The Legal 500


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Index of tables

  1. Family
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is ‘a major player in the London top-end family law market, with experience across the board, and provides a first-class service to clients’. The ‘massive team’ is skilled at handling complex international matters under the leadership of the ‘ferociously intelligentSarah Higgins. The ‘brilliantWilliam Longrigg and James Freeman, along with the ‘very smart’ David Thompson, are recommended. Miranda Fisher is ‘the go-to family lawyer’, Victoria Francis is ‘very capable’, and James Ribyknows every detail of the case’.

Farrer & Co is ‘top notch’ and well known for working on high-value and international cases involving substantial assets. William Massey has the ‘perfect blend of calm assertiveness, authority and kindness’ and Simon Bruce is ‘energetic and thorough’. Other leading practitioners include the ‘highly experiencedRichard Parry, Mark Fenton (‘sees the wood from the trees’) and Jeremy Posnansky QC (an ‘outstanding strategist’). The ‘clearClaire Gordon and the ‘astuteEliza Hebditch are also recommended, as is Nicholas Bennett, who ‘finds solutions without fuss’.


Vardags Law

Ayesha Vardag, dubbed by the international and national media ‘Britain’s top divorce lawyer’ and ‘the diva of divorce’, set up this specialist family law firm in 2005. Its trailblazing work has led to a meteoric rise, moving rapidly to be described as a ‘magic circle’ firm and earning its place at the forefront of a new era of intellectually tough, commercially savvy financial law cases, while still retaining its human touch.

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Hughes Fowler Carruthers is an ‘extremely capable firm, with a formidable reputation that is well deserved’. The addition of Mark Harper from Withers LLPbolstered’ the team; Harper is ‘strong on international cases involving a forum dispute’. Frances Hughes has an ‘incredible memory’, and Pauline Fowler is ‘calm and measured’. Other recommended practitioners who regularly advise ultra high-net-worth individuals include Alex Carruthers, who can ‘see around corners’, and the ‘articulateRenato Labi.

Payne Hicks Beach provides a ‘Rolls-Royce service to high-net-worth individuals’. The calibre of associates is praised as being ‘second to none’. Fiona Shackleton is ‘immensely quick-thinking’, and Simon Beccle is ‘empathetic and wise’. The ‘very intelligent’ Ian Airey sits as a Deputy District Judge in the Principal Registry of the Family Division and the Central Family Court; his clients ‘receive the benefit of a judicial solicitor with enormous experience’. Clients include Liam Gallagher.

Stewarts Law LLP is a ‘litigation powerhouse that has a top array of vastly experienced lawyers’. Stephen Foster is recommended for his ‘pragmatism and gravitas’, and Helen Ward is ‘the first choice for the rich and famous’. Debbie Chism, Emma Hatley and Matthew Humphries adopt an ‘excellent analytical approach to complex cases, coupled with a superb bedside manner’. Sam Longworth is praised for his ‘detailed knowledge of multi-jurisdictional divorces’, and Richard Hogwood is ‘ferociously clever and very solution focused’.

Withers LLP is a ‘real leader in international family law’, and its ‘large and very successful team is very strong in trust and complex divorce claims’. It has a number of standout individuals, including the ‘very cleverDiana Parker and ‘unflappableKatharine Landells. Gill Doran and Julian Lipson are ‘breathtakingly outstanding’, and the ‘calm and proactiveSuzanne Kingston garners much praise. Mark Harper is now at Hughes Fowler Carruthers.

Alexiou Fisher Philipps is a ‘first-class boutique that provides reliably impressive advice’, with a substantial international offering. Susan Philipps is a ‘bottomless well of experience’, and Sara Hannellhandles clients with great tact’. Magnus Mill is ‘very creative at finding solutions’. Emma Hartenever lets you down’, and Douglas Alexiou is ‘very wise’.

