Family lawyer Zahra Pabani is to stand down after five years as head of the West Midlands board of Resolution.
Miss Pabani, a partner at law firm Martineau, is stepping down from the regional board of the organisation, formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA), but plans to stand for a place on the national board next year.
She is due to officially resign from the post at the annual general meeting which takes place this week.
The 38-year old, who joined Martineau this month from Shakespeare Putsman Solicitors, said her legacy was putting Birmingham on the map as a centre of excellence for family law.
She said: “I have been chair of the West Midlands region which is the second biggest in the country and what we do is raise awareness of family issues to the general public but also we try and regulate solicitors and support them in the delivery of excellence.
“As far as I’m concerned Birmingham is the second city, it is a fantastic city with great commerce and business acumen, expertise and talent and I want to showcase that whenever possible.
Through Resolution I’ve been given the ability to meet with financial people and say ‘we need to have a seminar on finance, pensions, on what the recession is doing at the moment; to the family lawyers’, because our job is so varied.
“I brought them all together to showcase us and then I invite people from London to say ‘look at these people, look at what we are achieving’. Birmingham is a centre of excellence for family law services and I don’t just mean lawyers, but business professionals that advise clients financially as well as personally. Lots of people going through difficult times need counselling. In America everybody has a therapist and life coaching. I love it all and I have tried to introduce some of that into training and not just for our clients but for us as lawyers.”
She said: “I think people will want to come to Birmingham more because of what we have achieved. I believe we have gained more respect for family law. I hope that via Resolution, I have put it on the map.”
“It is time for change so after five years I will be retiring as chair but I will look to stand on the national board next year, to make calls to the government for law reform in family areas.”
Resolution, a national organisation, has 5,500 members committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes.
Members follow a Code of Practice that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems.
Ms Pabani who has joined Martineau’s team of seven - making it one of the largest private client departments in the region is also the firm’s first collaborative lawyer - a method which has come from America.
She said she offered a service which was different from the traditional way of doing things – where you have one lawyer on each side and if it doesn’t settle you go to court.
“I’m a trained collaborative lawyer which they haven’t had at Martineau before. It means you sign up to an agreement. Two clients and two lawyers sign up and you have to settle without going to court. If it ultimately breaks down the lawyers get sacked. In collaboration every single meeting, the four of you sit at a table. We ask the client ‘how do you want to deal with this? Do you want collaborate law? Do we need to litigate straight away. Whatever we do it needs emotional and commercial intelligence.”