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Cygnet’s founder, Peter Medd, celebrates 40 years as a solicitor

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A Redcar-based solicitor, who has been involved with a number of high-profile cases including the Cleveland Child Abuse Crisis has celebrated 40 years of legal service.

The Cygnet team organised a small celebration at their office in Redcar to mark the occasion, presenting Peter with a gift.

Cygnet Law Managing Director Peter Medd started his career in 1977, specialising in family law. During the 1980s, he worked on a number of high-profile cases linked to the Cleveland Child Abuse Crisis, which contributed to the implementation of the Children Act 1989. The act revolutionised the courts’ approach to cases concerning children and Peter has remained at the forefront of developments to the law in this area.

Cygnet Law was established by Peter Medd in 2001 and has grown to become one of the most well-respected specialists in family and property law in the North East.

Peter Medd said: “Over the past 40 years I have been privileged to have worked on cases that have literally changed the law. I am very proud of what has been built up at Cygnet Law and the number of local families and individuals that we have supported.

“I am looking forward to continuing this good work with the excellent team we have here at Cygnet Law.”

Lisa Smith, the Practice Manager at Cygnet Law, said: “Cygnet Law is delighted to be celebrating this milestone with Peter. 40 years is an incredible amount of experience for any practitioner, and we are very lucky to work with him.

“Peter is highly regarded across the legal profession in Teesside for his knowledge and experience in family law, particularly child law. The work he’s done for families in the North East throughout his career has been inspirational.”

Steph Bellerby, Legal Assistant at Cygnet Law, and Richinda Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at EVA Women’s Aid

Cygnet Law commits to support victims of domestic violence with free legal advice

Redcar-based Cygnet Law has committed to continue to provide pro-bono support for victims of domestic violence in Tees Valley.

Cygnet Law has already donated around 50 hours of its time this year at the fortnightly drop-in surgeries at EVA Women’s Aid, which cover subjects ranging from domestic violence to contact and separation issues, or any other family legal matters on which EVA clients require information. It has pledged to continue these workshop until at least the end of this year.

If required, Cygnet can refer Eva clients to other local support services, or begin legal arrangements for non-molestation orders, or any other legal proceedings.

Steph Bellerby, a Legal Assistant at Cygnet Law is one of those who gives her time at EVA, said: “Cygnet Law is proud to support victims of domestic violence. We hope that, through donating our time and expertise, we can help make a positive difference to the lives of those who are suffering.

“Victims of domestic abuse often feel that they are trapped and isolated, so having a safe place they can visit to gain support from both EVA and ourselves is really important.”

Richinda Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at EVA Women’s Aid, said: “The support of Cygnet Law provides EVA with an additional service, which means we are able to offer invaluable legal provision to the vulnerable women who turn to us for help. Often taking legal steps is the first step towards turning their lives around.”

Drop in surgeries at EVA Women’s Aid, 86 High Street, Redcar, run from 10am – 4pm fortnightly. Upcoming confirmed dates are 20 April, 16 May, 10 June and 26 June.

If you are victim, or potential victim, of domestic violence, or have serious concerns that someone you know may be at risk, please contact EVA on 01642 490677, or Cygnet Law on 01642 777680.

Cygnet Law recognised for healthy work environment

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Redcar-based Cygnet Law has been presented with a highly coveted Better Health at Work award.

Following its hard work to improve the health and wellbeing of its team during 2016, the legal firm collected a Silver Award at the Better Health at Work Awards (BHAWA). The awards were developed by workplace health specialists in the NHS and Public Health North East to foster positive initiatives by the region’s businesses.

Cygnet Law received the acknowledgement after supporting healthy campaigns internally throughout the year. These included; its first annual beach walk, which raised money for Redcar & Cleveland Mind; Healthy Heart Week, and an initiative to help reduce the amount that staff smoked by creating a chart so that they could track how many cigarettes they consumed.

Peter Medd, Managing Partner of Cygnet Law, which specialises in family law, mental health, conveyancing and wills and probate, said: “It’s important that businesses promote the health and wellbeing of its work force. Happy and healthy staff are more productive and are vital to the long-term success of any company.

“Cygnet received a Bronze Award at last year’s ceremony, so to have picked up a Silver Award is evidence that our efforts to ensure our staff are well cared for, and our commitment to foster a healthy workplace, are paying off. However, this award is a team effort, and ultimately, we would not have received it without the hard work of the entire workforce at Cygnet.”

Success of Free Will Month sees local mental health charity receive thousands of pounds

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Cygnet Law’s Free Will Month campaign has written 83 wills for free and raised more than £7,000 for local mental health charity Redcar & Cleveland Mind.

The Redcar-based Will and Mental Health Law specialist law firm offered its will writing services for free, only asking for a donation to the local mental health charity in return. Anyone taking up the offer was asked to make a contribution to Redcar & Cleveland Mind, either directly at the time, or by leaving a charitable donation in their will.

An outstanding total of £7,725 was included as charitable legacies in wills or donated directly to the charity.

