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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 > South East > Private client > Family: Kent, Surrey, Sussex > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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  1. Family: Kent, Surrey, Sussex
  2. Leading individuals
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According to clients, Barlow Robbins LLPhas the feel of a provincial firm, but the quality of advice is equal to top London outfits’. The team frequently advises on high-value financial remedy proceedings, domestic and child abuse cases, and wealth protection matters including pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. The firm also undertakes a notable amount of international work, including advice on enforcing child arrangement orders, child abduction cases and cross-border financial asset management. The client base is comprised of clients in the South and London, with international clients based in Europe, Australia and Canada among others. Judith Ball heads the practice, which includes Joanna Farrands, who is ‘very calm under pressure while dealing with some of the most complex cases’, and senior associate Mandy Spring, who is ‘very personable with clients and has good technical knowledge’. Helen Habershon (also a senior associate) is another name to note.

Clients rate Charles Russell Speechlys LLP as ‘a top-tier law firm that provides excellent advice and service’. It is well-versed in financial matters arising from divorce proceedings, including advising clients on onshore and offshore asset management, tax issues arising from business assets, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and financial remedy proceedings. The team’s experience in children cases extends to international relocation disputes, domestic and sexual abuse issues, and child abduction cases. Its client roster includes high-net-worth individuals and commercial business owners in the South East region and London, extending to international clients in Europe and beyond. Shona Alexander, who joined from Forsters LLP in May 2016 and is ‘a very hard litigator who provides exceptional skill’, jointly heads the practice with Karen Wilsher, who is ‘sensible, efficient, hardworking and approachable’. They are ably supported by ‘efficient, caring and sensible’ senior associate William Rollin and Felicity Chapman (also a senior associate) who ‘cuts through the very most complex cases with ease’.

Cripps LLPhas considerable depth of knowledge on family law issues’, according to clients. With a strong background in handling complex and high-value divorce proceedings, pre-nuptial agreements and tax issues for clients, the firm also frequently undertakes children cases including Children Act proceedings, child abuse matters and internal relocation agreements. The firm also fields trained mediators and collaborative lawyers, plus the firm’s property, private client and corporate teams provide advice on offshore and onshore asset protection, tax issues and trust management. The firm’s client roster features national and international clients. Department leader and high-value financial remedy specialist Alex Davies, cross-border finance expert Vanda James and senior associate and wealth protection specialist Katy-Louise Allen (who joined the firm in June 2016 from Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP, are all recommended.

Mundays LLPalways provides an extremely professional service’. The practice assists with financial matters concerning onshore and offshore assets, financial remedy proceedings and contested spousal maintenance agreements. It also handles children matters involving alternative family structures and Children’s Act litigation. The practice is also well-versed in alternative dispute resolution methods, with several team members as trained mediators and collaborative solicitors, and regularly handles pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements involving multi-jurisdictional assets and international relocation applications. Former practice head Graham Coy left to join Stowe Family Law LLP in August 2016, with Miranda Green now leading the department. Also recommended are Judith Fitton, who ‘is thorough, to-the-point, very focused and clear’, collaborative lawyer Sarah Duckworth, and private law children disputes expert Rachel Lemon.

Stevens & Bolton LLP is ‘a thorough and professionally managed team of individuals, progressive in outlook and pragmatic in approach’. Its highly regarded financial work includes experience in handling high-value divorce proceedings, pre-nuptial agreements and spousal maintenance conflicts, plus the team is well-versed in child arrangement order applications, Children Act disputes and sexual abuse cases. With a client base that extends through the South East region into London and internationally, the roster features high-net-worth individuals, guardians and commercial business owners. The real estate, tax, trusts and commercial teams frequently collaborate with the practice on asset management matters, wealth protection mandates and trust management issues. As well as extensive ligation expertise, the outfit includes several trained mediators and collaborative lawyers for alternative dispute resolution methods. The team is led by Nicola Harries who ‘is incredibly thorough and a real tactician’; other recommended lawyers are Caroline Gordon-Smith who ‘is attentive and sympathetic to client needs and progressive in problem-solving’, the ‘professional, knowledgeable and efficient’ senior associate Elen Stritch and senior associate Grace Parker-White ‘who has a keen eye for detail’.

