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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 West > Private client > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Agriculture and estates

Index of tables

  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. 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 South West 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


Burges Salmon LLP is ‘excellent, with extensive and wide-ranging experience in this area'. Recent highlights include two major transactions in the national land market - sales from The Crown Estate at Dunster (comprising some 9,900 acres) and Gopsall.  Sian Edmunds is a ‘first-rate lawyer and litigator’, who is ‘very client focused, hugely experienced and tenacious’. Edmunds specialises in food regulation, but also handles farming and agribusiness contractual disputes, partnership disputes and agricultural tenancy issues; she acts for John Lewis Partnership/Waitrose, The Crown Estate, Gea Farm Technologies, Ornua Foods and Humphreys Feed. Kevin Kennedy has a national reputation for agricultural and private client advice and litigation, with a particular focus on tenancy advice, real property disputes, trust-related disputes and contract and tort claims; his clients include The Crown Estate, The National Trust, and Peel Group. Jim Aveline is a ‘brilliant private client and trust specialist’, and recently advised on a £30m succession plan for a 3,000-cow Dorset dairy farm. The ‘enormously bright’ associate Maddie Dunn is ‘one to watch’. New clients include Worcestershire County Council and the Environment Agency. Tom Hewitt heads up the food and farming as well as estates teams. With her ‘wealth of experience and technical knowledge’, Emma Folkes was made partner in May 2017; she specialises in non-contentious rural property, advising The Crown Estate's Rural Portfolio (for which the firm is sole legal advisor), the National Trust, and The Woodland Trust.

‘Professional and reliable’, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has a 34-strong team led by the ‘wise and highly experienced’ Christopher Page, who advises estate and private land owners on all aspects, including strategy, succession planning and ownership structures. Christian Massey specialises in large rural property, country house and landed estate transactions across the UK, often with an international dimension. Bringing significant experience from his time in the Geneva office, Henry Fea also advises on landed estates, particularly ones owned by offshore entities, and assists clients with tax, trust and succession matters. Senior associate Tristram van Lawick  and associates Rachel Beeby and Esther Thackery are all ‘excellent in the field of residential, farm and estate conveyancing’.

The Michelmores LLP team is ‘at the top of its game as an agricultural specialist’. Vivienne Williams is ‘very good at managing her clients’ expectations’; she advises on agricultural property disputes, including landlord-tenant and succession, as well as farming partnership disputes, rights of way, contractual disputes, and co-ownership and trust disputes. Williams leads the team with Ben Sharples, who is ‘good all round – approachable, confident in his knowledge of the law and a good negotiator’. He advises on landlord and tenant disputes over both agricultural and residential property. Sharples also has a considerable agribusiness practice, which includes the drafting of milk supply contracts. Peter Williams’ practice primarily focuses on confidential arbitration, however recently he has also been involved in Moore v Moore concerning estoppel in relation to a farm and farming business, which is now going to the Court of Appeal. Williams has ‘exceptional intelligence and pursues his clients’ claims with ruthless efficiency’. Senior associate Adam Corbin  is recommended as both ‘organised and commercial’.

Thrings LLP represent the two largest agricultural membership associations in the UK - the NFU and Country Land and Business Association - and advises the third, the Tenant Farmers Association. Recent work includes a high-value farm partnership dispute, which is listed for appeal at the Court of Appeal in October 2018; Bristol-based head of agricultural litigation Russell Reeves is leading. Reeves brings ‘a very sound grasp of law and procedure and very good judgement’. Neil Barbour heads up the agricultural property team from Bath, specialising in the sale, purchase, and leasing of agricultural property, particularly the acquisition and disposal of high-value farms, estates and country houses. Recommended associate Robert James acts for the defendants in the first-ever High Court claim against a British company in relation to modern slavery. Duncan Sigournay heads up the practice.

Clarke Willmott LLP is ‘excellent in dealing with all aspects of agricultural and estate matters’, and has a sizeable client list that includes the National Farmers Union (a panel appointment for Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire), Lloyds Banking Group (including AMC) and HSBC. Practice head Tim Hayden handles a range of defence work on behalf of the NFU, often relating to animal welfare and the identification and movement of livestock. Hayden is also experienced in road traffic cases, and is the lead solicitor for the Countryside Alliance, and also assists the Master of Foxhounds Association with hunting issues. Rod Lloyd-Jones provides ‘practical and valuable advice’, and specialises in agricultural property transactions, including the acquisition and disposal of farms and estates and advising on landlord and tenant issues. Lloyd-Jones also acts for many clearing banks in secured lending transactions for their agricultural clients. Mark Buckerfield is ‘exemplary at finding practical solutions, providing well-thought-out and straightforward advice’; Paul Hazeldine has a ‘very thorough approach’; and Esther Woolford is ‘very tenacious in pursuit of her clients' interests’. Associate Robert Mullen is also recommended as ‘extremely thorough and patient’.

Foot Anstey is ‘very good all round’, demonstrating ‘a thorough knowledge of the Agricultural Holdings Act in what is an extremely complex area of the law’. Clients include the National Farmers Union (a panel appointment for Devon and Cornwall), the Tregothnan estate, HSBC, Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association, and Santander Bank. Team head  Edward Venmore is ‘technically superb, professional and courteous’, and has extensive experience in commercial litigation, professional negligence claims, and property and regulatory-related disputes; recent work includes an ongoing Agricultural Holdings Act dispute involving arbitration and court proceedings. The firm recently hired senior associate Kit Mordaunt from Everys, who specialises in acting for large landed estates. Legal director George Gilpin joined in May 2017 from Moore Blatch LLP; as a consulting arborist – the only solicitor in the country with formal qualifications in this specialism – Gilpin is particularly knowledgeable in the care and management of trees under tree preservation orders and in conservation areas. Associate Danielle Spalding also handles many of the firm’s highest-profile and most complex matters, and comes recommended. Joel Woolf left the firm to join Wright Hassall LLP.

Clients are ‘very happy with the knowledge base and appropriateness of advice and response times’ delivered by Stephens Scown LLP. Advising on all rural matters, the firm has a special focus on equestrian issues - such as livery and riding establishments, leases of gallops, equestrian facilities and horse loan agreements – and sporting rights, including leases of shooting rights and the acquisition and disposal of fishing and shooting rights. Susie Murray is 'always very personable and positive' and leads the Devon rural team, which ‘is very knowledgeable in all aspects'. Kate Theophilus handles non-contentious agricultural matters, a number of which have been very high profile. Philip Reed leads the Cornwall rural team.

Trethowans LLP is ‘a good regional firm,' with an 'excellent property department' and 'a strong reputation'  in the South West. Clients include Lloyds Bank as well as Clydesdale Bank, which instructed the firm for independent advice regarding the refinance of a farm partition, worth approximately £2.5m. Head of the team Marcus Thorpe is 'a cut above the rest: very proactive, efficient and excellent at giving advice in rural and agricultural property, particularly farmland'; Grainne Alen-Buckley is also highly recommended. Associate Rebecca Gillard has ‘good attention to detail with a balanced pragmatism to getting the matter dealt with effectively'.

Ashfords LLP is an ‘excellent "all-round" law firm': clients have ‘the highest praise for the whole team' and for the 'quality and speed of service'. The team specialises in property transfers, making arrangements for succession planning, and advising on farm-based energy projects. Head of the practice Darren Blackburn 'gets the fundamentals right: fast turnaround, friendly and helpful manner, client availability – all excellent’. Blackburn specialises in the sale, purchase and letting of farms, farmland and large residential properties. Head of the firm's energy and waste team Ruth Murray has significant experience advising agricultural landowners, developers and contractors on energy infrastructure projects in relation to a range of issues, including power purchase agreements, off-take agreements, maintenance contracts and major commercial project agreements, including EPC contracts. Robert Horsey advises on agricultural landlord and tenant disputes, proprietary estoppel claims, and related agricultural disputes. Tom Biddick provides constructive estate planning and succession advice for farmers, and is described by clients as an ‘excellent lead’. Associate Jonathan Croley advises on energy projects (particularly in anaerobic digestion and biomass projects), operation and maintenance contracts and feedstock contracts.

Paul Dunlop heads up the practice at Blanchards Bailey LLP. Jerome Dodge and senior associate Ian Campbell regularly advise farming clients and landowners on estate planning and succession matters; recent work includes advising a Dorset-based farming family on agricultural property relief and business property relief. Lisa Holden specialises in drafting prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements for rural clients. Alan Horne specialises in rural conveyancing transactions, along with solicitor Carla Phillips.

The team at Coodes Solicitors is ‘highly experienced and has deep professional knowledge’. The firm has expertise in commercial property and succession planning, disputes, contentious probate, divorce and crime (e.g. animal welfare and pollution), and typically works for farmers and their families. Clients also include Folk2Folk, Santander, the Fortescue Family, and recently Lloyds Bank. Head of the team Pam Johns is ‘highly efficient and has an excellent reputation’, with ‘a thorough technical knowledge of the current issues’; she covers all aspects of agricultural property, including the buying and selling of farms, the transfer of Single Farm Payment Entitlements, easements, rights of way and the property aspects of rural business transfers. Based mainly in West Devon and Cornwall, the firm operates out of nine offices from Penzance to Holsworthy. The rural team has expanded, following the recent appointments of associate Kirsty McAuley and solicitor Susan Reynolds.

Based in Wotton-under-Edge, Loxley Legal Services LLP is ‘a good firm of rural lawyers’. The specialist seven-partner team is led by Andrew Baskerville who works primarily in the disposal and purchase of large rural estates and development land. Judith Bell is ‘a superb lawyer who acts with determination and alacrity', and provides expertise in farm partnership disputes as well as issues relating to telecoms, utilities and minerals. Pierre Bell is also recommended.