This is only the latest fundraising done by Cygnet Law on behalf of the charity. Last year, the law firm raised more than £500 with its first charity beach walk.

Gemma Brooks, Solicitor and Estate-planning specialist at Cygnet Law, said “We’re incredibly pleased with how well the Free Will Month went. Of the 83 people who accessed the offer, only a few have had their final meeting to sign off the will so far. We expect that many of the people who we see over the next few weeks will donate as well, so the total should far exceed what we already have.

“It’s a service we’ve been happy to provide. Whether you have thought about where you want your estate to go or if you have no idea where to start, we can help you write your will. Many people think you only need one if you own property or have a lot of wealth, but it’s an important legal protection everyone should have regardless of money or age.”

Veronica Harnett, CEO of Redcar & Cleveland mind said: “Leaving a legacy is an incredibly generous gesture that helps us to sustain our services in the future. We would encourage everyone to recognise how important it is to have a will in place so that their wishes are clearly followed after they have gone. Legacy funds make it possible for charities like ours to develop new services for people with mental health problems at a time when funding is a real challenge.”

Free Will Month to support local mental health charity

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Cygnet Law is offering a free will writing service throughout January to encourage people to support local mental health charity, Redcar & Cleveland Mind.

The Redcar-based specialist family and mental health law firm will update or write a will at no charge. In return, anyone who takes up the offer will be asked to consider making a donation to Redcar & Cleveland Mind, either at the time, or by leaving a charitable legacy in their will.

The campaign is part of an ongoing relationship between Cygnet and Redcar & Cleveland Mind. Last year, the legal firm raised more £500 at its inaugural charity beach walk in aid of the mental health support charity. At the same event, it also became the first solicitor’s firm in the region to sign up to Mind’s Time to Change Employer Pledge, which saw Cygnet commit to challenge discrimination relating to mental health and make accommodations to support the mental health of its staff.

Redcar & Cleveland Mind delivers mental health services and training in the area, offering person-centred assessment and support to assist recovery from mental illness.

Stacey Phoenix is a solicitor at Cygnet and also acts as a Trustee on the board of Redcar & Cleveland Mind. She said: “If the many high profile deaths of last year taught us anything, it’s that having an update to date will is very important. Having a will written by a solicitor means that your wishes will be carried out should you pass away.

“By offering a will service free of charge throughout January we hope that people will donate the money they would have spent to Mind, who do fabulous work supporting hundreds of people each year in Redcar and Cleveland. Whilst no one is under any obligation to make a donation, writing a charitable legacy into a will allows you to support your family and friends, whilst also making a positive contribution to the local community.”

To arrange your free will writing appointment, please call Cygnet Law on 01642 777 680.

Appointments are on a first come, first served basis. Once all allocated appointments are booked, the campaign will end.

Cygnet Law takes on former trainee

Please Credit Picture:Keith Taylor

Cygnet Law has bolstered its workforce with the appointment of a former trainee as a permanent member of its legal team.

Cygnet Law has taken on Eleanor Barber, 25, as a solicitor following the completion of her two year-long solicitor training contract.

During her traineeship with the Redcar-based firm, the University of Sunderland and Northumbria graduate shadowed the work of a number of departments, seeing first-hand how specialist solicitors work within the Public Law, Private Family Law, and Mental Health Law spheres.

Eleanor said: “I’m over the moon to be beginning my legal career at Cygnet Law, especially as it’s a local business. It just goes to show that there are opportunities for young people in Tees Valley to get onto the career ladder. You don’t need to go to London or elsewhere to be successful.”

“I learned a tremendous amount during my two year traineeship here and I look forward to implementing those lessons as a fully-qualified solicitor.

“My work can be very challenging and demanding, but ultimately very rewarding.”

Peter Medd, Director at Cygnet Law, said: “We’re so pleased to be able to offer Eleanor a position with us here at Cygnet Law. She has proved herself to be a valuable and capable member of our team throughout her training contract, and we look forward to watching her flourish in her new role.”

Cygnet Law takes on former trainee

Jessica Barrowman, in-house counsel for Cygnet Law, with newly qualified solicitor Eleanor Barber

Cygnet Law has bolstered its workforce with the appointment of a former trainee as a permanent member of its legal team.

Cygnet Law has taken on Eleanor Barber, 25, as a solicitor following the completion of her two year-long solicitor training contract.

During her traineeship with the Redcar-based firm, the University of Sunderland and Northumbria graduate shadowed the work of a number of departments, seeing first-hand how specialist solicitors work within the Public Law, Private Family Law, and Mental Health Law spheres.

Eleanor said: “I’m over the moon to be beginning my legal career at Cygnet Law, especially as it’s a local business. It just goes to show that there are opportunities for young people in Tees Valley to get onto the career ladder. You don’t need to go to London or elsewhere to be successful.”

“I learned a tremendous amount during my two year traineeship here and I look forward to implementing those lessons as a fully-qualified solicitor.

