UK - Family/Matrimonial: High Net Worth Lawyers & Law Firms - HNW - Chambers and Partners
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HNW Guide

Family/Matrimonial: High Net Worth — UK

Band 1

From the HNW guide

Farrer's family team is "so polished," says one interviewee, who also says that the lawyers there "exude calm, English, old-school reassurance." The firm as a whole has a sterling pedigree, and the family team has an exceptionally strong reputation. "If I had to work with a firm on the very, very high net worth cases," says a barrister, "that is where we would go, and have gone – and successfully so." This interviewee also highlights the team's "huge international presence" and calls it a "Rolls-Royce" team.

Farrer's strength in high-value international divorce matters is noted by other interviewees. One source says that "one of the things Farrers are very good at is feeling comfortable on international issues." Another family barrister describes how "the Farrers reputation has been built over the years on its pinpoint understanding of what the high net worth client wants and on its unerring ability to provide the level and quality of service to be expected."

Notable practitioners

Senior statesman Jeremy Posnansky QC is one of the most well-respected family law practitioners in London. One source says: "I just found him superb. Matter of fact, didn't mince his words, didn't waffle, kept to the case, understood clients' concerns and gave frank advice." Another describes him as "very constructive in his dealings with the case and the clients" and says she "just found his approach to be one that helped the case." A peer calls him "an absolute gentleman" who is nevertheless "quite bold in his legal thinking."

The "indefatigable" Simon Bruce is "a force to be reckoned with" according to one peer. Bruce regularly acts on the highest-value international family law cases in the London market, and he is well known for this work. Another interviewee says: "He has a very good international profile. He has an amazing collection of clients and a fantastic bedside manner. He's a fantastic team player."

William Massey "has a reputation for playing with a completely straight bat," says an interviewee. "He's very calm, measured, dependable in an understated way. Lots of people will tell you how good they are, but he's not that person. That fits with the clients Farrers have, where privacy and integrity is high up the agenda." Massey specialises in big-money divorce cases, particularly where the parties have complex financial situations. "He writes the most brilliant letters, and knows strategically when he needs to do it, thinking about how he's positioning his client in litigation," reports another family lawyer, adding: "He's just really nice to deal with, and clearly does a really good job with his clients."

Consultant Richard Parry handles exceptionally high-value matrimonial finance matters, including reported litigation and highly complicated international pre-nuptial agreements, as well as cases involving issues of children work. He also advises and litigates on trust matters.

Claire Gordon is "one of the smartest family lawyers in London today," comments a source. "Very committed and hard-working, and she displays an excellent grasp of complex case issues." A peer describes her as "very calm and decent, and very nice to deal with," and "someone you can work well with to work things out." As well as high net worth divorce cases, Gordon is often called upon to advise on pre- and post-nuptial agreements.

Eliza Hebditch "has a fabulous array of clients," says a interviewee, "and she's extremely able. She has a wonderful manner and she's a very bright lawyer, fantastic when it comes to knowledge of the law." Hebditch's particular expertise is in Anglo-American matters, and she has expertise at a well-regarded US firm. "Eliza's absolute strength above all else," suggests another source, "is her absolute dedication to the client." A client says Hebditch was "very good at explaining the process, and what we had to do and why we had to do it."

Nick Bennett was "a very able barrister" before joining the team at Farrer, "and he's absolutely flying," says one interviewee. Bennett is an expert on pre- and post-nuptial agreements and handles conflict of laws issues in international divorces. "I've just been very impressed at his analysis," says a barrister. "When I read his correspondence, I just thought, 'This is very good, you're clearly comfortable with the issues we're talking about here.'"

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Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the HNW guide

The lawyers at HFC "have carved out a niche for themselves as matrimonial litigation specialists," observes a peer. This boutique firm deals with some of the most complex and high-value work in the industry. "As a relatively small, niche firm, they attract some of the best such cases," agrees one senior family barrister, who regards it as "the go-to firm in London" for matrimonial litigation and "a consistently strong team from top to bottom."

"The quality of the service they give is unrivalled in my experience. They go above and beyond. They are accessible, they make themselves available, they provide reassurance," says a barrister. Clients agree: "They were very good at listening to what I wanted to do," says one. "I felt very much that we were a team."

Notable practitioners

Frances Hughes is "a real doyenne" and "the queen of the family law world" according to interviewees, and she attracts work of the highest calibre. One peer calls her "right at the top. Fantastic clients, fantastic cases, very clever, and strategically, I think, she's right on top of things." Hughes is widely regarded as one of the most formidable matrimonial finance litigators in this market, with a serious reputation for defending her clients' interests in difficult cases. "She is up there as the best litigator," says a barrister. "To anyone who knows how she litigates, it's obvious why she's a star." A peer calls her "a force to be reckoned with" and adds that "you've got to be on your A-game to deal with her."

The "very shrewd" Alex Carruthers "takes no prisoners," says a peer. One source says he is "highly experienced and keeps you informed." Peers regard him as a strong opponent, and he has a hugely impressive matrimonial finance practice. "He seems to be a real authority in the area. He has an incredibly reassuring manner about him," says a client. "When I was worried about everything, he was fantastic about calming me down, and everything he said was spot-on. Not just the law, but the strategy. His judgement calls were absolutely spot-on. That was the most notable feature, how reassuring it was to have him on my side, a sense of someone who knew what he was talking about and got it right every time."

Pauline Fowler is widely praised for her constructive approach to resolving family disputes. She is "always a pleasure to do business with," remarks one family lawyer, and another says she is "a very good blend of technically tough and empathetically sound, without being soft." A client describes Fowler as "level-headed and sensible," explaining that she "didn't get caught up in the drama of it all and is very pragmatic. She doesn't score points for the sake of it." This client adds: "I don't think you gain much by throwing toys out of cots, so stylistically it was a very good fit and I thought she handled some of the difficult aspects very well."

Mark Harper is "one of the best solicitors out there in dealing with cross-jurisdictional issues," says a barrister. Harper is well known for his work on international family law issues, particularly his involvement with the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL). One peer describes him as "a partner of the highest class. I just think Mark is hugely capable. He's very clever."

Renato Labi is considered to be a compassionate and considered family lawyer with impressive technical skills. He is praised for his understanding of the family dynamics in complex and sensitive cases. "I very much rate him. He can really be a tenacious fighter," says a family law barrister, adding: "He's a calm, gracious individual, but that masks a really incisive mind and a tenacity that will stand any case in good stead. He stands by the client in thick and thin."

Caroline Park regularly deals with the most complex and high-value matrimonial finance issues. A client says she is "legally astute, but very personable as well," adding: "I just felt that I had somebody in my corner I could trust and I could ask questions of without feeling I was being stupid." A family law barrister says Park is "one of the grandes dames of the future. Very good with clients and very knowledgeable of the law. She has a fantastic phonebook of advisers, and did not seem to be fazed by some quite difficult points of the case. Equally, she was keen to wrap it up in settlement negotiations, with a pragmatic air as opposed to dogmatic. I speak very highly of her."

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Band 1

From the HNW guide

The team at Payne Hicks Beach "are a natural choice for the high net worth client," says one family barrister, "consistently delivering the exceptional standards of service they expect." This source highlights the firm's "much-vaunted reputation on the financial remedies side," and says it is among the "standout firms in the country for private children law work. They have an impressive array of partners whose skills complement each other and who in turn are supported by a similarly impressive coterie of associates."

The department has acted on some of the most anticipated and important litigation coming through the family courts in recent years, including precedent-setting appeals and work for high-profile and ultra-wealthy clients. "They are a full-service firm dealing with very high-end clients," comments a source. "They'll provide the all-round service."

Notable practitioners

Fiona Shackleton needs little introduction. Widely agreed to be one of the best-known and most highly respected family lawyers in the country, Shackleton is "in a league of her own," says one source, adding: "She has the best interpersonal skills of anyone I've ever met. She also has the best Rolodex in the country; she knows everybody." Peers praise her constructive approach in acrimonious cases, but also note that she is tenacious when required. One says: "There's no side to her. You can have a frank conversation, put your cards on the table and do a deal – or you can have a big fight, but it'll be fair."

Ian Airey "provides very reassuring advice for his clients," says a source, "and is absolutely unflappable. He always gives the right answer in terms of what is sensible to do." Other sources agree: "Working with him is dead easy, because he's seen it all, done it all and has really good judgement, largely based on years of experience," says one. "Because he's been doing it so long he just knows all the wrinkles. Clients love him - he's completely unflusterable. He always seems calm, relaxed and on top of it."

Philip McGuirk "just exudes this calm confidence," says a barrister, "he has this wisdom which I can see clients just really, really like. He's one of these lawyers who just know exactly which are the good points and which he can drop. That comes with years of experience, but also being intelligent and knowing which call to make." McGuirk handles financial remedy matters for HNW clients, and has expertise in pre- and post-nuptial agreements. "He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law," remarks another interviewee, "I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him for a complicated, big-money case."

Fiona Brown is a consultant at the firm, and regularly assists with ancillary relief issues and related matters. Brown is "phenomenally bright," comments a source, "and will always come up with imaginative solutions to what seem like intractable problems." A peer describes her as "incredibly talented, great on the law, very clever and able."

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Band 1

From the HNW guide

Top-end litigation boutique Stewarts has an impressive family practice, principally focusing on big-money cases. "It's a very modern firm and a modern department," says one peer, "very forward-thinking and user-friendly, and they have bright-spark younger lawyers." Another calls it "top of the tree" and adds: "They're doing all the big work."

The team at Stewarts is seen as "a star-studded department where they do some extremely high-value work," and the lawyers are accustomed to dealing with high-profile, international clients with significant assets. They are also experienced at conducting children law work. Stewarts is also the referral firm of choice for a number of City firms without their own family law teams.

