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



Index of tables

  1. Family
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Hugh James has 'an excellent reputation within Cardiff', and although it has recently seen the departure of a number of high-profile members of the team, including the retirement in December 2018 of Malcolm Stevens, it remains a popular choice for clients across a range of family law matters. Now headed by 'frighteningly bright' senior associate Adrienne Donneky ,following her arrival in March 2018 from the Bristol office of Lyons Davidson, as well as regular involvement in high-value financial proceedings, the firm also has expertise across a range of other areas including childcare matters - where specialist advocate Mark Powell QC has particular expertise. Associate Lucy Williams  is developing a strong reputation and is appreciated for her 'compassionate approach'.

Practice head(s):Adrienne Donneky

Other key lawyers:Mark Powell QC; Lucy Williams


A well organised, highly conscientious and capable family team

Able to cut through the most complex set of facts to resolve the issue

A leader in her field, Adrienne Donneky displays impeccable judgement and is the type of lawyer you definitely want on your side.

Lucy Williams has excellent judgement and is very calm under pressure

Specialist family law boutique Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice has the critical mass and expertise to handle a significant volume and variety of family law matters, often involving high-net-worth individuals and cross-border issues. Melanie Hamer provides a 'professional and knowledgeable service' and alongside the 'exceptionally calm' Thea Hughes, is regularly engaged in high-profile and high-net-worth divorce cases. The team is rounded out at partner level by the 'exceptional' Sarah Wyburn, who has niche expertise in relation to same sex marriage cases, and the 'approachable and knowledgeable' David James, who as well as handling high-value cases with a particular focus on business ownership and pension sharing issues, is also an expert on Children Act cases. At an associate level, the 'conscientious' Rebecca Knight has a thriving reputation and was singled out by one client as being 'surely one of the future managing partners of the firm'.

Practice head(s):Melanie Hamer; Thea Hughes; Sarah Wyburn; David James

Other key lawyers:Rebecca Knight


Exceptional attention to detail

Caring and down-to-earth approach

Calm and pleasant environment

They understand your concerns and try and offer solutions for the best possible outcome

Melanie Hamer has a formidable reputation as a divorce lawyer

Thea Hughes is so understanding and you know by how quickly she replies with information that she is 100% behind you

Rebecca Knight is incredibly empathetic and focused


With lawyers based out of Cardiff and Bridgend, Berry Smith is well-positioned to provide 'excellent advice' to clients throughout south Wales across all aspects of family law, including divorce, separation, prenuptial and cohabitation agreements, children and financial disputes. Vastly experienced team head Katie McColgan is appreciated for her 'very straightforward approach', which she deploys to good effect across a range of private family work, often involving a wide array of assets and international aspects.

Practice head(s):Katie McColgan

Other key lawyers:Benjamin Delve


Katie McColgan conducted the case in a professional, diligent, friendly and caring manner

Katie McColgan is empathetic and a very good listener

Although it is still in a relatively embryonic phase, since the arrival of 'approachable and thorough' team head Gaynor Dickens in early 2017, Geldards LLP's nascent team has rapidly become a recognised force in the south Wales market on behalf of medium to high-net-worth individuals on their matrimonial issues. Although it remains a relatively small team it is effectively able to leverage the expertise of complementary practice groups, including wealth management, corporate and tax, of particular benefit when dealing with the assets of a divorce involving a partnership or company dispute element.

Practice head(s):Gaynor Dickens


First-rate offering

Gaynor Dickens is very client friendly and approachable but with a core of steel when dealing with opponents

Howells Solicitors' two-partner team handles a wide range of family law matters, from public/private child law matters through to high-net-worth divorces. The team is also one of the few firms in south Wales with a legal aid franchise for family work and is therefore also able to handle publicly-funded mandates. Team head Richard Scott  has a particular niche representing police officers in their divorces and has developed true insight into the peculiarities and complexities inherent in police pensions.