Clintons is ‘focused, dynamic and consistently delivers really high standards of client care in a cost effective manner’. Many of its clients are very much in the public eye. Paul Newton ‘rolls up his metaphorical sleeves to get the job done’, and Patrick Kearns is ‘very reassuring and efficient, while maintaining a firm negotiating stance’. Liz Vernon and Catherine Bell are ‘really hands on’, and the highly recommended Maggie Rae ‘always sees the bigger picture’.

Dawson Cornwell is ‘one of the pre-eminent firms dealing with international children law and matrimonial finance, especially where there are cross-border maintenance issues’. Anne-Marie Hutchinson and Carolina Marin Pedreño are ‘pleasant and absolutely dedicated to clients’. The team is ‘enormously experienced’ at advising on forced marriages, stranded spouses and complicated surrogacy issues. Kate Allen is ‘totally committed and devoted to her clients’.

Family Law in Partnership Ltd has ‘the right combination of head and heart, and acts for a broad spectrum of clients’. The ‘superb’ team is ‘applauded for showing a real commitment to alternatives to litigation’. Bradley Williamsanalyses every detail of the case’; Gillian Bishop is ‘vastly experienced’; and Nicole Hackettlooks for practical solutions rather than conflicts’. James Pirrie is another ‘ace’ at the boutique firm. David Allison is ‘outstanding at dealing with same-sex relationships and disputes between cohabitees’.

Kingsley Napley LLP is led by the ‘universally respectedCharlotte Bradley. It has a ‘very strong litigation practice, with some of the best up-and-coming stars of tomorrow’. The firm is ‘top notch’ for matrimonial finance and cases with an international dimension, especially a French law component. Michael Rowlandsrelentlessly pursues the best possible outcome for his clients’, and the ‘very bright’ Claire Wood was made partner. Jane Keir is ‘hugely experienced’.

Levison Meltzer Pigottoffers realistic advice and fights its client’s corner with determination and care’. It provides an ‘exceptional service’ across the full spectrum of family matters, with particular expertise in complex financial and international cases. The ‘empathetic and pragmaticAmanda Andrews and ‘innovativeJulian Ribet are recommended. Simon Pigott is a ‘very safe pair of hands’, and Jeremy Levisonfights hard for each and every client’.

Penningtons Manches LLP is ‘strong’ in the family law market. James Stewart is ‘very impressive’, and Rebecca Carlyon is ‘rated extremely highly’ for her work on pre- and postnuptial agreements. Joanne Edwards has a ‘work rate that puts the rest of the industry to shame’. Gillian Rivers is recommended for high-value financial disputes, and provides ‘robust advice to achieve the best outcome for clients’. Simon Blain was made partner in 2015.

Mishcon de Reya is ‘forging ahead, and is a go-to firm for the best possible family law advice’. The ‘exceptionalSandra Davis leads an ‘extremely busy and successful practice’, and was the lead partner in the high-profile case on the highest-value matrimonial finance claim to be determined by the English courts to date. Barbara Reeves is a ‘real star’, and David Listerknows how to present a case to win it’. Associate Claire Yorke ‘impresses with her attention to detail’.

Russell-Cooke LLP has ‘highly skilled practitioners who consistently deliver excellent legal advice ’. Newly promoted partner Sarah Richardsonrepresents vulnerable parties with a rare combination of tenacity and grace’, and Kate Hamilton is ‘pragmatic’. James Carroll and Fiona Readachieve excellent outcomes’; Camilla Thorntonknows what she is doing’; and Samantha Little’s ‘approach to cases can’t be faulted’. Therese Nichols is ‘very able’.

Vardags has ‘experienced and lateral-thinking personnel, and is incredibly professional’. Catherine Thomas receives many accolades as a ‘clear-thinking and robust negotiator’, and Simon McKirgan’s ‘attention to detail is second to none’. The team ‘excels at the big money cases and those necessitating highly complex valuations’.

