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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 Midlands > Private client > Family > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

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

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Freeths LLP is especially active in divorce matters and cases involving complex financial issues, international assets, or trusts. Childcare arrangement applications and, more recently, pre-nuptial agreements for high-net-worth individuals are other active areas for the practice, which is headed by Judith Speed, who is ‘a highly experienced, well-regarded financial remedy practitioner’, ‘incredibly competent and a pleasure to deal with’. Speed’s track record includes acting in a dispute arising from a corporate restructuring of multiple companies owned by a family, with the allocation of assets as the main point of contention.

The ‘fantastic’ team at niche family practice John Hooper & Co impresses with its ‘overall exemplary level of service’ and for providing ‘a level of attention and professionalism that begins at the very top of the practice and percolates right to the very foundation of the business’. The practice has a clear focus on divorce matters, cohabitation separation cases and disputes involving children. Key figures include founding partner John Hooper, who is ‘a good communicator with the ability to think strategically’; senior associates Timothy Quincey and Philippa Sanderson, ‘who goes above and beyond’; and associate Maria Coster, ‘who is extremely proficient at identifying her clients’ main concerns’.

Langleys Solicitors LLP's matrimonial and childcare units handle a comprehensive range of family law matters, from divorce and cohabitation cases to public and private law cases regarding children, with public law instructions forming the bulk of the caseload. Other areas of strength are instructions pertaining to domestic violence, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, as well as mediation and collaborative law.  'Highly capable family lawyer' Emma Lawler, practice head John Conlon and Alison McGowan are the key figures. Recent work includes a divorce case involving a business and assets in the US and France, and a case involving a child who had suffered head injuries while in foster to adopt placement.

Nelsons Solicitors Limited’s ‘well-regarded’ team ‘has a strong family law offering’ with financial relief cases and complex children proceedings at the heart of the caseload. Acting primarily for high-net-worth individuals, often in cross-jurisdictional mandates, the group demonstrates strength in a vast array of matters, including cohabitation disputes, a specialism of the ‘absolutely brilliantKelvin Henderson who succeeded Jayne Chilvers as practice head. ‘Highly regarded childcare practitionerMelanie Bridgen is the head of the children law team. Victor Collins, ‘very solid all-rounderEmma Davies and associate Layla Babadi are also noted.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP offers a ‘professional and comprehensive service’, delivering work that is ‘of the highest quality’. The group is particularly strong in resolving financial disputes, especially for high-net-worth individuals, but also demonstrates strength in disputes involving children. Andrew Breakwell, ‘a national figure in family law’, acted for the husband in the high-profile financial remedy case of Chai v Peng, a cross-border matter involving Malaysia. Nottingham practice head Caroline Elliott ‘combines expertise and experience with a sharp sense for tactics’. Partner Katherine Marshall, who heads the Leicester team, ‘finds creative solutions for her clients at every stage of the process’. Newly promoted legal director Sonia Bachu ‘is a tough and strategic litigator and has superb client-care skills’.

One of the leading firms in the Midlands’, Smith Partnership handles financial issues arising from relationship breakdowns. The healthcare sector involving care homes or dental or medical practices is a particular area of expertise, thanks to ‘very experienced’ and ‘highly regarded’ practice head Ruth Jones. ‘Extremely compelling advocate’ and head of childcare Muctar Johal ‘is highly respected in the field of child protection’. Johal specialises in public childcare law and regularly handles instructions involving adoption orders, guardianship, child arrangements, and the death, injury, abuse or rape of children. The ‘fantastic’ Peter Dadswell ‘presents clients' cases with a succinctness and clarity that gets to the crux of issues quickly’, recently leading advice on a divorce matter involving complex business structures, self-administered pension schemes and significant assets.

Turner Nicholson offers expertise in financial disputes and cases involving children, with an emphasis on divorce and pre-nuptial cases. The group primarily advises entrepreneurs, city professionals, academics and landowners. Founder and name partner Brigid Turner and Helen Taylor are the main contacts.

Wilkin Chapman LLP’s ‘professional and engaging’ team provides ‘excellent’ advice, focusing on financial cases that range from divorces of high-net-worth individuals, especially farmers, business owners and divorces involving trusts, to military divorces, specialising in cases involving Armed Forces pensions. Both ‘personable’ and ‘honest’ practice head Lisa Boileau and Mark Carlton, who ‘handles cases with the utmost efficiency and expertise’, are family law arbitrators; Boileau is also a mediator. The team is on the panel of the National Farmers’ Union. Andrew Wareing retired.

The ‘outstandingBanner Jones Solicitors fields a family law team that handles the full spectrum of cases spanning divorce and civil partnership dissolution, collaborative law, cohabitation agreements, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, as well as change of name deeds and deeds of separation. Domestic violence is another key area. On the care side, the group specialises in adoption and guardianship, abductions, and a broad range of children-specific issues, often in instructions containing a cross-border element, though the client base is largely regional. The ‘intelligent, astute, persuasive and committed’ Helena Downing ‘handles cases with sensitivity and commendable wisdom’ and directs the care team. Former practice head Toby Netting  joined Switalskis Solicitors in May 2018.

Cartwright King specialises in financial remedy cases for high-net-worth individuals, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and disputes regarding children, including overseas relocation matters. Additional areas of strength include separation and divorce proceedings, and cohabitation breakdowns. Senior associate and family mediator Adrian Rose heads the practice, which includes head of care Chet Desai, whose specialisms include non-accidental injury cases, fabricated illness, severe neglect and sexual abuse, and matters with cross-border elements. Hugh Young retired.

