Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon

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.
Click here for more details

United Kingdom > North > Private client > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Agriculture and estates

Index of tables

  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Agriculture and estates clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


β€˜One of the strongest firms in the region’, Bond Dickinson LLP provides a β€˜first-class legal service’ and is noted for its β€˜excellent, appropriate and pragmatic advice’. The practice is β€˜exceptionally strong in rural property issues and landed estates’ with the National Trust, English Heritage, Church Commissioners and Grainger as noteworthy clients. The β€˜clear, decisive and practical’ Simon Kirkup is β€˜very strong on strategy and ruthless on the detail’. He heads the department and advises private landowners, landowning charities and national businesses. Other key individuals include β€˜highly reliable’ legal director Andrew Farquharson, who regularly advises landowners on grant of option agreements and minerals issues; and managing associate and estate planning specialist Emily Pike, who is β€˜great at the details, and always delivers on time’. David Towns joined Muckle LLP in March 2018.

Cartmell Shepherd has β€˜an extremely efficient’ team, which provides β€˜reliable, sensible and professional assistance that inspires confidence’. The group is recognised for its tenancy expertise and has substantial experience in transactional mandates and renewable energy matters involving wind, solar PV and hydro schemes. Recent highlights include assisting Oakdale Farms with the purchase of agricultural land and advising HSBC on several farm sales and purchases. Practice head Jonathan Carroll attracts praise for his β€˜detailed technical knowledge of agricultural landlord and tenant legislation’ and for his β€˜firm but approachable manner and sound advice’. Clients also single out β€˜pleasant and professional’ associate Mark Jackson for his β€˜very approachable nature and ability to work collaboratively with others’; β€˜highly personable’ associate Claire Rawsthorn, who focuses on transactional matters; and associate Katherine Pretswell-Walker, who is lauded for her tenancy expertise.

Burnetts has a β€˜thorough, knowledgeable and approachable’ department that is praised for its β€˜excellent communication skills paired with efficient response times’, enabling it to β€˜provide solid guidance while making sure the advice given is appropriate to the client and the situation’. Key areas of strength for the department include advising on the sale and purchase of farms, agricultural tenancy work and planning matters. In a recent highlight, practice head Richard Miller (who attracts praise for his β€˜very professional manner’) advised Lloyds Bank on various agricultural refinancing matters; he also assisted Santander with the Β£1.5m refinancing of a North Cumbrian farm holding. Senior associate Joanne McKenzie’s β€˜excellent knowledge of the agricultural sector’ β€˜enables her to guide clients through tricky negotiations without faltering’. Senior associate Diane Barnes is also recommended and was part of the team advising a large Cumbrian farm holding on the due diligence relating to a Β£1m farm purchase.

Alison Hall heads the practice at Hay & Kilner and advises on agricultural property relief, eligibility for relief from inheritance tax, farm succession plans and partnership agreement drafting for farmers. The team also advises on the surrender of Agricultural Holdings Act (AHA) tenancies and the grant of new farm business tenancies; mineral rights issues; and land development matters. Other noteworthy individuals include associate John Luke, who has experience advising on the sale of agricultural buildings, residential dwellings and woodland; commercial property specialist Richard Freeman-Wallace, who regularly handles the conditional contracts and options for developments; litigator Martin Soloman and Lucy Gray, who represents landowners and farming clients in contractual disputes.

Jacksons Law fields a team of β€˜highly experienced’ and β€˜consistently reliable practitioners’, including practice head Adrienne Patterson and the β€˜excellent’ Simon Catterall, who is recognised for his experience representing farms and businesses in matters against local authorities. Inderjit Gill is recommended for contentious issues and managing partner Jane Armitage is β€˜excellent in dealing with land-based ownership, leases and mineral rights’. Litigator Toby Joel leads the firm’s equine practice, which handles personal and equine injuries, veterinary negligence and breach of contract matters. Recent highlights include advising on agricultural tenancy issues, a multi-party claim against an agricultural supplier and multiple property-related mandates. The group is also on the panel of the National Farmers Union.

