Wendy Beacom is a stalwart of Teesside law firm Tilly Bailey & Irvine. 

A respected and highly experienced partner and head of private family law, Wendy specialises in divorce and separation, finances, nuptial and cohabitation agreements.  However, it may come as a surprise to learn that the proud Darlington mum achieved her position in a different way from the usual university route.

“Studying law was not a career option for me at school,” Wendy admits. “My parents instilled a great work ethic in me, and they worked hard all their lives, but sending me to uni was something they just couldn’t afford. When I left school, girls were directed to looking at secretarial positions and boys to apprenticeships.”

Being a secretary was indeed the path Wendy’s career initially took. In April 1989 she began work in private practice as a legal secretary, but gradually began to assist the solicitor she was working for. Thus began a lifelong passion for family law. Wendy’s eyes were opened to the possibility of becoming a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.  This route involved Wendy working full-time and studying part-time. 

“By dedicating myself to hard work and many hours of study, I realised that even without a law degree I could gain my qualifications and undertake same role as my solicitor peers.

“In addition, gaining my qualifications via this route meant that I already had hands-on, practical knowledge alongside learning law.”

Wendy Beacom Tilly Bailey & Irvine

Save for a short stint, Wendy has only ever worked in family law.  In the main for all-service firms in Durham, Teesside, and North Yorkshire, and at one stage for a niche specialist family law practice.  Whilst based in the North East, she does have clients who are based nationally and internationally.

Her dedication to her career also saw Wendy becoming an accredited specialist family lawyer with Resolution – an organisation that advocates a non-adversarial approach and a more collaborative way of dealing with cases.  

“Resolution offers a more cooperative approach to resolving manners,” Wendy explains.

“Additionally, we often bring in third-party professionals who can aid the early resolution of issues between parties, particularly where valuations are required be it property, land or businesses
“Working cooperatively and collaboratively with solicitors for the other side and third party professionals helps in achieving goals, and it’s part of my job to ensure that the expert is a specialist in their field, one who I can trust to provide as accurate a report as possible.  At the end of the day it is an extension to the high standard of service I expect to provide to my clients so I try to work with professionals I know and trust.” 

Wendy Beacom Tilly Bailey & Irvine

At Tilly Bailey and Irvine for six years now, Wendy utilises her many years of experience to deal with the financial aspects of family law and also advises on prenuptial agreements, where parties wish to preserve assets such as gifts or pre-acquired wealth upon marrying, or postnuptial agreements, where often there is succession planning involved. 

“This could be the transfer of shareholdings to one party who works in a family business, or a party being given land in a farming enterprise with the family wishing for such to be preserved within the fold in the event of the parties’ marriage breaking down,” she explains.

Looking back on her esteemed career, Wendy is thrilled to work for a company which recognises less traditional routes to the law.  Further, over the years Wendy has seen a significant increase in women choosing law be it via the CIlex route or degrees. 

“It’s fantastic to see other women follow me into law and indeed to see so many females on Teesside excelling in all sorts of sectors,” she says.

“We ladies do tend to underestimate ourselves, but I’m proud of my achievements and always happy to share such if that means I can become a role model for others.”

2023 marks 100 years since the first female solicitor joined the Law Society, the future is looking bright for talented women such as Wendy who, despite the odds, have the dedication and will to succeed.