RDP's Head of Family Marjha is in the Spotlight
We put RDP's new Head of Family, Marjha, in the spotlight where she talks about her love of tapas, quantum physics and lobbying parliament..
Q2. Job title
Partner and Head of Family
Q3. How would you describe your role at RDP in two sentences?
My role is to give you the very best advice that is tailored to your unique circumstances, whether you are separating from a spouse or partner, want to protect your wealth or need to agree what’s best for your children.
Family law is more than divorce, so if you have farms, businesses, trusts or inherited wealth, or assets with an international dimension, it’s my job to think outside the box and create a solution that’s right for you; whether that’s in divorce proceedings, through a pre or post-nup, a cohabitation agreement, help to agree contact, residence or financial support for a child or their education, or settling a dispute between unmarried partners.
Q4. If you were to write an autobiography, what would it be called?
‘Hair up, coffee on; get it done.’
Q5. If you could learn to do anything what would it be?
It would actually be understanding something; quantum physics. Science is not my strong point and, not to put too finer point on it - it makes my head hurt.
Q6. Who is your idol and why?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg; she is also known as Notorious RBG and to call her a legal firebrand is an understatement. She was only the second female Justice to sit in the US Supreme Court and fought for gender equality, favouring incrementalism as she considered it wiser to dismantle discriminatory laws and policies one by one than outlawing discrimination. Her impish stature, at 5ft, bore no correlation to her tenacity and drive; she raised a young child whilst her husband was drafted into the military alongside studying at Harvard, and battled cancer on 5 occasions. It was reported that she would schedule her chemotherapy for breast cancer for a Friday afternoon, allowing her to recover on a weekend and be back sitting in court on a Monday. What a woman.
Her achievements, if not a little intimidating, are truly awe inspiring.
Q7. What moment in your career are you most proud of?
If I can be forgiven, there are two.
The first involved a complex divorce and financial case, which I dealt with quite some years ago; the wife came to see me for a one-off meeting, armed with a scrap of paper on which her husband had written what he had told her she would be getting from their matrimonial coffers when he divorced her, and she asked me to draw up the settlement papers on that basis. The reality was that it was
probably not even a tenth of what she was entitled to, and so I respectfully but firmly told her that he was trying to take her for a ride. She was hesitant but put her trust in me. My client had committed her whole adult life not only to their relationship and children but was the driving force behind their impressive business fortune; none of which he had even hinted at sharing with her. She began the process feeling discarded, disrespected (as he had undervalued each asset) and unable to see a way forward. Whilst it was a lengthy, litigated case, the outcome reflected her multi-million-pound entitlement and started her on the path to restoring her sense of self-worth and trusting her very amiable abilities. It is the purest example of why legal advice is invaluable.
More personally to me, the second is the small role I played in the forthcoming change to divorce law which will allow a couple to apply on the basis of ‘no fault’; I met with MP’s and lobbied Parliament on the need for this change, as I maintain that taking the blame out of the process is a vital step for the genuine benefit of divorcing couples. I am proud to have played the very smallest part in something genuinely monumental.
Q8. What’s your favourite film?
It has to be ‘About Time’; not only because it stars the phenomenal Bill Nighy as a semi-retired time traveller, but because if truth be told I am an old romantic at heart.
I have been asked ‘how you can be a divorce lawyer and still believe in love?’ but my job actually gives me a faith in humanity, rather than a cynicism; people can go through very difficult situations and still rebound and find happiness in many different ways. In my opinion, being an eternal optimist is actually a prerequisite to doing my job well.
Q9. What is an interesting fact about yourself?
I have a minibus licence, which I obtained in University so I could drive our netball team around. It has probably expired now, but I like to think I am pretty good behind the wheel!
(Also, whilst I like to think I am a great cook, I am a truly terrible gardener and have an unwavering inability to keep any plant alive)
Q10. What is your favourite food?
It has to be tapas. When my husband and I lived in London, our ‘local’ was a tapas bar in an archway which served the most amazing jamon. We lived in a tiny flat and had frantic jobs, and probably spent more hours in Bar Tozino than we ever did at home(!) If you are ever in London, you must look them up.
That said, very few circumstances are not improved by a cup of Yorkshire tea and a biscuit…
Q11 What’s the best thing about your job?
The impact I can have and the change that can make. I am inquisitive and very proud of my attention to detail; often I bring this to analysing hundreds of pages of financial disclosure, but more often it is what is missing, or what is not being said, that needs genuine exploration.
Q12 What’s your guilty pleasure?
Watching ‘The West Wing’ and drinking good red wine. We once had what my husband jokes was a ‘proof of life’ telephone call from Laithwaite’s a few years back, as we’d not ordered wine in a while. The truth is, we’d just had our daughter so had turned to caffeine instead…
Q13 How do you define success?
To steal a quote from Maya Angelou;
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”
Q14 What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
- Never ever stop asking questions. And never hinder anyone asking questions of you; of every person I have ever supervised or mentored, my only rule is that there are no silly questions.
- You can be kind and be a good lawyer; they are not mutually exclusive and being kind does not mean you are a pushover.
- Sometimes you just have to be quiet and listen.
Q15 Chocolate or cheese?
Both; I refuse to choose.
Q16 What do you like to do in your spare time?
Cook and host. Nothing warms my heart like a table bursting with people, chatter and love. It is one thing I have missed dearly in the last year.
Q17 What is your greatest fear?
Not being in control. It makes me an exceptionally attentive lawyer but, I am told, a challenging person to live with on occasion!
Q18 Where is the best place you visited?
A few years back we went on a roadtrip around Croatia and dipped into Bosnia. The whole trip was amazing, and I will never forget waking up in Mostar to the call to prayer gliding across the warm dawn air.
Q19 What advice would you give your eighteen-year-old self?
Worry less about what others think of you and more about what you think of yourself, as only one of those things make you radiate.
Oh, and drink more water and use face cream; it is too late once you’re 35 and have a toddler who is the most morning person I have ever met.
Q20 What should we expect next from the Family team?
To continue to always be attentive, professional, and truly exceptional in what we do.
We aren’t reinventing the wheel, but we can make it even smoother.