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Leaders List Interview: 60 seconds with Steven Gasser, Laurus

22 November 2021

April French Furnell

Steven Gasser, a director and head of the family team at Laurus, tells Citywealth why ethics are at the heart of their way of working with clients.

Tell us about your role

I am a Director and Shareholder within the firm. My role is fairly wide ranging from having input to the overall direction of the firm (although I leave this to the experts). I am responsible for all the members in my team and specifically my five junior lawyers and support. I combine the management and training of them with business development to enhance the reputation and, of course, the client focused day-to-day work.

 

Talk us through a typical day

The great thing about our job is that there is no typical day. However, for me, it would normally start with a zoom with the team where we discuss the challenges and particular cases for the day ahead. We work as an exceptionally close-knit team which is good, given the pressures that we often face with cases. I will then break off and deal with allocating and the delegation of tasks to my team before getting into the work, which might involve preparation for a Court Hearing, calls and remote or face-to-face meetings with clients. Quite often, there will also be business development involved in the afternoon or evenings where I get the opportunity to meet with key referrers of work.

 

What is keeping your clients up at night? 

The biggest stress for clients is the uncertainty that they face. There is no doubt about that whatsoever. They are going through a hugely turbulent and uncertain period of time and the reason two lawyers are involved is because there is a difference of perception of the case, and that in itself causes significant uncertainty. 

 

How has your practice been affected by the COVID pandemic?

The obvious way in which it was affected was the loss of face-to-face interaction with my team and clients, which is a huge part of what I do. However, I have really enjoyed pivoting to the remote way of working and even those day-to-day meetings are becoming more prevalent. I find that clients are preferring the flexibility of remote working. I feel that, generally, it has been a positive experience in practice. The very obvious point is the overworked Court system, which was struggling before the pandemic, has now really buckled and the delays are quite staggering contrary to the clients’ best interests.

 

What are the most important skills and qualities for a family lawyer?

The most important skill is to be able to manage clients’  expectations and to deliver what the client may perceive as ‘bad news’ in a way that also instils confidence in the avenue and journey that they are going to go down. Quite often, clients will have a perception about where they think their case is and our job is to challenge that and explain to them that, unfortunately, on occasion, it may not be a realistic expectation.

 

Laurus has a strong focus on ethics. How does this work in family  law and why is it important? 

Ethics is an important word that is too often used without proper understanding or applied focus. We really do pride ourselves on our approach to ethics in terms of giving the client transparency on funding and always prioritising the most appropriate avenue for the client in order to achieve the best outcome. We do not prioritise the firm over the client experience and our clients are perceived as ‘humans’ rather than ‘transactions’, which is an experience I regularly get feedback on from clients whom we may take over from other firms.

 

Most memorable work moment?

One of the stand out cases for me was some time ago when I acted for a client and we, quite rightly, prevented the Applicant relocating to her homeland of Spain with the child. To a lot of people, that would seem as though we are denying an opportunity, but actually, what became clear over the five day trial, is that the Applicant and her family who came from Spain to give evidence, were not going to encourage and promote the relationship between the child and my client. What became clear is that if the Court permitted the Application, which it was recommended they should do, then there was a very real prospect that my client would lose the relationship with his child. I stay in touch with the client and he still has a fabulous relationship with his daughter.

 

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given?

Time spent worrying is lost time. We often sit on problems and are not quick to open up and discuss them. Discussing them is a key piece of advice I would give ny junior lawyers.

 

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