The β€˜extremely knowledgeable’ team at Latimer Hinks Solicitors focuses on non-contentious matters such as agricultural property sales and purchases, tax and will planning, renewable energy projects, AHA tenancies, minerals options and development matters. β€˜Go-to lawyer’ Anne Elliott is recommended for succession and inheritance tax planning and β€˜is able to flex her style well to suit any particular situation’. The β€˜first-rate’ Neil Stevenson is noted for his experience in property issues and renewable energy projects, and β€˜excellent all-rounder’ Nicola Neilson advises on property sales, purchases and leases. Other key names include the β€˜trustworthy’ Elizabeth Armstrong and Adam Wood, who focus on estate administration and transactional matters respectively.

At Ward Hadaway, practice Neil Robson is noted for his expertise in land use and planning matters, and puts that knowledge to use for a client base that includes Welbeck Estates, the University of Newcastle, the Woodland Trust and the Canal & River Trust. In a recent highlight, Robson acted for Northumberland National Park Authority on the site acquisition, planning applications and construction aspects of a landscape discovery centre, including advising. In another key mandate, transactional property specialist Alex Cox recently advised Northumberland Estates on its acquisition from the Business Growth Fund of a stake in regional housebuilder Cussins. Other areas of expertise include agricultural tenancies, estate management and energy schemes. Mineral reserves expert Stefan Bainbridge (who joined the firm from Bond Dickinson LLP in mid-2016) and asset protection specialist Andrew Facer are also recommended.

BHP Law’s Darlington office includes several key agricultural figures, including practice head Peter Blackett, Helen Biglin and associate Mark Clayton. Recent highlights for Blackett include advising on land purchases, handling estate management issues, and assisting with land and farm building developments. Biglin is recommended for estate planning and inheritance tax advice, and Clayton focuses on transactional mandates. The team acts for a range of farmers, farming partnerships, landowners, developers and estates across the North East and North Yorkshire. Theakston Estates, Homedale Valley, Middle Caves and North East Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market.

Key names in Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd’s β€˜exceptional’ practice include wills and trusts expert Tony Gibson; agricultural property specialist David Bawn; Derwent Gibson, who focuses on livestock contracts and farm sales; agricultural conveyancing and land expert Michael Macgregor; and Harry Chrisp, who is singled out for his experience in farm and estate sales. In a recent highlight, Bawn, Chrisp and Gibson acted for various clients including The Church Commissioners for England and Wales, The Lonsdale Estate and The Allendale Estate on their mineral and manorial rights. Bawn also assisted NE Youth (formerly Northumberland Clubs for Young People) with its name change and worked with Chrisp on a farm sale.

Iain Nicholson & Co has a β€˜small but brilliant’ group that is β€˜extremely experienced’, provides β€˜excellent, tailor-made and practical advice’, and β€˜uses its expertise to the benefit of the client’. Iain Nicholson is β€˜a great asset to have in any situation’ and Peter Dakin is rated as β€˜a true specialist’; he recently advised on farm building purchases and land sales. Victoria Stevenson is recommended for agricultural property matters.

Sintons LLP’s β€˜top-notch team’ provides β€˜an excellent level of service’ to a wide-ranging client base that includes Newton Hall Northumberland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Banks Mining. The practice is headed by the β€˜highly valuable’ Tom Wills and includes the β€˜incredibly experienced’ Alan Dawson and energy project specialist Paul Liddle. Wills recently advised Barclays as funder and two individuals on the purchase of 360 acres of land, which included a listed farmhouse, multiple holiday cottages and a medieval settlement. Other highlights included handling multiple coal and wind farm developments for The Banks Group and assisting an individual with a solar farm option and the subsequent lease of farmland to an energy supplier. Commercial partner Christopher Welch is singled out with clients citing his β€˜ability to give outstanding and clear advice that cuts through any complexities’ as a key factor in his success.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine counts farmers, landowners, investors and developers among its clients, for which it handles farming and forestry issues, agricultural tenancies, developments, mineral extraction and sporting rights matters. Helen Dexter (who specialises in estate planning and trust matters) leads the group, which includes Andrew Beattie and Ian Cowan, both of whom specialise in agricultural property. Recent highlights for Beattie include advising on the acquisition of South Sharpley Farm, handling the disposal of agricultural land and farm buildings, and assisting multiple national banks with agricultural funding matters. The team also acts on tenancy issues, renewable energy schemes and tax matters.