Bindmans LLP is ‘often involved in complex and leading cases, and produces work of an exceptionally high standard’. It is also ‘very well respected’ for its work on the Hague Convention and family finances. Amy Rowe has ‘genuine charm that masks a cool intellect’; Flora Grossman is ‘renowned for her calm and solid advice’; and Farhana Shahzady is ‘totally assured’. The associates are all ‘extremely impressive’.

Boodle Hatfield LLP has an ‘impressive coterie of experienced and enthusiastic solicitors’, among them the ‘tenacious and client-focusedBarbara Simpson and ‘insightful’ Christopher Butler. It is a ‘well-organised and managed’ practice. The team continues to advise on financially complex cases for high-net-worth individuals, and is increasingly acting for high-profile international sportspeople.

Camilla Baldwin has a ‘very personal and close relationship with its clients’. Camilla Baldwin herself ‘exudes an air of steely toughness and practicality, mixed with a sense of compassion’. It is a ‘very successful boutique firm’, and represents a significant number of high-net-worth international clients. Henrietta Thomas is ‘incredibly hardworking’. Rosie Schumm is now at Wedlake Bell LLP.

Collyer Bristow LLP regularly acts in complex financial relief proceedings with an overseas component, and international divorce settlements with substantial cross- border assets. The ‘intelligent’ Toby Yerburgh ‘goes the extra mile for clients’, and the ‘unflappable’ Michael Drake is an ‘experienced strategist’.

Forsters LLP is ‘uniformly excellent’, especially on complex financial cases involving multiple jurisdictions, and on pensions and tax issues. Ann Northover has ‘immense expertise and wisdom, and you know that her judgement will be spot on’. Solicitor Laura Brown ‘fights hard for her clients’. Head of team Shona Alexander is ‘totally dedicated’.

Goodman Ray has an ‘incredibly tenacious group of committed and fearless lawyers’. It is a powerhouse in public law regarding children, representing parents and children through their guardians. Ann Thompson has ‘the ability to work tirelessly and thoroughly 24/7, while caring for her clients’ needs’. Jemma Dally has an ‘in-depth knowledge’ of international adoption and surrogacy cases. Amanda Cattle is ‘very thorough’, and Kevin Skinner is ‘first class’.

Hunters Incorporating May, May & Merrimans has a ‘dynamic and forward-thinking family law team that goes from strength to strength’. The team is ‘especially strong in high-net-worth matrimonial finance cases’. Graeme Fraser’s advice is ‘spot on’, and Hazel Wright is ‘always at the top of her game’. Henry Hood has ‘the Midas touch on the big-money cases’.

Irwin Mitchell’s John Nicholson is ‘cerebral and considered in his approach’. Elizabeth Hicks was the lead partner in the Court of Appeal case Ahmed v Mustafa (2014). Hicks’ ‘expertise and drive rubs off on the team, which is outstanding’. The practice is particularly ‘skilled in jurisdictional disputes’, and in cases involving asset preservation and enforcement in multiple jurisdictions.

Miles Preston & Co has a ‘highly talented team; overlook it at your peril’. It is highly rated for its skill in dealing with arrangements for children, and cases involving ‘complex asset structures, especially those held overseas or in trusts’. Julia Stanczyk has a ‘no-nonsense but compassionate approach’; Anna Nice has a ‘fantastic grasp of every case’; and Harriet Wait ‘only fights where necessary’. Name partner Miles Preston is a ‘thoughtful’ lawyer with huge experience in the market.

At Sears ToothSusan Apthorp and Raymond Tooth are ‘fearsome fighters for their clients, and there is no type of case that they have not seen and won a dozen times’. The ‘hardworking and engaging’ Laura Broomhall is also recommended.

Anthony Gold has ‘quality throughout the team, which is always seeking to resolve matters without protracted court proceedings’. The practice continues to receive a steady flow of international referrals due to links with Hong Kong and Italy. Among the ‘strong and approachable’ team is the ‘sensibleKim Beatson and ‘clearCamilla Fusco. Sarah Hughes ‘handles time-consuming cases in a fair and businesslike manner’.

