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  1. Family: Essex
  2. Leading individuals
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Who Represents Who

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The 'considerate and reassuring' family department at 'successful and established firm' Birkett Long LLP 'makes clients feel in very good hands' and provides a 'very professional but caring service', 'exceeding others in expertise, responsiveness and client care'. The collaboratively and Resolution-trained team covers high-net-worth divorce, financial remedy and private law children matters, as well as cohabitation disputes. The 'highly organised, endlessly patient and knowledgeable' Philip Hoddell, who 'has excellent rapport with clients' and 'phenomenal attention to detail', heads the Colchester practice. 'Fantastic and easy-to-talk-to' South Essex team lead Lisa Collins and 'helpful and understanding' divorce specialist Melanie Loxley both became partners in June 2017. Other noted individuals include 'capable and friendly' solicitor Muntech Kaur in Basildon and collaborative lawyer Francesca Cozens. Colchester-based solicitor Samantha Ellis handles both financial remedy and international private law children matters.

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP's family practice uses collaborative law, arbitration and mediation as dispute resolution techniques, and engages in divorce, financial remedy, private and public law children, domestic abuse, international child abduction and cohabitation matters. Arbitrator and team lead Simon Osborn, mediator Kate Taylor, Resolution specialist Charlotte Knappett and public law children expert Rachel Earnshaw are the key members.

'Pre-eminent, business-like regional firm' Pinney Talfourd LLP is 'one of the best firms for matrimonial finance in Essex'; the 'professional, ambitious and experienced' family team 'provides second-to-none client care' and 'manages all details in a meticulous and timely manner'. High-net-worth financial remedy matters, including cross-border cases, are the department's specialty, in addition to Children Act and special guardianship applications, cohabitation, separation, and pre- and post-nuptial agreements. 'Experienced and well-respected' practice lead Catherine Polli 'combines sharp intellect with an easy manner' and 'over-delivers against client expectations', while 'outstanding' partner Michael Sheville is 'highly skilled at helping in complicated financial matters' and 'impresses with his case management'. Clients further recommend 'pragmatic' Claire Spurgeon, who has a 'steely resolve', 'calm and balanced' Catherine Loadman, 'extremely able strategist' Sarah Tsindides , and 'practical, realistic and personable' partner Sebastian Burrows, as well as 'knowledgeable and tenacious' senior associate Sue Nash and 'ferociously bright' associate Jennifer Herbert.

The 'competent, efficient and friendly firm' Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors consists of 'capable, helpful and committed family law solicitors' who are particularly recommended for their niche expertise and 'great client service' in 'non-accidental injury and complex child abduction matters', while also being a general 'one-stop shop for matrimonial, cohabitation, and public and private children matters'. Other focus areas include financial remedy, divorce, TOLATA claims, adoption cases, civil partnerships and same-sex marriages. Collaboratively trained practice lead and 'stand-out practitioner' Joyti Henchie 'undertakes the most complex work to an exceptionally high standard', especially in her recent representation of a wife in contested multi-million-pound divorce and financial remedy proceedings in the High Court, which concerned the client's decree nisi application and subsequent financial distribution of matrimonial assets, including properties and business profits. Henchie is further noted for 'being on top of every issue' and having 'great tact and patience with vulnerable clients who have difficulty in giving instructions'. Clients further recommend 'efficient, organised and motivated' associate Louise Eady, 'sympathetic and down-to-earth' solicitor Stephanie Holmes, who 'provides good and solid advice', and 'dedicated, hardworking and enormously personable' newly qualified solicitor Sara Roddis. Chartered legal executive and mediator Sarah Canfield joined from Shepherd Harris & Co in September 2017.

The family practice of 'extremely reputable firm' Birketts LLP 'has a wide range of experience, knowledge and specialism, as well as a professional approach'. The former includes high-net-worth divorces, pre- and post-nuptial agreements and financial settlements, in addition to Children Act matters such as removal from jurisdiction and domestic violence cases. The key members, 'excellent and empathetic communicator' Emma Brunning and 'pragmatic child relocation specialist' Louise Buttery, further practise collaborative law. Company directors, shareholders and medium- to high-net-worth clients form the typical client base. After former practice head Melanie Wilson retired in 2017, Ipswich-based partner Oliver Gravell took over the position as department lead.

Ellisons Solicitors' family department undertakes family litigation, collaborative law and mediation relating to matters such as divorce, property disputes between unmarried couples, dissolution of civil partnerships, financial remedies, disputes about children, TOLATA claims and domestic violence injunctions. Nicky Coates, who leads the department and is a  financial divorce claims and pre-nuptial/cohabitation agreement specialist. Accredited associate Lisa Dawson and Children Act matter expert MaryCarmel Langley are the key contacts.