Charities and not-for-profit

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Charities and not-for-profit clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


At Bond Dickinson LLP, the β€˜responsive, knowledgeable and stand-out’ team is led by the β€˜excellent’ Emma Moody, who attracts praise for her β€˜exceptional business acumen, which allows her to really understand her clients and provide the best support possible in any given situation’. The firm’s high-profile client roster includes Gateshead College and the Masonic Samaritan Fund; Moody advised the latter on its consolidation with three other national masonic charities to form the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Moody also handled Crisis UK’s merger with The Lift People and assisted Bowes Museum with all the elements of its acquisition of a 15th Century oil painting. Clients also single out β€˜incredible’ managing associate Samantha Pritchard, who is noted for her strategic change and regulatory compliance advice; she recently acted alongside Moody for Royal Botanic Gardens Kew on pensions arrangements and issues relating to a historic gift to the charity. The General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Newcastle Upon Tyne Royal Grammar School and United Synagogue are also clients.

According to some, Muckle LLP is β€˜without a doubt the best in the region for sport-related matters’. It has substantial experience advising community sports charities, national governing bodies and clubs such as the Premier League Charitable Fund and Chelsea FC Foundation. Noteworthy highlights include advising parkrun Group on its running events, including corporate governance and contractual issues, and assisting the Football Association with the launch of the Parklife project – a scheme aimed at providing all-purpose football facilities to communities around the UK. Practice head John Devine, is β€˜a leading authority’; he is β€˜very approachable and good at getting to the heart of the issue’. He recently advised North Music Trust on the extension of its corporate partnership with Sage Group, assisted Breathe North Appeal with its merger with Newcastle University, and acted for The Auckland Castle Trust on efforts to preserve the castle as a visitor attraction. Senior associate Joanne Davison is endorsed for her β€˜detailed approach’ and specialises in establishing social enterprises.

The β€˜truly excellent’ group at Sintons LLP has β€˜efficient response times, a clear grasp of the region’s issues and good communication skills’, which makes it β€˜a pleasure to work with’. Amanda Maskery recently advised Tyne Gateway Trust on the extension of its remit to a national level and assisted South Durham Gymnastics with its charity registration and company incorporation. Alan Dawson’s recent highlight include advising Stay Strong Stu on the establishment and registration of a CIO. The North of England Civic Trust, Carlisle Diocese and the Graham Wylie Charitable Foundation are also clients. Other key individuals include Mark Dobbin, Laura Peace and corporate department head Karen Simms.

Colin Hewitt and Fiona Wharton jointly lead Ward Hadaway’s practice, which advises a wide range of clients on governance issues, restructurings, fundraising and trustee responsibilities. The education sector is a key focus of the team; representative clients include Co-operative Academies Trust and Newcastle University. Alex Shiel led advice to the latter on a range of commercial and IP issues. Other key clients include The Land Trust, which the group recently assisted with its acquisition of land at Canvey Wick Nature Reserve and is advising on a collaboration agreement and property structure for a site in Essex. Consultant Gaynor Jackson is highly regarded for her trust and estate expertise.

Hay & Kilner acts for charities on a regional and national level, with clients including the Abbeyfield Newcastle upon Tyne Society and Foundation of Light. The group assisted the latter with several employment issues and reorganisations, and advised the Biscuit Factory Foundation on multiple operational matters. Jonathan Waters leads the practice, which includes Paul Taylor, Sarah Hall and litigator Martin Soloman. The team’s broad expertise also spans business-structuring mandates, mergers, governance issues, trusts, property ownership and occupation, employment matters, outsourcings and litigation.

Contentious trusts and probate

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Contentious trusts and probate clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


β€˜One of the best firms in the North East for contentious probate matters’, Bond Dickinson LLP combines β€˜outstanding service delivery’ with the ability to β€˜make the subject matter clear’. Newcastle-based legal director Jonathan Grogan has experience in trust litigation, probate disputes and related professional negligence issues, and β€˜is able to plot his way through complex, multi-faceted issues with clarity. β€˜Thorough and careful’ managing associate Richard Pike β€˜handles complexities with great professionalism, knowledge and expertise without ever losing his personal rapport with clients, acting as a calming influence from beginning to end’. Neil Long in London leads the practice and has notable experience in validity and capacity disputes, trustee and beneficiary issues and contested Court of Protection applications.

