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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 > West Midlands > Private client > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Agriculture and estates

Index of tables

  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1
    • Jennie Wheildon - Wright Hassall LLP

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP has a dedicated team, that advises on acquisitions, disposals and funding for agricultural land. It is also skilled at advising on a myriad of other issues, such as farm diversification, telecommunications, mineral and sporting rights. In addition it assists clients with alternative energy projects and has significant tax planning expertise. Sarah Baugh and Steven Corfield jointly head up the team.

Practice head(s):Sarah Baugh; Steven Corfield


'The team has an ability to deal with complex problems well and provide practical solutions'.

'The team adopts a collaborative and approachable culture for clients and with fellow professionals. It has a high level of experience of working for farming and land owning clients'.

'Steven Corfield - unrivalled technical knowledge and practical experience of dealing with agricultural tenancies and related issues'.

Lanyon Bowdler handles a broad range of issues for numerous large agricultural and horticultural clients, as well as various landed estates and significant country landowners. It is an NFU panel firm for Shropshire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire, and works closely with the NFU regionally. Particular specialisms include advising on single payment appeals and property litigation as well as planning issues and private client matters. Brian Evans leads the team, which was strengthened by the arrival of Edward Nutting from Hibberts LLP.

Practice head(s):Brian Evans

Other key lawyers:Edward Nutting

Key Clients

Wynne Finch Farms

Ralph Tomley

PDM Produce (UK)

Country Fresh Pullets

W H Timber

Work highlights

  • Acting for the landowner in the sale of land for development.
  • Acting for a landowner in an option to sell land to Taylor Wimpey for residential development.
  • Acting for a client to lodge an appeal by written representations following a refusal of planning permission by the Council.
  • Advising Wynne Finch Farms on a lease with an option to purchase a commercial premises in Anglesey for a new dairy processing facility.
  • Acting in the administration of the estate of the late Elizabeth Brodie Ratclif.

James Spreckley heads up the multidisciplinary agriculture and rural affairs team at Lodders Solicitors LLP, which operates flexibly from offices in Stratford-upon-Avon, Cheltenham and Birmingham. It advises on a broad scope of matters, ranging from transactions and tenancy issues to planning and strategic land development, tax and succession matters.

Practice head(s):James Spreckley

Key Clients

Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers

The Roger and Douglas Turner Charitable Trust (Arley Estate)

Top Spec Feeds

Garden Organics (National Seed Bank)

Work highlights

  • Acted for a farming family in relation to the refinancing of the business.
  • Acting for the executors of the estate of a deceased farmer in connection with the sale of the farm.
  • Acting for the executors of a deceased landowner as the farm in question is currently let under an Agricultural Holdings Act Tenancy.
  • Acting for a landowner who owns a 3,500 acre estate in Oxfordshire in relation to land transfers linked to HS2.
  • Acting for a former farming client that has significantly diversified advising on restructuring the arrangements to facilitate the development of the businesses.

At Wright Hassall LLP, senior partner Paul Rice is knowledgeable about the CAP and the subsidy regime. Rice co-heads the practice with Alexandra Robinson, whose experience includes farms and estates transactions. Other areas of expertise for the team include the Agricultural Holdings Act, agricultural disputes, and estate and tax planning matters. The group also has experience of advising on disputed wills and, separately, the impact of HS2. Senior associate Jennie Wheildon is another key figure. Mercedes King-Jones joined Thursfields Solicitors.

Practice head(s):Alexandra Robinson; Paul Rice

Other key lawyers:Jennie Wheildon


'A first-class agricultural team'.

'Alexandra Robinson is superb. Her knowledge of her work area and client contact is excellent. I would highly recommend her to clients and regularly do'.

Key Clients

Royal Agricultural Society of England

Cotswold Farm Park

British Simmental Society

Berkswell Cheese

Warwickshire Young Farmers’ Federation

National Young Farmers’ Federation

Napton Water Buffalo

Arthur Rank Centre

Meadow Quality

Work highlights

  • Acting for two sisters who inherited their father’s share in a farming partnership, together with his part of two farms, owned jointly with his (surviving) brother and sister.
  • Advising the local authority landlord on an  AHA tenant attempt to (quietly) expand his shooting enterprise from a family and friends affair on land he owned adjacent to the holding, to a commercial shoot over part of the holding.
  • Advising the client who holds a long term farm business tenancy on land at the junction between the M42, M6 and M6 toll that will be affected by HS2.
  • Assisting with structuring the deal in a tax efficient way for a client who is in the process of selling land through a promotion agreement.
  • Advising on an assignable AHA on a farm in the South East of England.

The agricultural team at Hatchers Solicitors LLP is led by Valerie Edwards. It regularly advises on farm sales and purchases, auctions and single farm payments, as well as farm business tenancies and Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies. Clients include private individuals, trustees, farming companies and landed estates. The group is also adept at advising on agricultural disputes, such as farming partnership disputes and proprietary estoppel claims.

Practice head(s):Valerie Edwards

Work highlights

  • Advised on the sale of a fishing lake and on the lease of the adjoining lake by a landed estate.
  • Represented a newly formed farming company in the acquisition of two separate farms in mid-Wales
  • Advised on the refinancing of a farm in Cheshire to raise bank finance of over £3m to fund ongoing farming projects and growth opportunities for the business.
  • Advised on the purchase of a farm in south Wales enabling a local farming family to relocate to that area.
  • Advised on the transfer of farms and cottages to beneficiaries on a landed estate with complex indemnities to the outgoing trustees.

MFG Solictors LLP has a key focus on succession planning advice to estate owners and farmers. It is also skilled at advising on agricultural property relief and on the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. The group often works with a number of agricultural agents to advise on high-value and complex farming estate sales and purchases. Team head Iain Morrison undertakes a wide range of sector-specific matters for farmers, landowners, banks, local authorities and parish councils.

Practice head(s):Iain Morrison

Key Clients

Whitbourne Estate


Work highlights

  • Advising on a complex refinancing of part of the estate, identifying issues regarding a timber extraction agreement and liaising with the solicitors representing the Forestry Commission to rectify the Agreement.
  • Advising on the rules relating to a Young Farmer Payment Application.
  • Advisinng on the sale of a large working farm with many interesting and complex aspects such as a private water supply to the village.
  • Acting on behalf of a farming partnership in relation to the dissolution of the partnership which had been trading for over 50 years.
  • Advising on the refinancing of estate land and buildings.

The agriculture team at Shakespeare Martineau LLP spans its offices in Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham and Solihull. Knowledgeable about the full range of contentious and non-contentious matters, it has particular expertise in secure tenancies under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. It is an NFU legal panel firm for Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Peter Snodgrass and Richard Thorpe co-head the team.

Practice head(s):Peter Snodgrass; Richard Thorpe

Key Clients

National Grid Electricity Transmission

National Farmers Union

Work highlights

  • Advising on the purchase of farmland for development, but there was a tenant who claimed security under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 on the land.
  • Advising on the purchase of a farm where there were  issues with an inheritance of part of the farm.
  • Advising on the purchase of a large farm in Warwickshire, which included a large modern farmhouse, cottage, buildings for agriculture .
  • Advised on the administration an estate against a backdrop of a discretionary trust and one of three children being the principal farmer of the farm and resident there, but there being a requirement for equitable and fair distribution of shares in the farm.
  • Representing the defendant in a claim for breach of contract and misrepresentation in relation to the sale of a second hand piece of agricultural machinery.

The team at Ansons, which is led by consultant Simon James, advises on all aspects of agricultural law. Its client base includes farm and estate owners, tenants and managers. It also acts for other clients closely linked to farming, including contractors, vets, professional advisers, estate planners and agricultural land agents. It has recently been advising on a number of diversification projects, including woodland acquisitions and the conversion of agricultural buildings for office and light industrial use.

Practice head(s):Simon James

Thursfields Solicitors advises on all aspects of rural property, including the buying and selling of farms, estate management and diversification projects (ranging from renewable energy schemes to strategic land development). Team head Sarah Denney-Richards specialises in advising client on agricultural tenancies, and also has expertise in business partnerships, succession planning and business re-organisation. Family law specialist Mercedes King-Jones, who joined the team from Wright Hassall LLP, is knowledgeable about farming-related divorces.

Practice head(s):Sarah Denney-Richards

Other key lawyers:Mercedes King-Jones


'Sarah Denney-Richards has been intelligent and proactive. Her approach to her clients is exemplary; she manages to balance perfect knowledge with honest care for her clients and a human touch'.