The 'experienced, competent and capable' family practice at the 'very good' Tees Law has a 'hardworking, client-focused' approach and 'trains its lawyers diligently'. The team is particularly recommended for its 'incredibly fast response times, high business acumen, amazing industry knowledge and attention to detail'. Divorce, separation, financial and domestic abuse proceedings are the main focus areas, with additional niche experience in national and international child abduction and cohabitation disputes, as well as pre- and post-nuptial agreements. Recent highlights include the representation of a husband, who was primarily based in Saudi Arabia, in high-net-worth divorce proceedings involving historic allegations of domestic abuse dealt with by the criminal courts. 'Calm, helpful and supportive' key practitioner Joshua Coombe, who 'gives sensible advice', is supported by senior legal executive Sue Buxton-Smith. Solicitor Donald Fraser left in 2017 to work as a consultant for two firms in Hertfordshire and London.

The 'excellent and vastly experienced' family practice at 'well-established firm' Wortley Byers LLP has a 'pragmatic and highly professional approach' and a 'long-standing, exceptional reputation' of 'representing clients in a patient, conciliatory and effective manner'. Collaboratively trained partner and mediator Louise Margiotta handles divorce and financial remedy disputes involving substantial wealth, family businesses, company directors and inherited wealth, in addition to private and public law children and domestic abuse matters and the negotiation of marital, civil partnership and separation agreements. She represented a husband who was paraplegic and had complex medical needs in £1.6m financial remedy proceedings involving a large property portfolio. Solicitor Caroline Andrews joined from Giles Wilson LLP  in 2017 and brings niche expertise in fertility and surrogacy matters.

The 'highly competent, personable and dedicated' practice at Baxter Harries 'is a rising star in the area of private family law, particularly regarding LGBT work, and has an established, very strong reputation in public family law', with 'depth across the board' and 'a budding international practice'. With its acquisition of MWP Solicitors in October 2017, the firm expanded its geographical reach to Basildon, while the practitioners are still mainly located in Ongar. 'Experienced, knowledgeable and pragmatic' department lead Deborah Baxter covers all areas of children law, such as matters concerning child death, sexual abuse, serious physical injury, international law and parenting disputes, including LGBT parents. Public children law specialists Craig Tipper, who is an 'excellent advocate' and 'has a real hunger to achieve the best for his clients', and 'outstanding professional' Laura Carr, who is 'fantastic with clients who have learning difficulties' and has a 'second-to-none attention to detail', were promoted to partner in September 2017. 'Supportive and knowledgeable' medium- to high-net-worth divorce and financial remedy expert Joanne Thomas became an associate in January 2018.

The 'thorough' family practice at 'very established firm' Holmes & Hills 'has specialist personnel at a very high level' and 'is best known for its excellent client care, as well as supportive but appropriately robust advice'. The department exclusively handles private law matters, including children and financial proceedings, as well as cases involving criminal behaviour, mental health aspects or actions by police and social services. 'Highly professional and tenacious' team lead Carol Toulson specialises in matrimonial assets advice and divorce litigation, 'instilling confidence and achieving amicable settlements through sensitivity and patience', while 'steadfast and competent' collaboratively trained solicitor Sue Wardropper undertakes both financial and children-related matters. 'Efficient and organised' solicitor Rosalyn Kinsley is best known for her track record in handling child arrangements.

Jefferies Essex LLP's 'highly competent and knowledgeable' family department 'has a real sense of team commitment', 'offers real depth' and is especially known for 'representing children in complex care proceedings'. Other areas of work include national and foreign adoption, removal from jurisdiction and relocation, surrogacy and wardship. 'Extremely experienced, focused and well-prepared' practice lead Stella Young, who is 'the go-to children panel solicitor for technical or unusual public law cases' and 'a mine of information', and 'hardworking' children matter specialist Anne-Marie Rainsford, who 'goes the extra mile for clients', are recommended. Another name to note is the 'realistic and practical' deputy head Karen Dovaston, as the main contact for divorce finance, marital agreements, property ownership disputes, and money claims relating to children and family arbitration.

The family department at Mullis & Peake LLP underwent major staff changes in early 2018, as previous main practitioner Joanna Toloczko left for Meaby & Co. The practice is now led by 'highly experienced, genuinely caring and approachable' financial claims specialist Roisin McCorry, whose firm McCorry Connolly entered a merger with Mullis & Peake LLP in February 2018. At the same time, the practice also welcomed senior associate Angela Sharma from Sackvilles, who covers financial disputes for married and cohabiting couples, as well as pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and solicitor Jessica Thrower from Sternberg Reed, who has a special interest in cohabitation disputes and children matters. Other focus areas in the department include private children law and independent advocacy across different aspects of family law.