Notable practitioners

Helen Ward is "at the absolute pinnacle" of family work, says one interviewee. An "incredibly good litigator," she "has a beautiful turn of phrase" and is "one of the most forceful people in family law," says one peer, adding: "I can do business with her. I think one can be honest with her. She is a real leading light in this area, a very wise woman." Another source calls her "probably one of the best family solicitors in the country. She has fantastic clients, fantastic cases, she's absolutely tireless," and adds: "She's an extremely good negotiator, and a very tough opponent."

Debbie Chism is an "excellent lawyer and eminently sensible," comments a peer. "My heart leaps when I see she's on the other side, I just know we will cut through and sort it. She's tough with her clients and opponents, but that's good." Another source says Chism is "bright, fun to deal with, doesn't get things out of proportion, and knows what buttons to push and when." She leads on some of the department's weightiest cases, and spearheads its collaborative practice.

Head of department Stephen Foster is credited with having built it up to its current top-flight standing. He is also described as a tactical litigator, "someone who is capable of seeing where the litigation is going and plotting three, four, five steps ahead." Foster advises on complicated matters of exceptionally high value, and sources say he is "sound and very sensible," and praise his pragmatic approach to potentially acrimonious cases.

The "determined and efficient" Emma Hatley is held in high regard for her approach to the work, and her ability to win the confidence of clients. "She's a terrific lawyer," says one source. "She's bang on the nail and she sticks her neck out, she's frank and she says, 'This is a bad decision.' Really efficient, brilliant communicator, lovely to deal with, clients love her, full of energy. She's a really elegant lawyer."

Matthew Humphries "knows what he's doing," says a peer, while another describes him as "impressive" and "an upwardly mobile young operator." His focus is on financial work, and he acts on sizeable international matters.

Sam Longworth is "absolutely fantastic," says a barrister. "I was so impressed by his dedication to the client, attention to detail, preparation of the case. He is extremely proactive in giving advice." In particular, "he's really great to work with as a barrister, because you work properly as a team, so the client is getting a Rolls-Royce service." Other sources describe him as "extremely sensible" and a "very able newer partner."

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Band 1

From the HNW guide

"Withers are a class act," says an interviewee. "You know you're dealing with an absolutely Rolls-Royce operation. It's like watching a swan on the water – if there is mad paddling under the surface, you don't see it. Everything is very calm, controlled and measured with Withers."

The department is particularly praised for its strength in depth, from the most senior partners to the associates and staff. One peer says: "Nowadays, you need two, three or four really good people to do a significant case. Where Withers score is, they have much greater strength in depth of their assistants. All their assistants have fantastic training – they're very bright." The partners in Withers' family team are equally well regarded. "They're a very strong firm, and they've got some very good lawyers," says a source. "Top of the league, and the partners have to be excellent in order to be there." Another interviewee says Withers is a go-to referral for high-stakes work: "If a case came to us because it was difficult, or international, or had complicated children issues, and it was urgent, Withers would have enough people to give a proper professional service."

Notable practitioners

"I would feel I had to up my game" against Diana Parker, admits one family lawyer. An interviewee says: "She's a good person to have on the other side. She says things as they are and you know where you are with her. She's very bright and very sensible." Another source praises Parker's "straightforward intellectual firepower," describing her as "the leading intellect of the family law solicitors. She's unbelievably clever, and what she brings with that is an incredibly sharp, clever, strategic approach to a case."

Michael Gouriet is described by one peer as "a real gent of family law. Despite being very intelligent, and fighting cases hard, I do find him really easy to work with." This source also calls him "a good all-rounder, particularly known for his work on the cohabitation side," and makes mention of his work on policy: "He invests time in looking at how the law can change. Very generous with his time, as well as a very good lawyer." Another picks him out as an example of "people who really know stuff, and don't posture and rant and do silly stuff. He's very calm and straight."

Star practitioner Julian Lipson is "sort of your dream divorce lawyer," says a barrister. "He's hugely reassuring, he's very discreet, and what he radiates is a calm, businesslike attitude where he will get things done quickly, neatly, with as little rancour as he can manage." "He is a thoroughly decent man, very bright," says a peer. "You would not find somebody with a bad word to say. Very good and very fair."

One peer "can't speak highly enough of" Suzanne Kingston, reporting that she is increasingly in demand for high-end work and adding that "the work she has done in developing the arbitration practice is phenomenal. I don't know how she finds the time to have the practice that she has. She just seems to have an abundance of energy." Another source describes her as "technically brilliant at unravelling complex cases where clients have a diverse range of assets globally." This interviewee notes that Kingston is "always looking for the best outcome," particularly for divorcing parties' children.

James Copson handles high-value matrimonial finance and other family work, especially with an international dimension. Sources admire his practice, and he is also seen as a "really nice guy."

Suzanne Todd has a notable practice in collaborative law. She is, according to one peer, "easy to work with, pragmatic, and very intelligent," and someone whose "star continues to be in the ascendancy," as well as having "a fantastic ability to bring on the younger lawyers." "I think she's fantastic - very efficient, but really personable," says another source, adding: "I think she's very straight-down-the-line. She won't try and stir up tensions, and that's sort of the risk in family law: it might get a better deal but it's pretty bad for the family."

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Band 2

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the HNW guide

The team at this boutique firm, recently bolstered by the recruitment of partner William Healing, are "very sound technically, and good to deal with. Certainly they fight hard, but they do it quite well and quite professionally." "I would especially single out for recommendation Alexiou Fisher Philipps," says a source, describing it as "a terrific firm from top to bottom – it attracts top-notch clients, is involved in big cases, boasts a team of really clever lawyers and delivers a high-quality service that few other firms can match." Peers describe it as "impressive," "a quality outfit," and "absolutely first-rate."

Notable practitioners

Senior partner Susan Philipps is "hugely experienced" and "utterly unflappable" according to one QC, who calls her "a magnet for high profile clients and for the biggest of cases." She is "somebody I've long looked up to," confesses a peer. "She can be quite ferocious, but she's quite softly spoken. The work she's doing is fantastic." Another source highlights her as "someone who is quite solutions-driven," and who displays "unending patience."

"Incisive, approachable, and immensely likeable," Tom Amlot wins praise from other lawyers. "He's just very astute," remarks one source, and has a "sound grasp on quite complicated tax concepts." Another calls him "charm personified" and says he "deals with things in a very constructive way."

Emma Harte is an "expert" who "knows her stuff," says one peer. Another remarks that she supplements her "good technical knowledge" with "a particularly good skill at managing her client." Harte has a very good reputation for family mediation work, and is described as "really down to earth, so diligent and so hard-working. Just good at resolving cases." She also handles matrimonial finance matters, pre-nuptial agreements and cases concerning the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

Douglas Alexiou is a consultant with the firm, and is described as "very charming and lovely" and "a really nice bloke" whom it is "a pleasure to have a case with." Another source calls him "a terrific attorney." One interviewee recalls that he has "always acted for well-known high net worth individuals."

William Healing attracts widespread mention for his niche expertise in Anglo-French divorce cases; he is a fluent French speaker, and has what one peer calls "a thriving Anglo-French practice." "He's an incredibly reassuring presence to have in your corner," says one barrister. "If you've got a case with a jurisdiction point or a point of EU law, it's comforting to know that he's on top of it. He prides himself on being a go-to man on jurisdiction. He knows the law back to front." More generally, says another source, "he's reassuring, but he's also quite businesslike. He's a fighter when he thinks it's the right thing to do."

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Band 2

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the HNW guide

"A department to be reckoned with," the family team at Charles Russell Speechlys "have such breadth and depth," according to one peer. The team handles an impressive case load of domestic and international matrimonial finance and children law work. "Individually and collectively they're a very strong team," says an interviewee. According to one source, "there are a lot of people at partner level who are nice to do business with," and who display "a high level of consistent competence and capability." Supported by the firm's core private client practice, the team has "a good practice" with "lots of good high net worth clients."

"Good people, very good training," is one peer's assessment of the department. "If you recruited anyone from Charles Russell Speechlys, you would expect them to be very well trained and of very good quality." Barristers praise their "immaculate" and "superb" case preparation as a particular strength.

Notable practitioners

The "ferociously bright" and "absolutely first-rate" James Freeman is "a phenomenal lawyer" and "just streets ahead in terms of intellect," says one peer. "He's brilliant," says a source. "One of the best lawyers I've ever worked with." One QC praises his legal ability, calling him a "really good black-letter lawyer" who also "thinks about the long-term of the case from minute one. He knows where it's likely to go and where he wants it to go." Freeman's practice involves exceptionally high-value cross-border cases, in particular those with a French aspect, as well as complex domestic matters.

William Longrigg specialises in international matrimonial finance and private law children cases. "His international practice is phenomenal," says a peer, and according to one silk "he's got the most formidable set of international contacts of any solicitor in the field." Other sources call him "one of the fairest men you would meet doing this job," and "a charming person." He is also described as "good on cases involving trusts, and is sensible and settlement-minded."

Sarah Anticoni has an excellent reputation for alternative dispute resolution, particularly as a mediator. "I'd like my mediation practice in three years' time to look like hers," confides a peer. In her own practice, she is "very, very pleasant to do business with," according to another source; she "doesn't take bad points," is "charming," and has a "very nice constructive approach which is sort of breathtakingly unusual." Anticoni has a particular focus on the financial aspects of divorce.

"Extremely calm is the word that comes to mind" to describe Sarah Higgins, says one barrister. "There's nothing that fazes her." In addition to heading the department, she handles cases in which divorce is affected by complicated asset structures such as overseas trusts and business assets. "She's a good lawyer," says a peer. "She knows what she's doing and she's clever."

Erica Shelton "is great fun, very good with clients," and "will have a very good idea from the word Go of where the case is going to go," says a source. "She has good clients," says another, and is "a very nice person to deal with." In addition to her matrimonial practice, Shelton has expertise in Schedule 1 claims under the Children Act.

