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International Women's Day - Interview with Melanie Hamer


Our Vice Chair, Bethan Tapper interviewed Melanie Hamer, the Co-Founder and Director of Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice


Background

I grew up in the Welsh Valleys where both of my grandfathers were coalminers. I was the first in my family to go to university and I went on to qualify as a Solicitor in 1989. I worked in the Private Client Department of Eversheds until co-founding my own specialist family law firm, Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice in 1996.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in family law?

During my training contract at Eversheds, I rotated departments every six months spending time in their employment law, commercial property, company and commercial and family law departments. I found family law and the human-interest element of it absolutely fascinating.  Also, dealing with financial remedies on divorce enables me to work with numbers (something I love) and deal with the corporate aspects of a family break up. 

 

What is your greatest achievement?

From a professional perspective, it is setting up my own family law firm in 1996 when I was aged 30 years old.   At that point, we were the first and the only niche family law firm in Wales. We are still the biggest in Wales and one of the largest in Great Britain.

On a personal level, it is having been happily with the same man since I was nineteen years old and raising together two wonderful children who are now adults and thankfully still enjoy spending time with us!

 

Have you faced any challenges because of your gender?

Thankfully not.  In my previous firm, Eversheds, women were very much treated the same as men.

 

What advice would you give to women wanting to pursue a career in law and run their own business?

A career in law is fascinating and I haven’t regretted it for one minute.  I still thoroughly enjoy my job,  and still have a very good reason to get out of bed in the morning.  In terms of running your own business, there are highs and lows but the highs outnumber the lows. When running your own business however, you have to put the needs of the business and its staff before your own needs. I would however, encourage anyone thinking of running their own business to just do it but to do your homework and preparation first.


Do you have any female role models? 

It is hard to limit this to just one person.  As part of the Monumental Welsh Women group (a voluntary, not for profit group tasked with erecting 5 statues in Wales of 5 prominent Welsh women in 5 years), I have met a whole range of fascinating Welsh women who have climbed to the top of their professional ladders and have done so with grace, style, humility and a sense of humour. Each of them is a role model in their own right but I won’t embarrass them by naming them all here!


What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It is an opportunity for us to celebrate and enjoy the success of women throughout the world.  By success, I don’t just mean professional success but personal success and women who excel  at what they do, whatever that happens to be.

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