Mogers Drewett LLP is ‘highly responsive and proactive’, providing ‘excellent attention to detail and client care’.  Wells-based solicitor Jonathan Cheal is considered 'an industry leader in his area of expertise’, ‘leaving no stones unturned’ as one of the country’s leading specialists in public rights of way and access to land. Amanda Inch specialises in rural and commercial property matters, with significant expertise in development contracts, options and promotion agreements for both landowners and developers, renewable energy, and commercial leases. Frank Collins heads the practice.

‘Extremely professional and knowledgeable’, clients describe Royds Withy King’s farming and property advice as ‘first class’. Practice head Angus Williams’ ‘knowledge of agriculture and anything legally connected is boundless’. Williams handles acquisition and disposal of farms and estates, development land, and farming and rural business interests; commercial and residential property development; agricultural tenancy work, including Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies and farm business tenancies; and secured lending and re-finance work for banks. Sharon MacDonald specialises in the preparation of cohabitation and prenuptial agreements designed to protect farming partnerships and business assets, and acts on behalf of farmers and family members in divorces involving a farm, farm businesses or farming assets. Bath-based solicitor Alice Newsome is also recommended.

Willans LLP's team is ‘knowledgeable and competent’, and acts for landowners and farming families, and those buying and selling country properties and estates in and around the South West, predominantly in the counties of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and the Cotswolds. Head of the team Robin Beckley is ‘very knowledgeable’, ‘sensible in his approach, highly professional and acts swiftly when required to do so’; he has considerable experience in disposing of development land by option, conditional contract, and promotion agreement. The firm holds active panel appointments for Clydesdale Bank and Agricultural Mortgage Corporation.

Peter Bourke leads the team at Wilsons and is recommended for his ‘understanding of clients' needs' and for 'providing sensible, cost-effective advice’. Bourke specialises in tenancy succession claims and claims against the Rural Payments Agency, as well as rights of way and neighbour disputes. Alison Bailey specialises in landowner development and rural property. Associate Tim Olliff-Lee specialises in the sale and purchase of farms and rural property, the leasing of renewable energy sites, and the letting of agricultural land.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP provides ‘expert agricultural and development advice and a good strategic approach’. Clients include the National Trust, English Heritage, the Society of Merchant Venturers, the National Farmers Union, and RwE. Head of the team Robert Drewett is ‘very experienced in tenancy and multi-owner scenarios’; he has expertise in acting for landowners on development deals and acts in connection with the sale and purchase of all kinds of rural property, the letting of land and other rural property, general asset management, the negotiation of minerals leases, the resolution of Agricultural Holdings Act issues, and on behalf of landowning charities. Simon Kirkup also leads the practice.

Charities and not-for-profit

Index of tables

  1. Charities and not-for-profit
  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 Charities and not-for-profit clients in South West 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


Stone King LLP has expanded its already vast charity practice, with over 150 new clients across the national sector group. The firm also has longstanding arts and heritage clients - such as The National Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arnolfini Museum, and the National Maritime Museum - and faith clients, including 11 Church of England Dioceses, seven Roman Catholic Dioceses, and over 50% of the Roman Catholic religious orders in the country. The firm has recently acted on hive-offs for English Heritage and the Royal Parks charity and the National Citizenship Service. The firm’s liveries and City corporations practice has also increased, with the addition of The Vintners' Foundation to The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, The Worshipful Company of Farmers and The Corporation of Trinity House. In addition to acting for many military charities – such as the RAF Sports Federation, the Army Families Federation, and the National Army Museum - the firm has reinforced its specialism in charities that operate colleges for young people with special educational needs. The ‘excellent, knowledgeable and proactive’ head of the practice Tim Rutherford splits his time between Bath and London, bringing expertise in faith organisations, in particular Roman Catholic charities, as well as almshouses. Senior associate Alexandra Steffensen is also highly recommended; she is acting for The Congregation of the Sisters of Nazareth Generalate in its support for a €27m redevelopment of its care homes in Ireland; and is advising RSPCA Bristol and District Branch on implementing a new fundraising brand and governance review. Consultant and ex-partner Michael King retired in May 2018.

VWV advises various national charities, such as Citizens Advice, Volunteering Matters, City & Guilds London Institute and Education Development Trust, as well as, increasingly, charitable independent schools such as Eton College and Christ's Hospital School. The firm also advises faith charities, including the Diocese of Gloucester, the Diocese of Truro and several regional synods of the United Reformed Church. Con Alexander acts for charities, academies, schools and universities, as well as social enterprises across the charity and not-for-profit sector. Emma-Jane Dalley has particular expertise in advising independent schools and further and higher education bodies, as well as charities on franchise projects overseas. The charity team made two hires in late 2017: Paul Voller joined as partner from London firm Bircham Dyson Bell in October, bringing particular expertise in the corporate and commercial aspects of the charity sector, and associate Kate Parkinson joined from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP in November. Senior associate Rachel Tonkin and associate Laura Chesham are highly recommended.

John Toth and Kerry Morgan-Gould head up the Ashfords LLP charity practice, which acts for many significant national charities. London-based Toth is ‘particularly patient, as well as being experienced and supportive’, and specialises in non-contentious work. Tiverton-based Morgan-Gould, who was promoted to partner in September 2017, advises on claims under the Inheritance Act 1975 and on legacy administration issues. Associate Lara Moore, who is also recommended, has a focus on advising charities with coastal interests and assets on all aspects of maritime licencing and regulation.

The charity practice at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is led by Christopher Page, Julia Cox, and consultant Mike Scott. Page acts for a broad range of charity clients, including those with significant landholdings. Cox has broad charity law experience, including in relation to start-ups, dealing with the Charity Commission, trustee liability  and incorporations. Scott specialises in advising companies limited by guarantee, charitable incorporated organisations, and chartered bodies and their trading companies, and has experience in dealing with everything from mergers to restructurings. Associate Penelope Byatt is also highly recommended.

Foot Anstey has ‘an excellent reputation in the charity sector, and is industry leading in terms of providing in-house legacy management support.’ Anna Phillips heads up the firm’s charity property practice and specialises in advising charities, social enterprises, housing associations, exempt accommodation and healthcare providers in freehold disputes, commercial and residential landlord and tenant disputes, business lease renewals and property-related professional negligence. Lucy Gill is a ‘very professional, ambitious and creative lawyer’, and as head of the legacy and trusts disputes team is a key contact. New client Great Ormond Street Hospital recently instructed the firm to advise on an estate of which it is sole residuary beneficiary; other key clients include RSPB, RSPCA, Age UK, and Save the Children. Senior associate Alex Rogers is experienced advising on trust disputes with a Jersey connection. Senior associate Emma Facey is also highly recommended.

Michelmores LLP is ‘particularly strong’ in trust- and property-related charity matters. Tony Cockayne , who leads the disputed wills team, specialises in contentious probate but also ‘works wonders in charity governance matters where a pragmatic strategist is required’. Senior associate Barny Croft’s caseload covers all aspects of disputed wills, disputed trusts, proprietary claims, claims under the Inheritance Act 1975 and administration disputes, and led the firm’s successful tender to become the sole provider for Cancer Research UK's contentious trusts and probate work, estimated to generate 50 new instructions per year. Martin Follett is an expert in ecclesiastical law, which often has a strong charity component. Senior associate Edward Porter and associate Andrew White are also highly recommended.

Tozers Solicitors LLP delivers ‘excellent knowledge’ of the sector. Clients include Farming and Countryside Education, which the firm recently advised on all legal aspects of its successful merger with Linking Environment and Farming, including due diligence, drafting and negotiating the detailed merger agreement; and the Apostolic Prefecture of the Falklands (and other South Atlantic Islands), on behalf of which the firm established a new UK charity (a CIO) in unusual circumstances to manage funds retrieved for what is in effect a Roman Catholic Diocese operating over a very wide area overseas. Head of the practice James Evans arrived from Foot Anstey in January 2017, and has since led the team to build client relationships with Dartington Hall Trust, Marine Biological Association, Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education, Society of Chief Librarians, and the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust. Evans is ‘easy to talk with, explains things simply and has an excellent knowledge’, and specialises in advising on charity start-ups and registration, governance and constitutional issues, corporate transactions such as mergers, joint ventures and restructures, commercial agreements, and funding and trading arrangements. Richard King is ‘very personable, ethical, honest, wise, frank, and delightful to work with’, and advises charities on all aspects of charity law, including formation, mergers and collaborations, compliance issues, fundraising, legacies, property, tax and Charity Commission investigations.

‘Excellent across the board’, Wilsons has a particular strength in legacy work. The firm acted for the three charities (Blue Cross, RSPB and RSPCA) in Ilott v Mitson, the first-ever case considered by the Supreme Court under the Inheritance Act 1975. Key clients include Help for Heroes and Action on Hearing Loss (previously known as RNID).  Clients praise the team for its ‘neat balance of a depth of legal and charity experience, which is deftly applied to complex situations’. Head of the practice, legal director Gillian Fletcher, advises on all aspects of charity law and governance, including the restructuring of charities, breaches of trust and, increasingly, compliance issues. Fletcher, along with James Johnson are credited as ‘well considered, practical, prompt, timely, polite and completely professional’. Peter Jeffreys focuses on charity legacy administration and the resolution of problem estates for charities, and has a special interest in dealing with cases of probate fraud for charities.