Practice head(s):Richard Scott

Other key lawyers:Jayne Hunt; Karis Jones

'Vastly experienced in the field', Neath-based firm Hutchinson Thomas is undoubtedly best-known for the breadth of experience it has in dealing with childcare cases on behalf of guardians, parents and local authorities. Praised for her 'professionalism and warmth', Debbie Richards 'always goes the extra mile' and provides an 'excellent service to the children and young people she acts for'. Richards has recently handled some very sensitive and complex cases including numerous serious non-accidental injury cases, shaken baby cases and High Court Wardship cases, secure accommodation and sexual exploitation. 

Practice head(s):Simon Thomas and Debbie Richards

Other key lawyers:Meriel East; Rachel Pudner


The family team boasts some of the most experienced solicitors in the field of child protection matters

The firm provides excellent advocacy for children and young people

Debbie Richards is a very effective advocate and consistently commands the respect of the judiciary, and the advocates and clients in all the cases she is involved in.

Ince provides an 'excellent service', advising on matters of private and public law, cases involving children, injunctions and cohabitation disputes. The team includes Susan Williams , who has more than 24 years experience dealing with matters such as divorce and financial proceedings, pre- and post-nuptial agreements and disputes between co-habiting couples, civil partnerships and same sex marriages, and Sharon Priday. Priday advises across many aspects of family and matrimonial law.

Other key lawyers:Susan Williams; Sharon Priday


Picking up instructions from its traditional south west Wales heartland, in addition to work for an increasing roster of clients across the south east of the country, courtesy of the firm's merger in April 2017 with Glamorgan Law, JCP Solicitors has deepened its market penetration and visibility across a diverse array of family law matters. The team is particularly strong at handling financial remedy proceedings for medium to high-net-worth individuals, work which often involves complex division of assets including family businesses (including farming partnerships) and public and private sector pensions schemes. 'Very responsive and down-to-earth' Carmarthen-based associate Angela Killa continues to impress across private and public children work.

Practice head(s):Matthew Wells and Jill Bulteel

Other key lawyers:Sali Jackson-Thomas; Angela Killa


The team's advice is always spot on

Fantastic value-for-money

Angela Killa is very courteous and responsive

Specialist family law firm Woolley & Co, Solicitors is well regarded in the local and national market, primarily as a result of 'star performer' and team head Kathryn McTaggart 's excellent reputation across a broad array of traditional family matters, as well as a growing caseload of pre-nuptial and cohabitation disputes. Praised for her 'practical and pragmatic guidance', McTaggart also has a particular niche advising on complex international children matters.

Practice head(s):Kathryn McTaggart


Kathryn McTaggart is an innovative and excellent lawyer

Kathtryn McTaggart is fantastic

Wrexham-based firm GHP Legal has a strong reputation in the north Wales market for handling a wide range of matrimonial matters, including divorces involving high-value assets, significant business interests and pensions. The team also has a strong reputation for handling children cases,  including cases which involve Local Authority concern for the welfare of a child.

Practice head(s):Nathan Wright

Other key lawyers:Natalie Roberts; Leah Mountford

Newport-based firm Harding Evans LLP 's five-strong team has the critical mass to handle a significant variety and volume of work, primarily for south east Wales-based clients, including on divorce and high-value/complex applications for financial orders involving complex asset pools. As well as her regular work advising on high-value matrimonial proceedings, 'thorough and efficient' team head Kate Thomas  is also well-versed across private law children proceedings.

Practice head(s):Kate Thomas

Other key lawyers:Ceri Price; Suzanne Edwards; Siobhan Downes


Harding Evans has a great reputation in the Gwent area

A very experienced and solid team of private family lawyers which is very well regarded in the local area.

Kate Thomas really cares about her clients and provides clear advice in a sympathetic manner.

Headed from the firm's Newport headquarters by the 'vastly experienced' Sophie Hughes  and also able to call upon the expertise of practitioners spread across the firm's Pontypool and Cardiff offices, Watkins & Gunn Solicitors' six-strong team is well-positioned to advise south east Wales-based clients across the myriad of family law matters. Appreciated by clients for her 'sensitivity and pragmatism', Hughes excels in highly disputed and complex divorce and cohabitation disputes.

Practice head(s):Sophie Hughes

Other key lawyers:Kate Roberts; Leah Rhydderch

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