Charities and not-for-profit

Index of tables

  1. Charities and not-for-profit
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Mark Lewis - Lodders Solicitors LLP
    • Shivaji Shiva - VWV
    • Jenny Smith - Thursfields Solicitors

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP is particularly well-known for its work for faith-charities, national charity clients and charity funding work. It is also enjoying a growing reputation for its work with charities in the health and social care sector. Under the leadership of practice head Dominic Curran, it continues to have an excellent reputation for its work with a broad range of organisations on the regeneration of local communities, and also in the area of social enterprise development. It is increasing its profile with charities that are focused on children and young adults. Also notable is that it is strong in the social housing sector, where it acts for a diverse range of charitable housing providers. Shivaji Shiva joined VWV .

Practice head(s):Dominic Curran

Other key lawyers:Phil Watts; Edwina Turner; Natalie Barbosa


'All the people I work with are amazingly responsive, and provide exactly what I want when I want it'.

'All of the staff at Anthony Collins must be given credit for their efficiency and helpfulness at all levels'.

'The team displays considerable sector experience and expertise, with enough breadth to the team so that it isn't dependent on just one person'.

'Dominic Curran is driven but very approachable. He has a desire to help the faith-based charity sector to improve communities'.

'Edwina Turner has a broad range of experience, is pragmatic and superb'.

'Natalie Barbosa's advice is always well thought through, compelling and reliable'.

'Phil Watts always provides solid and comprehensive advice and guidance'.

'Phil Watts and Edwina Turner have considerable practical experience but also the 'human touch' so that clients are not just 'projects' but people/situations that need help'.

Key Clients

Baptist Union

Riding for the Disabled Association Incorporating Carriage Driving

The Salvation Army Trustee Company

British Library



Care England


Thera Trust

Baptist Union of Great Britain

Methodist Church and Methodist Church Council

Work highlights

  • Advised Riding for the Disabled Association Incorporating Carriage Driving on construction work for the client’s new head office.
  • Acted for The Salvation Army Trustee Company, which was engaging contractors for demolition works, design and build works and design and fit out works for a visitor centre at Strawberry Field, Liverpool. The work included drafting bespoke amendments to various construction contracts and drafting the appointment for the consultant.
  • Assisted the British Library with its procurement of a “hard Facilities Management contract”.
  • Advising Scope on various issues that affect substantial national charities.
  • Advising Banardo’s on various matters.

Mills & Reeve LLP has longstanding relationships with some of the UK’s biggest charities. It is noted for its particular experience of working with health, education and research charities. It also has considerable strength in sport-based charities. Principal associate Adam Williams, who leads the Birmingham charities practice, has experience across all areas of charity law, governance and philanthropy. Another principal associate  Lucy Howard, who recently relocated to the Birmingham office, manages contested legacy cases.

Practice head(s):Neil Burton (Cambridge)

Other key lawyers:Adam Williams; Lucy Howard

VWV has a large practice, which is well-equipped to advise charity clients on all aspects of their operations, such as governance, procurement, regulatory compliance, investment, tax and fundraising. The team was strengthened by the hire of Shivaji Shiva from Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP. Shiva has a wealth of experience on the corporate and commercial aspects of the charity sector. Recently promoted partner Frances Anderson is highly rated for her work with arts, charities and universities, in particular.

Practice head(s):Shivaji Shiva

Other key lawyers:Frances Anderson


'The team is very knowledgeable on a wide range of topics'.

'All individuals who we have dealt with over the past 12 months have been supportive, approachable and respond in a timely manner'.

'Shivaji Shiva is immensely experienced'.

'Shivaji Shiva is truly a specialist, he is very considered and professional and very knowledgeable'.


Key Clients

Aston University

Birmingham MIND

Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Blue Coat School Birmingham

Bromsgrove School

Cheltenham Ladies College

Coventry University

Creative Education Trust

Dudley College

King Edward VI Academy Trust Birmingham

London Metropolitan University

London South Bank University

Loughborough Endowed Schools

National Star College

Queen Alexandra College

Royal Academy of Music

The Schools of King Edward VI Foundation

United Reformed Church Synods

University of Bath

University of Exeter

University of Law

Windsor Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised the board of trustees of a charity on the termination of the employment of its chief executive on the grounds of a breakdown in the relationship of trust and confidence.
  • Providing employment law advice on the sale of a charitable independent school to an educational consortium.
  • Advising a premium independent school on its licensing arrangements with an overseas investor to establish a number of international branded schools in China.
  • Providing continued advice to a national library institution with regard to its digitisation strategy and third party collaborations.
  • Advising an arts charity on a complex subject access request made by a senior employee of the charity in the context of an employment tribunal claim.

Clients of Lodders Solicitors LLP include high profile regional charities, discreet charitable trusts, breed societies and ancient foundations. In addition to advising on general charity law matters, the department is known for its work on governance and constitutional matters, as well as complex restructures and reorganisations. Team head Mark Lewis has expertise in ecclesiastical, agricultural, equine and engineering charities, as well as membership bodies.

Practice head(s):Mark Lewis

Key Clients

British Chiropractic Association

National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs

The Grand National Archery Society

Heart of England Community Foundation

Henley-in-Arden Guild Hall Trust

Institute for Public Policy Research

The Johnson or Secular Clergy Association of The Archdiocese of Birmingham

Campden Home Nursing CIO

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers

Work highlights

  • Provided advice to the British Chiropractic Association on the redrafting of its constitution to include detailed consideration of governance issues and restructuring of the organisation.
  • Advising the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs on the incorporation of this long-established charity as a charitable company limited by guarantee and on restructuring internal organisation.
  • Providing support to The Grand National Archery Society on governance and related issues, including further revisions to its constitution to ensure that it continues to operate in accordance with best practice and as required by UK Sport.
  • Assisting Heart of England Community Foundation with ongoing matters, including considerable expansion of the work of the charity into the West Midlands and the Black Country, as well as receipt of restricted funds from other charities.
  • Ongoing retainer with Henley-in-Arden Guild Hall Trust.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP advises grant-making charities and Government-funded charities on a wide range of matters, such as charity registration, administration and governance issues. The department also has particular expertise in advising animal charities especially on legacy disputes. In addition, it has developed a specialism in acting for faith-based charities and education sector clients. Team head Lesley Davis has a diverse client base, which includes multinational companies (often seeking advice on establishing foundations) and families wanting to support those in need.

Practice head(s):Lesley Davis


'Lesley Davis has an outstanding client manner and is quick to understand the heart of the issue. Her advice is clear, concise, complete and commercial'.


Key Clients

Institute of Association Management

Education for Health

The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation

Churches Housing Association of Dudley & District

The ExtraCare Charitable Trust

Coventry Golf Club

Walsall Housing Group

British Pest Control Association

Bishops Grosseteste University

npower Foundation

St Martin’s Trust

Birmingham Diocese

Work highlights

  • Assisting The Institute of Association Management with designing a half-day training programme, which covers a range of key governance topics relevant for association organisations that have a broad range of charitable and non-charitable legal structures.
  • Advised npower Foundation on a short term commercial participator agreement with the Charitable Foundation to cover the launch and initial 3-6 months of operation of the charity.
  • Assisting Midland Heart with its Fully Mutual Housing Association strategy.
  • Acting for a Midlands-based university on the redevelopment of its estate, which is critical to its future plans.
  • Assisting a client with a multi-party project to provide supported living for adults with learning disabilities in the community.

Thursfields Solicitors provides the full range of legal services to national, regional and local churches, other faith organisations, hospices and almshouses. Other clients include local political and non-political clubs, sports clubs and charities which focus on issues such as special educational needs and rape victim support. The team's recent work has included advising on matters such as GDPR, Charity Commission investigations and internal charity disputes. Senior associate Jenny Smith heads up the department.

Practice head(s):Jenny Smith


'Always thorough, professional and accurate in the work they carry out'.

'Very experienced in charity and trusts; punching above its weight for a small firm compared to other charity teams in the sector'.

'Professional, friendly and always willing to help'.

Key Clients

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Mary Stevens Hospice

Ashleigh House

Steps to work (Walsall)

Work highlights

  • Providing charity governance and commercial advice to Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
  • Providing general governance and employment advice to Ashleigh House.
  • Advising on the incorporation of a community amateur sports club.

Wright Hassall LLP regularly advises charities and not-for-profit clients on diverse matters such as constitutional, commercial, regulatory and contractual issues. It is also sought out on the creation of charitable trusts and legacy disputes. Keith Ainsworth has a particular focus on corporate and governance issues, group structures, charity law, regulation and governance, charity finance and on dealings with the Charity Commission. Ainsworth also has significant experience of safeguarding matters. Monica Macheng joined Bevan Brittan LLP.

