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



Index of tables

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

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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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


The ‘excellent’ team at David Gray Solicitors LLP has a longstanding reputation in family law, and is able to leverage the firm's crime, immigration and housing expertise to handle the full range of family law matters. ‘Calm and informative’ team head Lucy Mead is frequently called upon to deal with financial matters, while Lesley Monkhouse specialises in cases concerning children and handles issues pertaining to non-accidental injuries, forced marriage and matters featuring international elements. ‘Highly professional’ managing partner Elspeth Thomson ‘handles matters sympathetically’ and stands out for her expertise in adoption law including adoptions with a foreign element, while the recommended Mary Shaw focuses on divorce-related finance matters. Solicitor Claire Hunter is also recommended; she is well versed in dealing with public law children issues and financial separation matters including sexual abuse and exploitation.

The ‘extremely good and close-knit team’ at Silk Family Law is praised as being ‘informative, sympathetic and highly knowledgeable’ which makes it well equipped to guide business owners, landowners, farmers, sports personalities, celebrities and politicians through a wide range of family law matters. Key areas of expertise include high-value finance cases arising out of divorce and separation, particularly those involving landed estates, businesses and trusts, as well as children law issues. The ‘truly giftedKim Fellowes ‘lives and breathes her work’ and ‘changes lives on a daily basis’; clients particularly appreciate her ‘realistic advice’ and ‘detailed and thorough work’. The ‘friendly and sympatheticMargaret Simpsongets straight to the point’, ‘understands the wider picture in which family law issues occur’ and has ‘exceptional knowledge of business and taxation matters’. Also recommended are Wayne Lynn, who is a ‘safe pair of hands’, and Ian Kennerley.



Having initially trained as a Magic Circle corporate solicitor and a barrister, Ayesha was determined to bring blue-chip, City quality to the moribund area of family law. In 2005, she founded Vardags as a sole practitioner, combining razor-sharp expertise on complex financial matters with the empathy and common sense afforded by her own experience of divorce. A landmark Supreme Court win in the case of Radmacher v Granatino, which made prenuptial agreements legally enforceable in the UK, cemented Vardags’ status as a game changer in matrimonial law.

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Ward Hadaway’s ‘impressive and hugely professional family law department’ is ‘diligent’, ‘provides quality advice’ and ‘stands out for its excellent case preparation and client care’. It is led by the ‘experienced, dedicated and diligent’ Jonathan Flower, who is ‘very experienced in representing children of all ages’, ‘leaving no stone unturned to achieve the best outcome for vulnerable children and adolescents’. Flower, who also handles high-value divorce settlements, is supported by Sarah Crilly, whose ‘calming influence’ ‘takes away all of the client’s anxieties’; she is ‘easy to communicate with’ and provides ‘thorough advice’ and ‘very good assistance with matters involving financial remedies’. Other key individuals include associate Cassandra Spenceley, who ‘delivers sound advice in an understandable and approachable manner’, and associate Louise Cannell-Mirza, who is noted for her ‘excellent case preparations’. Solicitor Hollie Morgan is a ‘promising newcomer’.

Burnetts provides ‘swift and timely’ advice and ‘always seeks to de-escalate tensions and trouble’. Much of its workload pertains to high-value divorce proceedings where the team benefits from Simon Mortimer’s expertise in financial, pension and agricultural assets and farm business partnerships; he is a ‘calm and experienced operator of the highest integrity’ and noted as being ‘incredibly reassuring and supportive’. Recently, he advised a wife in financial remedy proceedings following her divorce, seeking a share of her former husband’s interest in a valuable international company. The ‘outstanding’ Amy Fallows is praised for her ‘professional approach’ and ‘straight-forward and pragmatic advice’; she regularly advises on Special Guardianship and Child Arrangements Orders alongside grandparent and relocation issues, and acted for an aunt and uncle on the application for special guardianship for their nephew following care order proceedings in Scotland.

Hay & Kilner specialises in high-value financial provision cases alongside private and public law children matters. Specialised in the former, ‘extremely sensible, practical and professional’ team head and ‘safe pair of hands’ Nicola Matthews is ‘always well prepared’ and ‘maintains a good rapport with clients’. She acted for a husband in divorce and financial provision proceedings involving three family homes, rental property and investment portfolios alongside two companies, pensions and trust assets, and, in a separate matter, she acted for a wife in divorce and financial settlement proceedings which included £8m from the sale of two farms. Rob Hart acts for children, guardians and parents and works closely with associate Kerry Sutherland, whose work frequently involves allegations of non-accidental injuries, while also dealing with financial provision, domestic abuse and forced marriage cases. Hart recently represented a parent in a serious fatal baby injury case.