Julie Huntingdon leads the department at Ward Hadaway, which features individuals from the firm’s private client and litigation practices. Huntingdon is recognised for her contentious probate expertise, with particular emphasis on issues affecting charities and individuals. Gaynor Jackson primarily handles contentious trust matters for national and international charities, with a focus on inheritance issues and estate disputes. Also recommended are litigator Martin Woodford, who focuses on trust disputes, the mis-selling of financial products, and pension-related claims; and Andrew Facer, who is noted for his experience acting for entrepreneurs and landed clients in succession planning litigation.

Hay & Kilner’s team, which works closely with the firm’s non-contentious trusts and tax departments, has a core strength in the agricultural sector, where it advises farmers and agricultural trusts on probate and trust disputes. The group is also highly experienced in alternative dispute resolution and has substantial expertise in mediations. Martin Soloman leads the group, which includes professional negligence and inheritance specialist Rodney Jones; Lucy Gray, who focuses on agricultural law; and non-contentious expert Alison Hall, who leads the firm’s private client department.

Cartmell Shepherd’s Peter Stafford has marked experience in validity issues, capacity disputes and litigation regarding the removal of executors and trustees. He leads the group, which includes Stephanie Johnson, who advises on provision-of-care matters, capacity issues and work involving vulnerable clients, and associate Caroline Smith, who handles Inheritance Act claims and validity disputes. The group also has a niche specialism in issues arising from NHS continuing healthcare. Recent work includes defending an executor in a validity claim brought by the client’s siblings regarding their late mother’s will; representing an individual in proceedings seeking the removal of an executor; and acting in an Inheritance Act dispute.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine’s specialist department provides β€˜an exceptional service, from the initial call to the matter’s conclusion’. The firm provides β€˜clear, concise and informative advice’ covering the full spectrum of contentious trusts and probate work, including Inheritance Act disputes, validity issues, constructive trust claims and executor and trustee removals. Commercial litigator Kenton Bazeley heads the group, which includes β€˜practical and down-to-earth’ associate Debra Burton, who is β€˜well versed and proficient in contentious probate matters’ and β€˜always ensures that clients understand the complications, causes and effects that can arise’. Clients single out non-contentious specialists Nicola Dalzell, who is β€˜a real asset in litigation with an incredible working knowledge of inheritance tax issues’, and Helen Dexter, who is β€˜an excellent all-rounder’.


Index of tables

  1. Family
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Family clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


β€˜One of the best in the market’, David Gray Solicitors LLP β€˜deserves every ounce of praise it receives’. The firm handles the full gamut of family work including divorce cases, children matters and financial issues. It also has a prominent dispute resolution practice and a growing financial remedy focus. Department head Lucy Mead specialises in children matters, acting on behalf of children, parents and other family members in both public law cases (including social services issues) and private matters following family breakdowns. Mead also has notable financial expertise. The highly regarded Mary Shaw and Elspeth Thomson are β€˜clear leaders in the field’ and focus on divorce cases and adoption law respectively. Shaw also has a notable specialism in collaborative law and mediation. Lesley Monkhouse is singled out for her children work, with particular emphasis on non-accidental injury cases, honour-based violence, forced marriages and child abduction matters. Solicitor Claire Hunter is also recommended.

β€˜A prominent niche practice covering the North East and beyond’, Major Family Law’s β€˜ambitious and innovative’ practice is β€˜the one to watch in the region’. It has β€˜truly leading-edge professionals’ with β€˜unrivalled knowledge’; key figures include β€˜fantastic’ practice head Joanne Major, who attracts praise for her β€˜knowledge of the law coupled with business acumen and emotional intelligence, which makes her a force to be reckoned with’; Jonathan Dunkley, who is a β€˜tough negotiator’; children specialist Anna Hunter, whose β€˜quiet confidence makes her perfect for the arena’; and solicitor Rebecca Savage, who is β€˜a skilful and safe pair of hands with a level head and excellent client skills’. The firm covers all elements of family law, including high-net-worth finance cases, divorce issues and children mandates. The firm also has an increasing international focus, with particularly emphasis in the expatriate area.