Shona Alexander, who works in the firm's Guildford office, is a "fantastic lawyer," says a peer: "Very thorough, very diligent, but someone you could just pick the phone up to. Robustly fought her client's corner." She leads on high-value pre-nuptial agreements and Schedule 1 work.

Miranda Fisher's reputation is "phenomenal," according to one peer. "She's very co-operative," says another, "always trying to reach a resolution rather than litigating the case. She recognises that we're dealing with human beings and ought to try to sort things out." "She's certainly tough," remarks a barrister. "Scared of nothing and no one." Fisher's broad-based family law practice includes jurisdiction disputes in international matters.

"If I have Grant Howell on the other side I know we're going to deal with a case sensibly and with every chance of coming to a solution at a relatively early stage," says a peer. "Feet firmly on the ground. He's a good lawyer." A trained arbitrator, Howell's practice covers a broad sweep of family law, from pre-nuptial agreements to divorce and the consequent financial and children issues. A source says: "He's a fabulous lawyer, because what he brings is just the common touch. Yes, he does fight cases, but he's just pragmatic."

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Band 2

Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the HNW guide

Family Law in Partnership is particularly noted for its innovative approach to family law. "I really admire how they have developed, moved with the times, been at the cutting edge of developing alternatives to court," says a peer; "a really solid firm that people take really seriously." It has a standout reputation for pursuing alternative dispute resolution and keeping cases out of the courts. "All of us use them for mediation," volunteers a peer. "If you want something different, they're the firm to go to. They do it really well," says a silk. "Overall the firm is unique, they just offer a slightly different slant to a client who doesn't necessarily want a full-out fight in court, wants a firm to look at the options." Another source agrees: "They're in a league of their own when it comes to non-litigation dispute resolution."

"It's very close-knit at FLIP, very familiar," remarks a client, "and that's comforting, especially when you're going through such traumatic events. I can't reinforce enough that point about end-to-end coverage of the case. They kept holding my hand through every aspect of this." Another agrees: "The people are incredibly kind, and I think when you're at your most vulnerable you want somewhere with the experience but also a softer element to it."

Notable practitioners

David Allison's clients particularly single out his suitability for collaborative approaches. "Putting aside his legal expertise, it's the compassion he has that stuck out straight away," says one, adding: "He really wants to get a fair outcome for both sides." "He was very sympathetic. Guidance was clear and concise," recalls another client; "you felt he was on your side as opposed to just playing the game."

Founding member Gillian Bishop is described by one source as "the top collaborative lawyer." "She does all the things I value," says another; "she's constructive in her approach, applies the law properly, but is practical first and foremost." "What shines out about Gillian is she never fails to see the bigger picture," remarks one silk, "particularly in children cases, where it's important not to get sucked into the adversarial process too much. She, too, is incredibly emotionally intelligent, and always calm however tense the situation gets. She's very good at pouring oil on troubled waters."

Consultant Ann Northover is described as being "very, very bright, quite quirky but in a good way, just lots of fun but very bright, very strategic around cases." Interviewees describe her as "a sensible operator" and "a good person to deal with," while others praise her technical nous. "She is particularly good at dealing with complex offshore structures and so forth," observes a barrister. "She wouldn't consider herself a tax lawyer but she knows more than most family lawyers."

James Pirrie has a particular expertise in the financial aspect of children cases, with one peer describing him as "the doyen of child maintenance" and praising his dedicated interest in the field: "The thing with James is he loves what he does." According to one interviewee, "he is incredibly knowledgeable in a legal and academic sense, particularly as regards child support and children's maintenance." Other peers praise his combination of creativity with technical acumen. "I absolutely adore James," says another source; "he's always about ten paces ahead of you, almost on a different plane. He's just so creative, innovative, obviously very very adept at the collaborative work. His particular expertise is encyclopaedic knowledge of child maintenance regulations."

With over 35 years of experience in family law, Pamela Collis has "a combination of good technical expertise and judgement, and great client care skills." Collis focuses on domestic and international work, including money cases and children law matters. "I think she's quite brilliant," says a client. "I think she's very experienced and knowledgeable, anything to do with finances she's very well informed, and also she's incredibly kind."

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Band 2

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the HNW guide

Specialist family law firm Levison Meltzer Pigott "have always been a very strong team," says one source. This boutique family law firm punches well above its weight in terms of the size and complexity of the HNW family matters it handles. "The team as a whole, I think they are the complete package," says a barrister, adding: "The technical expertise, the amazing client care skills, and this boutique perfect fit – whatever the client, whatever the personality, whatever the complexity, Levison Meltzer Pigott have absolutely the right lawyer or combination of lawyers for that case."

"There's real compassion that they bring to their work," says another member of the family Bar. "When they're litigating, they're tenacious. You get excellent advice and top-notch representation." More than one interviewee uses the phrase "Rolls-Royce service," with one calling the firm "the best boutique or niche family money practice in London," and another praising it for offering "first-tier service, but not at first-tier prices."

Notable practitioners

Simon Pigott "is arguably one of the absolute best mediators in family law," says an interviewee. "He always knows the right answer and is absolutely capable of getting everyone there." His reputation for mediation and his determined but reasonable approach are widely praised, and he "brings a balance to his adversarial work," says one silk, "which is always appreciated as a barrister." "He's a problem solver," says another source. "I see him as focused on speedy, cost-effective, dignified exit for both parties." "I do stupendously large cases with him," remarks a barrister, "very large big-money cases of high complexity. He's cool, calm and efficient, and very good with clients." "He cuts through the nonsense," confirms a peer.

Alison Hayes "pulls no punches," says a source; "she's very straight-talking, doesn't waste anyone's time but absolutely cuts to it. Whether that's cutting to a deal or cutting to litigation, she gets there fast." According to another, she "fights her client's corner very strongly and doesn't take many backwards steps. She's quite formidable." Hayes handles impressively complex family litigation matters, and has a strong international element to her practice. "She's a litigator," says a barrister; "I don't mean she's allergic to settlement – she's perfectly pragmatic and sensible – but her instincts are battling instincts." This source continues: "She is very much looking for a way to identify what the client wants and see if it can be fought for."

Julian Ribet "has a firm hand on the tiller from the word Go," in family law matters, according to an interviewee, while another describes him as "building a really good practice" in this area. Many of Ribet's cases involve high-value and interesting financial issues. "He's hugely tenacious, and I've done some exceptionally difficult cases for him," remarks a QC, who describes him as "very, very able" as well as being "thorough, well prepared, innovative, with first-rate client care skills."

"There is nothing about family law that Jeremy Levison doesn't know," says a barrister, adding: "He is a charming man. His clients adore him – his client care skills are exemplary." Levison's popularity with and care for his clients is a much-repeated theme. One interviewee describes it as his "outstanding strength," adding: "He empathises with their situation and their problem. He's a very down-to-earth lawyer who always sees his client's story and wants to promote their interests." This source also praises his "incredible tactical judgement." "He's a delight to work with," says another interviewee; "he's been doing it for a long time and has a strong reputation. Very charming, but also imbues clients with confidence."

Up-and-coming partner Alistair Myles is widely liked by the family Bar, whose members praise him for "the ability to see the wood for the trees in what can be very complicated and emotional circumstances" and for taking "a very tailor-made approach for each case." He is also "incredibly charming," according to one source, he has "a very good manner." His practice focuses on financial remedy work, and his recent cases have involved some interesting legal issues.

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Band 2

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the HNW guide

Mishcon de Reya is a "slick operation" well known for handling high-value divorce work, and is particularly noted for the quality of its cases. Fellow family lawyer solicitors and family barristers widely agree that Mishcon "just gets amazing clients," and the team is set up to deal with the most significant and high-profile cases in the family courts. "There's no question that they feature a lot of heavyweight and high net worth cases," says another source, adding: "They've definitely got a really good HNW practice."

"They offer a first-rate service from beginning to end, and I would say that Sandra has a talented team across all levels of experience," comments a barrister, adding: "Her whole team is exceptionally good at liaising with clients." Another interviewee says: "They are all fearless advocates and staunch defenders of their clients. The clients feel very secure in their hands."

Notable practitioners

Sandra Davis, who leads the department, is singled out repeatedly for her excellent judgement. "They key thing I would say is that her judgement is spot-on in identifying quickly the main issues and weaknesses in a case, and finding a real strategy and way through for the client," says one source, adding: "It's about making the right judgement calls at the right time, and I think she's very good at that." "She's very savvy," comments a barrister; "she's got a real nose for how the case will turn out. She's very commercially astute, very emotionally intelligent, so she's great with clients and good at identifying obvious and less obvious outcomes." Davis' work is invariably high-value and often involves complex legal and factual questions requiring significant technical skill and tactical nous. "She has a very good strategic grasp of the case, and where it needs to go," remarks a QC; "one noticed how good she was at stepping back and taking an overview."

Miles Geffin " is head and shoulders one of the cleverest solicitors I know," a silk says, adding: "He knows the law – actually genuinely interested in the law. He knows more about the black-letter and precedents than any other solicitor I know." The same source calls him "great fun to work with" and praises his relationship with his clients: "He's very genuine with them, and they trust him. And his legal knowledge is impressive and you can't miss that – it shines." Geffin recently acted on the notable case of Wyatt v Vince, involving interesting issues about claiming for financial relief many years after the decree absolute was granted.

David Lister is "clever and funny and dedicated to his clients," says one interviewee. Other lawyers regard him as "intelligent and able," someone who "knows what he's doing and gets on with it." One calls him a straightforward person, but by no means a pushover: "He's pragmatic, constructive, and recognises the importance of doing a deal where that's practical." Lister specialises in financial cases, particularly matters where international asset tracing expertise is called for. "He doesn't take any messing," recalls a client. "He knows the law extremely well, but he also has a practical side to him."