Gordon Dadds is skilled at dealing with divorces and cohabitation disputes in addition to pre- and postnuptial settlements. John Burrell is ‘very knowledgeable and works very hard’. David Ruck led the case in a long and significant battle over jurisdiction between England and Italy.

Harbottle & Lewis LLP is a ‘magnet for A-list clients, who appreciate the efficient, discreet and ahead-of-the-curve service’. Linzi Bull has ‘carved out a niche in pre-conception agreements and prenuptials’, and Tom Farley-Hillsalways looks for a reasonable settlement for both sides’. The ‘insightful’ associate Lidia Cantele is also recommended.

Harcus Sinclair’s team ‘works over and above the call of duty’. Kathryn Peat is experienced at advising on the division of substantial financial assets and the care of children; clients feel that she is ‘utterly’ on their side. Roger Cobden-Ramsayfights to get the right result for his clients’, and specialises in high-value ancillary relief work. Beth Mason is ‘superb’.

At Hodge Jones & Allen LLP, the ‘partners, junior solicitors and support staff are excellent’. Toby Hales* has a ‘shrewd eye for the real heart of the case’, and Sally Parsloe is ‘tactically astute’. In a high-profile case, the practice represented the mother where the father was a convicted sex offender and wanted contact with his child. Laila Bhunnoo is ‘compassionate and insightful’. *Toby Hales is now with Seddons.

Lee & Thompson LLP has a ‘well-organised and prepared’ team that represents clients with public profiles to protect. It is adept at advising on multi-faceted high-value financial claims. Catherine Bedford is ‘very dynamic’, and Nicholas Westleysmart and sharp’. It continued to act in three matters for a high-net-worth individual with substantial family assets in Southeast Asia.

At Osbornes, ‘good sense prevails’. Lisa Pepper’s ‘instinct is always to resolve matters without compromising her clients’ interests’; she is a skilled collaborative lawyer. Mark Freedman advises high-net-worth clients and ‘knows his stuff’. Bridget Thompson heads the team, where ‘client care is the top priority’.

Schillings is a small and exclusive family practice. Davina Katz was the lead partner on a groundbreaking case in 2014, acting for Melina Abuchian, the successful applicant wife; this was a complex multi-jurisdictional case with a myriad of financial claims.

Seddons represents a number of high-net-worth clients, and is increasingly dealing with complex family cases for international individuals. Head of team Deborah Jeff regularly advises on financial disputes with offshore elements and intricate taxation issues. Toby Hales joined from Hodge Jones & Allen LLP.

The International Family Law Group LLP has ‘exceptional lawyers with a huge capacity to litigate if necessary’. The ‘extremely professionalHelen Blackburn is very experienced in child abduction cases. Ann Thomas is ‘well organised’, and Hannah Budd has the ‘facts of each case at her fingertips’. Associate Mandeep Gill receives a lot of praise. David Hodson is also recommended.

Bircham Dyson Bell provides ‘excellent support’. Head of team Siân Jones is experienced at advising on the financial aspects of high-value cases with an international dimension. Lisa Bolgar Smith is ‘firm but fair’.

Bross Bennett acts for an international footballer, and advised him in High Court proceedings where his former partner sought a declaration of marital status. Ruth Bross, Sharon Bennett and Lea Harris are ‘wise and experienced’. Caroline Falkus is ‘very supportive’.

Covent Garden Family Law is ‘first rate for children work and same-sex couples’. Haema Sundram is a ‘tough but realistic negotiator’, and Lynn Vernon has a strong reputation.

DWF has many ‘talented lawyers’ under the leadership of the ‘commercially sensitive’ Mary-Ann Wright. Wright and senior solicitor Luned Rees-Williams ‘constantly strive to provide the best service’, and ‘intelligent’ solicitor Raj Bhattoa is experienced at assisting high-net-worth Asian families.

Fisher Meredith LLP offers the ‘experience and capability of a Magic Circle firm without the price tag’. Eileen Pembridge and David Hodgson are ‘well used to handling difficult financial remedy work’. Louise Barretto is ‘very sensible’. Emma Sherrington is now at Goodman Ray.