Practice head(s):Keith Ainsworth

Key Clients

Warwick Independent Schools Foundation

British Dressage

The National Association of Charity Shops

The University of Warwick

The Romero Catholic Academy

Work highlights

  • Advised Old Leamingtonians Rugby Football Club on an extensive suite of contract documentation in relation to a new training facility.
  • Advising a care provider on the construction of a new £7.5m care home that is being built to incorporate new technology and innovative ways of supporting dependent residents.

Led by practice head Haydn Jones, Band Hatton Button LLP's team advises a broad mix of charities, including those in the education/training, arts and culture, and religious sectors. Its work covers constitutional, governance and compliance advice, as well as the formation and incorporation of charities, among other areas. The group can draw on the firm’s cross-practice expertise to advise on employment, property or other contentious matters.

Practice head(s):Haydn Jones

Key Clients

Albany Theatre

Ambulance Services Charity

City College Coventry

Coventry & Warwickshire YMCA

Coventry Cyrenians

Coventry Rugby Community Foundation

Midland Group Training Services

Nanaksar Gurdwara Gursikh Temple


Solihull School

Nicholas Chamberlaine’s School Foundation

Work highlights

  • Advising a charity on a land swap with a developer in return for the construction of a new club to an agreed specification.    
  • Advising a charity on the revision of its charitable scheme.
  • Advising a charity on an option agreement for the development of agricultural land.

Browne Jacobson LLP, which advises on the full spectrum of charity matters, is increasingly sought out to advise governance issues, as well as on the establishment of family and corporate foundations. Team head Catherine Rustomji acts for charities, not-for-profit organisations, social enterprises, charity trustees and individuals. Her expertise includes the duties and responsibilities of charity trustees.

Practice head(s):Catherine Rustomji


'A very helpful and receptive team'.

Key Clients

John Taylor Hospice Charity

Wyggeston’s Hospital

Age UK Birmingham

Age UK Staffordshire

The James Charities

Berrow Cottage Homes

National Association of Round Tables of GB & Ireland

Baron Davenport’s Charity

Thomas Corbett’s Charity

Heart of England Baptist Association

Retired Baptist Ministers Housing Society

Work highlights

  • Provided charity advice and social enterprise advice to John Taylor Hospice, as well as advising on the legal structures and the interrelationship between the two different types of organisations.
  • Recent advice to Baron Davenport’s Charity has related to the status of permanent endowment investments and on the options that are available to the trustees
  • Advising The James Charities on legal structures, governance and on appointing a corporate trustee.
  • Advised Age UK Staffordshire on the merger of this charity with two others.
  • Recent advice to Berrow Cottage Homes includes advising on property and banking matters.

At Higgs & Sons, philanthropy continues to be a large part of the work undertaken by the team, particularly in the context of advising private and corporate clients on how to best to structure their charitable giving. Kirsty McEwen leads the team, whose expertise includes the use of private charitable foundations, corporate foundations and legacy giving. The group also acts for many established charitable and not-for-profit organisations, such as specialist faith organisations and non-denominational religious organisations, educational charities, sports bodies, and arts and heritage charities.

Practice head(s):Kirsty McEwen

Other key lawyers:Claire Hamlin


'We are very pleased with the first-class service we have always received from Kirsty McEwen, Claire Hamlin and all the team at Higgs & Sons. They are not only very professional but also friendly and approachable'.

'Kirsty McEwen and Claire Hamlin are particularly supportive'.

Key Clients

The Mary Stevens Hospice

See Beyond Borders

British Glass Foundation

Fisher Frederick Pearson Charity

John Amphlett’s School Charity

Dudley Canal Trust

Margaret Westwood Memorial Charity

Alan Robert Laken Charitable Trust

Anthony and Gwendoline Wylde Memorial Charity

Rachel Baker Memorial Charity

Claude Ballard Southall Memorial Charity

Ken Wrigley Memorial Trust

Hilda Farr Charitable Trust

Michael Gardner Trust

The Joan Braithwaite Sailing Trust

Wollaston Free Church

Christadelphian Hall

Ian Addison Charitable Foundation

Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust

Work highlights

  • Since 2017, the team has been advising on the complex reorganisation of Mary Stevens Hospice's trading activities, in particular its retail units.
  • The team is assisting British Glass Foundation with the complex project work involved in the transfer of the undertaking of the museum service at Broadfield Glass Museum to the client.
  • The team advised Fisher Frederick Pearson Charity on bringing its governing documents up to date with the Charities Act 2011, and on governance best practice and prepared the documents that were required to formalise the change, including minutes and resolutions.
  • Instructed by John Amphlett’s School Charity to advise on the complexities of incorporating the unincorporated Trust to a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) structure.
  • Providing ongoing strategic advice to Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust Limited on constitutional, governance and regulatory matters in respect of the merger of two existing charitable organisations.

Pinsent Masons LLP is well-known for providing specialist charity law advice to universities, as well as assisting commercial clients¬†with the establishment of corporate foundations. It also acts for major insurance companies on their entering into ‚Äėaffinity‚Äô arrangements with charities, and also generates work from local government charities. Legal director Chris Thomas¬†is the name to note.

Practice head(s):Chris Thomas

Key Clients

London School of Economics

University of Sheffield

University of Leeds

Sheffield Hallam University

University of Surrey

Coventry University

University of Edinburgh

University of Huddersfield

University of New South Wales

University College London


Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Work highlights

  • Advice to a university and exempt charity on restructuring of relationship with subsidiary company which operated a university sports park.
  • Advice to a university and exempt charity on difficult and sensitive charity law issues arising from terms of a gift and request by donor for its return.
  • Advice to a university client on the establishment of a new vehicle to operate and expand its law clinic.
  • Advice to a university and exempt charity on the governance and charity law issues arising from proposed monetisation of royalties.

Contentious trusts and probate

Index of tables

  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Beth King-Smith - Harrison Clark Rickerbys
    • Claire Vale - Lanyon Bowdler

Craig Ridge leads a large team at FBC Manby Bowdler LLP, which is experienced in complex and high-value mandates that often have a cross-border element. Its broad practice covers challenges to wills, rectification claims, trust actions and applications for emergency injunctions. The team regularly advises beneficiaries and personal representatives on all contentious issues arising from the administration of an estate or a trust.

Practice head(s):Craig Ridge

Other key lawyers:Kimberly Mears; Joseph Martin


'The team makes you feel you are being treated like a real person not just a client number'.

' The team is well used to dealing with difficult disputes in different cultures especially given the large Polish and Indian communities in Wolverhampton. They also have good knowledge and experience in farming estate disputes on account of work from the Shrewsbury office. They are a bit of a hidden gem of a team'.

'FBC is always very helpful, efficient, professional and extremely clear in its advice. The team is highly knowledgeable and I always feel fully confident in the advice provided'.

'Craig Ridge and Joseph Martin. Both took time to understand my problems and explained the  different options open to me. They were always available'.

'Craig Ridge is wise, full of experience and very easy to deal with'.

'Craig Ridge is efficient, experienced, professional, friendly, approachable and skilled'.

'Craig Ridge is superb. He is compassionate with clients, tactically clever and an excellent litigator. He plays the long game and should never be underestimated as an opponent. His whole team is exceptionally good value in terms of fees and delivers an excellent service at modest costs'.

Work highlights

  • Advised on a high-value rectification claim.
  • Acted in a multi-party action involving the removal of an executor.
  • Advised on an application pursuant to CPR Part 64 seeking directions from the court regarding the payment of pecuniary legacies.
  • Representing the independent personal representative in a multi-million pound estate involving several cross claims for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975
  • Represented the claimant in a contested removal of executor dispute resulting in a multi-day trial.

MFG Solicitors LLP fields one of the largest groups of ACTAPs members in the country, who specialise solely in contentious probate matters. Its team includes Robert Pearce, who has a particular capability in claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975. The group continues to receive substantial referrals from counsel and other solicitors, and it also acts for trust corporations. Robert Weston is the practice head.

Practice head(s):Robert Weston

Other key lawyers:Suzanne Lee; Robert Pearce; Andrew Chandler


'Robert Weston is a very capable lawyer'.

'Andrew Chandler is very experienced, good at what he does and a safe pair of hands'.

Sydney Mitchell LLP has a thriving contentious probate department, which works closely with its busy private client department. It has recently witnessed a significant increase in the number of estates where there is a dispute relating to the ownership of private companies. Team head Kamal Majevadia is well-known for his expertise in advising on estates with cross-border assets, complex commercial and company share issues.

Practice head(s):Kamal Majevadia

Other key lawyers:Hayley-Jo Lockley; Chloe Bolton


'The team is experienced in contentious probate matters and is easy to deal with. They know their stuff'.

'Excellent team with an all-round attention to detail and a commercial, pragmatic approach'.