Barbara Reeves "stands out as being absolutely committed to her client, and fearless on their behalf," enthuses one interviewee, adding: "Her clients take huge pride and a lot of security in knowing she's there as their staunch supporter. But she also gives brave and staunch advice that they don't want to hear, and that's quite uncommon." Reeves handles high-profile divorce matters, and often represents international ultra-wealthy clients. "One is conscious of Barbara's shrewdness," remarks another source. "She did work in fraud, and she brings that skill to bear on matrimonial cases."

Legal director Claire Yorke "was extremely excellent as a team player and co-ordinator of the case," recalls one QC, who worked with her on a recent matter. "She makes the right decisions," remarks another, who also praises her "very good feeling for a case" and calls her "confident and decisive." Yorke's practice mainly centres around matrimonial finance, and she also has experience in pre-nuptial agreements and international matters. She "has a very steady hand on a case," according to one interviewee, and she "knows how to get a problem sorted very quickly."

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Band 2

Penningtons Manches LLP

From the HNW guide

"They would be my go-to number one," says a barrister; "if I were getting divorced that's who I'd go to." The team here has the benefit of the support of a strong private client offering, and regularly handles exceptionally high-value work involving complex structures and international considerations. As well as divorce and financial remedy work, they deal with substantial pre- and post-nuptial agreements. "They have a very, very good practice, and they've got some very good partners there," remarks a peer.

Notable practitioners

Head of department Jane Craig "brings such an empathy to the work," says an interviewee, adding: "She's a very good lawyer." Another concurs, calling her a "very thorough" individual who "leaves no stone unturned." Craig's practice includes complicated divorces ranging from the highly contentious to the entirely non-litigated.

James Stewart leads some of the team's highest value matters, including both financial remedy proceedings and nuptial agreements, and has a very strong reputation for international UHNW work. "James is phenomenal," remarks one peer, and "his ability to bring in international high net worth work is amazing." "He has a phenomenally good brain in terms of dealing with disputes in a commercial context. He brings a very subjective analysis to what can be very complicated disputes," says a family silk. "He's always prepared to discuss points, and to defer to other people's opinions, and clients like him."

Anna Worwood is a "very fine lawyer" and a "very safe pair of hands," according to one barrister, who also says she is "very conscientious and well prepared," and notes that "her advice is first-class." Another source singles out Worwood's "phenomenal children practice" and says she does "some really good innovative children work," adding: "She is known for her empathy and attention to detail."

One senior barrister praises senior associate Edward Floyd for his family law expertise, saying: "He's more junior, but he's very, very good. He's all over these cases and knows exactly what's going on. He's a very safe pair of hands." Another source agrees, describing him as "one to watch" and reporting that "his grasp of the technical law is unparalleled."

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Band 3

Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the HNW guide

Boodle Hatfield is described by one barrister as "offering great depth of experience in financial remedy work. They have a fantastic combination of youth and experience which enables them to offer clients both a senior supervising partner, well able to advise on strategy and tactics, and a diligent and intelligent assistant." Other sources describe it as "top-notch" and "superb."

Clients emphasise the team's blend of professionalism and sympathy. "I couldn't have wished for a better team to support me," says one, while another remarks: "I feel very fortunate to have been recommended a firm like Boodles. I feel cared for. They're very human and they have enormous empathy."

Notable practitioners

Christopher Butler "is an intelligent and insightful lawyer, with a personable yet authoritative manner that clients find very comforting," says a source. In addition to his practice as a solicitor, he sits as a Deputy District Judge in the Central Family Court, and is described as "astute" and "very likeable." His work covers high-value international divorces as well as negotiated pre-nuptial agreements.

"There isn't much James Ferguson hasn't seen," remarks a source. Another praises his "very rounded knowledge and experience" of "his own peers, but also the Bench and the Bar," adding that "what makes him stand out is his ability to use that knowledge strategically" by "reading the case and the characters involved." One barrister praises Ferguson's firm but fair approach to family law matters: "He takes a view and sticks to it firmly. It's easy to be soft in your approach in family, but he will take a realistic view and maintain it."

Senior associate Harriet Errington has "wonderful client care skills and formidable attention to detail," and is particularly popular among family law barristers. One remarks that "you would feel like you had the strength and support of a partner behind you" when working with her. Another calls her an undoubted "star of the future" and describes her as "dedicated and talented." She has "blossomed from a new-fledged starter to an incredibly skilled solicitor," comments an interviewee, while a client sums her up as "just a true professional."

The "bright and incisive" senior associate Katie O'Callaghan is one of the "stars of the future," according to one source. She assists the partners on complex, high-profile and high-value divorce and financial remedy claims.

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Band 3

From the HNW guide

The lawyers at Clintons are described by one source as a "competent, capable outfit," and regularly act for high-profile wealthy clients in all areas of relationship breakdown, as well as on pre- and post-nuptial agreements. In addition to the financial aspects of family law, the firm has expertise in matters relating to children, including adoption, abduction, and applications under Schedule 1 of the 1989 Children Act.

Notable practitioners

Head of department Elizabeth Vernon is widely liked by peers, and is described by one interviewee as "experienced" and "tenacious." One barrister praises her as a tough but pragmatic practitioner, who is not afraid to fight "but will settle cases when they need to be settled, which is a very important part of a solicitor's understanding of the case and duty to the client." Vernon works on sensitive and complex matters of relationship breakdown.

"I have a very high regard" for Maggie Rae, says a peer: "She's a very good mediator – very practical and very sensible. We've worked together on big cases and just got on with it. She's a very good egg." Other sources agree: "She actually personifies how you should act when you have experience and grandeur. She is experienced enough to be able to be a grande dame of family law, but she has a very genuine, warm approach. She feels very inclusive, rather than aloof."

"What I really like" about Paul Newton, says one peer, "is he's a good Northern chap who's really down to earth – doesn't have the unnecessary airs and graces – and I think many clients bond with that." Another source agrees: "I regularly refer him work. If I send a case over to him, the client will appreciate that I've put him in safe, decent hands." Newton specialises in pre- and post-nuptial agreements and financial remedy proceedings. "I find doing pre-nups with him an absolute pleasure," says another. "We can have a really good discussion and then talk pragmatically."

Patrick Kearns is singled out by sources as an intelligent and well-prepared member of the team, "one of those lawyers who's content to negotiate sensibly." He leads a number of high-value cases involving children and cross-border implications, and an interviewee remarks: "I can see his practice gaining more and more traction."

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Band 3

From the HNW guide

Boutique family law firm Dawson Cornwell has a standout reputation for children's law. "They've really grown," remarks one interviewee. "Their children work is second to none." The firm also acts and advises on more general matters of family law, including high-value matrimonial finance cases and cohabitation.

In addition to litigation, the firm has a strong practice handling mediated and collaborative solutions to family matters.

Notable practitioners

Kate Allen acts on very high net worth matrimonial finance and child maintenance cases. She is also a trained collaborative lawyer, and runs the firm's practice in that area. One source praises Allen's straightforward, collaborative, resolution-focused approach to family law matters.

Rhiannon Lewis handles complex matters of divorce and separation, particularly those with an international element introducing questions of jurisdiction and applicable law. As a trained mediator, and a mediation trainer in her own right, she has a thorough understanding of alternative means of dispute resolution.

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Band 3

From the HNW guide

The family team at Forsters receives praise from interviewees, and is helped by the firm's "really strong private client department." It handles complicated financial matters following relationship breakdown and very high-value pre-nuptial agreements, including those where the nature of income or assets is unusual, or which are complicated by international elements. The team continues to recruit and expand, and is described by one peer as "up and coming." Joanne Edwards, the Head of Family, is "building a good team around her."

Notable practitioners

One QC describes Joanne Edwards as "very bright" and "really good with clients," adding: "I absolutely love her. Very good on the detail, good lawyer, pleasure to be instructed by." "She takes a very friendly, conciliatory approach to the way she handles cases," comments a peer. "That's good, to be encouraged." Edwards is "constructive through and through," and "does not forget that the objective is to sort people's problems out," according to another source. Edwards was recently chair of Resolution, the national organisation dedicated to promoting the non-contentious settlement of family problems.

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Band 3

Hunters Incorporating May, May & Merrimans

From the HNW guide

The team at Hunters "all seem very interested in family law, and quite energised by it," according to a peer. "If I were recommending," this source continues, "I'd recommend them – they do a good job without making the divorce completely unpleasant and horrible." In addition to divorces and pre-nuptial agreements for high net worth clients, particularly those with large amounts of illiquid or real property-based wealth, the team has a varied practice in the children side of family law.

Notable practitioners

Henry Hood leads the department, and is described by one interviewee as "a class act." He acts on a number of complex financial matters as well as those concerning children. His background as a litigator, and his practice as a mediator, help him to take an approach in the best interests of the client, and to negotiate successfully on their behalf.

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Band 3

Kingsley Napley LLP

From the HNW guide

"Kingsley Napley make an effort to give you instructions that are useful and actually help you as an advocate," says a barrister. "They think about the law properly at their end, before it comes to you." This source also praises the team's associates for being especially thoughtful and legally involved: "They know the case and they're fully engaged." Other sources agree: "Kingsley Napley have one of the strongest stables of junior lawyers. They're quite visible; they're given responsibility but they're supervised. They also have good paralegals as well."

One client calls the department's integration with the rest of the firm a "key strength" and says the firm is a "one-stop shop on legal matters" who "have linked me seamlessly between partners." A peer makes particular mention of its "active practice dealing with surrogacy."

