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“The award-losing family law blog”



The Jordans Family Law Awards are Wednesday night (or tomorrow, at the time of writing). At this point, I don’t know which of the four people nominated for my category are going to win – so frankly, being nominated has helpfully confirmed that you don’t get told in advance whether you have won or lost.


There are many very good people, in multiple categories, nominated for awards, and at the end of the evening, seventy-five per cent of them are not going to have won an award.


The chances are high that I am going to be in that seventy-five per cent, just on pure maths. And I know that I am going to get asked over and over “how do you feel about not winning?”



So, in the spirit of a beleaguered England football manager, I’m going to get my excuses in early, just in case.  This is by way of being a “rejection speech” on losing the award.


[“Well, Gary, the plucky Lilliputians have come a long way in recent years. Yes, their big centre-half is only seven inches tall, yes their population is so small that they had a pool of twelve adult males to draw from, yes as a result their holding midfielder is eighty-two years old, but there are no easy games at this level – they’ll be tough to break down, and for them getting a result against England is their cup-final” ]



I’ve decided to break my advance excuses/ gallant loser speech into three categories, the first two being serious, the last very much tongue in cheek (I am honestly not genuinely placing myself on a par with the people I namecheck in this speech)


1.    It was amazing to be nominated

2.    The competition is fierce, and whoever wins is a deserving winner

3.    Huh, who wants to win an award anyway? Much cooler to NOT win.




  1. It is/was amazing to be nominated


It truly, truly is. I’ve never been up for an award for writing before (I won an award for tae-kwon-do back in my twenties, but that was much more about my prowess to kick people quite hard in the head with unerring accuracy than my brain).  I’ve never been to an award ceremony, still less one being held in a posh hotel in Mayfair, a place so expensive that I can’t help but think that landing in a hotel there is going to bankrupt me…


More importantly, it has brought people to the blog who might never have heard of it. Some of them have no doubt backed away nervously and never come back, but some have visited again and told friends. The visitors to the site have basically doubled since the nomination, and it is astonishing to me that anyone reads my stuff, let alone in the numbers I’m now getting.


Many thanks to Lucy Reed, not only for getting me on the shortlist but for inspiring me to blog in the first place. I kept reading her Pink Tape blog and drafting comments that I then never dared send, and then I sent some, and from there I realised I should get out and start writing my own blog. So it is all her fault, really.


And also to John Bolch over at Family Lore, for sending so much good information and visitors my way; and to the folks at Twitter without whom the site would be just me and the spambots inviting me to buy cheap Oakley sunglasses.




  1.  The competition is fierce, and whoever wins is a deserving winner



True in pretty much all the categories, and my piece here is for all of the seventy-five per cent. It is not as bad as being nominated for Best Actor Oscar in a year that Daniel Day-Lewis has made a film, it feels more to me like some very well-balanced nominations and that there are no overwhelming favourites (even the Lionel Messi of family silks, Jo Delahunty QC is up against Paul Storey QC, who is at the very least CR7) and no rank outsiders.   [With the exception of 4 Paper Buildings winning chambers of the year – with seven nominees in various categories, they look a shoe-in to me]


In my own category, any of the people nominated would be worthy winners and there’d be no shame in whichever of the three of us form the unlucky nominees.  


David Burrows is an amazing lawyer, who has a presence on the bookshelves of almost every family solicitor’s offices and is a name we all know. He’s the go-to guy for almost every difficult question that crops up in family law.


Vanessa Llloyd-Platt is someone who crosses over into a world outside of just law, and makes difficult legal concepts understandable to ordinary real people in her work in national television and newspapers. In a time when lawyers are regularly portrayed as fat cats, ambulance-chasers or rottweilers with lipstick, it is really important to have people like Vanessa being visible to show that lawyers can be helpful and approachable.


Jacqueline Renton is a great barrister, working at one of the best sets around and provides the best resource out there for international family law, a subject so complicated it makes my temples throb just thinking about it, never mind commenting on it.


All worthy winners, without a doubt.





  1. Huh, who wants to win an award anyway? Much cooler to NOT win.



[Tongue in cheek, remember – I don’t actually mean this]



How tiresome to win an award for which one is nominated, to be recognised by the Establishment and absorbed within it. Richie Cunningham from Happy Days would have been delighted to win an award, but Fonzie would not.  Woody Allen doesn’t even go to the Oscars. Better to be the outsider, cocking a snook at the Establishment and their recognition.


We remember very few people who won an MBE, but we remember John Lennon returning his. Is John Lennon not cooler than a hedge fund investment manager, or a Permanent Under Secretary to the Department of the Environment? Indupitably.


Way cooler.


The history of prizes and awards shows that things go wrong, and that the most deserving winner (like me, and the other 75% who didn’t win at the Family Law Awards) doesn’t end up with the trophy.  Just as Ecclesiastes 9.11  foretold (surely talking about “Disciple of the Year Award”  22AD, which was controversially bagged by Mr Iscariot


Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.



It is important to recall that Einstein never won the Nobel Prize for the Theory of Relativity – probably the most important piece of physics since Faraday, nor for the only physics formula that most people can recite – E = Mc2    


They finally gave him a Nobel Prize for discoveries in photo-electricity, work which hardly set the world alight.


Winston Churchill lost the General Election after winning World War II.


Goodfellas did not win the Best Picture, or Best Director Oscar, losing out to Dances with Wolves.  That’s right, Kevin Costner won Best Director over Martin Scorsese.


Taxi Driver lost to Rocky  (and I LOVE Rocky, but hell, it isn’t a better piece of film making than Taxi Driver).  Rocky, incidentally, lost to Apollo Creed in the first film. Plucky underdog loser for the win there, too.


Apocalypse Now didn’t win Best Picture or Best Director – losing out to Kramer versus Kramer (which I won’t slag off, because I’m sure many family lawyers watch it for light relief / illustration of a happy amicable residence and contact dispute in comparison to their own caseloads)


Citizen Kane, widely regarded as the best film of all time, didn’t win best Picture or Best Director, losing out to a film about Welsh coalminers, ffs.


The great Brazilian football team of 1982, containing Zico and Socrates, never won the World Cup. The Greek team who did nothing but valiantly defend and pray for a spawny goal, did however, win an international tournament.


And so, it is clear therefore, that in not winning this award, I (and the other 75%) are rubbing shoulders with some greats.


We are Zico, we are Scorsese, we are Citizen bloody Kane, we are Einstein.


Those people with the trophies – they are Kevin Costner, they are Titanic, they are Richie Cunningham, they are Greece, they are a film about Welsh coalminers.


Let us gallant losers revel in being Winston Churchill and John Lennon – wouldn’t we rather be “award losing”, with the connotations that we were just too dark, too edgy, too ahead of our time to be given the award, or even better to have had the award almost in our hands but then had it ripped away by those who feared we weren’t “mainstream enough” ? 


Long live Fonzie!