Grant Cameron, Chair, and Colin Jones, Chief Executive, Resolution, addressed delegates at National Conference
Brighton, 19 May 2023
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Colin Jones, Chief Executive, Resolution: Thank you Jo, for that introduction, and thank you for hosting here today. It’s a joy to be here in Brighton, and particularly with you holding the reins – we know you’ll do Resolution and the East Sussex region proud over the next couple of days.
Good morning everyone and welcome to the Resolution National Conference in what is our 40th year!
Now, for those of you who have attended conferences previously and are used to hearing me speak at the end of the second day, no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, nor should you take this as a prompt to head for the exits anytime soon.
True, a change is as good as a rest, but the reason Grant and I have decided to speak to you together today is a reflection of how we, and to be honest past chairs for the last 10 years approach leadership within your organisation.
Yes, bizarre as it sounds, we put members first, and this is absolutely the correct approach, although during my time as CEO, it has increasingly been a genuine partnership between the staff team I lead; and the National Committee, most recently under Juliet Harvey’s stewardship and now led by Grant.
The support and guidance provided by National Committee, Grant and Juliet, over these past few years is valued enormously by the staff team and me – the last 36 months have been extraordinarily challenging times for everyone . Juliet – we can and will say more about your time at the helm, but can I just say from all of us: thank you very, very much for your unwavering support over the last three years as national Chair of Resolution.
It’s through this partnership approach between your National Committee and your staff team at Resolution HQ that enables us to deliver the things we do for members.
Over the past 12 months the team have, not only been able to bring you these exceptional two days of networking and knowledge sharing you’re about to enjoy, but they have also trained more than 1,000 members in the last year and developed and launched Resolution Together – which is as most of you will know is our innovative new training module, marking a new way for lawyers to work with and advise couples jointly. This is an outstanding achievement by the staff team in parentship with members and, not that we are competitive, but the only national programme of its kind by a membership organisation to have the thumbs up from the SRA. An enormous achievement.
The team have also put out another outstanding series of our hit podcast, Talking Family Law, and, later this year, we can’t wait to host our inaugural Awards Gala Dinner.
Nominations for the awards close at the end of the month, so there is still time to put forward members who you think deserve special recognition – all the details are on our website.
The awards promise to be a wonderful celebration of Resolution family justice professionals and the incredible work you all do. I hope many of you join us in London, to celebrate our champions of family justice in September. Resolution is ‘The’ organisation for all of you engaged in family work and so we really want to make the Resolution Awards ‘the’ awards on the national landscape.
Across all areas of our work, I see regularly volunteer members and staff working together, in genuine collaboratively, to support our wider membership. With the tireless help of our committees and regions your staff have worked tremendously hard to ensure we were able to come out of the pandemic in a stronger position. It’s also important to say that Juliet’s leadership during this period and how well we weathered the Covid-19 storm are not unconnected. Thank you again Juliet.
I am confident that despite the challenges of Covid-19 we have put the foundations in place, to allow us to continue build a Resolution that is fit for the future and continues to be the essential home for all family practitioners, regardless of personal or professional backgrounds, for the next forty years and beyond.
Unquestionably, diversity makes us a stronger organisation, means we are able to attract the best available talent, to truly understand the environment we operate in, better serve our members, and support the families they work with. –there is work to do, but I believe John Cornwell would be very proud.
I’m really delighted to see so many of you here today. As I look around the room, I see some familiar friendly faces, and many new ones too. We have more than 100 first-time attendees at this year’s National Conference. You are all very welcome, whether it’s your first conference or your twenty-first – and I’m looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible over the next two days.
One face we’re all very familiar with, is that of the man stood at the other podium, so without any further ado, will you please give a warm welcome to your new chair, and, crucially – and let’s not forget this – my new boss, Grant Cameron.
Grant Cameron, Chair, Resolution: Thanks Colin. Good morning and thank you all for such a warm welcome. And I’d like to add my thanks to your outgoing ‘boss’ (that doesn’t seem the right word to use, I’m sure it’s the other way round more often than not!).
Juliet took over as Chair the day before no-fault divorce legislation was passed so rightfully takes all the credit… She also helped the organisation navigate through the pandemic, serving more time than any of her predecessors as a result, and I think it’s important we acknowledge this.
Juliet, you have been an absolute pleasure to work with, not just as your vice-chair, but over the many years we’ve served together on various committees and of course National Committee. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Resolution.
It really is brilliant to see so many Resolution members have made your way to Brighton today, it’s quite a sight to see the room full of familiar as well as new faces. Like Colin I’m really looking forward to speaking to you over the next couple of days, please do come and say hello.