Freemans Solicitors is ‘second to none in the representation of children in international proceedings’. Among its ‘talented associates’ is Karan Chadha, ‘who so often goes the extra mile’, and the ‘smart’ Mark Kosmin. Nina Hansensets the bar high for her team’.

Howard Kennedy LLP is ‘an energetic firm with a strong and growing market presence’. The standout practitioners are Lois Langton, whose advice is ‘right on the button’, and Alan Kaufman, who ‘has been involved in high-profile cases for many years’. Pamela Collis is now at Family Law in Partnership Ltd.

Miles & Partners LLP is ‘entirely committed to publicly funded work, but also provides excellent private client advice, with a host of highly skilled solicitors’. Amanda Dench is ‘superb’. Kate Hammond and Sarah Cove are ‘excellent advocates’.

Nick Stone at Mills & Reeve LLPis someone you want in your corner, not opposite you’. The team has ‘some of the best lawyers around’, and is particularly rated for its multi-jurisdictional capabilities. Roger Bamber is ‘highly polished’. David Salter is recommended for pensions-related matters.

Natalie Gamble Associates’ expertise lies in surrogacy, same-sex parenting and assisted reproduction law. Natalie Gamble is ‘always well prepared’. In 2014, the firm acted in the first published surrogacy case to grant a parental order to a couple resident outside the UK.

Pinsent Masons LLP is ‘strong on the big-ticket matrimonial finance cases, often with a cross-border element’. Michael Pulford is ‘tough, strategic and creative’, and senior associate Kate Francis ‘establishes a great rapport with clients’.

RadcliffesLeBrasseur has a ‘small but experienced family team’ that acts for a wide range of clients. Caroline Penfold is ‘level-headed’. Associate Carina Smith is ‘pragmatic, but feisty when needs be’.

T V Edwards LLP has a ‘strong team of family and collaborative lawyers, and remains committed to publically funded work’. Alison Leivesley is ‘highly effective’. The ‘totally dedicated’ Maud Davis is a very accomplished children lawyer, and David Emmerson is recommended.

Vaitilingam Kay is ‘quickly establishing itself as a leading family law boutique’, and has ‘made a big impact on the London divorce law scene’. It is ‘strong on family finance’. Joe Vaitilingam is ‘dynamic and remarkably compassionate’, and Anne Kay has a ‘fantastic eye for detail’.

Charmaine Hast at Wedlake Bell LLP has a ‘wealth of experience that she delivers to clients in spades’. Hast advised on a prenuptial contract worth £2.5bn. Conrad Adam is an ‘extremely savvy litigator’. The team added the ‘incredibly thoroughRosie Schumm to the team from Camilla Baldwin in 2014.

Winckworth Sherwood LLP fields a ‘compassionate team’. Emily Brand is rated for her work on ‘complicated offshore arrangements’, and senior associates Katie Spooner and Jacqueline Major have a ‘no-nonsense approach’. Carol Ellinas is now at Russells Solicitors.

The ‘fantasticBrookman Solicitors regularly advises on significant multiple prenuptial agreements and multiple leave-to-remove matters. Henry Brookman is ‘very intelligent’ and Julius Brookman ‘very sensible’.

Burgess Mee Family Lawprovides a Magic Circle service while remaining cost-effective’. Peter Burgess is ‘genuinely interested in securing the best possible outcome’. Antonia Mee ‘ensures that the best interest of the child is always of paramount importance’.

Burges Salmon LLP is increasingly acting for numerous City-based high-net-worth clients. Catherine Hallam is ‘knowledgeable’, and Sarah Woodsford is ‘insightful but firm’.

DWFM Beckman offers ‘excellent value for money and delivers outstanding results for clients’.Sofia Dionissiou-Moussaouiis always prepared to go that extra mile’.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors has a very large legal aid practice, and is an ‘undoubted force in international children law’. Aina Khan specialises in Islamic divorce, and Savita Sharma is ‘hardworking’. Laila Bhunnoo is now at Hodge Jones & Allen LLP.

