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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > East Anglia > Private client > Family > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Family
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Louise Ballantyne - Hunt & Coombs LLP
    • Victoria Cole - Kerseys Solicitors
    • Alexandra Gooden - Taylor Vinters
    • Janet Raeburn - Kerseys Solicitors
    • Clare Sharpe - Fosters

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Birketts LLP¬†is 'a standout firm' and its highly experienced, 12-lawyer family practice acts for many high-net-worth individuals across East Anglia, in London and from overseas. It has notable expertise in complex finance and children matters, frequently involving multi-jurisdictional issues,¬†and is known for its skill in drafting bespoke prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. All fee earners in the practice are members of Resolution and the firm handles all approaches to family disputes including litigation, mediation, arbitration and collaborative law.¬†Oliver Gravell, who was among the first collaborative lawyers in the UK, leads the practice and counsel notes that he¬†'knows the answers; he has great experience and superb judgment, and clients are calmed by his calm approach and gravitas'. Among the firm's senior associates¬†Katie Beaven¬†is best-known for complex and high-net-worth financial settlements and¬†Children Act matters;¬†Roopa Ahluwalia¬†frequently handles¬†divorce, separation, nuptial agreements, and¬†complex children matters; and¬†Juliet Harvey¬†is vice chair of Resolution's national committee.¬†The practice recently hired¬†Elisabeth Sneade¬†from¬†Tees Law, who is¬†‚Äėparticularly supportive emotionally and structurally‚Äô.

Cambridge Family Law Practice's¬†five partners all provide ‚Äėexcellent service, prompt responses and a good understanding¬†of the issues‚Äė. The partners are 'all extremely knowledgeable, thorough and great to work with'. The firm handles high-value cases for¬†clients in East Anglia and in London, as well as those living overseas.¬†Simon Bethel¬†is 'knowledgeable, hardworking and determined while always giving realistic advice'.¬†Sue Varty¬†'displays a determination to pursue the client's interests; she is a pragmatist, determined to find solutions'. 'Highly intelligent and fierce litigator'¬†Tricia Ashton¬†is 'an excellent listener in a field of law which is fraught with emotion and stress; her calm and clear advice has been invaluable in guiding clients¬†with positive and constructive options'.¬†Gail Marchant-Daisley¬†is 'hugely respected - calm, experienced and measured in all she does'.¬†Adam Moghadas¬†handles many cases involving children and 'has¬†an excellent temperament for that area; he is really adept at calming the situation and cutting through all the emotion'.

'A¬† regional superpower',¬†Mills & Reeve LLP¬†is ‚Äėvery effective in high-value divorce cases with complex financial elements‚Äė, with one client stating it has¬†'by far the best family team in the Eastern region; the client care is second-to-none and it continues to provide an amazing Rolls-Royce service'. The firm's¬†'unbeatable team' includes the ‚Äėsmart, effective, incisive and devastatingly effective'¬†Nick Stone¬†in Norwich, who is 'a pleasure to deal with, clearly at the top of their profession, he understands the full emotions of the process and is extremely adept at navigating complex cases‚Äė. He handled a matrimonial case involving financial assets in excess of ¬£60m.¬†'Simply the best family lawyer in Cambridge', according to one barrister,¬†Caitlin Jenkins¬†in Cambridge 'has a good client manner; she is at the forefront of new family law developments, never seems rushed and is always friendly and courteous'. She has 'a wonderfully calm and warm approach with razor-sharp legal skills; she is very clever and strategic and has a national reputation which is second-to-none'. Principal associate¬†George Sprague¬†'has the perfect combination of acuity and emotional intelligence'. Also recommended are principal associates¬†Hannah Wilson¬†(who is 'clever, determined and really cares about her clients; she is a great negotiator and litigator') and¬†Frances Bailey¬†(who has 'very good client care skills'), and¬†senior associate¬†Rachel Brand.¬†  