'Kamal Majevadia is a strong lawyer, practically astute and is always sensible and willing to reach a pragmatic solution'.

'Kamal Majevadia is very thorough and personable'.

'Kamal Majevadia applies a sound commercial approach to this litigation'.

' Hayley-Jo Lockley is experienced in this field and applies a good pragmatic approach to her cases'.

'Chloe Bolton is a very promising junior member of the team. Diligent, and a pleasure to work with'.

Work highlights

  • Represented the executors in respect of a claim made by an only child of the deceased pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 in respect of a large estate.
  • Instructed on two claims, one by an adult son of the deceased to make a claim pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 in relation to a large  estate, and one by the granddaughter of the deceased .
  • Instructed by the claimant to bring a claim pursuant to the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 for an order that the property she jointly owns with the defendant be sold, with an option for the  client to purchase the property.
  • Instructed to issue a claim pronouncing against the validity of a will of the deceased.  
  • Instructed by the clients in relation to a dispute regarding various parcels of farmland and to issue a claim pursuant to the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 for an order for sale of the farm land.

Irwin Mitchell, whose excellent reputation sees it regularly generate work from London firms, is currently undertaking a number of large Inheritance Act claims. It also advises on professional negligence claims relating to defective trust instruments and wills. In addition it is skilled at advising on other niche areas such as statutory wills and court of protection matters involving financial abuse. Led by Gavin Faber, its team handles high-value disputes and complex trust litigation for individuals, successful entrepreneurs, executors, trustees, charities and beneficiaries.

Practice head(s):Gavin Faber


'Irwin Mitchell's size means it can deal with almost anything, so that if you have a contentious probate case but with other legal aspects to it the team will be able to draw on the wide expertise in the firm. The group is also pre-eminently practical and tactical in running litigation'.

'Irwin Mitchell has built a very capable team in Birmingham. Gavin Faber is one of the 'go to' litigators in Birmingham, he genuinely cares about each case and delivers excellent results'.

'Gavin Faber has vast experience and he brings that commercial acumen to private client litigation which gives him an edge over others. He gets straight to the point for clients'.

'Gavin Faber is very competent, gets good work in which he does well, is very good technically, knows what he is doing and is sensible'.

'Gavin Faber works collaboratively, is very knowledgeable and experienced'.

'Gavin Faber is excellent. He is doing a lot of excellent work in high profile matters'.

'Gavin Faber is a clear leader in his field, strategic and on the ball. Gavin is phenomenal in action. Clients adore him'.

'Gavin Faber is technically very able - a great lawyers to have on your side'.


Work highlights

  • Acting for the claimant in a multi-jurisdictional Inheritance (Provision for family and Dependants) Act 1975 claim involving an application to serve outside of the jurisdiction.

James Sommerville at Thomas Horton LLP has extensive experience in contentious probate matters and is a member of the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists. Sommerville is supported by associate solicitor Sara Atkinson, who joined from Sutton Colfield-based firm Thomas O’Gorman Solicitors in 2018, and solicitor Heleena Gandham.

Practice head(s):James Sommerville

Other key lawyers:Sara Atkinson; Heleena Gandham


'The team has great knowledge of this area of law, is sympathetic with clients, but robust with opponents. Many years of experience'.

'James Sommerville has worked on our matter with diligence. He has completed work with both a professional and friendly manner. He has always been happy to answer questions either by email or in person. I believe he has acted in our best interests always'.

Work highlights

  • Advising client executors in connection with a claim against the father’s estate by the estranged wife.
  • Acting for the executors facing  a claim.  
  • Advising on the proper interpretation of a will.  
  • Acting for a client in a dispute with a sister over  inheritance.
  • Acting for a client  in connection with a dispute over a will.

Wright Hassall LLP has four members and two associate members of ACTAPS. Martin Oliver who heads up the team, is a solicitor advocate (all higher courts) who is knowledgeable about all aspects of inheritance disputes. Oliver is experienced in assisting families with challenging wills where the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a will, or was subject to undue influence. He also provides advice on applications to substitute or remove executors, as well as other issues, such as claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.

Practice head(s):Martin Oliver


'The team at Wright Hassall is conscientious and devoted to achieving the best possible outcome for its clients'.

'Martin Oliver is simply one of the best private client practitioners in the industry. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law, especially in relation to contested probate and Inheritance Act claims and he has a shrewd, commercial mind which makes him a formidable opponent'.

'Martin Oliver is involved in some excellent high profile cases and is well able to deal with them'.

Higgs & Sons has a strong profile among wealthy families and wealthy landed clients. It regularly handles disputes in the course of complex and high-value estate administrations, and it also handles matters involving the removal of executors/trustees. In addition, it has particular expertise in disappointed beneficiary claims, with extensive experience of proprietary estoppel cases. Lucy Obrey leads the team, which saw Beth King-Smith join Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

Practice head(s):Lucy Obrey

Work highlights

  • Instructed by the father of the deceased in defending a claim against his son’s estate by the deceased’s partner.
  • Instructed by professional executors to defend an application for their removal.  

The contentious probate department at Lanyon Bowdler acts for clients across the country and further afield internationally on a wide range of matters. Claire Vale heads up the team, which advises on a diverse range of matters, such as claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act 1975 and actions to remove personal representatives. Other areas of expertise include proprietary estoppel claims, professional negligence claims relating to will-drafting or estate administration, as well as TOLATA applications.

Practice head(s):Claire Vale

Other key lawyers:Mandy Brookfield; Gillian Davies


'Claire Vale and her team were very professional. They showed empathy to me'.

'Is able to handle large and complex matters easily, especially when they araise on complex probate matters'.

'Claire Vale stands out as a knowledgeable and unflappable individual'.

'Gillian Davies and Mandy Brookfield were professional, very supportive, provided good and timely communication and treated me with respect'.

Key Clients

Anita Moles

John Williams

Work highlights

  • Acting in the successful recovery of sale proceeds due to the late father’s estate from deceased’s partner.
  • Acte in the defence of a claim for reasonable financial provision that was brought against the late brother’s estate by a deceased’s step-son
  • Acting in the defence of a claim for proprietory estoppel.
  • Acting in  the defence of a claim for reasonable financial provision that is being brought against the late father’s estate by a deceased’s partner.
  • Advising clients about a potential claim for reasonable financial provision against the late father’s estate by the deceased’s partner and children.

Mills & Reeve LLP's specialist contentious trust and probate team is experienced in disputes over the validity of wills, actions involving trustees and executors, claims under the Inheritance ( Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and related claims about lifetime transactions. It also acts for a number of charities in contested legacy matters. Principal associate Lucy Howard has relocated to the Birmingham office.

Practice head(s):David Catchpole (Norwich): Simon Pedley (Manchester); Lucy Howard


'Lucy Howard is one to watch and is very highly regarded, she will do great things with that team'.

Work highlights

  • Acting for the executors of a deceased’s estate, providing advice in respect of various contentious queries raised by the deceased’s daughter regarding the estate administration and its assets and liabilities.

The team at Thursfields Solicitors focuses on high-value trusts and estates disputes. In addition to advising a large number of individuals on large estates, the firm also generates mandates from trustees and executors. Michelle O’Hara heads up the team, whose varied portfolio of work includes disputes between co-executors and beneficiaries, the removal of executors, proprietary estoppel claims and will rectification claims.

Practice head(s):Michelle O'Hara

Other key lawyers:Pam Deol


'Pam Deol is extremely hardworking'.

Work highlights

  • Advising on a case about the removal of a co-executor.
  • Advising on an Inheritance Act claim.
  • Advising on a case about testamentary capacity.
  • Advising on a dispute with beneficiaries.
  • Advising on the rectification of a trust deed.

Family: Birmingham

Index of tables

  1. Family: Birmingham
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next Generation Partners
  5. Rising stars

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP advises on the full range of family law issues both matrimonial and children related. Its primary focus is on matrimonial advice to professionals and business owners, and also representing children and family members in complex care proceedings. The team, which is co-led by Elizabeth Wyatt and Jas Tamber, also has niche expertise in areas such as female genital mutilation, surrogacy, forced marriages and domestic violence.

Practice head(s):Elizabeth Wyatt; Jas Tamber

Other key lawyers:Elisabeth Howe; Chris Lloyd-Smith; Maria Ramon;Kadie Bennett


'Anthony Collins has a strong reputation for its skill at representing clients on complex matrimonial disputes in a non-confrontational way'.

'Anthony Collins is recognised for providing an excellent all round family law offering. It is particularly known for its children work and its growing mediation offering'.

'The only firm in the Midlands which continues to provide exceptional standards of service in private client and care proceedings/child protection'.