Notable practitioners

Head of department Charlotte Bradley is "the epitome of what you'd want a modern family lawyer to look like," says a peer; "she's tenacious, she fights hard, but if you can possibly sort it out you do. She's scarily bright, knows her law inside out. She's known for international type work." Bradley often acts on international family law cases including a significant caseload of HNW work. "She's extremely good at client care, probably the warmest solicitor in family law that I know," says a barrister, but "she's not as conciliatory as you'd expect her to be, she'll put on a different hat when dealing with other lawyers." One source describes her as giving clients "the support to take decisions they might not want to take."

Michael Rowlands "is very outcome-focused. He's very mindful that the client knows their corner is fought," says one barrister. Rowlands often acts for very wealthy clients in big-money divorce cases. Clients describe him as "very practical" and "fierce when it comes to battling complex cases." A silk agrees: "He is very attuned to the needs of his clients, he's a great fighter for them, and therefore, helpfully, is a sort of challenging person to work for, and I mean that as a compliment. He will not just accept automatically what counsel says, but will talk it through. He sees a case in a strategic manner, right through."

Jane Keir is a "consummate professional," according to one source, who praises her excellent technical knowledge and notes that she "had a very good rapport with the client, and was able to get a lot of co-operation out of a potentially belligerent adversary." Keir tackles both contentious and non-contentious financial matters. She is well regarded by the market as a whole, and described as "really excellent," and "very respected."

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Band 3

From the HNW guide

"Miles Preston & Co have an exceptionally good niche on dealing with City financiers," says one barrister, who describes it as "a classic boutique" offering "a very slim and efficient service." A peer also compliments its approach to the work, calling the team "very pragmatic, practical" and "good to work with." Miles Preston & Co is a specialist family law firm and regularly acts on high-value matters.

A client singles out the firm's empathy and client care skills, describing it as "a significant selling point" that "they understood it's not all numbers and legal text" and describing the lawyers as "so personal, so professional, and always willing to go out of their way."

Notable practitioners

Julia Stanczyk is a key contact.

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Band 3

From the HNW guide

Mills & Reeve is notable for its consistently strong offering across England, with family law teams in East Anglia, the Midlands, Leeds and Manchester as well as London. "They're one of the firms that I always recommend to people," remarks a barrister. "I think that they have the ability to take on the big cases; they've got the resources." This source continues: "I get the sense that they are very able to deal with the complex cases, because of the depth of expertise and the strength of the team behind them. They have real strength in depth. The partners are excellent, but they have a really strong back-up team as well. They have so many different offices, and overall they're all brilliant. The Manchester and Leeds offices have been fantastic."

The firm's private client team is strong nationally and its family law client base is largely comprised of HNWIs. "There is real shared knowledge between the offices," says another source. "They are a very tightly knit network that is collectively more than the sum of its individual parts, however strong those are."

Notable practitioners

Joanna Grandfield, who leads the London office, is "carving a real niche in London in that office. She is making a big impression with the judges in London," according to a QC, who also calls her "really bright and talented. She is very competent, and she's not at all fazed by the numbers. She is very resourceful in terms of bringing together disciplines to manage cases at that level; she can bring together all of that." Grandfield is a specialist in high-value matrimonial finance work.

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Band 3

From the HNW guide

Russell-Cooke handles very high net worth international and domestic work, but wins praise for bringing its expertise to bear on lower-value cases as well. "They actually pride themselves on being a firm that is accessible to people of more moderate means," comments a barrister. "They take their responsibility for acting for a range of wealth very seriously."

Another observes: "Everything's where it needs to be when it needs to be there. I imagine clients never have to worry about anything because it's all just done." Sources also praise the firm's constructive approach. "I don't think anyone at Russell-Cooke scores points for the sake of it," says one interviewee, who also praises it for acting "with great integrity."

Notable practitioners

In addition to his aptitude as a strategist, James Carroll wins particular praise for his approach to complex family situations. "He knows the right way to behave and will support people to do the right thing," says a client. "He would always say children are not pawns, it's about what's right for them. So he is kind, I would say, and sensitive to the issues around children and their care, and he will put that at the forefront." Peers agree, one saying: "I think he's quite emotionally intelligent. Very straight to deal with. I would imagine he is good with his clients; I would imagine they feel supported and listened to." Another compliments his ability "to get where the client is coming from and walk alongside them. They're not just another client – they're real people."

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Senior Statesmen

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Douglas Alexiou is a consultant with the firm, and is described as "very charming and lovely" and "a really nice bloke" whom it is "a pleasure to have a case with." Another source calls him "a terrific attorney." One interviewee recalls that he has "always acted for well-known high net worth individuals."

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Senior Statesmen

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

"There is nothing about family law that Jeremy Levison doesn't know," says a barrister, adding: "He is a charming man. His clients adore him – his client care skills are exemplary." Levison's popularity with and care for his clients is a much-repeated theme. One interviewee describes it as his "outstanding strength," adding: "He empathises with their situation and their problem. He's a very down-to-earth lawyer who always sees his client's story and wants to promote their interests." This source also praises his "incredible tactical judgement." "He's a delight to work with," says another interviewee; "he's been doing it for a long time and has a strong reputation. Very charming, but also imbues clients with confidence."

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Senior Statesmen

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Consultant Richard Parry handles exceptionally high-value matrimonial finance matters, including reported litigation and highly complicated international pre-nuptial agreements, as well as cases involving issues of children work. He also advises and litigates on trust matters.

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Senior Statesmen

Jeremy Posnansky QC

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Senior statesman Jeremy Posnansky QC is one of the most well-respected family law practitioners in London. One source says: "I just found him superb. Matter of fact, didn't mince his words, didn't waffle, kept to the case, understood clients' concerns and gave frank advice." Another describes him as "very constructive in his dealings with the case and the clients" and says she "just found his approach to be one that helped the case." A peer calls him "an absolute gentleman" who is nevertheless "quite bold in his legal thinking."

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Senior Statesmen

Clintons

From the Chambers HNW guide

"I have a very high regard" for Maggie Rae, says a peer: "She's a very good mediator – very practical and very sensible. We've worked together on big cases and just got on with it. She's a very good egg." Other sources agree: "She actually personifies how you should act when you have experience and grandeur. She is experienced enough to be able to be a grande dame of family law, but she has a very genuine, warm approach. She feels very inclusive, rather than aloof."

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Senior Statesmen

Sears Tooth

From the Chambers HNW guide

Raymond Tooth of Sears Tooth "has been a formidable opponent for many years," remarks a peer, while another describes him as "legendary." One source says he has "a good sense of humour," and describes his correspondence as "short and to the point." "I find it quite pleasant to do business with him, because he says it how it is," offers another interviewee.

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Eminent Practitioner

Kingsley Napley LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Jane Keir is a "consummate professional," according to one source, who praises her excellent technical knowledge and notes that she "had a very good rapport with the client, and was able to get a lot of co-operation out of a potentially belligerent adversary." Keir tackles both contentious and non-contentious financial matters. She is well regarded by the market as a whole, and described as "really excellent," and "very respected."

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Star Individuals

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Frances Hughes is "a real doyenne" and "the queen of the family law world" according to interviewees, and she attracts work of the highest calibre. One peer calls her "right at the top. Fantastic clients, fantastic cases, very clever, and strategically, I think, she's right on top of things." Hughes is widely regarded as one of the most formidable matrimonial finance litigators in this market, with a serious reputation for defending her clients' interests in difficult cases. "She is up there as the best litigator," says a barrister. "To anyone who knows how she litigates, it's obvious why she's a star." A peer calls her "a force to be reckoned with" and adds that "you've got to be on your A-game to deal with her."

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Star Individuals

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Star practitioner Julian Lipson is "sort of your dream divorce lawyer," says a barrister. "He's hugely reassuring, he's very discreet, and what he radiates is a calm, businesslike attitude where he will get things done quickly, neatly, with as little rancour as he can manage." "He is a thoroughly decent man, very bright," says a peer. "You would not find somebody with a bad word to say. Very good and very fair."

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Star Individuals

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

"I would feel I had to up my game" against Diana Parker, admits one family lawyer. An interviewee says: "She's a good person to have on the other side. She says things as they are and you know where you are with her. She's very bright and very sensible." Another source praises Parker's "straightforward intellectual firepower," describing her as "the leading intellect of the family law solicitors. She's unbelievably clever, and what she brings with that is an incredibly sharp, clever, strategic approach to a case."

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Star Individuals

Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

Fiona Shackleton needs little introduction. Widely agreed to be one of the best-known and most highly respected family lawyers in the country, Shackleton is "in a league of her own," says one source, adding: "She has the best interpersonal skills of anyone I've ever met. She also has the best Rolodex in the country; she knows everybody." Peers praise her constructive approach in acrimonious cases, but also note that she is tenacious when required. One says: "There's no side to her. You can have a frank conversation, put your cards on the table and do a deal – or you can have a big fight, but it'll be fair."

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Star Individuals

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Helen Ward is "at the absolute pinnacle" of family work, says one interviewee. An "incredibly good litigator," she "has a beautiful turn of phrase" and is "one of the most forceful people in family law," says one peer, adding: "I can do business with her. I think one can be honest with her. She is a real leading light in this area, a very wise woman." Another source calls her "probably one of the best family solicitors in the country. She has fantastic clients, fantastic cases, she's absolutely tireless," and adds: "She's an extremely good negotiator, and a very tough opponent."

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Band 1

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "indefatigable" Simon Bruce is "a force to be reckoned with" according to one peer. Bruce regularly acts on the highest-value international family law cases in the London market, and he is well known for this work. Another interviewee says: "He has a very good international profile. He has an amazing collection of clients and a fantastic bedside manner. He's a fantastic team player."