For some, Silk Family Law is lauded as β€˜the pre-eminent firm in the North East; an undoubted leader’. The β€˜dedicated’ group has β€˜genuinely brilliant expertise wedded to a caring and thoughtful approach that makes it truly peerless’. The firm is β€˜packed full of legal experts’, including the β€˜amazing’ Kim Fellowes, who has β€˜a reputation for fighting her corner with dogged determination; she has a brilliant mind and undoubted prowess in children issues, financial matters and pre-nuptial agreements’. Also recommended are qualified barrister Ian Kennerley and β€˜first-rate family lawyer’ Margaret Simpson, who β€˜never misses a trick’ and β€˜is charming with clients and opponents alike’; she is recommended for divorces, particularly those involving land ownership and farming issues. The β€˜outstanding, pragmatic and highly skilled’ Wayne Lynn focuses on cohabitation agreements and pre-and-post-nuptial agreements. Associate Harriet Reid is another key name to note.

Ward Hadaway’s β€˜strong and integrated’ department is β€˜exceptional at divorce matters’ and is β€˜one of the best around for children work’. Associate Sarah Crilly β€˜stands out as an experienced and competent performer’ and practice head Jonathan Flower is β€˜invariably courteous, sensible and hardworking’. Other areas of expertise include financial remedies, cohabitation agreements and care proceedings. Associate Cassandra Spenceley, who joined the firm in mid-2016 from DMA Law, is β€˜intelligent, meticulous and always goes the extra mile’ and focuses on complex care proceedings, especially those involving injury and abuse. The team also has a growing contentious workload, representing clients in litigation against local authorities pertaining to issues where children’s human rights have been breached. Associate Louise Cannell-Mirza is singled out for her work in financial remedies and child law disputes; she also has experience in the health and education sectors.

Burnetts’ β€˜courteous and friendly’ practice is led by the β€˜highly considerate and very thorough’ Simon Mortimer, who is noted for his high-value divorce experience, particularly those involving pensions elements, farm businesses and agricultural assets. Amy Fallows, whose β€˜knowledge and understanding of the sector is exceptional’, handles financial mandates and childcare cases including special guardianship orders, child relocations and child arrangement orders. The team also regularly represents foster carers and grandparents, and acts in cross-border children cases, civil partnerships, single-sex marriages and co-owned land disputes. Mortimer and Fallows have collaborative law expertise; Mortimer recently advised a husband in a divorce, which was resolved using collaborative law.

The β€˜highly professional’ department at Cartmell Shepherd is led by Julian Nelson, whose β€˜skill and experience is evident at all stages of an issue’. Nelson focuses on matters with an agricultural angle and regularly acts for professionals. He works closely with β€˜extremely approachable and empathetic’ associate Caroline Smith, who advises on children issues, cohabitation cases and pre-nuptial agreements. The β€˜always pleasant’ team is noted for its track record in divorce matters and private children law. Consultant David Kendrew specialises in collaborative law and mediation. The firm’s clients include solicitors, healthcare professionals, police officers, teachers and farmers.

Hay & Kilner is β€˜an excellent firm with a highly respected team of skilled and compassionate lawyers’ who advise private and public clients on the full range of family law matters. The β€˜exceptional’ Nicola Matthews heads the practice and has notable experience in high-value divorce cases. Rob Hart’s expertise lies in childcare mandates including non-accidental injury allegations, emotional abuse issues and cases relating to sexual risk; he is praised for his β€˜incredible knowledge of the law, which he applies with sound common sense’. Other noteworthy individuals include β€˜brilliant’ associate solicitor Kerry Sutherland and associate solicitor Leanne Sutherland, who has β€˜outstanding client-care skills’.

At Mincoffs Solicitors LLP, practice head Lyn Rutherford is recognised for his matrimonial expertise and his work on high-value financial cases. Associate solicitor Emily Cannell regularly handles divorce issues, financial matters and private children work. Recent work includes handling financial proceedings, pre-nuptial agreement drafting and private law children proceedings. The team also works closely with the firm’s corporate, commercial property and trust teams.