'Jas Tamber is the 'go-to' solicitor in the Midlands for child care work. Represents Guardians in the leading cases before the local courts. Trusted by judges and respected by peers. Has an amazing appetite for the work he does'.

'Jas Tamber is assured and a good advocate. He is proactive and drives the case forward properly'.

'Jas Tamber is a first-rate solicitor'.

'Elizabeth Wyatt is just superb and well-respected'.

'Elisabeth Howe is a 1st rate mediator standing out from her competitors because she is not afraid to give very direct guidance to the parties to assist them in reaching agreement - even if that guidance is unpalatable'.

'Chris Lloyd-Smith is up there with the best and Maria Ramon is very good at taking the heat out of the discussions and getting the parties to focus on the solution'.

'Kadie Bennett is very impressive on children disputes in particular'.

'I felt like I could talk to somebody about everything that I was struggling with'.

Work highlights

  • Advising on a mediation case concerning a separating couple who had sought advice in relation to both children and financial matters.
  • Advising on a complex divorce involving financial issues and children matters.

Irwin Mitchell has a large and specialist matrimonial finance team, which is a first port of call among clients for advice on pre- and post-nuptial agreements. The practice is also recognised for its use of collaborative law and mediation, and has carved out a niche for its knowledge of the sharing of English pensions following an overseas divorce. Other areas of expertise include complex children matters, as well as emerging areas such as surrogacy, adoption and alternative parenting. Clare Wiseman and Sarah Balfour are among the members of the well-respected group.

Practice head(s):Clare Wiseman; Sarah Balfour

Other key lawyers:Mark Hands; Gemma Fenton


'A group of talented lawyers who are passionate about what they do and how they do it'.

'Clare Wiseman - an emotionally intelligent and confident leader who delivers with grace and ease. Committed to her people, her clients and the law'.

'Clare Wiseman is a brilliant solicitor, but at the same time is very approachable and friendly'.

'Sarah Balfour has such gravitas and a strong work ethic'.

'Sarah Balfour is very straight talking, knows her onions and deals with matters collaboratively'.

'Mark Hands is very hardworking, a raising star who is very good at moving things forward'.

'Mark Hands  has  exceptional client handling skills on high level cases,  is very hands on, very straightforward and takes a constructive approach to matters'.

'Mark Hands is truly brilliant. He has gravitas and knowledge way beyond his years. He is equally adept at handling big money cases and complicated children cases. He is definitely one to watch for the future'.

'Gemma Fenton is fantastic, passionate about her work and her clients, she is thriving and is one to watch'.

'Gemma Fenton - punches above her weight and is really making her mark'.

Key Clients

Kenny Brack

Karen Hart

Work highlights

  • Representing this  high profile sportsperson in a landmark test case regarding the enforceability of international choice of court clauses and  the concept of sharing in pre-nuptial agreements.
  • Acting for this longstanding client in relation to complex financial proceedings which have twice been in the Court of Appeal – the first judgment is a leading authority on the application of the sharing principle and the second on the enforcement of undertakings.

Lodders Solicitors LLP is best known for its high-end financial work, which frequently involves issues concerning offshore trusts and private limited companies. It has increasingly been advising on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements and on asset protection. Team head Beverley Morris is frequently instructed by trustees and wealthy individuals looking to preserve wealth in the context of divorce. Morris acts for a wide range of clients, including entrepreneurs, professionals, sole proprietors, sportsmen and sportswomen.

Practice head(s):Beverley Morris

Other key lawyers:Amy Parker


'Beverley Morris continues to enjoy a deserved high profile'.

'Beverley Morris is completely immersed in family law, there is nothing that she does not know. She is superb'.

'Beverley Morris is very hardworking and very well respected'.

Key Clients

Graham Mills

Nneka Ogbedo

Work highlights

  • Acting for a client in a case about the issue of spousal maintenance which appeared before the Supreme Court in 2018.
  • Acting for a client in a longrunning case, which involves uncertainty on the extent of the wealth ( which is a minimum of £40m) and litigation in Nigeria concerning validity of marriage issues and Schedule 1 of the Children Act.
  • Represented the wife in a financial remedies case, in which the client was determined not to go to court but where the nature of the assets and the potential value of the assets was very difficult to ascertain.
  • Acted for the husband in a financial remedies case involving assets of circa £7m where there were issues around pre-marriage acquired wealth and inherited wealth.
  • Acting in an international child dispute where there were conflicting court orders in different jurisdictions and there were concerns about the enforcement of orders should the English court accept jurisdiction.

Mills & Reeve LLP's team head Marc Saunderson primarily undertakes high net worth financial remedy matters, with the vast majority of cases falling in the £1m-£10m bracket. The group overall places a real emphasis on focusing on out of court settlements, but is also adept in assisting clients with litigation, where necessary. It has increasingly been advising on pre- and post-nuptial agreements. In addition to undertaking complex and high value financial cases, the team also has considerable expertise in national and international children matters.

Practice head(s):Marc Saunderson

Other key lawyers:Katherine Kennedy


'Mills & Reeve has an excellent reputation in complex matrimonial disputes'.

'Mills & Reeve continues to have a superb family law presence in the marketplace'.

'Marc Saunderson continues to enjoy a excellent reputation'.

'Marc Saunderson is very collaborative and always seeks to find solutions'.

'Katherine Kennedy is passionate about her work and always has an eye out for settlement'.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP has a strong track record in complex children matters that frequently involve a cross-border dimension. The excellent team, which is co-led by Zahra Pabani and Mary Kaye, also excels in the full range of financial remedy proceedings, which are mostly high-value and often involve property, business, trust or pension assets. The group is also noted for its advice on pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and also for its expertise in areas such as surrogacy and fertility.

Practice head(s):Zahra Pabani; Mary Kaye

Other key lawyers:Fiona Farrell; Helen Bowns


'The team has a real 'can-do' attitude''.

'The team is always efficient but never loses its friendliness. The team knows how to make clients feel at ease'.

'The lawyers are experts in complex financial remedy claims and well used to dealing with high net worth cases'.

'Mary Kaye provides first-class customer service, high quality advice and has a fierce determination to pursue her clients' interests'.

'Zahra Pabani  does not pull her punches, is very honest and straight talking but fair and reasonable to deal with'.

'Zahra Pabani has a fantastic way of explaining situations and potential outcomes. Her advice is always clear and to the point. You never leave her office uncertain about the next steps'.

'Zahra Pabani provides clear and commercial advice, putting her clients at the very forefront of her thoughts'.

'Zahra Pabani and Fiona Farrell both combine their legal and professional knowledge with a fantastic approach to dealing with clients on a personal basis to ensure all clients receive the most comprehensive and beneficial service'.

'Zahra Pabani is astute, personable, responsive and professional in the advice and support she provides. Her rapport with clients is first-class. She is an exemplary family law solicitor'.

'Helen Bowns is a complete star'.

Benussi & Co Limited typically acts in ultra high net worth financial issues that arise on relationship breakdown. Managing director Diane Benussi specialises in international family matters, particularly those involving complex cross-border trust structures. The practice also distinguishes itself in cases involving non-disclosed assets, and pre- and post-nuptial agreements, as well as disputes involving children.

Practice head(s):Diane Benussi

Other key lawyers:Denise McKenna; Helen Jane Arnold


'Benussi & Co is an exceptional, and justifiably highly regarded, specialist family law practice based in the heart of Birmingham but with a reputation that extends far beyond'.

'Specialists in their field using experienced professionals who provide sound advice quickly'.

'The firm benefits from having highly experienced, expert practitioners at partner level who are exceptionally well supported by extremely able fee earners'.

'It  is a cohesive team that attracts a high calibre client base'.

'Diane Benussi leads the team with some great associates too- she is the iron lady!'.

'Denise McKenna has been excellent in making sure that I understand what my entitlements in law are and at making sure that my decision making process is solid and well supported'.

'Helen Jane Arnold is simply superb; her vast experience and considerable expertise are matched by her empathy and tenacity, meaning that her clients are always heard and understood, and their best interests pursued with vigour and determination'.

'Helen Jane Arnold is hugely experienced and this gives her an edge over her competitors. Unflappable with a wry sense of humour - you want her on your side fighting your corner'.

Work highlights

  • Acting for a children's trust in a shareholder dispute that is proceeding in the Netherlands.

Clarke Willmott LLP's family group, which specialises in complex financial remedy work and private children cases, acts for a broad base of clients, including professionals, academics, self-employed entrepreneurs, high-level managers in the public sector and individuals from the sports and entertainment sectors. It also works closely with practitioners in the private client and corporate and commercial departments to provide support to family businesses. Rayner Grice, who leads the family practice, is also the head of the Birmingham office.