One of the things I enjoy most about being a member of Resolution, and also in attending National Conference, is the high level of support and encouragement we are able to offer one another.
As family practitioners we understand these demands and pressures and can share our experiences and weekends like this are our chance to step back and applaud our efforts as a society in making divorce less confrontational, supporting professionals, and helping families find “A Better Way.”
Resolution membership has been the backbone to my career. I have been a member since the SFLA days and it is with tremendous pride I have seen first-hand how the organisation has grown, changed and met the various challenges head on.
Resolution and its members put children front and centre of everything we do. As a father, I have seen, both professionally and personally, the difference that good support can make.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be part of a blended family where I have never felt like or been described as a step-dad. As with many families we have had difficult challenges to face, but we have been able to do it together.
My brother went through a divorce and in the past often talked to me how he valued early, practical, and pragmatic legal advice which helped him see things from a different perspective; how he and his then-wife were encouraged to stand in each other’s shoes and encouraged to make the best possible decisions for their children. He commented it was evident that the solicitor’s approach was clearly not designed to push up costs but to drive down acrimony and bitterness. That solicitor is known to be a committed member of Resolution and who clearly demonstrated the relevance of the Code in Practice in action.
I recognise that my family’s experience is not the same as everyone else’s. I haven’t had the same prolonged court battles or faced the same lengthy delays that many have had to experience, but my experiences have inspired me to help and support clients and use all means to make a difference for those encountering difficulties. My goal, as Resolution chair, is to campaign to ensure that as many families as possible get to benefit from that practical, helpful, legal advice.
I don’t need to tell all of you here, that it shouldn’t have to be like this, there should be, as John Cornwell believed 40 years ago … a better way.
It’s this belief that drove my journey into family law and subsequently into Resolution and I am incredibly proud to be able to stand here today as your Chair of this incredible organisation.
Over the last forty years we have achieved some major milestones – no-fault divorce, the introduction of new practices, the development of YRes and the continued development of our committees who are producing exceptional guides and putting on invaluable events to increase our members knowledge. EDI and Well-Being quite rightly have secured our central focus.
40 years – that’s quite some achievement and the organisation has certainly stood the test of time.
And we’ll continue to innovate, to champion reform, to support you to be the best you can be. We’ll soon be launching our Diploma for Family Professionals, to provide some long overdue national recognition of the specialism and expertise of family practice. It will be a professional journey, open to all members and also provides a pathway of CPD learning and development for younger members which they can undertake right from the start.
We’ll also shortly be launching our Alumni group, offering those retiring from practice the opportunity to stay connected with the profession, their peers and Resolution, whilst providing the opportunity to share their expertise, knowledge and wisdom with our practicing members.
None of this would be possible, of course, without the support of our amazing National Committee members, and I’d like to thank all of them for their continued work to ensure the ship is steered in the right direction. In particular I’d like to thank Helen Tulloch, Edward Cooke and Bina Modi who will be leaving the committee, for all of their work and commitment in their terms of service.
I’d also like to congratulate Pelumi Adeola, Laura Clapton, and Marc on their election to NC as announced at our AGM this morning: I’m looking forward to working with each of you to do even more for our members in the future. I also would like to mention our new vice Chair Melanie Bataillard-Samuel who I am also looking forward to working alongside over the next couple of years
I hope in my time as Chair we will be able to forge stronger links with FLBA and ALC. I am excited by the more holistic approach taken by professionals these days and believe that will go from strength to strength and will be constantly developed.
National Conferences are memorable not only in terms of legal and practical content but also in providing an ideal opportunity of meeting colleagues and fellow professionals. I hope that, in addition to consuming all the brilliant content laid on for you, that you enjoy catching up with old colleagues and friends, and hopefully making some new ones too. Back to you Colin.
Colin Jones: There are more than 500 of you here and it is our biggest ever conference. I believe this points to the incredible work of our committees and staff enabling Resolution to continue to grow and develop despite the backdrop of political and economic uncertainty. If only I had a pound for every Lord Chancellor in the last 36 months…
The run-up to National Conference is one of the busiest times of the year for our team at Resolution HQ, and they’ve worked tirelessly to bring you this year’s National Conference – one that is fit for our 40th Anniversary celebration!
Thanks to Sophina, Louisa, Kim, Denise and Sarah and to all our team who have put in countless hours to bring you a real feast of insightful speakers, in-depth debate, and high-quality networking opportunities. We have a fantastic line-up of speakers and workshops, more than worthy of our 40th anniversary.
You can find all the details of conference on the Swapcard app, and please, do provide us with feedback of the good, the bad and the ugly (hopefully less of the latter two), as we need your help in order to make every conference more successful than the last. Although as I always tell my partner, even Chief Executives have feelings so please be kind too! So equally if you do like something please let us know!