Lester Aldridge LLP is one of ‘the strongest in the local area’, with the ‘highly respected and effective partner’ Geoff Trobridge leading the practice’s registration, charitable status, governance and regulatory work. Trobridge’s ‘knowledge is immense’ and his experience as an in-house lawyer with the Charity Commission ensures that he can provide ‘excellent practical advice’. Clients include British Heart Foundation, The Stroke Association and The United Reformed Church (Wessex) Trust Limited.

Willans LLP delivers ‘an excellent service’ and specialises in charity property dispute resolution and acting on behalf of national charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support and Scope. Alasdair Garbutt was promoted to partner in June 2017, and has since won the firm all of the real estate work for Shelter (after previously advising on half its real estate portfolio) as well as all real estate work for Victim Support. ‘Very prompt and effective’, Garbutt also leads the work for Marie Curie and Sue Ryder. Associate Caroline Leviss left the firm in October 2017. Nigel Whittaker heads up the department.

The team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has grown, with two junior hires over the last year who focus exclusively on advising the charity sector. Clients include the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Crisis UK, National Energy Action, National Trust, RNLI, and United Synagogue. The firm also advises Historic England on employment matters, including difficult grievance matters involving senior employees and complex TUPE issues arising from the ending of service supply arrangements. Recent work also includes advising the Academy of Medical Sciences on two large international grant-making programmes; an appointment as interim manager for Cardiff Sixth Form College; and acting on the £10.2m incorporation of the Stone Family Foundation from a charitable trust to a charitable company limited by guarantee. The latter was led by Mark Woodward, who heads up the practice along with Robert Drewett.

Solicitor Doris Woo joined from Browne Jacobson LLP to head up the charities team at BPE Solicitors LLP. Clients include The Smallpeice Trust, the UK's largest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education charity, which the firm is advising on a merger with The Arkwright Scholarships Trust, including the novation of significant contracts and TUPE obligations. Senior associate Sarah Lee is 'consistent in her utterly professional approach', providing 'clear, thorough and concise' advice.

Stephens Scown LLP is a ‘leading firm for charities and not-for-profit work in the county’. Senior associate and practice head Helen Furneaux  is ‘very reliable and good at explaining issues to clients in terms that they can understand’; she advises charities on restructuring and the use of trading subsidiaries, governance issues, large-scale grant-funded projects, mergers and setting up charitable incorporated organisations.

Contentious trusts and probate

Index of tables

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

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Contentious trusts and probate clients in South West 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’ Burges Salmon LLP has ‘a longstanding and deserved reputation in property, contentious probate, trusts and associated work’. Kevin Kennedy and Justin Briggs head up the practice, which often works across jurisdictions and on trusts or estates worth well over £100m. Kennedy is ‘excellent in agricultural and property cases and in trust and contentious probate work’, and Briggs specialises in offshore trust litigation, advising representative beneficiaries and on applications to rectify trust documentation. Sian Edmunds deals with contentious trusts matters, often relating to her contentious agricultural practice. Senior associate Katherine King  specialises in trusts disputes relating to both commercial and private wealth trusts. Associate Caroline Emslie provides ‘excellent trial preparation and client care’.

Foot Anstey has a team of ‘skilled and intelligent lawyers in this area’, which acts for Age UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital, RSPB, British Red Cross, Save the Children, and RNLI. Lucy Gill leads the team and recently acted in a will validity dispute for the beneficiaries of the estate of the late Lord Sydney Templeman, author of the 'Golden Rule' of good practice for will drafting solicitors in the judgment in Kenward v Adams (1975). Senior associate Alex Rogers regularly advises trust companies based in Europe and the Middle East, and also has experience in trust disputes with a Jersey connection, having spent six months on secondment to a leading Channel Island law firm. Gill, Rogers and senior associate Emma Facey are ‘all experienced, sensible and helpful’.

Michelmores LLP is a ‘market leader in contentious trusts and probate in the South West’. Specialising exclusively in contentious trusts and probate, the team receives regular instructions from a number of national charities, and has recently been appointed as Cancer Research UK's sole legal provider for contentious trusts and probate work. Head of the team Tony Cockayne is an ‘excellent tactician’ with 'strong contentious probate experience, providing prompt and thorough advice'. Senior associate Barny Croft is ‘particularly effective at mediation' and handles claims under the Inheritance Act 1975 and administration disputes. ‘Unflappable in even the messiest and most acrimonious contentious probate cases',  Croft has recently advised  professional  executors in relation to issues and claims arising from complex estates (including Beddoe applications, will construction and rectification claims) and proprietary estoppel claims. Associate James Frampton is an ‘astute tax and trusts practitioner’, with a particular focus on trust restructuring and succession planning.

Royds Withy King act on a wide range of contentious matters, including will validity claims, trustees’ disputes, and Court of Protection applications in mental capacity matters. The firm specialises in advising charities on all contentious trusts and probate matters, including inheritance disputes. Based in Bath, head of the team Amanda Noyce is an ‘excellent lawyer with an incredible breadth of knowledge’. Associate Calum Campbell is a ‘first-rate lawyer, who finds innovative solutions to complex problems’, and associate Mike Muston is also recommended.

VWV is a ‘high-quality and professional firm providing really good advice’. Head of the department Michelle Rose is ‘the visionary leading the firm from strength to strength’ and is currently acting on ten substantial and complex estates as an independent administrator. She is also working as a deputy in relation to a multimillion-pound estate. Rose and senior associate Fiona Lawrence are 'both excellent, with excellent client service and good commercial sense’. Lawrence specialises in complex, cross-border disputes. Senior associate Marianne Nankervis has ‘obvious aptitude’ and extensive experience in professional negligence claims relating to the drafting of wills and trusts and tax advice.

Clients can expect ‘excellent service’ from Ashfords LLP. Department head Robert Horsey and Kerry Morgan-Gould are ‘extremely knowledgeable in the area of contentious probate’, dealing with matters ‘timeously and with precision and expertise’. Horsey advises private individuals, charities and trust corporations in relation to all matters arising out of contentious wills, trusts and estates, specialising in contentious Court of Protection matters. Both partners are ‘courteous and have the ability to put one at ease with the knowledge that his or her matter will be dealt with professionally and expertly’.

Clarke Willmott LLP is ‘excellent, providing a top-quality service.’ Clients include the Countryside Alliance, for whom they recently succeeded this year in a claim relating to the construction of a will clause; and the NFU.  Changes to the team included 'very skilled lawyer’ Bonita Walters joining as a partner from Burroughs, Laura Mackain-Bremner joining as an associate in Taunton from London firm Bark&co and Emily Jenkins re-joining the team as a solicitor in Bristol after a year abroad. Associate Margeret Vining in the conveyancing department is ‘consistently outstanding’. Esther Woolford leads the team.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP is ‘a leading firm in the region, with a particularly strong department in this area’. The team specialises in claims under the Inheritance Act 1975, disputes concerning the validity of wills (involving, for example, lack of testamentary capacity, lack of knowledge and approval, and lack of due execution), trust disputes, proprietary estoppel claims, undue influence claims regarding wills and lifetime gifts, and Court of Protection work. Head of dispute resolution Lauren Day has particular experience in dealing with high-value contractual disputes on behalf of property developer clients (including judicial review applications relating to planning appeals), construction disputes and professional negligence. Day also has an established practice in high-net-worth and complex trust and will disputes. Victoria Riddleston, who joined from Wilsons, was promoted to associate. Riddleston is a ‘very good lawyer, who really knows her stuff, but also has an excellent client manner’; she is a specialist in contentious trust and probate work and worked for the charities in Ilott v Mitson, which went onto become a significant Supreme Court case that developed the law on adult children inheritance act claims.

At Lester Aldridge LLP, department head Victoria Jones specialises in contested will, trust and probate cases. She represents charities, care homes, families and private clients and has a particular strength in cases involving vulnerable adults, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Court of Protection. Graham McLean joined the team from Coles Miller Solicitors LLP in May 2017 and was made a partner in November 2017. He represents private individuals, professional advisers and charitable institutions in disputed will, trust and probate cases. Although Oliver Phipps is not part of the contentious probate team, he does offer specialist advice on international private client matters.

Phil Gregory heads the team at Stephens Scown LLP and practises almost exclusively in contentious probate work, with a particular emphasis on high-value estates and businesses. Charisse Crawford recently acted on an Inheritance Act 1975 claim against a £1.3m farm estate; is currently advising trustees regarding a claim brought against a will trust by a former spouse; and has recently been instructed by a beneficiary following the failure of the deceased to sign a will prepared in contemplation of marriage. Davina Haydon heads up the dispute resolution team in the St Austell office; she has particular experience in challenging the validity of wills, including the use of Larke v Nugus requests.

Wilsons has an array of national charities on its client list. The firm represented Blue Cross, RSPB and RSPCA, successful appellants in Ilott v Mitson, in the first case the Supreme Court has ever considered regarding the Inheritance Act 1975. Team head James Aspden is ‘very bright, diligent, sensible, and looks after his clients wonderfully’; he specialises in resolving high-value trust and probate disputes. Charlotte Watts is ‘organised, intelligent and gives amazingly clear and insightful advice’. Fiona Campbell-White advises on disputes involving legacies and disputes arising during the course of the administration of trusts and estates, with particular experience acting for charities.