Taylor Vinters¬†is ‚Äėoutstanding, always on the ball,¬†supportive, empathetic, adaptable, pragmatic, energetic and always in your corner as a client'. Clients remark that practice head¬†Jackie Wells¬†and senior associate Alexandra Gooden¬†¬†are 'very smart, highly professional and polished individuals who are very astute and analytical; they are strategic as well as tactical in their approach and are seldom caught off balance'. One barrister says of Wells that 'for high-value, complex financial cases with international elements she¬†fights hard for her clients and goes above and beyond in client care'. Another says of Gooden that she is 'as good as any London-based associate I have worked with -¬†highly¬†intelligent, extremely hardworking and a very safe pair of hands'. She recently acted for the former wife of an entrepreneur based overseas whose former husband had misrepresented his income from multimillion-pound corporate transactions. Senior associate and collaborative lawyer¬†Sylvia Haigh¬†is also recommended for¬†her advice to professionals on divorce and pre-marital agreements, and for her expertise in cohabitation matters. Clients also praise¬†Rachel Bevan¬†for family law matters with an international element.

Ashtons Legal¬†is ‚Äėas good as any London firm‚Äė, according to one client who remarks that it is ‚Äėvery good value for fees and has good relationships with top counsel‚Äė. One barrister remarks that the firm is¬†‚Äėfirst-rate, a leading player in East Anglia'. The practice has a broad client base across the region but has particular expertise in advising clients with substantial assets including land and trusts. Stephen Williams¬†leads the practice from the firm‚Äôs Ipswich office and is ‚Äėa very safe pair of hands,¬†very responsive and empathetic, and good on law and strategy‚Äė. One source remarks that he is ‚Äėexcellent with clients, efficient and pragmatic'. He advises on¬†financial matters relating to divorce and separation for both married and unmarried couples, especially those with a background in business or agriculture.¬†He also undertakes children‚Äôs work and is a member of the Family Panel, the Children Panel, the Advanced Family Panel, Re-unite and Resolution.¬†Partner and trained collaborative lawyer¬†Mary Pearce¬†in Bury St Edmunds¬†specialises in the financial aspects of breakdowns in marriages or cohabitation arrangements. Consultant¬†¬†Brenda Head¬†in Ipswich has 17 years' experience and is a family mediator.  

Buckles Solicitors LLP¬†'has a highly effective family department which has well-known expertise, attention to detail and looks after its clients very well indeed'. The firm has a busy caseload of¬†complex financial matters, trust work, international matters, and agricultural cases involving complex land ownership and farming business interests. Practice head¬†Lyn Brisley¬†is 'a very good lawyer with very good people skills and very good judgement'.¬†Roger Gurney¬†is regarded as ‚Äėone of the nicest family lawyers you will ever meet ‚Äď kind, calm and a good team player‚Äô. He is described as 'great with clients, fighting their corner every inch of the way; he is decisive and very calm in a crisis'. Associate Donna Sandall¬†is 'extremely committed to her work and her clients; she is very reassuring in very difficult times', according to one barrister.¬†Associate Helen Saggers¬†is also recommended.

Butcher Andrews is 'the leading family team in North and West Norfolk', according to one client who notes that the practitioners are 'good advocates of the collaborative approach'. 'Rainmaker' and Resolution-accredited practice head Adney Payne focuses on advanced financial provision and financial advocacy matters. He 'gives robust and wise advice'. Collaboratively trained partner Butcher Andrews, whose broad practice includes niche expertise in cohabitation issues, 'provides sound legal advice in a compassionate and supportive way'. She is currently advising a client with multimillion-pound matrimonial assets on the break-up of a long marriage. Litigation executive Jean Curtis has 40 years' experience with the firm and is recommended for matrimonial work and Children Act cases.

Gotelee Solicitors is seen by many as having one of the foremost family law departments in Ipswich, though it also supports clients across Suffolk thanks to its presence in Woodbridge, Hadleigh and Felixstowe. Practice head Helen Stuart has more than 20 years' experience in advising high-net-worth clients on divorces, particularly in cases where the primary asset is a family-run business. She recently represented a local business owner in protracted divorce negotiations. For ten years, Stuart has also sat as as a part-time Deputy District Judge in East Anglia, which has seen her frequently attend the Divorce Unit in Bury St Edmunds, which processes divorce petitions for the whole of the South-East of England. Key partner Ivana Radovic, who works from both the Ipswich and Hadleigh offices, is secretary of the local Resolution Group and the Suffolk & North Essex Law Society. She is now a trained mediator. Associate Samantha Markham , who is a committee member of the local Resolution Group, is also recommended for divorce, children and financial cases.