At Thomson Snell & Passmore, wealth protection matters such as pre-nuptial agreements, multi-million pound financial remedy proceedings and advising on agricultural asset protection are some of the matrimonial financial matters the firm undertakes. Its family work includes alternative family structure advice, Children’s Act disputes and abuse cases. Mediation and collaborative dispute resolution are key areas of the practice alongside litigation in all major family courts, plus the firm’s international remit of work concerns multi-jurisdictional business and property management as well as international relocations applications for families. The practice also cross-refers to the private client, tax, property and commercial teams in the firm when necessary for multi-disciplinary matters. The practice has a strong regional client base and includes national and international clients in its roster, which is largely comprised of agricultural families, high-net-worth individuals and business owners. The ‘outstandingJoanna Pratt heads the department, which also includes senior associate Desmond O’Donnell who ‘is a formidable opponent’. Trained collaborative lawyer and mediator Kirstie Law plus children proceedings expert Sarah Judd are key contacts.

asb law LLP frequently advises on wealth preservation matters such as cohabitation agreements, financial divorce proceedings and pension advice on the financial side of family law. It also assists with public law children’s cases involving child relocation, sexual abuse and shared custody arrangements. Mark Rennie leads the practice and is adept at handling disputes concerning unmarried couples, international freezing injunctions and inheritance issues. The six-lawyer team also includes associate and ancillary relief expert Jackie Judd, as well as solicitor and judicial separation proceedings specialist Anna Scales.

In 2016, Brachers advised on wealth protection matters, including pre-nuptial agreements, onshore and offshore asset management issues, and complex financial remedy proceedings. It also has a strong public children law capability, which involved assisting with contact order matters, Children Act cases and internal relocation disputes. The ‘excellent, bright and tenacious’ Stephen Smith leads the practice, which includes Mei-Ling McNab, who is ‘well-prepared, robust and has excellent client-management skills’; Victoria Toy, who ‘knows papers back to front’; matrimonial finance expert Mark Leeson; and associate Sophie Read.

Clients consider Family Law Partners to be ‘outstanding on all counts’. The team is well-versed in matrimonial financial matters involving property and commercial asset management, tax issues arising from divorce proceedings and wealth protection matters including cohabitation agreements. Its children law caseload extends to advising on child arrangements orders, child relocation applications and disputes, adoption matters and Children Act cases among others; the firm frequently represents guardians and families based in the UK and internationally. Robert Williams is ‘professional, dedicated and thoughtful’ while senior associate Lisa Burton-Durhamtakes a team approach and is committed to her work’; Alan Larkin is also highly regarded. Senior associate Gemma Hope joined the practice from Mayo Wynne Baxter LLP in January 2017 and Julian McEvoy left rhw Solicitors in December 2016 to head the firm’s newly opened Guildford practice. Linda Lamb left to establish her own practice.

Jones Nickoldsis a solid family law firm, with a good reputation in traditional family law and dispute resolution’. Financial remedy proceedings for high-net-worth individuals, Children Act disputes and post-nuptial agreements were frequent features of the firm’s workload in 2016; other areas of expertise including international tax matters, maintenance order disputes and international commercial and property asset management. It client base is focused on the South region and London, with international clients from the US and Europe also featuring on the roster. Key figures include Claire Nickolds, who is ‘pragmatic, direct and clever, championing the interests of her clients with great skill’; the ‘calm and determinedLisa Jones; Laura Smail, who is ‘immensely practical in her approach’; and Rachel Woodd, who is ‘absolutely excellent, extremely bright and very capable’. The ‘excellentGemma Irving was made partner in January 2017.

TWM Solicitors LLP is ‘a consummate example of an approachable firm for people wanting excellent client care, good advice and well-run cases’. The full-service practice focuses on financial remediation and children matters, and frequently undertakes onshore and offshore management advice, spousal maintenance disputes and cohabitation agreements. The practice has also seen increased activity in wealth protection, including pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and foreign divorces for international clients. Clients single out Sarah Cornes, who is ‘unflappable and determined, with boundless energy’; Lynn Child, who is ‘wise and a great judge of character and human relations’; Demelza Patricio; and the ‘outstandingSarah Bostock.