Blanchards Bailey LLP provides a ‘generally good’ contentious trusts practice. Team head Paul Dunlop works from both the Blandford and Dorchester offices and specialises in agricultural succession planning. Solicitor Lucy Mignot  has particular experience in Court of Protection matters and disputes relating to ‘deathbed wills’. The ‘very efficient, knowledgeable’ and ‘very personable’ head of wills and estate planning Jerome Dodge sometimes works with the contentious trusts and probate team, advising on discrete elements of trusts law, the duties of executors and trustees and the dissolution of trusts or transfer of trust assets upon settlement. Ben Jones , a specialist in property-based disputes, joined as an associate in 2017 from Porter Dodson LLP.

Colin Hunter, who heads the team at Coodes Solicitors, spends approximately 70% of his time on contentious trust and probate disputes. His recent work includes acting on a £7m estate requiring two substantive High Court actions in relation to will construction and capacity and involving a total of 20 defendants. Melanie Grose advises on a wide range of contentious trust and probate disputes, including legacies to charities; claims under the Inheritance Act 1975; problem executors; difficulties arising out of the sale of property in estates; equitable claims; undue influence and fraud.

Consultant Philip Siddons has withdrawn from the partnership, but still heads the department at Humphreys & Co. Siddons advises on will validity and Inheritance Act claims, assisted by trainee Rachel Tonkinson. The firm has a niche industrial disease unit, which obtains grants of representation for the estates of those who have died as a result of asbestos-related diseases, and act for terminally ill clients in the preparation of urgent wills. The firm takes instructions from abroad also, in particular Australia and New Zealand.

Porter Dodson LLP is a ‘major player in the Taunton and Yeovil area’. ‘Astute and commercial’ team head Stephen Wray specialises in inheritance disputes and financial provision claims, capacity disputes, trust and trustee disputes, and applications regarding the removal and replacement of trustees. Solicitor Rachel FitzGerald  joined from Irwin Mitchell.

Bournemouth-based John Andrews heads the team at Steele Raymond LLP, where he handles contested probate and trust disputes related satellite claims as well as Inheritance Act applications for claimants and defendants. He also specialises in litigation before the Court of Protection, dealing with issues arising out of attorney and deputyship work. Sue Adams in taxation is another key contact.

Clients are impressed by the 'diligence and persistence' of the 'skilled and effective' team at Wards Solicitors LLP. Department head Elizabeth Fry specialises in Inheritance Act 1975 disputes and contentious Court of Protection work, providing a ‘very strong combination of legal analysis and fact management, which works towards the best possible outcome for the client’. Ian Williamson is a ‘determined litigator’. Associate Lucia Mills comes highly recommended by clients, going ‘beyond the call of duty’; she specialises in cohabitation agreements and disputes, as well as probate disputes concerning property and financial provision.

Willans LLP is ‘excellent in all aspects: almost immediate response times, with in-depth knowledge and experience’. The firm handles a number of Inheritance Act 1975 claims, led by head of team Paul Gordon, a ‘robust, yet sensible and pragmatic’ litigator. A recent highlight has been advising an Australian national looking to challenge the administration of her father’s estate; High Court proceedings have been issued and are ongoing. Senior associate Nick Southwell is recommended for dispute resolution and mediation.


Index of tables

  1. Family
  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 Family clients in South West 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


Burges Salmon LLP is ‘in a league of its own', according to clients. Asset protection - particularly where international or offshore assets are involved - is the firm’s forte. Practice head Sarah Hoskinson specialises in international divorce cases: her highlights included advising a non-domiciled wife on a complex consent order and international tax advice regarding a BVI company in a Guernsey-based trust; a financial dispute regarding a £67m landed estate; and a £30m pre- and post-nuptial agreement concerning inherited and illiquid assets. Consultant Alison Hawes - a new recruit from Irwin Mitchell last year - is ‘a strategic, great negotiator’ who is experienced handling complex, high-value financial matters arising from relationship breakdown; she recently acted for a husband in a £75m divorce settlement involving international properties, which also included multi-generational asset protection via prenuptial agreement. ‘Pragmatic’ senior associate Nicky Howarth handles private children's law and cross-border cases, and recently advised a husband in €15m French divorce proceedings with complex cross-border children and financial elements.

Clarke Willmott LLP is a ‘top-tier firm in this area’, acting primarily for entrepreneurs, high-level executives and farmers/landowners in financial remedy proceedings, and providing particular expertise in cases with cross-border aspects, complex trust and asset ownership issues, and pension elements. ‘Excellent’ practice head Gareth Schofield specialises in complex financial remedy and ToLATA disputes, and also advises on protective trust and nuptial settlements; he works on purely domestic matters and on those with cross-border aspects, particularly involving France. Daniel Eames has expertise in complex marriage or cohabitation disputes, particularly those with an international aspect. Eames was also the only solicitor called to give evidence to the Justice Select Committee on the impact of Brexit on family law. Senior associate Alastair Macleod ‘is a very sound lawyer, who is particularly knowledgeable in pensions on divorce’, dealing with high-net-worth financial settlements, including cases involving companies, partnerships, trusts and farm businesses. Senior associate Hannah Livesey is ‘an exceptionally bright young lawyer, very approachable and supportive whilst being objective in her advice’. Associate Laura Bond also has significant international experience, including financial settlements (e.g. under Part III of the MFPA and Schedule 1 of the Children Act), prenuptial agreements and children matters. Senior associate Emma Gordan is also recommended.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP is ‘a leading and well-respected player in the region’. The practice focuses almost entirely on child abduction, and has a strong local and London caseload. The department has also recently launched a new service area focusing on family issues for the LGBT community. Katie Taft was made partner in January 2018 and works on matrimonial finance, international child abduction, injunctions and complex children issues, especially Hague Convention work. Sean McNally - who is praised as ‘charming and charismatic’ and a ‘collaborative lawyer, who tries to cut through matters and avoid litigation’ - specialises in complex financial disputes involving pensions, companies, trusts and non-disclosure. McNally heads the practice with Deborah Leask, who is ‘experienced and approachable’ and is ‘excellent with clients’. Senior associate Ian Butterworth specialises in matrimonial finance cases.

The 'excellent' Irwin Mitchell has developed its expertise in complex money cases with the arrival of the ‘simply brilliant’ Nicola Walker from the Birmingham office, who brings ‘vast experience’ in family law and specialises in cases involving premarital wealth. The practice focuses on HNW financial cases, often with additional complexities such as family businesses with private equity investment and large property portfolios, and issues involving pre-acquired wealth. Associate Erin Sawyer specialises in professional negligence litigation arising out of family finance, as well as matters involving family companies, shareholdings and partnerships. Recent work from the team includes Assistant solicitor Rebecca Jones joined the Bristol team in 2017 and is also ‘very good’.

Michelmores LLP is a 'pre-eminent firm in the South West of England’, with a skilled, well trained and very client-focused’ team.  Louisa Ghevaert has a ‘depth of knowledge in relation to complex surrogacy and assisted parenthood matters is second to none’. She leads the fertility and parenting team, which handles matters with an international dimension as well as complex children disputes involving families created through assisted conception. Ghevaert gave expert evidence for the claimant in the first-ever UK damages award for surrogacy in September 2017 (in conjunction with Irwin Mitchell). Practice head  Simon Thomas is ‘very thorough, with attention to detail in complex financial remedy cases’; Thomas mostly advises on high-net-worth divorce cases and receives many instructions from divorcing landowners relating to both traditional and diversified farms, including, recently, dynastic trusts and a Zambian land and farming portfolio. Associate Rachael Shearmur is ‘clear-minded about complex private children cases’ and is also experienced in ancillary relief and domestic violence matters.

Royds Withy King has ‘one of the strongest and most experienced family teams in the South West’ and is ‘at the head of the pack of modernised family law firms.' The team specialises in complex child care proceedings, with five ‘sympathetic and pragmatic' partners leading the group. Sharon MacDonald ‘combines strong support for clients and has a pragmatic approach to negotiation’; she handles high-value finance matters, prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and cohabitation disputes. MacDonald also specialises in cases involving farming and agricultural families, and the armed forces. A recently made partner, the 'outstanding' Rebecca Stevens deals with family disputes relating to children, including child protection, contact, residence, removal from the jurisdiction and domestic violence issues, and ‘moves mountains to get results’. Among other changes to the team, senior associate Kit O'Brien moved to Stokes Partners LLP in January 2018, and Will MacFarlane  joined from Withers LLP as partner in February 2018. MacFarlane has considerable experience acting for unmarried parents in financial claims on behalf of children, and recent Schedule 1 clients include two Premier League footballers. Senior associate Katherine Lauder is ‘exceptional’, and consultant Jon Toogood is also ‘an outstanding family lawyer’.

Stephens Scown LLP is ‘a very experienced and respected firm’ and has one of the largest teams in the South West, with 17 ‘well-organised, efficient and knowledgeable practitioners.’ The team handles complex private children's law, domestic abuse issues, adoption, international abduction, conflict of laws issues, high-net-value divorces, and and large pension considerations. In 2017, Mark Chanter joined the Truro team as a senior consultant from Foot Anstey, and the ‘professional, courteous, helpful and approachable’ Sarah Atkinson was promoted to partner; she now heads the Truro team. Liz Allen and Andrew Barton lead the overall practice and are ‘particularly strong’. Allen has ‘a fantastic rapport with clients and won’t stand for anything but the best’, and specialises in high-net-worth financial and business settlements on divorce, including pensions and trusts. Barton is ‘technically excellent’ and ‘isn’t afraid to take an inventive approach to litigate or settle cases and ensure the best for his clients’; he has a strong practice in financial cases involving international assets, financial provision following a foreign divorce and jurisdiction issues. Senior associate and ‘exceptionally hard-working solicitor’ Sarah Walls is 'a rising star in the firm’, specialising in mid- to high-net-worth divorce cases.