Sintons LLP’s practice attracts praise for its high-net-worth financial remedy expertise, particularly through the work of practice head Steve Freeman. Freeman’s recent work includes advising on a Schedule 1 Children Act matter as well as handling a high-value financial remedy and a Children Act matter for a high-net-worth individual. Associate Louise Masters is lauded for her divorce and children law expertise and also brings collaborative law expertise. Solicitor Jayne Cluff is another name to note. The firm’s client base includes senior executives, solicitors and professional sports players.

Swinburne Maddison’s family team is led by Kath Hill, who excels in complex financial matters involving pensions, companies and overseas properties. She also handles children issues, particularly those with an international element. In a recent highlight, Hill represented a wife in a case concerning divorce, children and financial issues; she also handled a divorce for a university professor, which involved complex immigration issues. Allan Devine regularly defends parents in care proceedings issued by the local authorities, and Catherine Lowther primarily handles financial and children matters.

BHP Law handles the full gamut of family issues including divorces, financial cases, children matters, injunctions, separations, civil partnerships, pre-nuptial agreements and adoption. The team is also recognised for its expertise in care proceedings. Practice head Andrea Hewitson is a qualified collaborative lawyer and advises clients on complex children issues and high-value matrimonial cases. Other noteworthy names include consultant Terry Hamer, who is a children law specialist; associate Gemma Holmes, who is recommended for financial disputes; and associate Michael Harrison, who is experienced in serious abuse and adoption matters.

Beecham Peacock has β€˜an excellent, modern and well-run family department’ with β€˜comprehensive experience in all aspects of family law’. The β€˜outstandingly good’ Sophia Yau-Rosher has β€˜a well-earned reputation’ acting for high-net-worth clients, for whom she β€˜always goes the extra mile’. The β€˜responsive’ Charlotte Talbot is recommended for her children law expertise. Fiona Ryans and Derek Pack are qualified collaborative lawyers and specialise in financial issues and children work respectively.

At EMG Solicitors, associate Natalia Lalas excels in divorce and finance matters and has niche specialisms in surrogacy issues and civil partnerships. Lalas is also a qualified collaborative lawyer, as is associate solicitor Julia Middleton, who joined the firm in 2017 from Ward Hadaway. In a recent highlight, Lalas advised a couple based in Dubai on an international surrogacy matter, which involved further issues of domicile and international residence. The group is supported by practice head and Court of Protection expert Emma Gaudern, and Jemma Morland.

Short Richardson & Forth β€˜provides a service that is nothing short of excellent’. Established following Christine McVay’s move from Slater and Gordon in mid-2016, the practice has a core matrimonial focus, with McVay acting for clients on a regional and national level. She β€˜a high-powered, driven and intense practitioner, who is particularly astute when it comes to difficult cases’; her β€˜breadth and depth of knowledge is second to none’. McVay also handles nuptial and cohabitation agreements.

Personal tax, trusts and probate

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Personal tax, trusts and probate clients in North using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


β€˜First-rate in the North’, Bond Dickinson LLP’s β€˜exceptionally strong’ practice has β€˜outstanding knowledge and pragmatism’ that is β€˜unmatched in the region’. David Dale and Helen Tavroges jointly head the team, which has notable expertise advising large landed estates and assisting with succession issues; Tavroges primarily acts for high-net-worth individuals and is experienced in issues affecting older people. The group’s team of β€˜true professionals’ includes George Lyall, who has substantial expertise advising entrepreneurs in capital tax planning; legal director Deborah Jude, who specialises in Court of Protection work; legal director Susan Maxey, who focuses on succession planning and capital taxation; β€˜no-nonsense, decisive and to-the-point’ managing associate Emily Pike and associate Luke Busbridge, who is recommended for succession planning, particularly involving landed estates and rural business assets.

