2023 was another busy year at Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice. We welcomed new faces, promoted members of our team, earned recognition for our work and raised funds for amazing causes. We thought that we would share some of the year’s highlights, to reflect on another fantastic year for the Firm.
Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500
October brought excitement as we retained our ranking within The Legal 500, securing the position as the sole Tier-1 firm for family law in Wales for the fourth consecutive year. Our Melanie Hamer, Thea Hughes, Sarah Wyburn, David James and Rebecca Knight were all ranked individually for their successes throughout the year. We were also retained as the only Band 1 matrimonial/family law firm in Wales, within the Chambers and Partners guide. This was our 18th year ranked within Chambers and Partners and the same five directors also achieved individual rankings.
Family Law Awards
In November, we attended the annual Family Law Awards, where we were shortlisted as finalists within the ‘Family Law Financial Remedies Team of the Year’ category. This category covers the whole of England & Wales and we were the only Welsh firm to be shortlisted. At this event, we were delighted to be announced as ‘Highly commended’, amongst such great company.
Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) Committee
Our Bethan Tapper and Esther Ifan were re-elected to the Cardiff and South East Wales Junior Lawyers Division committee in September. Bethan was appointed as the Committee’s Vice Chair and Esther was appointed as the Events Welsh Officer.
Bethan Tapper recognised at the Cardiff & District Law Society (CDLS) Awards
The Firm was nominated as a finalist within two categories at the annual Cardiff & District Law Society (CDLS) Awards in November – ‘Rising Star of the Year’ and ‘Best Access to Justice (Pro bono) Initiative’. We took great pride in congratulating our Bethan Tapper on deservedly winning the ‘Rising Star of the Year’ award, for her incredible efforts in consistently providing the highest level of service to our clients.
Melanie Hamer recognised as ‘Lawyer of the Year’
In June, our founding Director, Melanie Hamer was recognised as the ‘Lawyer of the Year’ for Family Law (Cardiff), by the highly-reputable publication, Best Lawyers. Only one lawyer is recognised as the ‘Lawyer of the Year’ for each specific practice area and location. Melanie has been recognised in this publication since 2009 – a fantastic achievement.
Appointments and promotions
We welcomed two new solicitors to the team in 2023; Stacey Bruce and Stacey Williams joined us in July and October respectively. Both are specialist family lawyers and we are very pleased to have them on board. Pamela Jones joined us in February and quickly settled into her role as the Firm’s Office Administrator. Pam joined with vast experience and plays a vital role in the daily operation of the Firm.
2023 was a year of growth for our team, with three of our longstanding Solicitors earning promotions. In May, Sam John was promoted to Director. Sam joined the Firm in 2015 and is known for being ‘professional’ and ‘supportive’ and for going the extra mile. He joins Sarah Wyburn and Rebecca Knight as the third Director to start at the firm as a Trainee and progress to Director – which is something we take great pride in. Bethan Tapper was also promoted in May, to the position of Associate Solicitor. Bethan has been with the Firm since 2018 and has developed into an incredible lawyer. Lastly, in November, Fay Jones was promoted to Associate Solicitor. Fay joined us in 2019 and has proved to be a real asset to the Firm. She is regularly praised by clients for her in-depth knowledge of the law and her empathetic approach.
Each year, the Firm elects a new charity partner to support and fundraise. 2023’s charity of the year was Hope Rescue, a charity that saves the lives of dogs in six local authorities within South Wales. The charity has a rescue centre where they house stray dogs and care for them until a suitable new home is found.
Our team has been heavily involved with Hope Rescue since January 2023. We took part in a sponsored Pen-Y-Fan walk, attended various quiz evenings, hosted a post-race event at our offices for runners of the Cardiff Half Marathon, held a charity bake off, made donations to their charity shop and even completed a skydive – all to raise funds for this amazing cause.
Llamau Legal Clinic
Originally set up in October 2022, we continued to provide our monthly Legal Clinic throughout 2023, for Wales’ leading homelessness charity, Llamau. Each month, our Solicitors provide free legal advice to vulnerable people, who may otherwise have no means of obtaining it. Since the legal clinic began, our Solicitors have provided advice relating to obtaining Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders, rights upon separation (whether they were married or cohabiting), and the arrangements for children. This Legal Clinic has been very well-received and as such, we plan to continue providing this service throughout 2024.
LGBTQ+ Legal Clinic
In 2023, our Sam John continued to deliver Pro Bono legal help and advice to members of the LBGTQ+ community through the LGBTQ+ Law Clinic in Cardiff. Sam advised members of the LGBTQ+ community in relation to divorce, dissolution, their financial claims resulting from divorce/dissolution, cohabitee disputes, child arrangements, parental responsibility, and injunctions. Being able to provide advice on a Pro Bono basis through the clinic is something which Sam finds hugely rewarding.
Noah’s Ark Children’s Charity
Our Melanie Hamer is a Trustee of the children’s hospital charity, Noah’s Ark. Melanie supported this great cause throughout 2023 and at the Cardiff & District Law Society (CDLS) Awards in November, presented to around 280 people about the great work this charity does.
Looking to 2024
Our Sam John has commented “as a Firm, we hope to have another very successful year in 2024, and are excited about what the year has in store for us. We will be continuing our charity work and will shortly be electing a new charity partner to support. We have already welcomed a new Paralegal to the Firm, Caitlin Evans, and we are sure she will be an integral part of the team. Most importantly, we will be continuing to provide our clients with an excellent service, and aiming to achieve the best possible outcomes for them. The success we had in 2023 would not have been possible without our amazing team, and the recognition we received is a testament to their very hard work.”