The Family Law Practice is an ‘excellent niche practice’, providing 'a quality service coupled with sensible and practical advice'. The firm has a notable cross-border practice, which recently has encompassed matters involving Australia, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Germany. Ashley Palminteri leads the practice, mainly acting for high-net-worth individuals whose cases generally involve commercial assets, trust assets, complex income and pensions structures. Sharon Mahmood specialises in complex private law work relating to children, particularly applications to remove children from the jurisdiction. Associate Bessie Hanson joined the firm in January 2017 from Bobbetts Mackan in Bristol, where she headed up the divorce and finance team. She specialises in farming cases, ToLATA proceedings and private children work.

TLT is ‘an extremely strong and impressive firm’, and the family team is led by Natalie Drew. All members of the team handle high-net-worth financial cases following divorce or dissolution, involving non-UK pensions, share options, 'Black-Scholes' valuations, Part III 1984 Act applications following foreign divorce, offshore taxation and trusts, company valuations, non-matrimonial assets, complex High Court financial cases involving marital acquisition and assets accumulated post-separation. Associate Sarah Green advises on CSA variations and appeals, as well as intractable contact disputes, parental alienation, physical and psychological harm, sexual abuse allegations, and fact-finding hearings. Green also handles permanent removal from jurisdiction cases. Associate Mark Sage has considerable experience in international cases and jurisdictional issues, representing many UK expatriates across the world and particularly those in Hong Kong; he typically handles complex financial matters arising from the breakdowns relationships. Solicitor Joanna Newton advises on children matters, including parental alienation and child abuse.

The ‘determined’ Carolyn Green is ‘a genuine big hitter’, leading the practice at Harrison Clark Rickerbys with ‘sound judgement honed from years of experience’. Specialising in high-value and complex financial cases, Green has experience in cross-border matters (including those involving France, Spain, Australia and Dubai). Matthew Waddington specialises in Children Act proceedings. Senior associate Rebecca Pike is ‘diligent and secures very good results’ and has extensive experience in private children and ancillary relief matters.

The team at Lester Aldridge LLP is ‘organised, professional and very well prepared, offering an outstanding service’. Typical work includes complex financial remedy cases and protecting assets through prenuptial agreements, as well as advising on declaration of trusts and cohabitation agreements. There have been a few changes, with associates Kimberley Davies leaving for Trethowans LLP  and Joanne Clarke  being promoted to partner and Rosemary Sharp who specialises in rural landed estates and farming assets,  joining as partner from Wilsons. Practice head Jane Porter is ‘particularly worthy of mention, going the extra mile for her clients’. Porter specialises in complex family companies and pension schemes; she also advises on prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation claims, and disputes relating to children under Schedule 1 of the Children Act.

Lyons Davidson has ‘one of the best family teams in the area’, according to one client. The department is led by Philippa Morgan , who is a ‘strong advocate with fantastic case preparation’ and ‘very strong in international law’; ‘calm, clear and fair’ Iona Phillips is deputy head. The department comprises two main divisions: Morgan leads the child abduction and international children law team, which provides a 24/7 advice line to anybody affected by child abduction, and Phillips leads Advoca, a specialist child and domestic abuse division dealing with private and public children law proceedings, domestic abuse and forced marriage work. Advoca is ‘well organised, thorough and highly committed to doing the best it can for its clients’, and also provides a 24/7 advice line to victims of forced marriage and domestic abuse. Senior associate Donna Cummins is ‘very strong’, with a ‘consistently excellent legal knowledge’ and ‘a keen sense of humour, which makes her very personable’. Other areas of case work include international children disputes, radicalisation cases, public law proceedings with an international element, and female genital mutilation cases. Charlotte Mason joined in 2017 from Bobbetts Mackan.

NGA Law is a ‘genuine class act’, with ‘a well-deserved international reputation’ in its niche specialism in fertility law, surrogacy and LGBT families. ‘Unrivalled leaders in the field’, the firm was responsible for the remedial order sent by the government to Parliament in November 2017 to change UK law to allow single parents to apply for legal parenthood following surrogacy. Led by the ‘extremely bright, authoritative and tremendously reassuring’ Natalie Gamble, the team also deals with divorce, finances and private children's law clients from LGBT or other non-traditional families. Both Stephen Ashe  and Bethan Cleal are ‘thorough, professional and knowledgeable’.

VWV is an ‘excellent’ firm, with ‘significant experience, including in various methods of dispute resolution.’ Practice head Samantha Hickman  has a ‘wonderfully down-to-earth manner which belies the strategic thinking of a chess grandmaster’. Acting locally, nationally and internationally, and covering financial settlements on divorce, unmarried family disputes (ToLATA and Schedule 1), and divorce and separation planning, Hickman is ‘pragmatic without being overly pessimistic’, and her clients include musicians, authors, artists and TV stars. 'Highly recommended' senior associate Hannah Petherickjoined in January 2018 from Gregg Latchams LLP. Working in financial resolutions and arrangements for children, as well as drafting pre- and post-marital agreements, Petherick is ‘courteous, professional, well prepared, unflappable, and conscientious’.

Ashfords LLP is ‘one of the leading firms in the South West’, providing ‘a very good and competent family section’. The team specialise in divorce and financial matters arising from relationship breakdowns, particularly for high-net-worth individuals. Head of practice at the Exeter office Zoe Porter - previously a partner at Michelmores LLP - has a client list including high-profile celebrities and handles cases with international elements. Porter’s equal in the Taunton office, Jayne Turner, is ‘sensible, client focused and knowledgeable’, and has expertise in cases involving high-value pensions. Both partners are ‘very competent lawyers and have an excellent knowledge of family law and practice’.

Barcan+Kirby LLP has 'a significant presence across Bristol’, with a practice in private children cases, care proceedings, domestic violence and multiple niche areas of family law, such as surrogacy and adoption. The ‘sensible and approachable’ Chris Miller has now stepped down as managing partner, and now focuses solely on matrimonial finances. Jim Gridley is head of department, and is a qualified mediator as well as a solicitor. Head of matrimonial finance Hanni Pennelegion is undertaking a phased return to work following a period away from the office.

The team at Blanchards Bailey LLP is ‘very compassionate’, providing ‘excellent and tailored’ legal advice. The department has a niche military families' service, which represents and advises army personnel at Bovington Army Camp, and acts as sole licensed firm at Blandford Camp. Associate Clare Cherry has ‘an excellent working relationship’ with clients and has expertise is cross-border marital issues. 'Professional and sympathetic' associate Laura Martin specialises in prenuptial and cohabitation agreements. Former practice head Lisa Holden  left to head the family team at Bonallack & Bishop.

Jessica Pitt, practice head at Foot Anstey, is ‘very calm, sensible and pragmatic’, and specialises in the financial consequences of relationship breakdown. The firm has expanded its practice to cover pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and has also invested in its mental capacity ancillary team. Consultant Nigel Gosden covers family financial issues, and high-net-worth cases particularly. Associate Jill Bruce handles all areas of family matters, including divorce, high-value financial matters, cohabitee disputes and children matters, and has particular expertise in inter-jurisdictional children matters. Mark Chanter left for Stephens Scown LLP.

Goughs Solicitors has ‘a strong family team’, with ‘experienced and first-rate lawyers placed across a number of offices’. Among its array of services, the firm provides niche family law expertise to military families. Head of team Matthew Drew in Corsham acts for a number of clients overseas, particularly in high-value finance matters. Devizes-based Jonathan Shipton is ‘a tough litigation lawyer who is not to be messed with’ and has ‘excellent interpersonal skills, combining technical legal advice with guidance on risks and what is practicable and likely to be achieved through legal proceedings’; he has particular expertise in trusts of land disputes. Richard Bebb in Melksham is ‘a focused and intelligent man who cares deeply about providing a sterling service for his clients’, and specialises in finance matters, marital agreements and collaborative practice. Thomas Boyce is recommended as having a ‘high level of experience in this area’. Associate Ross Phillips is strong in cohabitee cases.

The family department at Bristol-based Gregg Latchams LLP is led by James Myatt , who joined the firm in 2017 to lead the family and relationships team. He has experience in financial and pension issues relating to divorce and separation. Senior associate Hannah Petherick departed for VWV.

Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors has ‘knowledgeable, experienced and down-to-earth lawyers’. ‘Excellent’  Megg Moss is ‘thorough and precise’ and is well versed in prenuptial agreements. Head of department Tracey Smith handles complex financial, children and other matters arising out of separations. Moss and Smith are ‘both very experienced and constructive family lawyers: a great combination’.  Daniela Nickols has particular experience in acting for teenagers directly, including those cared for in secure units. Nickols also represents children and their guardians in private law proceedings.

Nash & Co provides ‘impeccable business acumen and response times’ and a ‘very much client-focused' service. Covering the full range across finance and public and private children's law, the team has niche expertise in cases involving domestic abuse. Associate Eleanor Barber, who heads the department, is a ‘faultless lawyer’, ‘personable and knowledgeable in her field’; she recently acted for a Belarusian wife in £1m financial proceedings arising from her divorce from a British national. Helen Bull is ‘approachable and knowledgeable’ and 'an excellent advocate who consistently works hard to find practical solutions’.