The 'approachable, knowledgeable and easy-to-deal-with' family lawyers at Palmers are considered to be 'very competent, thorough and helpful, with a strong presence in court'. Focus areas include divorce, civil partnership dissolution, financial remedy, cohabitation, Schedule 1 Children Act, domestic violence and private law children proceedings, as well as independent advocacy and the drafting of pre- and post-nuptial agreements. A recent highlight was the representation of a wife in a six-figure divorce and financial case, involving a petition for unreasonable behaviour and non-molestation and occupation orders against the husband. 'Clear and concise' Thurrock-based team lead Surjit Verdi and 'professional, understanding and prompt' Kim Mansfield are recommended. Tanya Dodo in Basildon and Kevin Double in South Woodham Ferrers are other names to note.

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP's family practice is best known for acting in divorce, cohabitation and financial remedy proceedings, advising on other financial applications, and drafting pre-nuptial agreements, as well as handling private law children, domestic abuse, adoption, child abduction and special guardianship matters. In a recent highlight, the team successfully represented a husband in financial remedy proceedings, which were complicated by a High Court Chancery Division action concerning a property portfolio and fishing lake that the client owned. Partner Christopher Wall, senior associate Melanie Steeples and associate Lauren Larkin are the main contacts.

The 'exemplary' family team at Sternberg Reed is 'very dedicated and efficient, with good insight into clients' positions, but a realistic outlook towards possible achievements'. It handles both private and publicly funded matters, including instructions involving children, financial remedy and cohabitation proceedings.  A recent highlight was the representation of a wife in a financial dispute and contested children proceedings against a husband who made it difficult to provide complete financial disclosure and was potentially involved in criminal investigations. 'Committed' practice lead and children dispute lawyer Elizabeth Bendall, 'effective strategist' Gordon Reed, who specialises in public law children cases and also serves as a recorder in the Crown Court, and 'thorough, passionate and commercially minded' deputy district judge and mediator Julian Beard, who mainly handles financial matters, are some of the key partners. Cohabitation trust dispute expert Andrew Crossley and family mediator Frances Anderson are other names to note. Senior associate Yvonne Snow has specialist knowledge of cohabitation disputes.

The 'very good' family department at Cunningtons 'provides a well-rounded, cost-effective service to clients'. Focus areas include divorce, separation finances, arrangements for children, conveyancing, and child relocation, as well as drafting pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements. 'Experienced' Chelmsford-based team lead Katie Beer handles separation and conveyancing matters for unmarried couples, as well as cohabitation agreements and trust deeds. She assisted a father with his emergency application against the mother, who tried to take their child to live in a non-Hague Convention country, and application for an order to spend time with the daughter, despite violence allegations made against him by the mother. In Wickford, 'approachable, knowledgeable and clear' senior associate Louise Paynter is best known for 'instilling confidence in her clients', who instruct her in financial and asset-related disputes, as well as domestic abuse cases. Partner Jill Wiggins is based in Braintree and specialises in private and public law children matters.

In February 2018, 'competent, efficient and accurate' senior associate and mediator Joanna Toloczko, who is recommended for her 'common-sense approach and technical excellence', joined Meaby & Co from her previous firm Mullis & Peake LLP in order to establish a family practice in the Chigwell office. She represents medium- to high-net-worth individuals, such as professionals, investors and business owners, in their divorce, civil partnership, financial relief and property matters, as well as drafting nuptial and cohabitation agreements for them. In a recent highlight, Toloczko acted for a man in Children Act Schedule 1 proceedings concerning financial provision for his child and settlement of a property for the benefit of the child; the case also involved a child arrangement order.

The 'organised, efficient, compassionate and reputable' family practice at 'well-established, good local firm' Thompson Smith and Puxon 'deals with numerous areas of family law' and 'maintains a consistently professional approach with clients'. In terms of adult representation, areas of expertise comprise divorce and separation, cohabitation, same-sex relationships, injunctions, and pre-nuptial agreements, as well as business and property aspects. The practice also engages in matters concerning children, including residence, contact, parental responsibility, prohibited steps and specific issue orders. Clients recommend 'diligent' collaboratively trained solicitor Alison Cantor, who handles financial matters, agreements, and Court of Protection work, as well as working together with the firm's conveyancing team. Practice lead Marcus Price in Clacton-on-Sea and associate Shelley Cumbers, who is both Resolution- and collaboratively trained, are also core members.

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