Practice head(s):Rayner Grice

Other key lawyers:Caroline Young


'The firm has a growing reputation for its excellent work in the Midlands area'.

'The team is highly skilled, knowledgeable and experienced and provides excellent customer service and care to its clients'.

'Rayner Grice is an outstanding practitioner who is bright, dedicated and totally committed to each of her clients. She fiercely represents their interests and always gives sound and reasonable advice'.

'Rayner Grice and Caroline Young continue to go from strength to strength. They both know when to fight a case but also know when to accept offers that are on the table! They are very client focussed and fundamentally always prepared to go that extra mile to get the best possible outcome for their clients'.

'Rayner Grice is superb in dealing with financial remedy cases as is Caroline Young. As well as having huge knowledge and experience of financial remedy cases, Rayner has the ability to engender trust in her clients from the first meeting'.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors advises on all aspects of matrimonial and separation issues, including divorce and ancillary relief. Its team also excels in assisting clients with emergency situations, such as those involving non-accidental injuries and domestic abuse. Other specialisms include international child abduction cases,  special guardianship and care orders. In addition, it has a niche practice in forced marriage protection orders. Richard Gray and Krina Parmar are recommended.

Practice head(s):Richard Gray; Krina Parmar

Other key lawyers:Sarah Rashid


'It is a cohesive and supportive team that goes the extra mile when it comes to case preparation and client care. Not only are their senior solicitors exceptionally skilled, knowledgeable and motivated but they provide excellent training for their junior staff'.

'The team always goes that extra mile'.

'The care team is exceptional. The team is very client focussed and fundamentally always prepared to go that extra mile to get the best possible outcome for clients'.

'Has a  realistic and up front approach and manage clients' expectations well'.

'Richard Gray leads a team very well. He knows when to fight a case but also know when to accept offers that are on the table'.

'Sarah Rashid is a superb, robust solicitor who is client focused and tirelessly endeavours to obtain the best result for her clients'.

Work highlights

  • Represented the respondent mother in a matter concerning child arrangements order in respect of her two children where allegations of radicalisation were raised.
  • Represented a mother, who had two children with the respondent father, requiring protection from severe domestic violence.
  • Represented the respondent father after his ex-partner obtained a without notice non-molestation order against him and the firm commenced by representing him at the return date hearing, ultimately getting the order discharged.
  • Represented the applicant in respect of his application for a non-molestation order and child arrangements order.
  • Represented the applicant in her application to extend a non-molestation order.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys fields a number of standout practitioners, such as team head Kevin Harris-James, who is knowledgeable about all types of complex financial disputes arising from divorce. Another key figure is Andrew Breakwell, who joined the group from Shakespeare Martineau LLP, and brings a wealth of experience of complex family law matters involving high net worth clients. Breakwell has considerable expertise at resolving cases using arbitration and mediation, as well as litigation.

Practice head(s):Kevin Harris-James

Other key lawyers:Andrew Breakwell


'Kevin Harris-James is very eloquent and skilled at reaching a reasonable settlement in high-net-worth family cases'.

Work highlights

  • In a highly contested and multi-jurisdictional matter, the team successfully defeated the wife's claim for £520m (instead £63.5m was awarded).
  • Advised on a significant who cause application.

Shoosmiths LLP, whose practice is led by Neil Hobden, is particularly well-known for its work in the financial remedy sphere. It also has a growing reputation in relation to private children cases. In addition, a notable strength involves the family team working with members of the Court of Protection and clinical negligence teams in the preparation of cohabitation and pre-nuptial agreements for individuals who have mental capacity, but are unable to manage what are often very large awards of compensation. Associate Hannah Nicholls recently joined the team from Thursfields Solicitors. Rebecca Calden-Storr moved to Stowe Family Law LLP.

Practice head(s):Neil Hobden

Other key lawyers:Hannah Nicholls; Adam Maguire


'Shoosmiths is friendly, approachable and has staff that are reassuring'.

' Neil Hobden is highly knowledgeable and very tactically aware. He is ably assisted by Adam Maguire'.

'Neil Hobden is a highly experienced litigator who has done it all before and is never thrown by anything. Even the most difficult of clients relate to and have confidence in him'.

'Neil Hobden is someone whose work is of the highest integrity, and is a very safe pair of hands'.

'Adam Maguire comes across as very calm and confident'.

'Hannah Nicholls is very impressive, sensible and pragmatic'.

'Neil Hobden and Hannah Nicholls'  attention to detail is second to none'.

Work highlights

  • Represented client in contested divorce and nullity proceedings in the High Court involving complex factual matrix over some 25 years and expert evidence on issues regarding the applicable Pakistani law and whether signatures on certain documents were genuine.
  • Acted on a civil partnership dissolution where the respondent’s immigration status was in issue and was a key to the determination of financial issues.
  • Acting for a client in complex financial remedy proceedings with third party intervenors alongside a contested application to relocate the children overseas.
  • Acting for the husband in financial remedy proceedings where there are more than 50 properties here and overseas to be considered alongside other substantial asssets.
  • Negotiated a settlement for the client in a complex final remedies case.

Sydney Mitchell LLP has an excellent collaborative law practice, with it fielding three fully-qualified collaborative lawyers. Its group is well regarded in complex and high value financial remedy matters, complicated Children Act cases, as well as other areas, such as protective injunctions. It also has expertise in asset preservation by way of pre- and post-nuptial agreements. Karen Moores and Mauro Vinti jointly lead the team.

Practice head(s):Karen Moores; Mauro Vinti

Other key lawyers:Amanda Holland


'The team is unique in its ability to cut to the chase and focus on the outcome, but in a way that keeps clients constantly at ease'.

'The family team is extremely hardworking and conscientious. It works cohesively and all members are helpful in handling your case or query efficiently'.

'Karen Moores is beyond capable. She has a knack for seeing the issues, seeing the necessary outcome and executing a strategy to get there - but delivered in a highly personal, relaxed and ease setting manner'.

'Karen Moores is more than a solicitor she has been amazing in helping me through what has been one of the most difficult times of my life'.

'Karen Moores is an extremely capable and totally dedicated solicitor. Her clients are left in no doubt that her total focus is upon them and their case. She retains an infectious sense of enthusiasm for her work and goes the extra mile for each of her clients'.

'Amanda Holland explains things well at the beginning of the process in a clear way which really helps her clients'.

'Amanda Holland approaches cases on a collaborative basis but when needed can be a tough negotiator and litigator. She is very thorough in her case preparation and is able to get to the crux of the issue quickly'.

Work highlights

  • Represented the client in financial remedy proceedings following a long separation and successfully negotiated an order which ring-fenced the husband’s pre and post acquired pension.
  • Representing a father who is subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order in respect of an application to see his children.
  • Representing the wife in financial remedy proceedings where she was the primary wage earner.
  • Advising on a declaration of parentage case.
  • Advising on Child Arrangements Order with  a foreign jurisdiction element.

The team at Weightmans LLP advises on the financial aspects of relationship breakdown, where there are complex business assets, pensions or trust arrangements. It also has expertise in pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and the treatment of inherited wealth. Elsewhere, children-related matters are another driver of activity; the group's work includes assisting clients with national and international relocations, choices of schools and financial applications for children. Consultant Fiona O’Sullivan heads up the team.

Practice head(s):Fiona O'Sullivan


'Fiona O’Sullivan fights hard for her clients and has lots of integriy'.

Family: Elsewhere in the West Midlands

Index of tables

  1. Family: Elsewhere in the West Midlands
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Andrew Caldicott - Harrison Clark Rickerbys
    • Tracy Cross - Band Hatton Button LLP
    • Linda Jones - Brethertons LLP

Rising stars

  1. 1
    • Sarah Jones - Beswicks Legal

Brethertons LLP has a varied practice, with its team advising clients on the apportionment of high-value assets on separation, as well as on complex children issues. It has niche expertise in child abduction cases, international children work, surrogacy and international adoption. It also acts for parents and children in difficult care proceedings, and has considerable experience in domestic violence cases. Linda Jones and Simon Craddock are recommended.

Practice head(s):Linda Jones; Simon Craddock

Key Clients

S (A Child), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 1453

Y (Children) [2018] EWCA Civ 1208

Zajic v Sumislawska [2017]EWFC 88

Work highlights

  • Acting in an international child abduction case where the client had been accused of abducting the child from Ireland.
  • Advising on a case whereby the respondent mother’s appeal from a Circuit Judge’s order that two children should be returned to their home country of Canada pursuant to a Hague Convention application by the ‘left behind’ applicant father.
  • Instructed by the father in this matter.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP’s primary focus is on high-value and complex family matters. Many of its financial cases involve diverse assets, property portfolios, business assets, stock market and other investments, as well as overseas properties and inherited wealth. Practice head Anne Thomson specialises in high-level ancillary relief cases and matters where there are intricate business and farming assets. Thomson also has expertise in pre-nuptial agreements. The team also includes practitioners with experience of handling Children Act matters.