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Band 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "very shrewd" Alex Carruthers "takes no prisoners," says a peer. One source says he is "highly experienced and keeps you informed." Peers regard him as a strong opponent, and he has a hugely impressive matrimonial finance practice. "He seems to be a real authority in the area. He has an incredibly reassuring manner about him," says a client. "When I was worried about everything, he was fantastic about calming me down, and everything he said was spot-on. Not just the law, but the strategy. His judgement calls were absolutely spot-on. That was the most notable feature, how reassuring it was to have him on my side, a sense of someone who knew what he was talking about and got it right every time."

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Band 1

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Debbie Chism is an "excellent lawyer and eminently sensible," comments a peer. "My heart leaps when I see she's on the other side, I just know we will cut through and sort it. She's tough with her clients and opponents, but that's good." Another source says Chism is "bright, fun to deal with, doesn't get things out of proportion, and knows what buttons to push and when." She leads on some of the department's weightiest cases, and spearheads its collaborative practice.

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Band 1

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Sandra Davis, who leads the department, is singled out repeatedly for her excellent judgement. "They key thing I would say is that her judgement is spot-on in identifying quickly the main issues and weaknesses in a case, and finding a real strategy and way through for the client," says one source, adding: "It's about making the right judgement calls at the right time, and I think she's very good at that." "She's very savvy," comments a barrister; "she's got a real nose for how the case will turn out. She's very commercially astute, very emotionally intelligent, so she's great with clients and good at identifying obvious and less obvious outcomes." Davis' work is invariably high-value and often involves complex legal and factual questions requiring significant technical skill and tactical nous. "She has a very good strategic grasp of the case, and where it needs to go," remarks a QC; "one noticed how good she was at stepping back and taking an overview."

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Band 1

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Head of department Stephen Foster is credited with having built it up to its current top-flight standing. He is also described as a tactical litigator, "someone who is capable of seeing where the litigation is going and plotting three, four, five steps ahead." Foster advises on complicated matters of exceptionally high value, and sources say he is "sound and very sensible," and praise his pragmatic approach to potentially acrimonious cases.

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Band 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Pauline Fowler is widely praised for her constructive approach to resolving family disputes. She is "always a pleasure to do business with," remarks one family lawyer, and another says she is "a very good blend of technically tough and empathetically sound, without being soft." A client describes Fowler as "level-headed and sensible," explaining that she "didn't get caught up in the drama of it all and is very pragmatic. She doesn't score points for the sake of it." This client adds: "I don't think you gain much by throwing toys out of cots, so stylistically it was a very good fit and I thought she handled some of the difficult aspects very well."

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Band 1

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "ferociously bright" and "absolutely first-rate" James Freeman is "a phenomenal lawyer" and "just streets ahead in terms of intellect," says one peer. "He's brilliant," says a source. "One of the best lawyers I've ever worked with." One QC praises his legal ability, calling him a "really good black-letter lawyer" who also "thinks about the long-term of the case from minute one. He knows where it's likely to go and where he wants it to go." Freeman's practice involves exceptionally high-value cross-border cases, in particular those with a French aspect, as well as complex domestic matters.

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Band 1

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Michael Gouriet is described by one peer as "a real gent of family law. Despite being very intelligent, and fighting cases hard, I do find him really easy to work with." This source also calls him "a good all-rounder, particularly known for his work on the cohabitation side," and makes mention of his work on policy: "He invests time in looking at how the law can change. Very generous with his time, as well as a very good lawyer." Another picks him out as an example of "people who really know stuff, and don't posture and rant and do silly stuff. He's very calm and straight."

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Band 1

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Mark Harper is "one of the best solicitors out there in dealing with cross-jurisdictional issues," says a barrister. Harper is well known for his work on international family law issues, particularly his involvement with the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL). One peer describes him as "a partner of the highest class. I just think Mark is hugely capable. He's very clever." 

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Band 1

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "determined and efficient" Emma Hatley is held in high regard for her approach to the work, and her ability to win the confidence of clients. "She's a terrific lawyer," says one source. "She's bang on the nail and she sticks her neck out, she's frank and she says, 'This is a bad decision.' Really efficient, brilliant communicator, lovely to deal with, clients love her, full of energy. She's a really elegant lawyer."

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Band 1

Irwin Mitchell

From the Chambers HNW guide

Elizabeth Hicks of Irwin Mitchell has a "phenomenal" reputation, according to one interviewee, and handles high-value family work of all sorts, ranging from complex pre-nuptial agreements to difficult children work and contested financial remedy proceedings.

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Band 1

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

William Longrigg specialises in international matrimonial finance and private law children cases. "His international practice is phenomenal," says a peer, and according to one silk "he's got the most formidable set of international contacts of any solicitor in the field." Other sources call him "one of the fairest men you would meet doing this job," and "a charming person." He is also described as "good on cases involving trusts, and is sensible and settlement-minded."

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Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

William Massey "has a reputation for playing with a completely straight bat," says an interviewee. "He's very calm, measured, dependable in an understated way. Lots of people will tell you how good they are, but he's not that person. That fits with the clients Farrers have, where privacy and integrity is high up the agenda." Massey specialises in big-money divorce cases, particularly where the parties have complex financial situations. "He writes the most brilliant letters, and knows strategically when he needs to do it, thinking about how he's positioning his client in litigation," reports another family lawyer, adding: "He's just really nice to deal with, and clearly does a really good job with his clients."

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Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Simon Pigott "is arguably one of the absolute best mediators in family law," says an interviewee. "He always knows the right answer and is absolutely capable of getting everyone there." His reputation for mediation and his determined but reasonable approach are widely praised, and he "brings a balance to his adversarial work," says one silk, "which is always appreciated as a barrister." "He's a problem solver," says another source. "I see him as focused on speedy, cost-effective, dignified exit for both parties." "I do stupendously large cases with him," remarks a barrister, "very large big-money cases of high complexity. He's cool, calm and efficient, and very good with clients." "He cuts through the nonsense," confirms a peer.

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Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

Ian Airey "provides very reassuring advice for his clients," says a source, "and is absolutely unflappable. He always gives the right answer in terms of what is sensible to do." Other sources agree: "Working with him is dead easy, because he's seen it all, done it all and has really good judgement, largely based on years of experience," says one. "Because he's been doing it so long he just knows all the wrinkles. Clients love him - he's completely unflusterable. He always seems calm, relaxed and on top of it." 

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Dawson Cornwell

From the Chambers HNW guide

Kate Allen acts on very high net worth matrimonial finance and child maintenance cases. She is also a trained collaborative lawyer, and runs the firm's practice in that area. One source praises Allen's straightforward, collaborative, resolution-focused approach to family law matters.

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Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

David Allison's clients particularly single out his suitability for collaborative approaches. "Putting aside his legal expertise, it's the compassion he has that stuck out straight away," says one, adding: "He really wants to get a fair outcome for both sides." "He was very sympathetic. Guidance was clear and concise," recalls another client; "you felt he was on your side as opposed to just playing the game."

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Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Sarah Anticoni has an excellent reputation for alternative dispute resolution, particularly as a mediator. "I'd like my mediation practice in three years' time to look like hers," confides a peer. In her own practice, she is "very, very pleasant to do business with," according to another source; she "doesn't take bad points," is "charming," and has a "very nice constructive approach which is sort of breathtakingly unusual." Anticoni has a particular focus on the financial aspects of divorce.

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Catherine Bedford

Harbottle & Lewis LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Catherine Bedford of Harbottle & Lewis LLP is "a name people really respect," according to one interviewee; "everyone speaks very highly of her and the fact that she has been able to create an amazing practice." Another source describes her as "someone with boundless energy for her cases."

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Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

Founding member Gillian Bishop is described by one source as "the top collaborative lawyer." "She does all the things I value," says another; "she's constructive in her approach, applies the law properly, but is practical first and foremost." "What shines out about Gillian is she never fails to see the bigger picture," remarks one silk, "particularly in children cases, where it's important not to get sucked into the adversarial process too much. She, too, is incredibly emotionally intelligent, and always calm however tense the situation gets. She's very good at pouring oil on troubled waters."

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Charlotte Bradley

Kingsley Napley LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Head of department Charlotte Bradley is "the epitome of what you'd want a modern family lawyer to look like," says a peer; "she's tenacious, she fights hard, but if you can possibly sort it out you do. She's scarily bright, knows her law inside out. She's known for international type work." Bradley often acts on international family law cases including a significant caseload of HNW work. "She's extremely good at client care, probably the warmest solicitor in family law that I know," says a barrister, but "she's not as conciliatory as you'd expect her to be, she'll put on a different hat when dealing with other lawyers." One source describes her as giving clients "the support to take decisions they might not want to take."

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Christopher Butler

Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Christopher Butler "is an intelligent and insightful lawyer, with a personable yet authoritative manner that clients find very comforting," says a source. In addition to his practice as a solicitor, he sits as a Deputy District Judge in the Central Family Court, and is described as "astute" and "very likeable." His work covers high-value international divorces as well as negotiated pre-nuptial agreements.

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Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Head of department Jane Craig "brings such an empathy to the work," says an interviewee, adding: "She's a very good lawyer." Another concurs, calling her a "very thorough" individual who "leaves no stone unturned." Craig's practice includes complicated divorces ranging from the highly contentious to the entirely non-litigated.

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Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

"Extremely calm is the word that comes to mind" to describe Sarah Higgins, says one barrister. "There's nothing that fazes her." In addition to heading the department, she handles cases in which divorce is affected by complicated asset structures such as overseas trusts and business assets. "She's a good lawyer," says a peer. "She knows what she's doing and she's clever."

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Schillings

From the Chambers HNW guide

Davina Katz leads the family law practice at Schillings, and is "someone I've long admired from afar for the practice she's built up," remarks a peer. She acts on high-value and complex reported and unreported matrimonial finance and contested divorce cases, including those with a significant international element.