Warners Solicitors is ‘a smooth, professional machine that really fights its client’s corner’. Asset management, high-value financial remedy proceedings and wealth protection such as pre-nuptial agreements are all mainstays of the practice, which also frequently handles Children Act cases, cohabitation disputes and consent order applications, with several team members trained as mediators and in collaborative law proceedings. Rayma Collins heads the team, which includes the ‘unflappableMatthew Aves, who is noted for his ‘strong technical ability’, and newly promoted partner Charles Tennant, who is ‘thorough, with good attention to detail; he knows his stuff’. Philip Raggett is another key contact.

Adler Family Law Solicitors LLPis a strong firm with a good reputation’. Onshore and offshore asset management, pre-nuptial agreements and alternative family structures are all areas of expertise, as are child abuse cases and child abduction matters. Its client base focuses on high-net-worth individuals, high-value property holders and business owners. Key figures include Charlotte Adler, who ‘combines a calm, empathetic and approachable manner with a clear and commercial mindset’; she is recommended for high-value matrimonial disputes. Solicitor Nicola Beale is also well regarded.

The team at Blackfords LLP attracts praise for its ‘commitment to its clients and tenacious approach’. It has a primary focus on children and care work, with a substantial track record in Children Act matters and internal relocation agreements; child abduction cases, abuse matters and adoption disputes are all areas of expertise. The team also has a strong background of handling cases involving European jurisdictions, leveraging the firm’s strong crime practice where necessary. Penelope Moult left the firm, with newly promoted partner Nicola Chamberlain taking over as head of the practice. Helen Worden ‘has a strong sense of justice and is incredibly thorough in her case preparation’.

For some, Morrisons Solicitors LLP is ‘a first-rate firm for all aspects of matrimonial finance and private children work’. It is adept at handling cross-border financial remedy proceedings, spousal and child maintenance disputes, and wealth protection matters including cohabitation agreements. The team also undertakes Children Act disputes, shared arrangement mandates and internal relocation matters. Department leader Stephanie Calthrop-Owenis very efficient and professional’; she is ably assisted by associate Anne McAllister, who ‘knows her stuff incredibly well’, and senior associate Emma Newman, who is ‘an excellent communicator’.

Penningtons Manches LLP fields ‘a highly effective family department which has great expertise, attention to detail and looks after its clients like royalty’. Alternative family structure arrangements, high-value financial remedy proceedings, cross-border asset management and Children Act disputes are all key features of the practice, which services a national and international client base. Practice head Veronica Gilmourfights the client’s corner every inch of the way’; she is ably supported by associate director Rachel Donald, who joined from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP in January 2017 and who is noted for her ‘sympathetic approach and good judgement’; and senior associate Laura Naser, who is ‘very switched-on and forward-thinking’.

DMH Stallard LLP merged with Rawlison Butler LLP in 2017, bringing the legacy firm’s expertise in financial remedy proceedings, shared care arrangements and cross-border Children Act cases. Its financial expertise extends to wealth protection, asset management and overseas property advice for national and international clients, including high-net-worth individuals, business owners and trustees. Robert Worthing is noted for his particular expertise in handling claims with an international element. Other key figures include collaborative lawyer Nigel Winter and associateMarwa Hadi, who ‘is very thorough in her preparation but always has an eye for the reality of a case’.

Stantons Solicitorsis always thorough in its knowledge, level of service and provision of information’. The firm focuses on handling high-net-worth financial remedy proceedings, asset management and property issues, and Children Act disputes and internal relocation matters. Practice head Jan Stanton specialises in complex pensions matters and property cases; she is assisted by senior solicitor Jayne Garvie, who is ‘professional, fair-minded and thinks through every angle’.

Whitehead Moncktonis a good firm that works hard to achieve the best for its clients’. The team consists of trained collaborative lawyers and mediators as well as litigators who frequently handles the full spectrum of family matters including cohabitation agreements, cross-border asset management issues and enforcement of contact applications. Practice head Dawn Harrison is singled out for her ‘excellent, pragmatic and calm’ approach. Also recommended are Daniel Bennett, whose ‘total professional commitment is exceptional and the quality of care is quite unique’; and Graham Jones, who is ‘very affable, professional and eager to assist’.

The team at Boys & Maughanis friendly, dedicated and hardworking’. In 2016 the practice advised on spousal maintenance applications, high-value financial remedy proceedings and cross-border asset management for clients in the South East, London and Europe. Its extensive litigation expertise is complemented by the team’s trained mediation and collaborative law capabilities. The ‘compassionate, intelligent and forward-thinking’ Jonathan Da Costa heads the department, which includes Mary-Joyce Insaidoo who is recommended for domestic violence cases. Trevor King retired in March 2017.