At¬†Hunt & Coombs LLP¬†‚Äėthe overall level of service is excellent, and the advice is appropriate and made in good time‚Äė. 'This firm appears to be at the very top of the market for family work in Peterborough', according to one client. The firm has the largest family practice in the city and it handles both private and public law cases. It acts in¬†high-value private matrimonial finance cases and has¬†expertise in farming matters, business assets, pensions, pre-nuptial agreements and Trusts of Land cases. The ‚Äėvery knowledgeable and supportive'¬†Farhana Butt¬†leads the family practice and 'knows when to move a case to the next level; she considers all possible outcomes and always provides sound advice that guides clients to make good decisions'. 'Very experienced, insightful and wise' senior partner and head of private client¬†Denis White¬†has ‚Äėimmense knowledge and experience; he is particularly good at supporting those who are new to the role of Children‚Äôs Guardian‚Äė.¬†Edward Owen¬†is ‚Äėa determined, realistic and able advocate in care proceedings; he¬†is¬†committed to getting as good an outcome as possible and does so with undaunted good grace'. Senior solicitor¬†Louise Ballantyne¬†is 'intelligent and conscientious,¬†with a commitment to fair and proper outcomes in difficult cases'. Solicitors¬†Sophie Scotcher¬†and¬†Giuseppe Pingerna¬†¬†are also recommended.

The ‚Äėreliable, practical and trustworthy‚Äė team at Kerseys Solicitors¬†is known for 'very good service and good response times'. The firm handles the full range of family work but is best known for cases involving¬†financial provision in divorce and separation,¬†and children matters. Department head¬†Clare Thomas¬†is ‚Äėvery reassuring and easy to talk to, and provides sensible advice‚Äė.¬†Elaine Webb¬†'has an extremely sensible approach to often highly emotive issues, and consistently offers excellent advice; her calm approach and extensive knowledge set her apart from her competitors'. She recently acted for a client with mental health issues seeking contact with her children. Newly promoted partner Janet Raeburn¬†is 'punctual, professional, compassionate and precise; she is¬†kind, courteous and understanding, and¬†maintains a high standard of service at all times'.¬†Victoria Cole¬†is another rising star in the practice and consultant and¬†accredited mediator Rosemary Carter¬†is also recommended.

The family practice at Prettys Solicitors LLP is 'excellent - it covers family law with huge experience, knowledge and sense'. One clients believes that it is 'certainly one of the best, if not the best, in Ipswich for family law'. 'The key issues are always identified and sound advice is given to the lay client,' remarks one barrister who believes that 'its family law department provides an excellent service to its clients'. 'Impressive' collaborative lawyer Georgie Hall leads the practice, in which all lawyers are trained mediators and experienced litigators. Newly promoted senior associate Georgina Rayment has been a family law specialist and mediator for more than a decade and clients describe her as 'a superb lawyer, very good at early appraisals of cases; she gives extremely good advice, fights her corner well and is respected and liked in the local courts'. Her recent work includes cases involving accusations of domestic violence, coercive behaviour and custody rights. Both Matthew Clemence, whose clients include high-profile individuals in sport and media, and Victoria Mayhew are now associates.

Steeles Law is praised for providing 'clear and accurate advice'. Associate Amanda Owens in Norwich leads the family department in which associate Emma Alfieri  in Diss is highly recommended. 'Their treatment of clients is exemplary and they are lovely people and have hearts of gold', says one client. Another rates Owens '10/10' and describes her as 'personable and empathetic with incredible knowledge of the finer points of law, good at getting to the root issue in a timely manner and explaining the legalities in simple terms'. The firm climbs the ranking on the basis of its close-knit team that handles an increasing volume of high-value cases. Owens recently acted for a mother who had been served with an application from her ex-husband and the father of her four-year-old child for a Child Arrangements Order and a Prohibited Steps Order. The acrimonious case, which involved allegations of rape and cross-border elements, was successfully resolved. Alfieri, who works with clients in the Diss area and the South Norfolk and north Suffolk border, specialises in Children Act and financial remedy cases, which last year included a divorce matter in which the couple's combined assets totalled £2.3m.