While our 40th Anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect upon just how far we’ve come since John Cornwell and others established our organisation, it also provides an opportunity to look ahead and think about what we want the next forty years to look like.
As part of our 40th anniversary celebrations, we will prepare and launch Resolution’s Vision for Family Justice. In November 2022, building on our successful campaigning work around no-fault divorce, we asked our members to share their views about the changes they would like to see to family justice.
More than 1,000 members completed our survey, and this research will ensure Resolution’s campaigning and lobbying work is even stronger in 2023 and beyond; standing up for, and supporting you all in creating a system that works for you and your clients.
It won’t be a surprise that, now we’ve achieved no-fault divorce, the vast majority of our members said that cohabitation reform should be the next priority for reform. You also said that we should continue to make the case for funding for legal information and advice – something we’ll be stressing to the new Secretary of State via our response to the current government consultation – and of course improving the way child arrangements are handled.
There’ll be plenty of opportunities for you to continue to get involved with this work, when we launch this paper later in the year, not least through our annual awareness week. It never ceases to amaze me how many members write to their MPs, get local media coverage, run local events, using the templates and resources that we make available – it’s a genuine partnership and trust me, we see the work you all do across the country, and we value enormously the difference each and every one of you make.
Resolution’s strength really is the sum of its parts!
Looking ahead we will absolutely continue to stand up for you and for your clients and to push for reforms that will improve the way family disputes are resolved in line with our Code of Practice. At the heart of our work is looking at further ways to improve the family justice environment in which you all work, to help you provide more support to the people you help every single day.
We have had an amazing first 40 years, here’s to the next 40 years!
Grant Cameron: Colin mentioned the team putting together this conference and talked of the importance of partnership between staff and volunteers.
I think sometimes the staff element of that gets underplayed. They are of course, incredibly modest, taking everything in their stride and casting complements aside as ‘we’re just doing our job’.
But it’s only when you see it up close, when you get to work with this brilliant team of people who are going above and beyond, every day, to make sure our members are properly supported and making our collective vision a reality. It’s only then that you really truly appreciate how lucky we are to have them. So please join with me now in thanking the amazing Resolution staff team.
It’s a privilege to take over as Chair of Resolution in this milestone anniversary year. I would like to say a thank you to my team at Trethowans and to my wife, Laura for your support, encouragement and patience and for allowing me the time and space to take up such a privileged position.
I wonder whether, back in 1982, if John Cornwell and the other pioneering thirty solicitors realised the major impact their idea would have on people like me and people like you in the four decades that followed. How their actions have helped improve the practice of family law encouraging a constructive resolution of family disputes. They can only be described as true pioneers.
Remaining central to our ethos today, as it did forty years ago, is the code of practice embodied in the Law Society’s protocol and incorporated in the good practice guides. The widespread adoption of the Code and its endorsement by the Courts has fundamentally changed the way family law is practised with a positive effect on individuals, couples and their children.
It is perhaps rather fitting that I’m on this stage speaking to you today, in our 40th anniversary year. On the occasion of Resolution’s 25th anniversary I was Chair of West Sussex region of Resolution and gave the ‘regional welcome’ – as Jo has today – for our conference in Brighton.
If you had told me then that, 15 years later, I would be giving my first address as National Chair, I would have done two things. The first is stared at you in disbelief. The second would have been to run as quickly as I could in the opposite direction.
Back then, the thought of such a thing was incredibly intimidating. “These are giants in their field! These are people leading Resolution – writing their columns in the Review, meeting with MPs and Ministers, speaking at events like this. That could never be me!”
Yet when I look back at my journey through Resolution, first as a member, like most of you, rocking up at the occasional regional event, then joining the regional committee, chairing that, attending the Regional Liaison Committee alongside other chairs from across the country, joining National Committee to where I am today – you realise something pretty fundamental… Resolution isn’t some distant body to be observed from afar.
Resolution is its members.
It is the people in this room and around the country. And I know there are future Chairs sat in this room, right here right now, just like I was 15 years ago.
So, my message to all of you here today, and to all of our members watching or reading this, is to get involved. Join a committee. Help run local Resolution events. Put out a press release during awareness week.
The Code of Practice lives and breathes within each of you. You are the ones who continue to carry the flame lit 40 years ago in your everyday work, you are the people who will determine where this great organisation goes in the next 40 years: you are the ones who will help shape the future. So, we’re relying on you to make the next 40 years even better.
Be proud of our past and be part of our future.
Thank you and enjoy the rest of conference.