EMG Solicitors is β€˜a dynamic firm’ that is β€˜among the finest Court of Protection firms in the country’ and whose β€˜knowledge is of the highest order’. Practice head Emma Gaudern is β€˜a first-class professional, wonderful with clients and always on the ball’; clients rate her as β€˜a truly brilliant and experienced deputy, who is always a pleasure to work with’. Gaudern is regularly appointed as litigation friend for clients, recently acting as litigation friend for a client following the removal of his mother from the role. In another highlight, Gaudern and Jemma Morland acted as joint deputies for a young man with learning and mental health difficulties. The firm further strengthened its wills, trusts and probate expertise with the recruitment of β€˜knowledgeable, professional and straight-talking’ associate solicitor Samantha Edward from Ward Hadaway in 2016.

Hay & Kilner’s team is β€˜highly experienced, with a wealth of knowledge and a strong reputation that other firms struggle to match’; β€˜it acts with great professionalism and integrity in all situations, no matter the complexity’. Alison Hall, who is β€˜highly regarded in the field’ leads the department following Kirstin Cook’s departure to Foot Anstey. Hall is recognised for her expertise in inheritance tax issues and her knowledge of estate planning for agricultural clients. The practice is also recommended for landed estate work and succession planning, the latter being a notable strength for Alice Clewes, who is a chartered tax adviser. Family law specialist Nicola Matthews handles Court of Protection work and is β€˜highly knowledgeable of the complexities involved’. Senior associate John Luke the name to note for advice to high-net-worth individuals. Sintons LLP’s β€˜excellent’ department acts for high-net-worth clients on a regional and national level and handles the full gamut of private client matters spanning complex will issues, trust mandates and estate administration. Tax planning and asset protection also remain key areas of focus for the team, which regularly acts for farmers, rural businesses, high-value estates and large family businesses. Practice head Paul Nickalls is rated for his ability to β€˜take a quick and clever approach, while also considering every angle’; he has particular emphasis on estate administration (especially those involving companies, agricultural property and foreign assets). Other noteworthy names in the practice include Alan Dawson, who advises high-net-worth individuals on estate planning matters, trust mandates and inheritance disputes; and associates Paul Collingwood, Julie Garbutt and Jessica Morton.

Andrew Facer leads the practice at Ward Hadaway and regularly handles succession planning matters, particularly for entrepreneurial and landed clients, as well as issues relating to employee benefit trusts. Gaynor Jackson acts for charities on inheritance issues including inheritance tax and capacity-related matters. The team also acts for corporate trustees, landowners and high-net-worth individuals. Other areas of strength for the group include tax planning, estate administration, lasting powers of attorney and capital tax work, while Court of Protection mandates are a notable area of growth for the team.

DWF β€˜takes the time to get to know its clients and to understand their needs’, and has β€˜a refreshing approach that highlights its knowledge and expertise in the best possible way’. Jon Gould is the group’s key name and advises on inheritance tax planning and succession issues, will preparation, powers of attorney, trust administration and Court of Protection applications; he is also STEP qualified. Solicitor Laura Murphy is highly regarded by clients and is β€˜approachable yet professional’ with β€˜an excellent ability to build a rapport that inspires confidence’. Clients include high-net-worth individuals, business owners, trustees and executors.

A β€˜professional and efficient firm’, Gibson & Co Solicitors Ltd’s β€˜excellent’ practice counts high-net-worth individuals and agricultural estates as clients. David Bawn is rated for his β€˜excellent understanding of the law, ability to ably guide clients through complex situations and honest and straightforward approach’. Bawn specialises in capital tax planning and the administration of high-value estates. Other noteworthy names include Tony Gibson, Derwent Gibson, whose expertise spans tax planning and asset protection work; Michael Macgregor, who focuses on inheritance tax issues; and estate expert Harry Chrisp. Sunderland Association Football Club is a client.

Iain Nicholson & Co provides β€˜an excellent and personal service’ that instils β€˜a real peace of mind in clients, particularly in difficult situations’. Practice head Iain Nicholson is rated for his β€˜invaluable skill and expertise’ and for his β€˜reliability and honesty’. He advises high-net-worth clients on wills, probates, taxation and property-related mandates. The β€˜exceptional’ Victoria Stevenson and Peter Dakin (who is β€˜always a pleasure to work with’) are also recommended; Dakin has notable experience assisting with wills, probate and inheritance tax issues. The practice is also skilled in matters with an international angle.

