BBC One’s new legal profession drama series The Split seemed to break half a dozen professional rules, both lawyers and observers noted, including client files casually dropped on desks to be glanced at by opposing lawyers.
Hazel Wright, a partner in the family department at the London law firm Hunters Solicitors, found another fault with the storyline.
“Although the introduction of the main characters’ estranged father felt rather blunt, it did allow the divorce lawyers to show how the absence of a father impacts children when they are growing up. This is recognisable, not least as some family lawyers and not a few counsellors, have chosen their professions because of personal experience, and wanting the lives of their clients to be better.
“Some terms were very outdated, such as “access” or American “visitation” (not one English law has ever used) when the law provides for “child arrangements”. If a single term is needed, “contact” is the better one. The use of the American term may be because the BBC wants to sell the series to the USA.
“The show illustrated the stresses of balancing home life with work life. Despite the best efforts of many, that has not improved. The only one staying late to burn the midnight oil was a male lawyer. That is not the case in any family department I have ever come across and in fact the majority of family lawyers are women. It would have been dull to show family lawyers working at their desks on paperwork or on email, which is how most of us spend our days. The meetings and the negotiations are not the only daily fare of our work.”