Porter Dodson LLP is ‘well respected for its family law practice’, which covers traditional areas of family practice and niche fertility and parenting services. Areas of strength include high-end matrimonial finances and complex Children Act proceedings, and the firm brings ‘a huge body of experience and expertise’ and ‘stands out in the Taunton legal community for its knowledge and firm-but-fair approach’. Dorchester-based Richard Baker ‘is a tenacious and thorough practitioner, who is able to deal with the most difficult of personalities in a calm and reasoned manner’. Cathryn Smith was promoted to partner. Nicola Scott, who was formerly a solicitor at the firm, is now working with the firm as an independent consultant.

Sharp Family Law LTD provides an ‘extremely high level of service’. The firm has doubled in size in recent years, continuing its trend of taking on a new solicitor every year these past four. Recently made partner Clare Webb is ‘extremely effective and focused’ and delivers ‘sensible and realistic advice’. A notable adjunct to the practice is that the firm provides rooms at its premises for psychotherapists and relationship specialists to work with clients. Richard Sharp leads the team.

Steele Raymond LLP is ‘a strong player in the regional market when it comes to family work, with some outstanding lawyers’. The team’s focus remains complex financial remedy and Children Act matters, though it handles an increasing number of prenuptial agreements. In September 2017, the team recruited mediator Michelle Bettell from Laceys to provide a permanent family service in the firm’s satellite office in Southbourne; in January 2018, the firm hired Daniel Sanders as partner and head of team to replace Julie-Ann Harris , who moved to Coffin Mew LLP. Sanders is ‘particularly skilled in child-related matters’ and is valued as a Polish-speaking family lawyer, receiving numerous referrals from Polish community groups and other Polish speaking professionals. Promoted to senior associate in 2017, Lindsay Halliwell is ‘an extraordinary lawyer’, with an ‘impressive attention to detail and professionalism, sympathy towards clients, and diligent preparation’.

The team at Stone King LLP specialises in complex cross-border instructions following relationship breakdowns. Partner and practice head Caroline Fell  specialises in complex financial matters, particularly those with an international element, and has clients based in the South West, London and overseas. Senior associate Jayne Martins handles financial matters for married and unmarried couples, with added expertise in complex children matters, including cross-border children cases; highlights included protecting a matrimonial home in its entirety when a husband sought a sale and 50%. Senior associate Sarah Wasaya joined the firm in January 2018 from Rollingsons, bringing expertise in international and complex financial matters, and cross-border children disputes.

The team at Thrings LLP specialises in divorce cases with agricultural elements, acting on cases with complexities arising from interests in farm assets, planning and development issues, tax, and property valuations. Department head Matthew Kellow is experienced in relation to Hague Convention applications, and recently acted in complex UK-New Zealand children abduction proceedings. Kellow was also recently instructed to represent a husband in a multimillion-pound asset divorce, involving a partnership between two brothers. Head of private client, Fiona Kellow, focuses on high-net-worth matrimonial finance. Sally Pike joined Thrings in September 2017 from Coffin Mew LLP, where she had been a partner and head of the team; she has expertise in company and shareholder issues, pensions and property issues. Pike's recent instructions include acting for a company director in divorce proceedings, which involved assets valued between £5m and £8m; and advising on a co-habitation agreement with assets in excess of £30m. The firm was instructed by a partner of a significant farm in Bath in divorce proceedings, concerning assets in the UK and America valued at more than £5m, and is also currently advising on cases with connections to Australia, France, Africa and Spain; and Fiona Kellow in cases connected to Hong Kong, California and Miami.

Tozers Solicitors LLP's main family team advises high-net-worth and high-profile clients on their divorces, while the childcare sub-team represents vulnerable children and victims of domestic violence. Tracy Lambert heads up the overall practice, advising on complex family cases involving matrimonial finances and children matters; she has success in securing settlements involving substantial assets and overseas interests. Consultant Caroline Ryan focuses on pensions on divorce. Tony Wood leads the new specialist public law children team based in Newton Abbot; his experience includes a high-profile shaken baby case which resulted in the death of the child. Following solicitor Julia Clayton’s appointment to Circuit Judge, Louise Barber was recruited as a replacement.

Trethowans LLP provides particular expertise in dealing with complex high-net-worth financial provision and intricate private children's law and surrogacy or fertility matters. Typical work includes advising wealthy individuals in relation to family owned businesses and/or farms. 'Bright and tough litigator' and practice head Andrew Mercer 'has huge experience and gives excellent commercial and practical advice'. Grant Cameron leads in the Southampton office. Kimberley Davies - who joined with her team from Lester Aldridge LLP as a senior associate - has a fast-developing practice in Poole and Bournemouth, and has particular expertise in fertility, surrogacy and assisted reproduction matters.

Willans LLP’s family department handles complex family/matrimonial law issues, predominantly for high-net-worth individuals. The firm handles all aspects of family law, with particular expertise in complex cases involving the financial areas of divorce and separation, and those concerning children. Senior associate Jonathan Eager focuses in Children Act matters and financial issues arising out of divorce. Eager also acts for parents in disputes over children involving international jurisdiction issues.

Woolley & Co, Solicitors provides a ‘knowledgeable and conciliatory approach to all family matters'. These include divorce and matrimonial issues for British expats, high-value and complex financial  settlement cases involving pensions, business interests, buy-to-let and overseas properties, annulment and disputed divorce and nullity cases, and implacable hostility and complex children cases. Truro-based Susuan Harwood is ‘an organised, skilled and proficient family lawyer’, who ‘understands the issues, sticks up for her clients, and is sensible to deal with’. Wells-based solicitor Judith Buckland  comes highly recommended. Luci Larkin is also ‘very conciliatory and approachable' and is 'clearly an experienced family lawyer’.

Battens Solicitors Limited ‘combines a personal and sensitive approach to its clients with a thorough, well-informed manner in negotiation’. Senior associate and practice head Louise Gidley advises on high-net-worth matrimonial disputes, as well as complex cases concerning children, including representing children through their guardians. Gidley is ‘particularly well prepared, experienced and imaginative in her approach to the financial remedies cases of her clients, blending practical common sense with a sound knowledge of practice and procedure.’

BPE Solicitors LLP’s practice is led by Helen Cankett, who specialises in financial settlements on divorce and in assisting unmarried couples with settlements on their separation. Senior associate Jemma Jones has extensive experience in high-value matters, specialising in all aspects of divorce and separation, and has a particular strength in private children's law.

Kitsons LLP is ‘professional and effective, with a strong family team', and is a ‘a go-to firm for financial remedy and children cases’. The ‘highly experienced’ Plymouth-based head of department Tony Hunt is ‘a standout practitioner in financial remedy cases’, typically handling financial proceedings for business-owners on divorce and cohabitee disputes.

The team at Mogers Drewett LLP is ‘very organised and efficient’. Key names include Rebecca Silcock, who has a ‘laid back and pragmatic approach’ and a focus on complex financial matters and private law children work, and Victoria Strode, who is ‘calm but robust, and again pragmatic’, and typically advises on financial disputes between separating and divorcing couples, as well as cases with an agricultural aspect. There were some team changes, with associate Anne-Marie Hamer  leaving for Michelmores LLP and associate Simon Walker  joining from Crallans.

The ‘very reliable and effective’ Amanda Shaw  of Pardoes Solicitors LLP is noted for her ‘expertise in child care law’ as well as finance matters, and works out of the Taunton, Yeovil and Bridgwater offices. Associate Moira Reynolds focuses on divorce and financial cases and also operates out of all the South West offices. Following Maggie Roberts’ retirement in July 2017, Shaw and Reynolds were made joint heads of the department.

In Gregg Moss and Amanda Sawyer, 'Simpson Millar LLP has two of the most knowledgeable and effective children lawyers in Bristol', with Moss heading up the public children's law practice. There has been a succession of changes in recent times, with team head Peter Morris moving to Shoosmiths LLP in March 2017, and then Morris’ successor as head of department, Emma Pearmaine, moving to Ridley & Hall in August 2017. John Pratley  has since been promoted to partner and regional head of practice.

Personal tax, trusts and probate

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  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 South West 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


Burges Salmon LLP is indisputably ‘excellent’. Practice head John Barnett is ‘technically outstanding’ and provides tax advice to a wide range of high-net-worth individuals and many leading banks, including those not domiciled in the UK or with overseas interests. Barnett also works with entrepreneurial clients, including those non-domiciled in the UK or with overseas interests. Suzanna Harvey is another key name and she recently advised an ultra-high-net-worth individual on a wide-ranging HMRC enquiry - a cross-border matter involving UK, Guernsey, Barbados, and Switzerland. The ‘exceptional and proactive’ Beatrice Puoti is advising on a £500m offshore trust; and Jim Aveline is acting for a family business holding land and investments worth £175m, as well as advising on family trusts owning a major shopping centre worth £100m. Senior associate Catherine de Maid advises trust companies on likely risk areas, assists on matters with a South African connection, and advises on philanthropic issues.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP provides ‘a real depth of knowledge and practical experience in some of the more difficult issues in this area’. The teams handles complex and high-value international tax and trust structuring (especially in the Middle East, US, Russia and Far East), as well as tax and succession advice to major landed estates, owners of heritage property and UK entrepreneurs. The ‘excellent’ Christopher Page leads the practice and is praised as 'hugely experienced, and knowledgeable about landed estates, trusts and handling awkward family relationships’. Henry Fea advises on UK residential property holding structures and long-term UK-resident non-domiciliaries in particular. Julia Cox provides clients with ‘a Rolls Royce service’; she works principally with entrepreneurs, but also has strong experience in offshore-related matters, particularly involving UK resident individuals. Associate Tabitha Collett has recently assisted on two very high-value cases for the firm. Three new trusts and probate assistants were hired in 2018, including one from BPE Solicitors LLP.