Boutique family law firm Major Family Law provides a broad range of services including assistance with high-net-worth finance, cohabitation, child law and domestic abuse matters as well as advice on issues containing international elements. ‘Extremely dynamic’ managing director Joanne Major  and consultant Jonathan Dunkley routinely deal with various financial aspects arising from divorce, while director Anna Hunter has specialist expertise in child-related work including relocation matters. Solicitor Rebecca Savage is recommended.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP focuses on divorce and separation proceedings featuring complex and high-net-worth financial matters - an area of particular expertise for team head and consultant Lyn Rutherford and associate Emily Cannell. The team also handles various child-related issues including domestic abuse and arrangements for contact.

Steve Freeman heads an ‘excellent’ team at Sintons LLP and is ‘renowned for giving sensible, no-nonsense advice whether it is to settle or contest’. Regular instructions include high-net-worth financial remedy cases, Children Act applications and child relocation matters. Associate Louise Masters is another name to note. She acted for a client in financial remedy proceedings with matrimonial assets in various countries, and handled an appeal in Children Act proceedings on a final order, while also having collaborative law expertise. Clients include senior executives, solicitors and professional sports players.

Swinburne Maddison’s ‘very good’ team is ‘highly professional’ and works in close co-operation with the firm’s wills and trusts, property and commercial teams. ‘Extremely knowledgeable’ associate Kath Hill, who is also an ‘excellent mediator’, heads the team and ‘always tries to diffuse a difficult situation’. She is ‘very professional and direct in her approach but also communicates with kindness and with an understanding of the distress the client is facing when seeking her services’. Based in an university town, the team’s client roster includes a number of academics alongside senior executives and NHS staff and is frequently retained to advise on financial matters involving pensions, companies and overseas property matters. Other instructions frequently pertain to children law issues with an international element. Recently, the practice acted for a wife in divorce proceedings involving pre-marriage property ownership matters, and represented a father in resisting an application to enforce a Child Arrangement Order. Hill is also experienced in collaborative law.

Key individuals of the ‘reliable and diligent’ team at Beecham Peacock include Sophia Yau-Rosher, who ‘gives appropriate advice with due sensitivity’ and ‘assimilates complex information quickly and astutely’, and Charlotte Talbot, who ‘represents vulnerable parents with patience’ and is ‘able to deliver sound and realistic advice compassionately’. The practice covers various family law matters including childcare cases.

BHP Law covers a wide range of family and childcare work with consultant Terry Hamer being the main contact for the latter. Regular instructions include divorce proceedings and civil partnership disputes, including those involving various financial aspects, prenuptial agreements, care proceedings and adoptions. Gemma Holmes focuses on family law matters involving financial disputes. Team head Andrea Hewitson is experienced in collaborative law. Michael Harrison retired.

At Cartmell Shepherd, the team is led by Julian Nelson, who is well versed in dealing with various issues arising from divorces and the dissolution of civil partnerships such as childcare matters and financial issues, while also handling farming-related cases. She works closely with consultant David Kendrew, who has specialist expertise in collaborative law and mediation.

EMG Solicitors ‘provides an excellent service to private clients seeking advice and representation in all family law matters ranging from financial remedies, child arrangements orders and injunctions through to parental orders in surrogacy cases’. ‘Experienced’ associate and collaborative lawyer Natalia Lalas ‘combines the ability to represent the client’s case well in court with an emphasis on achieving a resolution by agreement where appropriate’; she is also noted for her ‘clear communication style’ and ‘focused advice’. Lalas specialises in divorce and finance work and has a niche in civil partnership and international surrogacy issues, while managing director Emma Gaudern and director Jemma Morland are the main contacts for Court of Protection mandates, and ‘good’ associate Julia Middleton has child law work at her core.

Vardags handles high-value financial matters as part of divorce and separation proceedings as well as Children Act matters. ‘Very knowledgeable and patient’ director and team head Susanne Shah is ‘very clear when explaining issues’; she combines family law expertise with specialist knowledge in immigration law, making her well equipped to advise clients on family law matters with an international element.

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