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  1. Family: Essex
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Who Represents Who

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Clients consider the family law practice at Birkett Long LLP to be β€˜first class in all aspects of legal advice and direction’, delivering β€˜faultless communication and professionalism’. Under the leadership of the β€˜honest, compassionate and knowledgeable’ family and collaborative lawyer Philip Hoddell in Colchester, it focuses mainly on financial remedy issues resulting from divorce and separation as well as related private child law aspects. Cohabitee disputes and cross-border matters also form part of the team’s expertise. Hoddell, who β€˜combines knowledge with caring’, is supported by the β€˜brilliant, responsive and accurate’ team head of the South Essex offices (Basildon and Chelmsford), associate Lisa Collins, whose specialism lies in children matters. This niche area also benefits from Samantha Ellis’s experience in cross-jurisdictional private child law. Liz Jones moved into the firm’s wills, trusts and probate department, while Ella Johnson joined Pinney Talfourd LLP and Louise Buttery joined Birketts LLP in Chelmsford. The team welcomed Colchester-based associate Melanie Loxley back after a 20-month career break in September 2016 and the Basildon office hired solicitor Muntech Kaur from Duncan Lewis Solicitors one month later.

The family law practice at the β€˜excellent and well-organised premium firm’ Birketts LLP in Chelmsford is β€˜well placed to deal with complex financial remedy cases and employs joined-up thinking across departments’, as the lawyers β€˜have perfected the art of client confidence and trust’. The β€˜highly experienced’ practice lead Melanie Wilson is β€˜a tough negotiator who is determined to fight for her clients’, handling divorce and financial remedy proceedings which often contain corporate aspects due to some of the clients being company directors or shareholders. Also recommended is β€˜intelligent and efficient’ senior associate Emma Brunning, who β€˜cuts through the facts with precision and at light speed’ and, in addition to supporting Wilson on cases, has developed niche expertise in cohabitation agreements and can also advise on offshore assets, investment properties and children matters involving hostile parents. Another area of advice are pre- and post-nuptial agreements. In April 2016, the team hired Louise Buttery from Birkett Long LLP, who brings specialist knowledge in disputes regarding the internal and external child relocation and related safeguarding issues, as well as in separation and domestic violence.

With six partners and 17 additional fee-earners across Colchester, Chelmsford, Billericay and Clacton on Sea, Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP’s β€˜very open and up-front’ family law practice is one of the largest in the region. The team handles broad areas such as divorce and family finances, but also has niche expertise in areas such as domestic abuse, psychological and physical violence against children, guardianship, international child abduction, cohabitation as well as fertility and surrogacy cases (a specialism of Charlotte Knappett in Chelmsford). Additionally, Colchester-based partners Simon Osborn and Kate Taylor have a track record in alternative dispute resolution, with Osborn acting as a family arbitrator and Taylor’s experience as a mediator. Apart from the β€˜honest but firm’ Osborn, clients also recommend β€˜thorough’ Lisa Tuckwell and β€˜calm, considerate and unflaggingly supportive’ Jane Wilson, who specialises in matters concerning matrimonial finances and collaborative law. Associate solicitor Rachel Earnshaw handles all cases involving child law, but has niche experience in special guardianship orders and matters with international aspects. The β€˜highly efficient and professional’ family law practice at Pinney Talfourd LLP has β€˜a solid reputation’ and β€˜continues to go from strength to strength in terms of the quality of its work’, providing β€˜excellent representation for its clients’. The team in general - and the β€˜highly competent, driven and able’ leader Catherine Polli (β€˜a master tactician’) in particular - focuses on financial remedy matters often involving international assets, businesses or property portfolios. The β€˜pragmatic’ Michael Sheville in Upminster β€˜is conscious of every trick in the book which might be perpetrated by the opponent’ and β€˜very client-focused’. While handling financial matters, TOLATA claims and other child law cases, he has special expertise in managing asset dissipation risks. The β€˜fantastic’ Brentwood-based Claire Spurgeon β€˜is particularly good at providing clarity and giving a realistic view on client expectations’ and specialises in representing clients living abroad, advising on child abduction cases and cross-border property transactions. β€˜Being extremely good with vulnerable and anxious clients’, the β€˜inventive and intelligent’ Catherine Loadman undertakes both financial remedy and TOLATA matters as well as child arrangement orders. Also recommended are senior associates Sarah Tsindides (who β€˜has the ability to establish trust early on’ and β€˜is thoughtful and supportive’) and Sebastian Burrows (who gives β€˜pragmatic but sensitive advice’). Associate Jennifer Herbert, who possesses β€˜the perfect combination of excellent lateral thinking and a calm, reasoned and reassuring approach with her clients’, joined the Hornchurch office from Mackrell Turner Garrett in February 2016. Most of the partners also advise on cohabitation as well as pre- and post-nuptial agreements.