Vardags has built an increasingly substantial presence in the market in the two years since it opened its Cambridge office and it has a reputation for 'top-quality representation'. The firm built a stellar reputation in London and the Cambridge office carries the strength of that brand into the East Anglian market, giving clients access to support from both a financial forensic team and a media, privacy and defamation team. The 'knowledgeable, persistent' Arron Bortoft, who has 25 years' experience in family law, is 'a highly experienced and diligent operator, having practised at the top end of financial remedy work for many years; he is tireless in fighting his client's corner'. He specialises in proceedings relating to high-net-worth finances, property, private children work and enforcement. Bortoft is leading the team acting for Li Quan in the international tiger charity case in the High Court, which involves a post-nuptial settlement concerning complex international assets valued at up to £50m.

Woolley & Co, Solicitors has a unique model that brings together a network of 23 senior family law practitioners, of which four are based in East Anglia. 'The service is very good and the lawyers know their stuff and are professional, courteous and prompt', says one client. Another praises the firm for 'outstanding service and timely, appropriate, knowledgeable and supportive advice'. Karen Agnew-Griffith in Thetford is 'down-to-earth, no-nonsense and doesn't suffer fools; she was totally in my corner and acted for me appropriately, very efficiently, and kept me informed every step of the way', remarks one client. The 'knowledgeable and approachable' Abby Smith  in St Neots 'completely understands and sympathises with difficult and very challenging situations'. Also in St Neots, Tamara Glanvill is a respected advocate in high-value cases. Nick Wiseman in Great Yarmouth has 22 years' experience in family law and he specialises in domestic and international divorce cases involving complex financial and pension arrangements as well as disputes around children.

At Clapham & Collinge Solicitors¬†‚Äėall members of the family team go out of their way to make clients feel comfortable; the lawyers are welcoming, practical and positive, with a real commitment to getting the best outcome for all parties‚Äė. The 'very friendly and approachable lawyers are keen to provide advice in a non-technical way, so that the lay client has a full understanding of how the law applies to their situation'. 'Instructing the firm is a "no-brainer" because it is¬†undoubtedly the best firm in Norwich for family work' according to one referrer. 'Knowledgeable and kind'¬†practice head Neale Grearson, who is a collaborative lawyer, Resolution member and founding member of the Good Divorce Group, is ‚Äėa great listener and genuinely cares about his clients, going out of his way to support them through every stage of the process; he advocates a non-confrontational approach'. He recently handled complex TOLATA proceedings involving a portfolio of rental properties in Suffolk as part of divorce proceedings. Solicitor Caroline Eaton¬†is¬†'respectful, understanding,¬†hardworking and enthusiastic'. Partner¬†Tammy Parnell¬†is also recommended. Caroline Ashmole left private practice.  

FM Family Law is a niche firm that focuses purely on divorce, family law and mediation. It has a team of four specialist family lawyers and mediators in its offices in Cambridge and Norwich, led by founding partner Fiona McLeman who has more than 20 years' experience in divorce, financial settlements, children matters and mediation. Senior associate Christina Hale works with McLeman in Cambridge and is a committee member of Cambridge & West Suffolk Resolution and a committee member of Cambridge & Ely Children’s Contact Centre. The firm's other partner is Sue Bailey, who has handled family law matters for the last 12 years, and who leads the Norwich office. She works with Karen Fox, who has more than 30 years' experience as a family lawyer and mediator.

The family practice at Fosters has experienced lawyers who handle divorce and ancillary relief cases, and both private and public law children matters. Lucy Simpson leads the practice, which calls upon the experience of Iain McClay, who has 27 years' experience in family law. The firm frequently deals with divorce cases involving high-net-worth individuals, which last year included a case with assets valued at £8m. It also acts in children matters involving complex medical evidence relating to injuries. Newly promoted partner Clare Sharpe regularly represents parents in private and public law children matters including those with an international element. The firm's significant matters from last year included representing a respondent husband in a case involving disputed future earnings of between £100k pa and £1M pa in order to limit his maintenance liability.