Practice head(s):Anne Thomson


'Attention to detail and always going that extra mile is what sets the team apart'.

'The team had a keen eye for detail and offered sound practical advice'.

'Anne Thomson - her honest and measured approach always made me have full confidence in her advice'.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys, whose practice is spread between the Hereford and Worcester offices, fields a group with a wealth of experience of family law. It recently enhanced its offering by establishing a specialist public law children and domestic violence team, which is led by Mathew Waddington. Department head Andrew Caldicott is active in high net worth financial disputes and complex Children Act matters. Caldicott is also a trained collaborative lawyer.  Anita Hennessey made partner.

Practice head(s):Andrew Caldicott

Other key lawyers:Mathew Waddington; Anita Hennessey

Work highlights

  • Representing an ultra high-net-worth client in a collaborative divorce.
  • Acting for the husband in a complex divorce involving business assets and various property interests.
  • Acting for a wife in respect of a divorce involving complex trust interests with tax issues and multi-jurisdictional assets.
  • Acting for the husband in respect of a divorce and financial matters (business assets and pensions).
  • Acting for the husband in a divorce and children act proceeding s involving serious allegations on both sides.

Higgs & Sons primarily acts for high net worth individuals and owner managers of businesses (particularly those in the manufacturing sector). Philip Barnsley leads the team, which advises on diverse financial issues on relationship breakdown, such as nuptial, cohabitation and separation agreements. It is also knowledgeable about all aspects of Children Act proceedings and other matters include adoption, living arrangements for children and parenting plans. Barnsley has niche expertise in nuptial agreements involving family investment companies, trust structures and business assets.

Practice head(s):Philip Barnsley

Thursfields Solicitors covers the full range of family issues, and generates work from local, national and international clients. Premier League footballers and other high net worth individuals are among the clients who turn to the firm for family law advice. Shane Miller leads the group, whose experience includes complex financial, separation and children cases. It is becoming increasingly active in divorce cases involving family farms and other wealth protection matters. Mercedes King-Jones joined from Wright Hassall LLP.

Practice head(s):Shane Miller

Other key lawyers:Mercedes King-Jones; Pauline O'Rourke


'Thursfields would be one of my 'go-to' firms for family finance work in the Midlands. They have a large number of offices and are very professionally presented'.

'Thursfields has gone from strength to strength in recent years, recruiting very well indeed to assemble a team of family law specialists that would be envy of any firm'.

'A well organised and committed family team delivering good outcomes across the range of family law disciplines'.

Work highlights

  • Advising on a pre-nuptial agreement.
  • Advising on divorce proceedings and the resolution of matrimonial finances.
  • Advising on the permanent relocation of children outside the jurisdiction.
  • Advising on the care of grandchildren.
  • Advising on a private law adoption.

Baches Solicitors LLP has a high level of expertise in care proceedings and adoption applications; Jill Darbyshire, who sits as a part-time judge and leads the childcare department, has more than 40 years of experience of child protection. Darbyshire regularly represents children, parents, grandparents and other relatives in complex legal disputes. Lindsey Newell is the head of the matrimonial team.

Practice head(s):Jill Darbyshire; Lindsey Newell


'Baches is a very strong firm. It is well-organised and provides an excellent service for its clients'.

'Is a close team that offers consistency and reliability with a great deal of knowledge and experience. The team is  responsive and gives sound advice and is well respected in the family courts'.

'Lindsey Newell is highly competent, tenacious and approachable. She almost always attends court with her clients and clearly builds a strong rapport with them'.

Matrimonial and family law boutique Mercy Messenger has built up an excellent reputation since its inception in 1983. It is active in all areas of family law, with particular strengths in dealing with family businesses in financial relief cases and providing support on children matters. It also excels in schedule one applications. On the financial relief side, the firm is often sought out in complex, multimillion pound cases where there are issues concerning the division of marital and non-marital assets and wealth accrued pre- and post-separation. Name partner Mercy Messenger has expertise in unravelling complex income structures. Legal executive Harpreet Saund is a specialist in children law matters.

Practice head(s):Mercy Messenger

MFG Solicitors LLP is a well regarded firm in the West Midlands, with it offering specialist advice across its six offices in Worcestershire, Shropshire and central Birmingham. Led by Claire Backler, its team covers all aspects of family law, including divorce (and related complex financial issues) and the dissolution of civil partnerships. It also advises on Schedule 1 Children Act matters, as well as child arrangement orders, pre-nuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements. The group has developed particular expertise in advising famers and land owners, dentists and doctors on various issues, particularly where there is inherited wealth or limited companies trusts.

Practice head(s):Claire Backler

Other key lawyers:Alison Webber


'Claire Backler was always available and willing to give advice, all of which was spot-on '.

'Alison Webber is an excellent lawyer who has good strategic skills and prepares cases well. She has a good eye for detail and good judgment about the merits of a case'.

'Alison Webber is very calm and clearly explains the pros and cons of any actions we may take. She has a clear vision of the road ahead, and navigates around any boulders left by the other side'.


Work highlights

  • Acting for the wife in a complex, high net-worth, divorce, involving a multi-national business, offshore bank accounts and a substantial property portfolio based in the United Kingdom.
  • Advising the husband in a divorce matter, involving a considerable  pension and an inherited farm.
  • Recently advised a wife in a case where assets exceeded needs, such that it was argued that the wife’s non-marital assets and unmatched contributions can and should be reflected in an unequal order in her favour.
  • Acted for the respondent husband in divorce proceedings dealing with finances.
  • Recently concluded a case on behalf of the wife, in relation to issued ancillary relief proceedings.

Wright Hassall LLP has niche expertise in acting for parties in the agricultural and rural business sector. It also advises many clients who own businesses or hold senior positions in businesses on diverse matters, such as pre- and post-nuptial agreements and private applications relating to children. Justin Creed, who is a qualified collaborative lawyer, has assisted a significant number of senior executives with the collaborative process. Peter Lowe is also highly regarded. Mercedes King-Jones is now at Thursfields Solicitors.

Practice head(s):Justin Creed; Peter Lowe


'Has a very professional team'.

'Justin Creed is exceptionally smooth and well rounded. As good with clients as he is on the law'.

'Peter Lowe is experienced, focused and dedicated. Probably in the top few percent of specialists in the country, let alone the area'.

Band Hatton Button LLP's Tracy Cross and Peter Martin are experienced advocates, who regularly represent clients at hearings involving children and financial issues. Both practitioners are collaboratively trained. Also notable is that Cross is a Resolution-trained family mediator, who is also qualified to undertake direct child consultation work. The group also regularly handles family cases where companies and family businesses are involved.

Practice head(s):Tracy Cross

Other key lawyers:Peter Martin; Sunil Sidhu


'The team is very well organised and is always professional'.

'The team is down to earth but professional. They all work so hard at their jobs. They have a high standard of ethics'.

'Tracy Cross is remarkable, her knowledge and experience is second to none. Her ability to make you feel at ease and the way in which she explains and relays information is done in such a way that it was easy to understand'.

Work highlights

  • Advising the wife in the divorce from her husband of over 25 years.
  • Acting for the husband on financial matters during a divorce.
  • Acted on a complex children’s case where the client father finally obtained residence of two children one of whom was born during the proceedings.
  • Acting for the husband to a 40  year marriage in financial matters pursuant to divorce.
  • Advising on a  collaborative family case where Tracy Cross has been acting for the husband.

Beswicks Legal covers all areas of family law, including divorce and financial settlements. Its team acts for high net worth individuals and sports professionals in complex cases. where there are businesses, pensions and trusts issues. It also has experience of matters with an agricultural component. Private children work is another mainstay of the practice, including cases with a cross-border element. The team also drafts separation, cohabitation and pre-and post-nuptial agreements. Solicitor Sarah Jones heads up the practice. Fiona Craig has retired.

Practice head(s):Sarah Jones


'A very personal and professional practice that values you as a person not just a client. The team tailors its service to your individual circumstance offering a high quality service that helps tremendously in such stressful times'.

'The team is professional from the first moment you use the firm, the team always has time for you and has great attention to detail. You always feel the team will go the extra mile to help'.

'Sarah Jones has been excellent from the moment I spoke to her, very knowledgeable and incredibly professional'.

Work highlights

  • Acted for the wife in relation to divorce and financial matters .
  • Acting for the husband in relation to an application for financial relief.
  • Acting for the husband in relation to an application for variation of spousal maintenance.
  • Acting for the mother in relation to an application for a Declaration of Parentage and Child Arrangement Order.
  • Acting for the husband in the preparation of a complex pre-nuptial agreement.