The β€˜incredibly knowledgeable’ practice at Latimer Hinks Solicitors is led by the β€˜highly regarded’ Anne Elliott, who is β€˜extremely approachable and can adapt her style to any and every situation’. Elliott handles wills, trusts, tax planning and succession planning for high-net-worth individuals and is a well-regarded dementia friend. Also recommended are Andrew Way, who is praised as β€˜a first-rate lawyer’; Elizabeth Armstrong, who leads the trusts practice and specialises in tax, estate and succession planning; and β€˜all-round professional’ Natalie Palmer, who heads the Court of Protection team. Clients of the department include agricultural and business families, entrepreneurs and vulnerable individuals.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP’s areas of strength span tax and estate planning (including wills, trusts, probate, powers of attorney and Court of Protection mandates) for a wide range of clients including high-value estates, high-net-worth business owners and complex trusts. Associate solicitor Louise Miller leads the practice and has substantial expertise in wills, trusts and tax planning. Solicitor Patricia Mellish is noted for her asset protection knowledge and has significant experience in property-related issues. Solicitor Helen Robinson is singled out for her work with elderly and vulnerable clients and has particular expertise in Court of Protection matters.

BHP Law is highly regarded in the region for its expertise in complex tax planning and trust work, where it primarily assists high-net-worth individuals and large estates. Helen Biglin and Karen Pratt jointly lead the group; Biglin specialises in advising elderly clients on asset protection issues, lasting powers of attorney and inheritance tax planning, while Pratt handles Court of Protection matters. They are assisted by Peter Blackett, who counts retailers, farming families and country landowners as clients. Other areas of specialism include estate administration, cross-border tax mandates, estate insolvencies, advice on statutory wills, and advising parents who have children with learning disabilities.

Burnetts β€˜has a strong presence in the North of England’ and fields β€˜excellent lawyers who have high-quality expertise’ and are β€˜brilliant in all aspects’. The department is recognised for its trust expertise (particularly lifetime property protection trusts) and also has a track record of handling matters involving wills, lasting powers of attorney and estate administrations. Martyn Wrightson leads the practice and regularly handles estate planning work for farming families. The β€˜enormously helpful’ Nick Gutteridge is recommended for Court of Protection mandates. β€˜Incredibly patient and supportive’ associate Emma Baker advises on lasting powers of attorney and inheritance tax matters. Tracy Stainton, whose track record includes acting for clients on matters involving estates and willd issues, is also recommended.

Deborah Flynn heads the practice at Cartmell Shepherd following Joanna Jeeves’ retirement in 2016. The group, which is spread across five offices, has substantial experience acting for individuals and charitable trusts on matters relating to wills, probate, tax and estate planning alongside handling Court of Protection mandates for elderly clients. Other key figures include Diana Armstrong, who is STEP qualified, and Peter Stafford, who is noted for his probate litigation expertise. Associate Zoe Calway attracts praise for her work with the elderly and handles will drafting, powers of attorney and inheritance tax mandates.

Keith Hately leads the department at Muckle LLP and acts for business owners and high-net-worth individuals on a wide range of issues including wills, family trusts, inheritance tax, business succession, asset protection and probate matters. He is also STEP qualified. Also recommended are corporate partner Hugh Welch and STEP-qualified solicitor Olivia Colbeck, who is experienced in will, probate and trust mandates.

The β€˜professional, knowledgeable and approachable’ team at Tilly Bailey & Irvine is β€˜able to dispense with technical jargon and communicate clearly and concisely; it always puts clients at ease due to its exceptional rapport-building abilities’. Carolyn Tilly, who β€˜really knows her stuff’, leads the four-partner practice and regularly acts for elderly individuals. Clients single out Helen Dexter, who handles agricultural and high-value estate administration; the β€˜highly adept’ Martin Brown; and the β€˜insightful’ Nicola Dalzell, who is recognised for her probate expertise and who also advises on wills, estates, trusts, asset protection, estate planning and mental capacity matters.

Interview with...

Law firm partners and practice heads explain how their firms are adapting to clients' changing needs

GC Diversity and Inclusion Report

In partnership with...

International comparative guides

Giving the in-house community greater insight to the law and regulations in different jurisdictions.

Select Practice Area

Press releases

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to

Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to

Press Releases in the UK

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to