Fraser Dawbarns handles all aspects of family law from pre-nuptial agreements to complex financial matters. Senior partner and head of family law Deborah Allen in King's Lynn 'creates an atmosphere of calm and security allowing what is a traumatic process to be carried out efficiently and in her clients best interests'. She recently represented the financially weaker party in a multimillion-pound pre-nuptial agreement case. Managing Partner Melinda Smith in March represented a client in divorce proceedings issued in two jurisdictions involving pensions with total assets exceeding £2m. 'Practical and down-to-earth lawyer' Rebecca Woodley in Downham Market is 'passionate about getting a good result for her clients, for whom she works tirelessly; she is thorough and meticulous in her approach, yet sensitive and compassionate when dealing with clients'.

Greene & Greene¬†is ‚Äėoutstanding ‚Äď the advice is practical and well considered, and the lawyers¬†guide rather than instruct and are delightful to deal with on a personal level‚Äė. One client remarks that the firm ‚Äėgave a London standard of advice and care but in a more approachable, accessible and affordable setting‚Äė.¬†'Of the firms I work for in Bury St Edmunds and the wider Suffolk region, it is unmatched in terms of the service it offers to clients' says one barrister. Managing partner and head of family law¬†Stuart Hughes¬†leads¬†the ‚Äėvery efficient, strong team‚Äė and is praised for his ‚Äėrealistic, pragmatic and accurate advice and strong character'. 'He possesses the ability to provide sensible and forthright advice whilst simultaneously being a robust advocate for his client‚Äôs cause', says a client. He recently negotiated a favourable settlement through mediation in a divorce involving a property developer with substantial non-matrimonial property.¬†Melanie Pilmer¬†is ‚Äėcandid without bluntness and honest without insensitivity; she has a first-rate grasp of the law¬†and¬† takes the heat and emotion out of any given situation'. Solicitor¬†Emily Woodhouse¬†is recommended for cases involving children.

Howes Percival LLP¬†has a highly experienced partner in¬†Amy Walpole¬†who leads the family practice. The firm climbs the ranking and has invested to expand the team in Norwich, with¬†solicitor¬†Laura Clay-Harris¬†recently joining from¬†Marshall Hatchick Solicitors¬†to work alongside Walpole and¬†Sophie Key. The practice focuses primarily on high-net-worth cases involving divorce and dissolution, financial negotiations, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation issues and Children Act matters. It also calls on the firm's strong property practice to advise on the division of assets following the breakdown of relationships. Walpole, who is a member of the Norfolk Collaborative Practice Group, recently acted for the respondent in matrimonial and financial proceedings involving high-value property and business assets.  

'A good firm with solicitors who are confident and easy to work with',¬†Tees Law¬†has a strong presence in the Cambridge market. The firm lost the head of its family practice when¬†Elisabeth Sneade¬†joined¬†Birketts LLP¬†in 2018,¬†but clients still report that it the department remains¬†‚Äėavailable at any time, comforting but most of all extremely patient‚Äė and one prominent solicitor remarks that it has 'a strong reputation and works in a collaborative way'. Collaboratively trained associate¬†Deborah Hargreaves¬†has a broad practice that includes¬†specialist expertise in¬†complex and sensitive cases involving children and financial matters. She recently advised the ex-wife of a man with substantial assets on obtaining the release of funds for the purchase of a property.

Blocks has a large client base across Suffolk for private client and family matters, which include divorce and separation, financial remedy work for high-net-worth individuals, Children Act matters and pre-nuptial agreements. Partner Demelza Butler is collaboratively trained and leads the practice. She recently handled a very complex and contentious matrimonial matter for a farming family, which involved issues of land ownership, children, family trusts and significant wealth. Legal executive and Resolution mediator James Simpson is also recommended.