The β€˜highly experienced’ family law practice at Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors in Loughton and Harlow provides β€˜excellent client care’ and is β€˜able to represent clients in family finance work, private law children work and care work to an extremely high standard’. β€˜Standout lawyer’ Joyti Henchie, who also practises collaborative law, is β€˜down to earth and extremely conscientious’, β€˜going above and beyond the call of duty for her clients and making them feel well supported’. Together with β€˜efficient and organised’ Louise Eady and newly qualified solicitor Stephanie Holmes, Henchie undertakes financial remedy and child law matters such as child protection, separation, TOLATA claims, civil partnership as well as pre- and post-nuptial agreements. Eady has a particular focus on cohabitation and divorce finances, having represented a wife regarding her financial remedy application worth several millions of pounds and defended a property owner in a cohabitation dispute. Another highlight for Henchie was the representation of a mother in a sexual abuse claim concerning her underage daughter, which involved complicated medical evidence. Solicitor Tanya Foster joined the Harlow office from Townsend Family Law Solicitors in December 2016.

The β€˜straightforward, sensible and practical’ family law department at the β€˜respected firm’ Ellisons Solicitors is β€˜particularly good at financial divorce work and Children Act matters’. The β€˜confident and focused’ Nicola Coates in Frinton on Sea leads the practice with β€˜an outstanding wealth of legal and practical experience as well as amazing client skills’. Also recommended are β€˜highly approachable’ chartered legal executive Jane Snook and β€˜imaginative’ associate Lisa Dawson in Colchester, whose β€˜grasp of detail and facts’ enables her to represent clients in contact and residence disputes and who has further experience in cohabitation and pre-nuptial agreements, as well as injunctions, child protection and TOLATA matters. Solicitor MaryCarmel Langley is the lead contact for Children Act proceedings.

The β€˜long-established’ family law practice of β€˜well-organised and reliable firm’ Tees Law has β€˜strengths in fairness, integrity and a lack of provocation’ and is β€˜a shining example of what family law should be’. The β€˜dynamic, efficient and well-respected’ practice head Joshua Coombe in Chelmsford is β€˜a safe pair of hands when dealing with financial cases’ due to his β€˜straightforward and decisive approach’, while Children Act proceedings expert Donald Fraser is β€˜a passionate and strong advocate for his clients’, providing β€˜sensible and pragmatic advice’. Coombe also handles divorces, the breakdown of civil partnerships, cohabitation and nuptial agreements, domestic abuse and child arrangements. A recent highlight for him was the representation of a husband who owned a business jointly with his wife as well as a third partner with a minority share during the separation proceedings and financial settlement. He also advised a female client on a TOLATA and Children Act claim after the separation from her partner, involving assets worth around Β£2m. Fraser successfully defended another client against a Prohibited Steps of Order application made by her former husband in regard to their ten-year-old son, which also included a demand to surrender the client’s Tajikistanian passport indefinitely and an order for the child to live with him. Additional matters concern family trusts, agricultural estates, pension rights and the relocation of children.

The β€˜very settled and experienced’ family law team at the β€˜impressive firm’ Jefferies Essex LLP in Southend-on-Sea is β€˜highly respected and well organised’, with a particular strength in care proceedings and cases relating to children (including adoption, guardianship and representing mentally vulnerable clients) and domestic violence and abuse. The lawyers also engage in international family work such as foreign adoption, wardship and removal from jurisdiction and relocation. β€˜Diligent’ practice lead Stella Young β€˜excels in public law work’ and has a specialty in non-accidental injury cases and matters involving large groups of siblings. Her deputy is assistant solicitor and family arbitrator Karen Dovaston (β€˜an outstanding solicitor of the highest calibre with great communication skills and judgement’) who handles most of the divorce, financial and cohabitation matters as well as drafting pre- and post-nuptial agreements. β€˜Meticulous’ associate Anne-Marie Rainsford β€˜goes above and beyond for her clients’, focusing on care proceedings and private disputes over children.

