more who have parents who are sourly separated. I’d love to see the stats, if they exist. The Solicitor claims it’s never mattered to her.
‘I feel no feelings towards it at all. Although my parents weren't married, they separated when I was like two or three, and, well, I feel like they did it well so I didn't notice. My dad was always there, putting me to bed and stuff. I didn't have a bad experience, separation-wise. So when I went into law, I didn't actually think about my parents. I don't think it impacted me really, apart from just making me realise how normal it is. If someone's like, oh we're divorcing, it doesn't even trigger emotions in my head.’
Does she think that her job has affected the likelihood of her getting married?
‘Prior to this job, I thought I'd get married. Then during this job I was like, man, not getting married. And now I've met someone I'm like, yeah, I can get married again. Being a divorce lawyer, I think it makes you want to make a success of any marriage or any relationship you go into because you see the breakdown of relationships all over the place. You see patterns of why things go wrong and then in your own relationship you kind of subconsciously, or maybe consciously, think about your clients and think, okay, I don't want to do that at all.’
But surely the divorces that The Solicitor oversees are the worst kind of divorces, because they're the ones that require lawyers?
‘Maybe that's a good thing. If I'm prepared for the absolute worst.’
When I was much younger, my dad always told me that a good measure of how well you're doing was if you'd managed to stay out of hospitals and law firms. It’s true, often lawyers are needed when things have gone wrong. I ask The Solicitor whether she agrees.
‘Part of my job last year was to deal with international surrogacy of children, right, so two people come to us and they can't have children for whatever reason. They might be a gay couple or a lesbian couple. They can't have kids and they have paid someone, most likely in America, to have a baby for them. International surrogacy. And then they come to us and they say, can you make this legal for us in England. That is a happy lawyer.'
'What we’re doing is something really positive. Not all lawyers do doom and gloom.’
It turns out she fell into divorce law by accident.
‘You just can't be choosy when you go into law. I just took what I could and did family law as a paralegal. I didn't even know what it was, but basically trained a bit in it and then I really liked it.’
I ask her what the best part is. The call goes quiet.
This is the only time The Solicitor really stops to think about her answer. Up to this point she’s replied quickly and boisterously, hardly stopping to breathe between sentences.
‘I need to think of a way to phrase it. Knowing the assets and income people have built up during their lives and where they have decided to invest, where they have decided to buy property. I like knowing about people's finances.’
I’m just beginning to think that she’s anti-romance, but then she tells me about her boyfriend. Since meeting him, the answer to ‘who was your first love’ has become easy.
‘Okay, so I thought it was this person that I had met in school when I was seventeen, and then I was very wrong about that, because now I have met someone on Bumble recently in October and it literally turned my life upside down. In my profile, it said: I'm a divorce lawyer, good luck. Anyone that was willing to message me after that, well, they deserve my time.’
Her favourite piece of clothing of the many she admits she has - three wardrobes full - was a gift from him.
‘It's a Nike Lithuanian hoodie which my boyfriend gave me. I didn't realise Lithuania was really famous for basketball, but Nike made a hoodie for Lithuanians. Yeah, basically when Soviet Russia took over Lithuania, they banned all sports, but one of the things they did allow Lithuania to play was basketball. I can wear the hoodie every day to work. Just love it.’
The Solicitor is an open book, certainly, but right at the end of our conversation she still manages to surprise me with a fact I’d never have guessed. She leaves me with more questions than I started with.
‘Margaret Thatcher used to feed me breakfast. We lived next door to each other. And my dad used to play golf with Denis, her husband.’