The ‘absolutely brilliant’ team at Foot Anstey has recently grown,  with  Hannah Wall joining from Irwin Mitchell in February 2018. Notable clients for the firm include QIB (UK) and its parent Qatar Islamic Bank, The Cobbold Family, and the Newnham Estate. Deborah Carrivick leads the practice with ‘incisive and pragmatic advice’, advising on UK tax implications for domiciliaries owning assets in the UK (including UK real estate) and on the UK tax treatment of offshore trust and company structures, bringing extensive cross-border experience. Carrivick also advises on Islamic finance, including shari'ah-compliant financial products and shari-ah-compliant trusts. Simon Gregory typically advises farmers and landowners whose land has development potential.. Consultant Michael Evans is ‘super experienced, very practical and knowledgeable, yet completely approachable’, providing particular expertise on the Middle East. Partner  Anna Parker is ‘a pleasure to work with and is committed to client service’, and also advises on cross-border estates and succession issues, and on international private law issues as well as the Brussels IV Regulation; she speaks fluent Spanish and French.  Kirstin Cook has left to join Ashfords LLP.

Michelmores LLP is a ‘first-class firm with a terrific reputation in this area’. Head of department Jonathan Riley ‘combines excellent technical knowledge and skills with great client-handling abilities and lots of charm’, he typically advises high-net-worth individuals and their families on trusts, estate and succession planning, and the mitigation of inheritance tax and capital gains tax. Jennifer Ridgway is ‘quite simply the best in her class for intellect, humility, communication, and client handling'; she specialises in UK trustees and offshore corporate trustees and UK tax advice. James Radcliffe comes highly recommended, and focuses on advising clients with connections to the US. Associate Charlotte Thomas-Collins has a particular interest in landed estates and vulnerable clients, and ‘is charming in manner - courteous, warm, and a good listener’.

TLT provides ‘a very strong knowledge base: practical and commercial’, particularly for clients in the banking sector. Recently, the firm has taken over the entire probate business of a leading private bank, and has also become the principal trust adviser to the fiduciary branch of two of the UK's largest banks. The firm also possesses strong links to international private banks, receiving regular referrals from trust companies based in the Channel Islands, Geneva and the Bahamas. Clients also include a number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals from the banking industry. Practice head Patrick Wooddisse is ‘technically highly competent, responsive and personable’, advising UK and international trust companies on their precedents and standard documentation. Wooddisse also has niche expertise advising on UK/US cross-border issues, and advising clients from India and Pakistan. ‘Down to earth and a good communicator’, Chris Williamson has considerable experience working on the creation, implementation and restructuring of wealth-holding structures for international families.

Wilsons is ‘a top provincial firm’, providing ‘thorough, knowledgeable, practical and approachable’ advice and client service. Head of the private client group Frances Mayne specialises in mental capacity issues and Court of Protection matters. Tim Fullerlove is praised for his strong ‘demonstration of empathy', and advises on offshore matters and tax issues arising from trust and estate disputes. ‘Very careful and experienced’ associate Nicola Bushby often works under Mayne in Court of Protection issues, bringing expertise in capacity law. Bushby also manages substantial financial settlement awards, and advises attorneys on applications to the court for approval on high-value statutory gifts.

Ashfords LLP is ‘a well-respected firm that has kept in touch with the personal touch that is so necessary for private client work’. Head of trusts and estates Michael Alden has a focus on heritage property and works of art; he recently advised a £40m estate on the inheritance tax aspects of long-term succession planning, and assisted the estate of a UK-domiciled individual with US-based excluded trusts where the domicile had changed since the creation of the US trusts. Tom Biddick is ‘entirely professional but client friendly’, heading up the Tiverton-based team. Specialising in estate planning for farmers and landed individuals dealing with agricultural property relief and business property relief queries, Biddick also represents the firm on the Camelot panel, regularly acting for lottery winners. The firm also has an established practice supporting clients with long-term care needs; formerly led by associate Andrew Carrigan, the firm advises clients and their representatives on options to plan for and fund long term care, supporting them through assessments, best interests meetings and applications for continuing care funding. Sarah Mansbridge joined the team as associate from Stephens Scown LLP in 2018, as did Georgina Carter from Everys as assistant solicitor. Bringing a 'caring and sensitive manner' Kirstin Cook has also joined from Foot Anstey.

The team at Clarke Willmott LLP provides ‘excellent service in the trust and probate area’. The Bristol practice comprises two sections: a large Court of Protection team handling over 130 deputyship clients and managing their financial affairs, and a section focusing on estate planning advice to high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs. Jane Halton comes very highly recommended: she is ‘extremely professional and delivers her advice with clarity and accuracy at all times,’ her ‘depth of knowledge and experience is clearly of the highest standard’. Emma Pope and David Maddock have recently worked on very high-value matters, and are recommended. Carol Cummins leads the team.

Alex Taylor leads the team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys, handling tax planning, as well as trust and complex estate administration. Mark Hartley advises on complex tax planning and other tax issues, including assets held in multiple jurisdictions, and also advises on agricultural and business property relief. Specialist services include an elderly and vulnerable clients practice, headed by Phillipa Bruce-Kerr, who also oversees Court of Protection matters.

Malcolm Emery leads the Stephens Scown LLP private client team in Exeter, advising mainly ultra-high-net-worth individuals but also operating a niche practice in ‘death in active service’ exemption cases. The team also advises shareholders on the Enterprise Investment Scheme; assists with structuring compromise agreements; advises on tax-efficient holding structures, including the use of partnerships, family investment companies and excluded property trusts; advises on trust changes set aside under the Hastings-Bass principle and/or the doctrine of mistake; and assists with the tax implications of de-enveloping UK residential property owned by companies to avoid ATED charges. Phil Reed leads the Cornwall private client team.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP provides ‘good expertise in this area', with lawyers who have 'extensive experience and excellent technical ability’. Mark Woodward is experienced in wills, trusts, trustees' powers and duties, tax and general private client work, delivering ‘reflective and thoughtful advice and excellent client skills’ to families, entrepreneurs and landowners. Legal director Christopher Kerr-Smiley focuses on trust restructuring, trust taxation and trustees' powers and duties, on behalf of trustees, landowners, executors, entrepreneurs and non-UK domiciled clients.

The team at Blanchards Bailey LLP is ‘extremely professional' and also has 'friendly and personal communication skills’. Head of department Jerome Dodge is ‘extremely friendly and approachable whilst giving sound advice’, and recently led on a £15m complex tax planning matter. Ian Campbell joined as a senior associate from Coles Miller Solicitors LLP in March 2017; his recent work includes establishing a lifetime discretionary trust, and advising a Dorset farming family on agricultural and business property relief worth £2.5m.

Lester Aldridge LLP deals with a portfolio of trusts for vulnerable individuals (including those with brain injuries, learning disabilities and dementia) and their families via its relationships with a number of large charities. The international private client team focuses on the administration of UK and foreign assets, particularly North American securities, as well as advising clients located in South Africa. The team also advises on cross-border succession issues and international wills, and has members fluent in French, German, Afrikaans and Welsh. Kurt Lee heads up the practice.

Royds Withy King delivers an ‘excellent overall service’. In a number of recent changes to the team, senior associate Fiona Feggetter departed, Luchia Hirst joined the Swindon office from Davey Law, and Edward Vidnes was promoted to partner. Team head James McNeile focuses on estate planning, trusts and tax planning for high-net-worth families and non-UK individuals. Becky Ricards Small heads up private wealth and succession planning matters, specialising in inheritance tax planning, lasting powers of attorney and wills. Ricards Small is also a key partner in the Court of Protection team. Amanda Noyce, head of inheritance and trust disputes, is an ‘excellent lawyer with an incredible breadth of knowledge’; she acts on contentious probate and trust matters, tax disputes, negligence actions regarding tax advisers, inheritance disputes and applications to the Court of Protection in mental capacity matters. Associate Calum Campbell is a ‘first-rate lawyer who finds innovative solutions to complex problems’.

Steele Raymond LLP is ‘pre-eminent in the South West for technical expertise, problem solving and client service’ according to one client. Bournemouth-based team head Sue Adams comes highly recommended: she is ‘quick to analyse a situation from all angles' and has an ‘intuitive perception of what is needed’. Her practice includes advising on stamp duty land tax for commercial and residential property. Paul Causton specialises in the tax aspects of company reorganizations. Richard Smith left the firm in September 2017.

Stone King LLP is ‘very good’ in its particular niches of cross-border estates and older and vulnerable client services. Practice head Alison Allen has a focus advising families and carers of vulnerable individuals with impaired mental capacity and/or mental health issues on estate planning, trusts and care funding. Daniel Harris heads the international and cross-border team, which specialises in multi-jurisdictional succession matters. Senior associate Kathryn Layzell also has experience in estate planning and tax, including in relation to older clients and care funding.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP has close links with local and national charities, acting for Mencap and Downs Syndrome Association among others. The team has expertise in establishing wills and trusts to provide support for vulnerable beneficiaries. Head of the Exeter office Helen Honeyball has particular expertise in securing agricultural property relief for farming families. Frank Cook focuses on administering estates with cross-border implications.

VWV is recommended by clients ‘in particular regarding wills, personal tax and trusts’ . The ‘competent and professional firm’ is headed by Michelle Rose. Mary McCrorie is ‘on point with current issues and able to find practical solutions’; she advises on probate administration and all aspects of tax and accounting, specialising in cross-border and foreign assets. Rachel Armstrong focuses on succession planning for farming clients, such as advising on moral obligations and on inheritance tax and capital gains considerations.