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP provides a β€˜small but effective’ family law team β€˜with access to ancillary practices such as inheritance law’. Clients receive access to services such as divorce, cohabitation and financial proceedings, while the lawyers additionally handle private law children cases, domestic abuse matters as well as adoption, residence and special guardianship. Christopher Wall in Billericay assists with private children law disputes and financial remedy applications resulting from divorce, while FILEX Annette Lowen in Westcliff-on-Sea has an exclusive focus on all kinds of matters related to children as well as vulnerable adults. Department head Sybilla Agasee is also an accredited mediator and collaborative lawyer. Assistant solicitor Lauren Larkin is recommended for her β€˜tactical skill’. Recent highlights include the assistance of a father with a child arrangement order and prohibited steps application made against the mother due to allegations of neglect and welfare concerns regarding their ten-year-old son, as well as the representation of a husband during financial remedy proceedings where the wife tried to dispose of the family home without the client’s knowledge or approval. The Westcliff-on-Sea team welcomed associate Melanie Steeples from Grayfords LLP in July 2016.

Clients β€˜feel in safe hands’ with Sternberg Reed’s β€˜committed’ family department and identify its particular strength in representing β€˜vulnerable clients in difficult situations’. The team consists of 14 members who work across three offices in Barking, Grays and Romford. The β€˜efficient and sensible’ Soulla Kokkinos in Barking specialises in public law children and domestic abuse matters, while her co-leader Elizabeth Bendall focuses on representing children, parents, grandparents and guardians in disputes. The financial aspects of family law are handled by Andrew Crossley, while Frances Anderson in Romford is a family mediator across the spectrum. The partners are supported by two consultants, public children law practitioner Gordon Reed and financial relief lawyer Julian Beard, as well as senior associate Yvonne Snow, who β€˜has a great client manner’, and additional solicitors.

Mullis & Peake LLP’s practice in Romford β€˜carries out its family work to a high standard’. The team consists of the β€˜experienced, efficient and caring’ Joanna Toloczko, who is also a β€˜well-respected’ mediator, and paralegal Jenny Waite. While Toloczko specialises in financial relief matters, Waite handles private children law as well as straightforward divorces. Toloczko represented a husband who owned a large portfolio of investment properties regarding the divorce proceedings and financial relief application submitted by his wife and also settled pension negotiations worth Β£2m for another client. Waite advised a father in relation to a child arrangement order, including cross-allegations of substance abuse as well as criminal assault investigations.

Palmers β€˜is an excellent firm that provides efficient and competent advice for a reasonable cost’ in matters such as divorce, financial remedy, cohabitation, nuptial agreements, private law children matters (including special guardianship), civil partnership dissolution and domestic violence. Team head and β€˜excellent’ associate solicitor Surjit Verdi in Thurrock β€˜gives clear and sound advice’. Also recommended is paralegal Kim Mansfield who β€˜is adored and trusted by the local clients’. Solicitor and mediator Gordon Johnson sits in the Basildon office, while consultant Kevin Double works out of South Woodham. Verdi and Mansfield both handled separate financial relief matters, while the team also represented clients regarding trust of land applications, consent order enforcement and child arrangement orders.

Thompson Smith and Puxon’s family law team is based in Colchester and Clacton on Sea and, while having a particular focus on cohabitation disputes and pre-nuptial agreements, also undertakes matters regarding divorce, injunctions, same-sex relationships as well as financial remedies, property or business issues, and children disputes. Marcus Price is the team lead and primary contact for the Clacton office, and is supported by Colchester-based collaborative lawyers: solicitor Alison Cantor and associate Shelley Cumbers.

The family practice at Wortley Byers LLP in Brentwood covers all kinds of matters from marital agreements to separations and children issues. The key person is β€˜dedicated, sincere, competent’ and recently promoted associate solicitor Louise Margiotta, who also trained as a collaborative lawyer and mediator and specialises in negotiating and drafting agreements, high-value financial matters and international matters concerning private and public children law. Her recent highlights include the representation of a client who sought advice on personal assets as well as the removal of his ex-wife as a director and company secretary from his business after the divorce. She also settled a separation case (in which the husband had medical health issues) by conducting a series of β€˜without prejudice’ roundtable

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