“My work can be very challenging and demanding, but ultimately very rewarding.”

Peter Medd, Director at Cygnet Law, said: “We’re so pleased to be able to offer Eleanor a position with us here at Cygnet Law. She has proved herself to be a valuable and capable member of our team throughout her training contract, and we look forward to watching her flourish in her new role.”

 

Law firm warns that a debt bubble could lead to surge of divorces in 2017

John Robinson, a divorce solicitor at Cygnet Law

 

Cygnet Law is predicting that the UK’s record high household debt could lead to a surge in divorces in the near future.

John Robinson, a director and divorce specialist at Redcar-based Cygnet Law, is warning that record levels of household debt may lead to a sudden increase in the number of divorces if the UK’s debt bubble bursts in 2017.

The latest research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows that unsecured debt, excluding mortgages, has reached a record high of £349 billion, which is the equivalent of £12,887 per household, meaning that debt now averages at 27.4% of household income nationally.

Mr Robinson explains: “Historically we have seen an increase in divorce rates during times of economic hardship. Financial concerns can put a serious strain on a relationship and people reach a breaking point where they feel they can no longer go on.

“Whilst employment has risen in the North East, wages still equate to less spending power than they did a few years ago. People are feeling the pinch and supplementing their income with credit cards and loans. It seems that, for now, most people are able to cope with this extra debt, but with a tumultuous year ahead of us in the form of a new American president and the triggering of Article 50, this may well change which would mean that their financial circumstances could change dramatically very quickly.

“I’ve dealt with thousands of divorces over the years and know all too well how debt can impact on a marriage. In some cases, debt leads to secrecy as people try to hide money trouble from their partners, perhaps because they are scared or embarrassed. Other times, one partner can feel as though the debt is the fault of the other, which in turn breeds resentment.”

Mr Robinson added: “Of course, I would always recommend that any couple who feel their relationship is at breaking point due to money worries to seek help first and foremost. This could be from the local Citizens Advice Bureau or another similar organisation.”

Cygnet Law questions the ethics of ‘Divorce Week’

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Cygnet Law, a specialist family and mental health law practice, has questioned the ethics of the so-called ‘Divorce Week’.

The first few working days after the festive period have come to be known as ‘Divorce Week’ by some in the industry, who claim it is the busiest period of the year for family lawyers dealing with separation cases. With some research* going so far as to claim that up to 20percent of married people are currently considering a split.

John Robinson, a director and specialist divorce solicitor at Cygnet Law, believes that some legal firms are using the statistic to capitalise on what can be such a difficult time for families. He said: “Divorces are serious things, which can often be upsetting and problematic for those people involved and really should not be used as a marketing gimmick. Cygnet is very much a people and community-focussed business and we believe in treating our clients and their partners with respect, especially during difficult times such as divorce. We feel it is our duty to support our clients as they go through financially and emotionally-testing times.”

Cygnet’s own findings point towards a different divorce peak, one which occurs during September and October. Mr Robinson believes this flurry of separation happens as children return to school: “We have found that we have more divorce-related inquiries in the weeks following the end of the school summer holidays. I believe this may be because parents have spent too much time together and come to realise they are no longer right for one another.

“Another reason – which is actually highlighted in the same bit of research that the Divorce Week doomsayers have taken their information from – is that some parents are trying not to upset the family balance whilst the children are spending more time at home. In fact, the research says that one in four unhappy couples stay in the relationship longer than they wanted to for the sake of their children.”

No-Fault divorces are a no-brainer, says legal experts

John Robinson, a divorce solicitor at Cygnet Law

 

Cygnet Law, the Redcar-based Law Specialist, has added its voice to the call for the end of the divorce blame game.

Cygnet is arguing that current legal requirements, which dictate, that unless one of the couple attributes fault to the other, separating couples must wait at least two years to have the termination of their relationship legally recognised, is out-dated and is in desperate need of an overhaul.

This quirk in legislation means that in cases of amicable divorce, some couples may be tempted to falsely claim adultery or rely on unreasonable behaviour grounds that are contentious or will cause upset as the course of their separation order to accelerate the process.

John Robinson, a Director and Divorce Specialist at Cygnet Law, believes that a modernisation of the legislation is urgently required. He said: “No-fault divorces seems like a no brainer to me. Forcing couples to drag out their divorces or pin the blame on one another can cause bitterness and further damage the relationship.”

“Going through a divorce is straining as it is, without being made more trying by forcing couples into arguments.

“In my experience, a large number of divorcing couples have taken a mutual decision to split, and delaying the process achieves nothing in those circumstances.”

John rejects suggestions that no-blame divorces would increase the overall number of divorces, arguing instead that the introduction may increase the number of couples using a mediator: “If couples do not have to be hostile in terms of the ground for the divorce then it is more likely they will remain amicable enough to discuss matters through a Mediator and hopefully resolve things without having to resort to the Court. Simplifying the divorce procedure will also free up valuable court time.”