Cozens-Hardy LLP¬†in Norwich is ‚Äėa very solid and sensible firm with a very strong family department with strength in depth, which covers both public and private law‚Äė.¬†The firm has a 40-year history of family law and has three vastly experienced senior lawyers. Collaboratively trained senior principal¬†Jane Anderson¬†is recommended for private matrimonial work and is ‚Äėcalm, constructive and very supportive of her clients‚Äė.¬†Principal¬†Sandra Nunn¬†¬†‚Äėhas a very good reputation in the public law area and is known for her skill and expertise'. Principal¬†Iain White¬†is recommended for¬†childcare matters and high-net-worth financial remedy proceedings.  

The family practice at Hegarty LLP consists of six lawyers across the firm's offices in Peterborough, Stamford and Oakham. Associate Chris Brown is skilled in cases involving division of assets and resources after divorce or separation. Solicitors Jane Tatlock, Julia Weber and resolution-accredited  Pavinder Khela handle high-value family law cases, divorce and separation matters, matrimonial finances, cohabitation agreements, prenuptial agreements and child arrangement orders. Family law executive Carl Russell has more than 40 years' experience and legal executive Lesley Knight is recommended for domestic violence and Children Act matters.

At Leathes Prior, the team of highly experienced family lawyers are all members of Resolution and frequently handle matters through collaborative law, as well as litigation. The firm is known for divorce and separation cases, financial settlement matters, cohabitation disputes, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and cases involving children. Leading light and practice head Alisdair Douglas, a Resolution-accredited specialist in advanced financial provision and private children law, is regarded as a highly accomplished family lawyer and he has support from associate Simon Willis, who frequently handles cases involving significant assets and complex arrangements such as family businesses. Solicitor Carla Morphett and legal executive Laura Savage are also recommended.

Rogers and Norton has a matrimonial team that comprises two senior solicitors and one trainee, who handle both litigation and family mediation. Practice head Kerry Rowell in Norwich is recommended for financial matters and clients remark that she is 'tenacious and shows good attention to detail'. Averil Ballam in Attleborough, who manages the firm's relationship with Norfolk Constabulary and provides specialist family law advice to police officers, is also highly recommended. Their recent caseload of complex matters included the blocking of a move by a mother who wanted to relocate for work. Another case saw Rowell successfully argue a case for parental alienation that resulted in the return of a child. Ballam negotiated a financial settlement for a police officer relating to his pension, in which his ex-wife's solicitor argued for support based on current pension value without consideration for the years the couple had been separated.

Woodfines LLP¬†‚Äėprovides good quality advice on family matters‚Äė and is ‚Äėa growing force in the Cambridge market‚Äė. The practice is 'extremely knowledgable and offers support and reassurance throughout a case'. Highly experienced collaborative lawyer Clare Pilsworth¬†(who is ‚Äėan excellent lawyer, strong at both financial remedies and private law Children Act cases‚Äė) and¬†Resolution-accredited legal executive Jackie Jessiman¬†are ‚Äėreliable, efficient and knowledgeable‚Äė. One client says of Pilsworth 'I cannot praise her strongly enough' and¬†other remarks that Jessiman is 'hardworking and understanding, very approachable and makes clients feel at ease'. The firm's recent caseload included divorce and financial remedy for a family with two teenage children, and high-value financial remedy matter settled through mediation.

The family practice at¬†Barker Gotelee¬†has an experienced partner and mediation specialist in¬†Nicola Furmston, who has the support of associate¬†Amanda Erskine. The firm has a growing client base in Suffolk and, increasingly, from London. It handles¬†divorce and cohabitation matters for a broad range of clients, including numerous high-net-worth individuals, and provides specialist advice on financial matters including corporate structures, farms, pubs and trusts in the context of family law. Furmston recently acted for¬†the husband in a complex divorce matter involving a family-run business and a portfolio of properties.  

Edmondson Hall has a highly respected partner in Simon Gummer, who is head of family law. He has more than 40 years' experience in matrimonial litigation involving financial and property claims upon relationship breakdown, particularly in business and professional families, and in issues relating to children. He is described as 'excellent in his service, advice and expertise'. His caseload includes matters involving substantial assets and complex issues such as trusts, pensions and family businesses, and he regularly acts for high-net-worth individuals. He is trained mediator who increasingly handles cases using collaborative law.

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