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Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

One peer "can't speak highly enough of" Suzanne Kingston, reporting that she is increasingly in demand for high-end work and adding that "the work she has done in developing the arbitration practice is phenomenal. I don't know how she finds the time to have the practice that she has. She just seems to have an abundance of energy." Another source describes her as "technically brilliant at unravelling complex cases where clients have a diverse range of assets globally." This interviewee notes that Kingston is "always looking for the best outcome," particularly for divorcing parties' children.

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Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Renato Labi is considered to be a compassionate and considered family lawyer with impressive technical skills. He is praised for his understanding of the family dynamics in complex and sensitive cases.  "I very much rate him. He can really be a tenacious fighter," says a family law barrister, adding: "He's a calm, gracious individual, but that masks a really incisive mind and a tenacity that will stand any case in good stead. He stands by the client in thick and thin."

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Dawson Cornwell

From the Chambers HNW guide

Rhiannon Lewis handles complex matters of divorce and separation, particularly those with an international element introducing questions of jurisdiction and applicable law. As a trained mediator, and a mediation trainer in her own right, she has a thorough understanding of alternative means of dispute resolution.

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Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

Philip McGuirk "just exudes this calm confidence," says a barrister, "he has this wisdom which I can see clients just really, really like. He's one of these lawyers who just know exactly which are the good points and which he can drop. That comes with years of experience, but also being intelligent and knowing which call to make." McGuirk handles financial remedy matters for HNW clients, and has expertise in pre- and post-nuptial agreements. "He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law," remarks another interviewee, "I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him for a complicated, big-money case."

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Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

Consultant Ann Northover is described as being "very, very bright, quite quirky but in a good way, just lots of fun but very bright, very strategic around cases." Interviewees describe her as "a sensible operator" and "a good person to deal with," while others praise her technical nous. "She is particularly good at dealing with complex offshore structures and so forth," observes a barrister. "She wouldn't consider herself a tax lawyer but she knows more than most family lawyers."

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Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Senior partner Susan Philipps is "hugely experienced" and "utterly unflappable" according to one QC, who calls her "a magnet for high profile clients and for the biggest of cases." She is "somebody I've long looked up to," confesses a peer. "She can be quite ferocious, but she's quite softly spoken. The work she's doing is fantastic." Another source highlights her as "someone who is quite solutions-driven," and who displays "unending patience."

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Band 2

Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Pirrie has a particular expertise in the financial aspect of children cases, with one peer describing him as "the doyen of child maintenance" and praising his dedicated interest in the field: "The thing with James is he loves what he does." According to one interviewee, "he is incredibly knowledgeable in a legal and academic sense, particularly as regards child support and children's maintenance." Other peers praise his combination of creativity with technical acumen. "I absolutely adore James," says another source; "he's always about ten paces ahead of you, almost on a different plane. He's just so creative, innovative, obviously very very adept at the collaborative work. His particular expertise is encyclopaedic knowledge of child maintenance regulations."

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Kingsley Napley LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Michael Rowlands "is very outcome-focused. He's very mindful that the client knows their corner is fought," says one barrister. Rowlands often acts for very wealthy clients in big-money divorce cases. Clients describe him as "very practical" and "fierce when it comes to battling complex cases." A silk agrees: "He is very attuned to the needs of his clients, he's a great fighter for them, and therefore, helpfully, is a sort of challenging person to work for, and I mean that as a compliment. He will not just accept automatically what counsel says, but will talk it through. He sees a case in a strategic manner, right through."

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Band 2

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Erica Shelton "is great fun, very good with clients," and "will have a very good idea from the word Go of where the case is going to go," says a source. "She has good clients," says another, and is "a very nice person to deal with." In addition to her matrimonial practice, Shelton has expertise in Schedule 1 claims under the Children Act.

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Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Stewart leads some of the team's highest value matters, including both financial remedy proceedings and nuptial agreements, and has a very strong reputation for international UHNW work. "James is phenomenal," remarks one peer, and "his ability to bring in international high net worth work is amazing."  "He has a phenomenally good brain in terms of dealing with disputes in a commercial context. He brings a very subjective analysis to what can be very complicated disputes," says a family silk. "He's always prepared to discuss points, and to defer to other people's opinions, and clients like him."

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Band 3

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Shona Alexander, who works in the firm's Guildford office, is a "fantastic lawyer," says a peer: "Very thorough, very diligent, but someone you could just pick the phone up to. Robustly fought her client's corner." She leads on high-value pre-nuptial agreements and Schedule 1 work.

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Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

"Incisive, approachable, and immensely likeable," Tom Amlot wins praise from other lawyers. "He's just very astute," remarks one source, and has a "sound grasp on quite complicated tax concepts." Another calls him "charm personified" and says he "deals with things in a very constructive way."

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Camilla Baldwin Solicitors

From the Chambers HNW guide

Camilla Baldwin of Camilla Baldwin Solicitors "gets a lot of good work," remarks a peer. "When she gets involved she can sort things out quickly." Others also praise her ability "to attract quite good work." She acts on high-value matrimonial finance matters, including maintenance claims and pre-nuptial agreements, acting for both husbands and wives.

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Band 3

Payne Hicks Beach

From the Chambers HNW guide

Fiona Brown is a consultant at the firm, and regularly assists with ancillary relief issues and related matters. Brown is "phenomenally bright," comments a source, "and will always come up with imaginative solutions to what seem like intractable problems." A peer describes her as "incredibly talented, great on the law, very clever and able."

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Russell-Cooke

From the Chambers HNW guide

In addition to his aptitude as a strategist, James Carroll wins particular praise for his approach to complex family situations. "He knows the right way to behave and will support people to do the right thing," says a client. "He would always say children are not pawns, it's about what's right for them. So he is kind, I would say, and sensitive to the issues around children and their care, and he will put that at the forefront." Peers agree, one saying: "I think he's quite emotionally intelligent. Very straight to deal with. I would imagine he is good with his clients; I would imagine they feel supported and listened to." Another compliments his ability "to get where the client is coming from and walk alongside them. They're not just another client – they're real people."

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Band 3

Family Law in Partnership LTD

From the Chambers HNW guide

With over 35 years of experience in family law, Pamela Collis has "a combination of good technical expertise and judgement, and great client care skills." Collis focuses on domestic and international work, including money cases and children law matters. "I think she's quite brilliant," says a client. "I think she's very experienced and knowledgeable, anything to do with finances she's very well informed, and also she's incredibly kind."

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Band 3

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

James Copson handles high-value matrimonial finance and other family work, especially with an international dimension. Sources admire his practice, and he is also seen as a "really nice guy."

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Forsters LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

One QC describes Joanne Edwards as "very bright" and "really good with clients," adding: "I absolutely love her. Very good on the detail, good lawyer, pleasure to be instructed by." "She takes a very friendly, conciliatory approach to the way she handles cases," comments a peer. "That's good, to be encouraged." Edwards is "constructive through and through," and "does not forget that the objective is to sort people's problems out," according to another source. Edwards was recently chair of Resolution, the national organisation dedicated to promoting the non-contentious settlement of family problems.

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Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

"There isn't much James Ferguson hasn't seen," remarks a source. Another praises his "very rounded knowledge and experience" of "his own peers, but also the Bench and the Bar," adding that "what makes him stand out is his ability to use that knowledge strategically" by "reading the case and the characters involved." One barrister praises Ferguson's firm but fair approach to family law matters: "He takes a view and sticks to it firmly. It's easy to be soft in your approach in family, but he will take a realistic view and maintain it."

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Band 3

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

Miranda Fisher's reputation is "phenomenal," according to one peer. "She's very co-operative," says another, "always trying to reach a resolution rather than litigating the case. She recognises that we're dealing with human beings and ought to try to sort things out." "She's certainly tough," remarks a barrister. "Scared of nothing and no one." Fisher's broad-based family law practice includes jurisdiction disputes in international matters.

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Osbornes Law

From the Chambers HNW guide

Mark Freedman of Osbornes Solicitors LLP "has a great capability for high net worth cases," says one peer, who describes him as "a very seasoned practitioner doing specialised work." Referring to his reputation as a robust fighter, another source says he "has a very strong outward profile of being a tough lawyer, and sometimes that's misread. He's tough, but that just means he represents his client well. He does his job; he doesn't cross the lines."

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Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Miles Geffin " is head and shoulders one of the cleverest solicitors I know," a silk says, adding: "He knows the law – actually genuinely interested in the law. He knows more about the black-letter and precedents than any other solicitor I know." The same source calls him "great fun to work with" and praises his relationship with his clients: "He's very genuine with them, and they trust him. And his legal knowledge is impressive and you can't miss that – it shines." Geffin recently acted on the notable case of Wyatt v Vince, involving interesting issues about claiming for financial relief many years after the decree absolute was granted.

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Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Claire Gordon is "one of the smartest family lawyers in London today," comments a source. "Very committed and hard-working, and she displays an excellent grasp of complex case issues." A peer describes her as "very calm and decent, and very nice to deal with," and "someone you can work well with to work things out." As well as high net worth divorce cases, Gordon is often called upon to advise on pre- and post-nuptial agreements.

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Band 3

Joanna Grandfield

Mills & Reeve LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Joanna Grandfield, who leads the London office, is "carving a real niche in London in that office. She is making a big impression with the judges in London," according to a QC, who also calls her "really bright and talented. She is very competent, and she's not at all fazed by the numbers. She is very resourceful in terms of bringing together disciplines to manage cases at that level; she can bring together all of that." Grandfield is a specialist in high-value matrimonial finance work.