Willans LLP delivers ‘consistently accurate advice to clients in a friendly and professional manner’. ‘Straightforward and practical’ team head Simon Cook advises on trusts and estate planning, wills, elderly client issues (including powers of attorney) and Court of Protection matters. He is ‘very knowledgeable, has empathy, gets on well with others, and builds excellent long-term relationships with clients’. Ruth Baker ‘is an excellent lawyer’, who specialises in estate planning and acts for a number of high-net-worth individuals with complex estates. She has a ‘particularly strong technical approach, great attention to detail, and is always able to explain complex matters in plain English’.

BPE Solicitors LLP has 'good expertise’ and a ‘very busy private client department with some dedicated and hardworking lawyers serving clients from across the Cotswolds and beyond’. Team head Clare Young focuses on advising high- and ultra-high-net-worth individuals on personal planning and protection issues. Peter Tyrrell provides ‘excellent client service and pragmatic advice on a timely basis’, and has a particular interest in Court of Protection matters, including complex deputyship applications or contested power of attorney applications. Lottie Goldstone joined the firm as a solicitor from Harrison Clark Rickerbys in September 2017.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP has a ‘firm grasp of Court of Protection practice and procedure’. Head of the practice Lauren Day splits her time between high-value business disputes and specialist probate litigation, and has particular experience in handling construction disputes and professional negligence claims, as well as contractual disputes on behalf of property developer clients.  Associate Victoria Riddleston is ‘meticulous’ and earns praise from barristers for her ‘superb and very comprehensive’ papers. Private client executive Cariad Medway-Smith is also ‘extremely courteous’.

Farnfields LLP is ‘helpful, friendly and efficient' and provides ‘a high level of knowledge in this area', and is also 'prompt to ensure it is up to date with any legislative changes’. Shaftesbury-based team head Susan Lacey focuses on wills, lasting powers of attorney, inheritance tax mitigation, complex estate administration and the creation and administration of trusts. Fiona Thomas handles private client work, particularly inheritance tax mitigation (for individuals, farmers and business proprietors), complex trust and estate administration, wills, and lasting powers of attorney. Graham Fuller and Carina Kervin recently joined from Awdry Bailey & Douglas as senior associate and associate respectively.

Frettens LLP has an ‘extremely knowledgeable and professional team’, according to one client, and is ‘truly excellent at all aspects of will, trust and probate planning’. Led by Lee Young, the team handles will writing – particularly white label wills for independent financial advisers - powers of attorney, estate and trust administration, trust creation, tax compliance, tax planning, Court of Protection cases, the affairs of the elderly, and local authority care funding advice. Young is ‘technically excellent in tax planning and trust law, but manages to convey often complex options to clients in a concise and appropriate manner’. The firm’s client base mostly consists of pre-retirement owners or managers of local or regional businesses, as well as the elderly.

GA Solicitors provides an ‘excellent overall level of service’. Team head Jonathan Hall focuses on inheritance tax and trust planning, complex estate administration and estate planning, as well as issues of mental capacity. The ‘first-class’ Catherine Bailey focuses on estate administration, capacity issues, wills, powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters; recent work includes advising on the administration of a non-taxable estate and a complex probate matter involving affidavits of alias.

Humphries Kirk provides a ‘good overall level of service’ and delivers ‘very good impartial advice in clear and understandable terms’. The firm focuses on overseas matters as well as elderly client welfare, including Court of Protection and NHS continuing funding applications. In the Bournemouth office, Adam Scott is recommended as ‘personable, dependable and thoroughly professional’. In the Dorchester office, Victoria Pearson in litigation and her team are ‘very helpful’. Solicitor Catherine Roberts is also recommended. Simon Cross heads up the department.

Head of practice at Kitsons LLP, Lynn Smith, focuses on complex estates, tax planning schemes and trust creation and operation. Charlie Siegle has a particular interest in probate cases with a foreign element. Jonathan Dickson was promoted to partner in April 2017. Plymouth-based assistant solicitor Marjorie Creek also has a growing practice, specialising in elder client financial abuse and NHS continuing healthcare applications and appeals.

Laceys provides an ‘extremely efficient and knowledgeable’ service. Kate Mansfield is ‘very knowledgeable, and able to make legal matters clear and understandable for clients’; she heads up the non-contentious practice, with Rob Kelly leading things on the contentious side.  Simon Nightingale has a ‘keen mind, expert legal knowledge and thoughtfulness’, and focuses on agricultural property matters. Solicitor Gill Walker on the conveyancing side is ‘very good’.

Jessica Beddows, who was made partner and head of the private client team at Lodders Solicitors LLP in July 2017, focuses on working with older and vulnerable clients, including in financial management, health and welfare, and Court of Protection matters. Stephen Brignull advises on the highly technical aspects of inheritance tax and estate planning, dealing mainly in estate planning and work involving domicile issues. Victoria Borrow joined the firm as assistant solicitor from Willans LLP in October 2017.

The team at Meade King LLP is ‘extremely competent, with a longstanding reputation in the local market for providing clear advice in an approachable manner’. The lawyers focus on advising SME business owners and managers as well as elderly clients, and receives referrals via the Solicitors for the Elderly website. The ‘extremely knowledgeable but also very personable’ Samantha Piper was promoted to partner in May 2018; she advises on declarations of trust, capital gains tax and elderly client law; handles will drafting for high-net-worth clients and entrepreneurs; and assists with probate cases with complex tax elements and foreign assets. She provides ‘a high degree of technical competence with a great deal of compassion, sincerity and professionalism’. Elizabeth Metcalfe – who delivers ‘prompt service in a friendly manner’ - joined as a solicitor from Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors, and Olivia Stibbs joined as a solicitor from Battrick Clark in Bristol. Vanessa Eyre is another notable member of the team.

Mogers Drewett LLP provides advice in trusts and tax planning, complex and high-value estate administration, and capacity and care matters, including later life support and deprivation of liberty issues. The firm also advises agricultural clients and businesses with livestock interests, operating a pop-up office at Standerwick livestock market in Frome. The ‘very knowledgeable and practical’ David Hill was promoted to partner and head of the team, following the departure of Sarah Dodd to head the legacies and trusts team at Dorothy House Hospice Care. Thomas Chiffers was also promoted to partner, and Orlando Beckett joined as a legal assistant.

Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors provides a ‘sound overall service’. Team head David Whitworth ‘goes above and beyond on a consistent basis’, and focuses on advising high-net-worth clients on complex tax and trust matters as well as on preparing wills. He has a particular strength in matters with cross-border components, and recent matters have involved estates with assets in France, Poland, Belgium and the US. The firm also has expertise in dealing with elderly clients and mental capacity issues.

The team at Porter Dodson LLP has a ‘well-established and respected reputation in the local area’ and provides a ‘superlative’ service. Court of Protection applications, powers of attorney and care home funding matters are areas of focus. Team head Ian Sankey advises on wills, estate administration, inheritance tax planning (including the use of discretionary and life interest trusts), powers of attorney and asset preservation. Sharon Collier is ‘very technically knowledgeable and capable of explaining matters so that clients understand them’, and advises on long-term tax and succession planning; the administration of large, complex estates involving claims for business relief and agricultural relief; and complex interaction rules, and deeds of variation.

Trethowans LLP has a specialism in advising farmers, landed estates and entrepreneurs on succession and capital tax planning. Gary Pick is head of the practice, while senior associate James Hammersley heads the Poole-based team. Pick specialises in estate administration, with a particular focus on succession planning and wealth management; andHammersley undertakes all areas of private client work, with particular expertise in complex probate and Court of Protection work. Senior associate Sarah Richards also handles complex estate administration, and increasingly international probate matters; she also has a niche focus assisting charity legacy officers in the administration of estates where charities are beneficiaries.

Alan Ciechan heads up the team at Wansbroughs, and is ‘excellent on trusts and wills, including partnerships’.  Anna Wensley Stock is ‘extremely bright, hard-working and responsive' and Andrew Jenkins is ‘an exceptionally able and experienced operator who deals with very delicate and intricate farming matters and estates with calmness and authority’. Consultant David Bousfield is ‘one of the county’s most respected personal advisers, particularly to farming families’. ‘Bright and efficient’ associate Kathryn Smith Cowap is ‘one to watch’; associate Jennifer Vooght is also recommended.

Wards Solicitors LLP provides ‘service levels of a very high standard’. Specialising in advising elderly and vulnerable clients, Jenny Pierce heads the practice. Clients are impressed by ‘the tenacity, thoroughness and attention to detail’ of Rebecca Parkman, who specialises in lasting powers of attorney, complex wills and more general estate planning. Ruth Coles is ‘always very approachable and efficient’, and also advises on all private client matters, including wealth preservation and issues affecting elderly clients. Associate Alison Lamont is held in high regard for her ‘very personable, professional and knowledgeable’ manner; she specialises in Court of Protection, deputyship and mental capacity matters. Associates Beth Niblett and Rebecca Purchase are also names to note.

There have been several changes at Wiggin Osborne Fullerlove: Michael Fullerlove retired as a partner and is now a consultant, while Dan Shutt and Charles Frost both joined from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP as associates. Matthew Cain has particular expertise in devising and implementing tax-efficient investment structures for high-net-worth individuals, utilising trusts, life assurance policies, collective investment vehicles and hybrid entities. Paul Hunston advises on complex tax and trust structures on behalf of various high-net-worth clients, including entrepreneurs, families with inherited wealth, entertainers and film producers. Hunston also advises on issues arising out of high-value divorce settlements.

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