Clarkson Wright & Jakes is adept at handling the full spectrum of Children Act matters, asset management and protection issues, and cohabitation issues. It also has experience in handling cross-border issues involving property assets held abroad and international child relocation disputes. The team also has the ability to advise on mediation and collaborative law cases for a client base that includes high-net-worth individuals and business owners. The Orpington-based practice includes department leader cross-border financial remedy expert Claire Schneck and cohabitation agreement professional Kevin Bristow.

Coole Bevis LLP’s ‘team provides a highly professional yet empathetic service’. In 2016 the practice advised clients including guardians, high-net-worth individuals and asset owners on high-value property transactions in divorce proceedings, pension disputes and special guardianship orders with a cross-border element, among other matters. The team is also known for its work in public law family matters and care proceedings concerning vulnerable or mentally incapacitated persons. Practice head and trained collaborative lawyer Susan Knight ‘is highly experienced, sensitive and able’; she is ably supported by experienced advocate Charlotte Youdan and Children Act specialist Helen Evennett.

Dawson Hartis a very experienced firm with a long track record of handling sensitive family disputes’. With a primary focus on matrimonial finances, the team frequently assists with international asset protection as well as spousal and child maintenance disputes for high-net-worth clients, while its public law children work extends to child abuse cases and leave to remove orders. Department head Mahie Abey ‘makes a difficult job looks easy’; ‘he is highly intelligent, experienced and efficient’. The ‘efficient, knowledgeable and very supportive’ Caroline Bourn is also recommended.

Griffith Smith Farrington Webb LLP is well-versed in handling matrimonial finance mandates including wealth protection matters such as pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and tax issues arising from divorce proceedings. It also handles Children Act disputes and care cases. As well as having ample experience in litigation, the team assists with mediation and collaborative law matters. Head of department Susan Hayesis a master of her subject; insightful and highly responsive’. Solicitors Sue Diplock and Marcella Helm are also recommended.

Mayo Wynne Baxter LLPprovides an excellent service to its clients’. In 2016 the firm advised on cohabitation disputes, alternative family structure matters and financial remedy proceedings for clients spanning the South East and London; vulnerable persons, high-net-worth individuals and commercial business owners all feature on the roster. Practice leader Charles Le May ‘is a brilliant and experienced solicitor in all areas of family law’; he is recommended alongside deputy head of department Zoë Summers, who was promoted to partner in 2016.

McMillan Williams’s expertise covers cross-border financial remedy proceedings, child abuse cases and supervision order disputes for a client base that includes international residents, high-net-worth individuals and guardians among others. The team has extensive expertise in litigation and alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration and collaborative law. Nicola Jones-King heads the practice and focuses on sexual abuse and injury cases. Other notable names include accredited mediator Caroline Landes and adoption expert Karen Davies.

Rix & Kay Solicitors LLPis a very strong firm with good inter-departmental support’, according to clients. Its financial remedy work extends to asset management matters and wealth protection issues, and is adept at handling Children Act proceedings and child abduction cases. Department leader Alan Fostergives sounds advice and is very efficient’; he is assisted by associate Helen Noble, who is ‘wise, sensible and compassionate’, and Maria Steele-Williams, who is ‘very dedicated and steadfast’. Michael Hayes left the firm in August 2016 to join 5 Pump Court and Julia Dyson departed for Wannops LLP in April 2016.

Starke & Coruns a first-rate service for its clients, with an approachable and professional manner’. The team assists clients with alternative family structures, financial remedy mandates and Children Law disputes. The firm’s client base includes high-net-worth individuals, guardian and trustees for high-value trusts among others. Firm director Andrew Delo ‘is experienced, quick-witted and can think outside of the box’; he is ably assisted by Sue Jago and Kate Elliott, who joined the firm in January 2017 from Rayden Solicitors.

ThomasHaywood Solicitorsis a niche family law practice providing excellent advice to clients’. Matrimonial finance matters and children cases are mainstays of the practice, which handled cross-border property and asset management matters, freezing injunctions and leave to remove applications in 2016. The ‘very experienced’ Sarah Haywood leads the practice, which includes ‘dynamic and empathetic’ consultant Juliet Franklin.

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Legal Developments in South East for Family: Kent, Surrey, Sussex

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 

    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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