Edward Hayes Lawyers is renowned for its considerable expertise in children cases. Major work for Helen Fitzsimons led advice on a major international child abduction case.

Fladgate LLP recently started a family law team, and has brought on board ‘respected family law practitionerTeresa Cullen, formerly of Ashfords LLP (incorporating Rochman Landau).

GT Stewart Solicitors has ‘knowledgeable’ practitioners with a particular emphasis on public law-related children work. William Bache is ‘extraordinarily resourceful’.

HKH Kenwright & Cox is very experienced in childcare law. Surinder Chana is ‘always available’, and Aisha Jamil ‘strives to achieve the best results’.

Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors provides ‘superb advice’. Sarah Beskine is an ‘excellent tactician’; Barbara Hopkin is ‘caring’; and Celene Boatswain is ‘tenacious’.

At Hudgell & PartnersAngela Simpson is ‘very efficient’, and Philip Wilkinsmanages large caseloads well’.

Josiah-Lake Gardiner Solicitors provides an ‘excellent level of service’. Key practitioners are the ‘extremely capable’ David Josiah-Lake and ‘pragmatic’ Margaret Kelly.

Ketley Miller Joels LLP acted in the reported case Hussein v Ahmad (2014). Mary Ketleyinstils confidence in her clients’ and is strong on cases involving children. Clayton Miller is recommended for ‘the most complex financial cases’.

Lyons Davidson has ‘carved out a niche in international cases involving children, particularly child abduction cases’. Philippa Morgan is ‘über efficient’. Iona Phillips ‘always goes the extra mile’.

McMillan Williams is a ‘leading firm for family law in the South of England’. Nicola Jones-King is an ‘excellent advocate, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of family law’.

Michelmores LLP acted for the father in a complex private children dispute in the High Court, JP v LP (2014). Simon Thomas is ‘highly competent’, and the ‘exceptionalLouisa Ghevaert is recommended for her knowledge of fertility law.

Clients are impressed with ‘the whole team’ at Nockolds Solicitors. Lynn Cowley has the ability to ‘think outside the box when presented with unusual and difficult matters’. Pete Dodd is ‘very effective’.

Philcox Gray & Co has four Children’s Panel members, and two of its team have higher rights of audience in civil proceedings. Clare Gaskin is a ‘passionate practitioner’.

Carol Ellinas is the new head of team at Russells Solicitors, joining from Winckworth Sherwood LLP. The team has been busy advising clients from the worlds of sport, music and media.

Sheridans is a ‘well-established media firm with a niche divorce and family department. It is a well-oiled adjunct to the firm’s core business’. Andrea Plum ‘never gives up until she obtains the best outcome for her clients’.

Simons Muirhead & Burton is rated for its work on complex financial cases, and those with a Shar’iah law component. Jane McDonagh represents media personalities. Lara Phillips joined the team from Ross & Craig.

Simpson Millar LLP is ‘committed to its clients, who are often legally aided or vulnerable’. Victoria Walker is ‘fast becoming an established name in Southwest London’.

Slater and Gordon has the ‘thoroughly professional’ solicitor Kaleel Anwar. Senior associate Rupi Rai ‘manages cases perfectly’.

Stephenson Harwood has been advising ultra-high-net-worth individuals on matrimonial matters. Senior associate Al-Karim Makhani is a key contact.

Thomas Eggar LLP added the ‘very experienced and ableUrsula Danagher to its ranks from Mishcon de Reya, who is ‘skilled at handling the big-money cases’. The firm advised a number of high-profile individuals on complex financial issues arising from divorce and relationship breakdown.

Thomson Snell & Passmore LLP has Joanna Pratt at the helm, who has extensive experience of advising on prenuptial agreements and children issues.

June Venters QC at Venters Solicitors is a ‘strong public law family lawyer’.

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