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Band 3

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Emma Harte is an "expert" who "knows her stuff," says one peer. Another remarks that she supplements her "good technical knowledge" with "a particularly good skill at managing her client." Harte has a very good reputation for family mediation work, and is described as "really down to earth, so diligent and so hard-working. Just good at resolving cases." She also handles matrimonial finance matters, pre-nuptial agreements and cases concerning the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

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Band 3

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Alison Hayes "pulls no punches," says a source; "she's very straight-talking, doesn't waste anyone's time but absolutely cuts to it. Whether that's cutting to a deal or cutting to litigation, she gets there fast." According to another, she "fights her client's corner very strongly and doesn't take many backwards steps. She's quite formidable." Hayes handles impressively complex family litigation matters, and has a strong international element to her practice. "She's a litigator," says a barrister; "I don't mean she's allergic to settlement – she's perfectly pragmatic and sensible – but her instincts are battling instincts." This source continues: "She is very much looking for a way to identify what the client wants and see if it can be fought for."

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Band 3

Alexiou Fisher Philipps LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

William Healing attracts widespread mention for his niche expertise in Anglo-French divorce cases; he is a fluent French speaker, and has what one peer calls "a thriving Anglo-French practice." "He's an incredibly reassuring presence to have in your corner," says one barrister. "If you've got a case with a jurisdiction point or a point of EU law, it's comforting to know that he's on top of it. He prides himself on being a go-to man on jurisdiction. He knows the law back to front." More generally, says another source, "he's reassuring, but he's also quite businesslike. He's a fighter when he thinks it's the right thing to do."

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Band 3

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Eliza Hebditch "has a fabulous array of clients," says a interviewee, "and she's extremely able. She has a wonderful manner and she's a very bright lawyer, fantastic when it comes to knowledge of the law." Hebditch's particular expertise is in Anglo-American matters, and she has expertise at a well-regarded US firm. "Eliza's absolute strength above all else," suggests another source, "is her absolute dedication to the client." A client says Hebditch was "very good at explaining the process, and what we had to do and why we had to do it."

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Band 3

Hunters Incorporating May, May & Merrimans

From the Chambers HNW guide

Henry Hood leads the department, and is described by one interviewee as "a class act." He acts on a number of complex financial matters as well as those concerning children. His background as a litigator, and his practice as a mediator, help him to take an approach in the best interests of the client, and to negotiate successfully on their behalf.

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Band 3

Charles Russell Speechlys

From the Chambers HNW guide

"If I have Grant Howell on the other side I know we're going to deal with a case sensibly and with every chance of coming to a solution at a relatively early stage," says a peer. "Feet firmly on the ground. He's a good lawyer." A trained arbitrator, Howell's practice covers a broad sweep of family law, from pre-nuptial agreements to divorce and the consequent financial and children issues. A source says: "He's a fabulous lawyer, because what he brings is just the common touch. Yes, he does fight cases, but he's just pragmatic."

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Band 3

Matthew Humphries

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Matthew Humphries "knows what he's doing," says a peer, while another describes him as "impressive" and "an upwardly mobile young operator." His focus is on financial work, and he acts on sizeable international matters.

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Band 3

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

David Lister is "clever and funny and dedicated to his clients," says one interviewee. Other lawyers regard him as "intelligent and able," someone who "knows what he's doing and gets on with it." One calls him a straightforward person, but by no means a pushover: "He's pragmatic, constructive, and recognises the importance of doing a deal where that's practical." Lister specialises in financial cases, particularly matters where international asset tracing expertise is called for. "He doesn't take any messing," recalls a client. "He knows the law extremely well, but he also has a practical side to him."

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Band 3

Stewarts

From the Chambers HNW guide

Sam Longworth is "absolutely fantastic," says a barrister. "I was so impressed by his dedication to the client, attention to detail, preparation of the case. He is extremely proactive in giving advice." In particular, "he's really great to work with as a barrister, because you work properly as a team, so the client is getting a Rolls-Royce service." Other sources describe him as "extremely sensible" and a "very able newer partner."

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Band 3

Clintons

From the Chambers HNW guide

"What I really like" about Paul Newton, says one peer, "is he's a good Northern chap who's really down to earth – doesn't have the unnecessary airs and graces – and I think many clients bond with that." Another source agrees: "I regularly refer him work. If I send a case over to him, the client will appreciate that I've put him in safe, decent hands." Newton specialises in pre- and post-nuptial agreements and financial remedy proceedings. "I find doing pre-nups with him an absolute pleasure," says another. "We can have a really good discussion and then talk pragmatically."

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Band 3

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Barbara Reeves "stands out as being absolutely committed to her client, and fearless on their behalf," enthuses one interviewee, adding: "Her clients take huge pride and a lot of security in knowing she's there as their staunch supporter. But she also gives brave and staunch advice that they don't want to hear, and that's quite uncommon." Reeves handles high-profile divorce matters, and often represents international ultra-wealthy clients. "One is conscious of Barbara's shrewdness," remarks another source. "She did work in fraud, and she brings that skill to bear on matrimonial cases."

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Band 3

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Julian Ribet "has a firm hand on the tiller from the word Go," in family law matters, according to an interviewee, while another describes him as "building a really good practice" in this area. Many of Ribet's cases involve high-value and interesting financial issues. "He's hugely tenacious, and I've done some exceptionally difficult cases for him," remarks a QC, who describes him as "very, very able" as well as being "thorough, well prepared, innovative, with first-rate client care skills."

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Band 3

Withers LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Suzanne Todd has a notable practice in collaborative law. She is, according to one peer, "easy to work with, pragmatic, and very intelligent," and someone whose "star continues to be in the ascendancy," as well as having "a fantastic ability to bring on the younger lawyers." "I think she's fantastic - very efficient, but really personable," says another source, adding: "I think she's very straight-down-the-line. She won't try and stir up tensions, and that's sort of the risk in family law: it might get a better deal but it's pretty bad for the family."

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Band 3

Clintons

From the Chambers HNW guide

Head of department Elizabeth Vernon is widely liked by peers, and is described by one interviewee as "experienced" and "tenacious." One barrister praises her as a tough but pragmatic practitioner, who is not afraid to fight "but will settle cases when they need to be settled, which is a very important part of a solicitor's understanding of the case and duty to the client." Vernon works on sensitive and complex matters of relationship breakdown.

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Band 3

Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Anna Worwood is a "very fine lawyer" and a "very safe pair of hands," according to one barrister, who also says she is "very conscientious and well prepared," and notes that "her advice is first-class." Another source singles out Worwood's "phenomenal children practice" and says she does "some really good innovative children work," adding: "She is known for her empathy and attention to detail."

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Up and Coming

Farrer & Co LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Nick Bennett was "a very able barrister" before joining the team at Farrer, "and he's absolutely flying," says one interviewee. Bennett is an expert on pre- and post-nuptial agreements and handles conflict of laws issues in international divorces. "I've just been very impressed at his analysis," says a barrister. "When I read his correspondence, I just thought, 'This is very good, you're clearly comfortable with the issues we're talking about here.'"

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Up and Coming

Clintons

From the Chambers HNW guide

Patrick Kearns is singled out by sources as an intelligent and well-prepared member of the team, "one of those lawyers who's content to negotiate sensibly." He leads a number of high-value cases involving children and cross-border implications, and an interviewee remarks: "I can see his practice gaining more and more traction."

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Up and Coming

Howard Kennedy LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Lois Langton of Howard Kennedy LLP "has the ability to relate to clients," says one source, adding: "She just gets that rapport going. Doesn't use jargon, doesn't use technical terms, just plain English. She's good at explaining things." One barrister calls her an "exceptional lawyer, very thorough."

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Up and Coming

Levison Meltzer Pigott

From the Chambers HNW guide

Up-and-coming partner Alistair Myles is widely liked by the family Bar, whose members praise him for "the ability to see the wood for the trees in what can be very complicated and emotional circumstances" and for taking "a very tailor-made approach for each case." He is also "incredibly charming," according to one source, he has "a very good manner." His practice focuses on financial remedy work, and his recent cases have involved some interesting legal issues.

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Up and Coming

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

From the Chambers HNW guide

Caroline Park regularly deals with the most complex and high-value matrimonial finance issues. A client says she is "legally astute, but very personable as well," adding: "I just felt that I had somebody in my corner I could trust and I could ask questions of without feeling I was being stupid." A family law barrister says Park is "one of the grandes dames of the future. Very good with clients and very knowledgeable of the law. She has a fantastic phonebook of advisers, and did not seem to be fazed by some quite difficult points of the case. Equally, she was keen to wrap it up in settlement negotiations, with a pragmatic air as opposed to dogmatic. I speak very highly of her."

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Up and Coming

Mishcon de Reya LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Legal director Claire Yorke "was extremely excellent as a team player and co-ordinator of the case," recalls one QC, who worked with her on a recent matter. "She makes the right decisions," remarks another, who also praises her "very good feeling for a case" and calls her "confident and decisive." Yorke's practice mainly centres around matrimonial finance, and she also has experience in pre-nuptial agreements and international matters. She "has a very steady hand on a case," according to one interviewee, and she "knows how to get a problem sorted very quickly."

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Associates to watch

Harriet Errington

Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

Senior associate Harriet Errington has "wonderful client care skills and formidable attention to detail," and is particularly popular among family law barristers. One remarks that "you would feel like you had the strength and support of a partner behind you" when working with her. Another calls her an undoubted "star of the future" and describes her as "dedicated and talented." She has "blossomed from a new-fledged starter to an incredibly skilled solicitor," comments an interviewee, while a client sums her up as "just a true professional."

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Associates to watch

Penningtons Manches LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

One senior barrister praises senior associate Edward Floyd for his family law expertise, saying: "He's more junior, but he's very, very good. He's all over these cases and knows exactly what's going on. He's a very safe pair of hands." Another source agrees, describing him as "one to watch" and reporting that "his grasp of the technical law is unparalleled."

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Associates to watch

Katie O'Callaghan

Boodle Hatfield LLP

From the Chambers HNW guide

The "bright and incisive" senior associate Katie O'Callaghan is one of the "stars of the future," according to one source. She assists the partners on complex, high-profile and high-value divorce and financial remedy claims.

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