Flint Bishop LLP’s well-respected family team mainly acts for high-net-worth clients whom it assists with financial issues and child arrangements. The group’s client base extends beyond the regional borders to include national and international clients, with work often involving a multi-jurisdictional component; recent instructions have involved the jurisdictions of Hong Kong, New Zealand, Dubai, Qatar and Spain. ‘Highly experienced’ practice head Kirpal Bidmead is ‘hugely experienced’ with ‘a calming presence’. Janine Hobday, who recently made senior associate, ‘is a rising star’ ‘blessed with a no-nonsense approach to her cases'.

One of the best in the Midlands’, the ‘outstandingGeldards LLP team ‘has strong technical knowledge coupled with a practical approach’, offering the full spectrum of family law services, including family mediation, collaborative law and family arbitration. Financial remedy cases form the core of the caseload, but the group also excels in pre- and post-nuptial agreements. ‘Exceptional matrimonial solicitor’ Fiona Apthorpe, also a Deputy District Judge with a private family ticket, directs the practice, with senior associates Claire Dean, ‘who goes the extra mile for clients’, and Ben Lawson, who ‘combines intelligence with efficiency’ and ‘is one to watch for family law in the Midlands’, providing key support.

Howes Percival LLP is ‘exceptionally good at both financial remedy work and private child disputes’. The ‘commercially minded and professional’ team focuses on advising high-net-worth individuals, especially on matters involving businesses, landed estates, tax and cross-jurisdictional issues. The team’s broad gamut of expertise ranges from divorce and civil partnership dissolution to living together agreements, grandparents’ rights and pension arrangements on divorce as well as separation agreements, pre- and post-nuptial agreements and cohabitation disputes. The practice also has expertise in collaborative issues. Key figures include practice head Justine Flack, who recently made partner and whose specialisms include instructions from clients in the agricultural sector, and ‘sensible, calm and yet incredibly robust’ solicitor Alishia Marrocco.

The ‘excellentSpearing Waite LLP specialises in advice for high-net-worth individuals, regularly on matters involving shareholdings, overseas assets or pensions, but also fields a strong practice in disputes involving children, including international relocation; domestic abuse cases, cohabitation instructions and civil partnerships. Pre- and post-nuptial agreements are another key area. The ‘very experiencedSwati Somaiya directs the team and brings ‘professionalism, diligence and toughness’ to her cases.

Rothera Sharp Solicitors’ ‘well-known’ practice enjoys ‘an excellent reputation’ and assists with both private and public law family issues. The team shoulders a varied caseload ranging from divorce and separation to collaborative law, adoption, care and guardianship to cohabitation and instructions regarding other unmarried relationships. The main practitioners are ‘very experienced’ practice head Paul Cobb, ‘highly respected children lawyer’ Ann-Marie Bowman, whose instructions predominantly come from children’s guardians, and Joanne Millward who is especially active in cases involving relationship breakdowns such as divorces with businesses or pensions to split. Associate Ruth Tyas has developed a specialism in cases involving transgender-realignment surgery, taking over this part of the portfolio after the retirement of Celia Lacey.

Roythornes Solicitors impresses with ‘an excellent service level’ and assists with a broad spectrum of family law issues, but distinguishes itself from competitors through its track record in advising on high-value cases involving farming families. Issues in relation to company and partnership assets, farming assets and pension assets form a regular part of the team’s caseload. Practice head Nick Ingrey brings ‘a very practical and sensible approach’ to cases; associate Victoria Hope is ‘determined, supportive and patient’. Associate John Boon is also recommended. The recent caseload saw the team act in multiple farming cases, Inheritance Act instructions and cases involving children, namely child arrangements orders and a case involving allegations of drug and alcohol use by a parent.

The ‘organised, efficient and proactive’ team at Sills & Betteridge LLP stands out from competing firms through its strong focus on emergency injunction work and offers a vast array of divorce and childcare experience, including specialist expertise in forced marriage and honour-based violence, international child abducation, domestic violence and private children law. Mediator and practice head John Mitchell, Helen Derry, ‘extremely capable advocateChrystal Theofanous, the ‘fiercely effectiveMo Hayes, and associate Victoria Rowson are among the key practitioners. Recent highlights include representing a mother in an international child abducation instruction after she had fled with her two children from Hungary to the United Kingdom to escape abuse from the father, involving a psychological assessment of the children and High Court proceedings.

Wilson Browne Solicitors’ ‘reassuring’ team provides ‘excellent advice’ on a broad variety of family law matters, with practice head Sally Robinson, the ‘knowledgeable and thoroughHelen York and Edward Rawlins, who is also a mediator, as the main advisers. Finance issues arisen from divorces and other separations, injunctions regarding non-molestation and occupation, cohabitation agreements, and pre-nuptial agreements are as much part of the caseload as childcare arrangements, including guardianship, and issues specifically facing same-sex couples. The firm offers clients a dedicated childcare team under the lead of Deena Tate. Clients are mainly high-net-worth individuals, including business owners; public sector workers, farmers and other working professionals, making the client base varied in the wealth and assets at stake.

Niche family firm Woolley & Co, Solicitors delivers an ‘excellent’ service level and specialises in divorce and matrimonial matters for British expats, high-value financial settlements involving pensions, business interests, and properties, both domestic and overseas, annulment matters and disputed divorce and nullity cases, as well as, on the children law side, implacable hostility mandates and other complex instructions. ‘Standout lawyer’ Michelle Brammer, Andrew Robotham and Kate Butler are recommended.

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