Duncan Watts LLP is an established specialist matrimonial and family law firm, which handles the full array of matters, such as advising on pre-nuptial and separation agreements, among others. Partners Martin Croom and Joanne Connor are Resolution-accredited specialists in private children, high net-worth financial remedy and financial provision matters. They are also both Resolution-trained mediators and collaborative lawyers.

Practice head(s):Joanne Connor; Martin Croom

Work highlights

  • Acted for the wife in heavily contested financial remedy proceedings within divorce before the Central Family Court in London.
  • Advised the husband in a contentious divorce also involving financial remedy and children act proceedings.
  • Advised on Children Act proceedings with   guardian appointment.
  • Advised the former husband on divorce, financial proceedings (involving partnership and four properties), injunction proceedings (including under the Partnership Act), children act proceedings and enforcement.
  • Advised the husband on financial proceedings on divorce.

Lanyon Bowdler's well-respected team is experienced in financial remedy matters involving trusts and multijurisdictional assets, as well as farming cases. Elsewhere, internal and external relocation cases under the Children Act are another driver of work, as are cases involving significant welfare issues. Sue Hodgson leads the group.

Practice head(s):Sue Hodgson


'With Colin Spanner I very much felt that he was working hard to get the best outcome for me but he understood that it was a family matter and so wasn't aggressive or abrasive with the other side'.

'Colin Spanner was really helpful and supportive'.

Key Clients

Father of toddler, seeking contact after 3 years

Parents of respondent husband in financial relief proceedings

Wife who had fled domestic abuse (emotional and financial abuse, coercive control), seeking a divorce

Respondent Mother in Children Act Proceedings

Husband who received a lump sum on divorce when the wife contended he should have nothing.

Work highlights

  • Successfully obtained a contact order for a father with mental health issues following army service.
  • Representing the intervenors in financial remedy proceedings.
  • Represented the petitioner who had fears of domestic violence .
  • Represented the respondent mother in an application by the father (a litigant in person) for a child arrangements “live with” order.
  • Represented the husband in a divorce and successfully achieved a financial order exceeding the expectation of the client.

Aaron & Partners LLP primarily acts for high net worth individuals on issues arising from relationship breakdown. Its roster of clients includes business owners, professionals, sportsmen, land owners, beneficiaries of trusts and wealthy retirees. Richard Barge and recently promoted partner Sandy Edwards jointly lead the team, which specialises in advising on pre- and post-nuptial agreements, as well as separation agreements. A significant portion of the firm's family work has an international dimension.

Practice head(s):Richard Barge; Sandy Edwards

Alsters Kelley LLP undertakes family law work on both a privately funded and legal aid basis. Its legal aid franchise covers both private and public law family law, and the firm is particularly noted for its large care practice, which is headed up by associate solicitor Catherine Stephens. The department is led by director Erica Kemp, who is a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer. Kemp is adept at dealing with complex financial matters following the breakdown of a relationship.

Practice head(s):Erica Kemp

Other key lawyers:Catherine Stephens


'The practice is so approachable and available.  The individuals I come into contact with are dedicated and hard working and try to do their best for clients'.

'I found that I received excellent legal advice from Erica Kemp and her associate, as well as compassion and understanding at a difficult time. Organised, efficient, kind and approachable'.

'Erica Kemp is very professional, knowledgeable and treats people with kindness and respect when they are facing a very difficult time'.

At George Green LLP, Mark Vandaele handles all aspects of relationship breakdown for married couples, civil partners, cohabitees and those with children. Vandaele's experience includes company disputes arising within divorce proceedings, and he regularly advises clients with businesses valued in excess of £5m. He is also active in private law Children Act work, including cases where a guardian needs to be appointed.

Practice head(s):Mark Vandaele


'Mark Vandaele is a dedicated and tough children solicitor always fighting for what his client wants. He is enthusiastic and full of energy for his clients which is always a comfort for the client'.

'Mark Vandaele has been supportive and always given truthful advice although it might not have been what I wanted to hear. Everything he said happened'.

'Mark Vandaele has huge knowledge and experience but is brilliant at passing that knowledge and experience on to clients in terms that are easily digestible'.

The family law team at Pickerings Solicitors is led jointly by Susan Davies (who leads on divorce and finance matters) and Richard Westley (who heads the children team). The group handles all aspects of divorce and separation, including high net worth matrimonial cases where businesses and pensions are involved. Davies also has a considerable collaborative practice. The children team handles a wide range of private and public law matters.

Practice head(s):Susan Davies: Richard Westley

Other key lawyers:Joanna Craddock


'Richard Westley, whose tireless work ethic and attention to detail is impressive. Also of note is Joanna Craddock, whose devoted client care and patience is remarkable'.

Work highlights

  • In an international case the team successfully acted for the adopters of two children.
  • Successfully resolved a hostile children contact dispute following divorce.
  • Drew up a deed of separation which provided the client with reassurance and peace of mind following an unexpected separation.
  • Successfully negotiated a settlement in relation to property disputes where the firm's client had contributed a significantly larger deposit to the purchase of the property.
  • Advised on and drew up a pre-nuptial agreement to protect family wealth including land, property and businesses.

Woolley & Co, Solicitors is known for handling contested divorces, as well as other complex issues, such as leave to remove and prohibited steps orders. The firm is also increasingly sought out to advise on pre-nuptial and living together agreements, and also TOLATA/cohabitation disputes. Clients include high net worth individuals, business owners and company directors, farmers/farming families and British expats. Richard England, Rebecca Franklin and Alison Ratchford are the key contacts.

Other key lawyers:Richard England; Rebecca Franklin; Alison Ratchford


'Rebecca Franklin - bright, engaging and pragmatic'.

'Richard England is very professional and also speaks normal language which is a huge advantage'.

Work highlights

  • Acted in multi-million-pound finance dispute.
  • Acting in a complex financial case involving a substantial property portfolio and business interests.
  • Acted in a complex Children Act case with issues over relocation out of jurisdiction.
  • Acted for a London client in a pension dispute.
  • Defended father against unfounded allegations to secure regular access to his children.

Personal tax, trusts and probate

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Higgs & Sons specialises in advising individuals and families on preserving their personal and corporate wealth. The department acts for a significant number of family businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals with business interests. It works closely with its corporate department to provide fully- rounded tax and estate planning advice to owner managed businesses, directors and shareholders. Lucy Obrey leads the first-rate team, which includes Nick Moxon. Another key figure is Peter Gosling, who has specialist expertise in the wealth planning issues of high-net-worth individuals and their families. Gosling is also knowledgeable about rural issues.

Practice head(s):Lucy Obrey

Other key lawyers:Nick Moxon; Peter Gosling; David Morgan


'Lucy Obrey is knowledgeable and experienced'.

'Peter Gosling has a calm and reassuring presence with clients, he is technically excellent and talks through issues well with clients in a way that is easily understandable by them'.

'David Morgan is very skilled on probate matters, technically he is excellent and he really knows his stuff'.

Work highlights

  • Lucy Obrey was appointed as an independent administrator in a disputed estate whereby the children and previous executors were unable to progress matters.
  • Advising on the ongoing administration of the estate of a sole solicitor practitioner.  
  • Advised the client and her family in relation to two property transactions and other substantial estate planning matters.
  • Advising the personal representatives in the complex estate of a local businessman

Martin Green heads up the department at Lodders Solicitors LLP . The team distinguishes itself in estate and tax planning for high net worth individuals, where it demonstrates strong capabilities in the tax-efficient structuring of businesses and landholdings through the use of partnerships, LLPs and companies. It is also adept at advising clients on family office structures and on eligibility for agricultural and business property relief. Elsewhere, the team is also knowledgeable about care and capacity issues, trusts and probate, and wills and succession planning. Contentious work is another pillar of the practice. Stephen Brignull is another key member of the group.

Practice head(s):Martin Green

Other key lawyers:John Rouse; Stephen Brignull


'John Rouse is fantastic, he is very good on agricultural property work'.

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client in the review of his affairs and the preparation of his will which included various issues relating to a settlement prepared by another firm which had various IHT impliactions.
  • Dealt with a particularly complicated matter involving the double administration of an estate.
  • Acted in the winding up of a will trust.
  • Partners at the firm have been appointed as executors of the estate which includes income from a US QDOT trust.
  • Acted for the land owner in the potential development of 90 acres of land with a view to maximising IHT BRP on the potential land value.

Mills & Reeve LLP provides the full range of estate planning and wealth structuring advice to business owners (particularly family businesses), wealthy individuals, families and landed estates. It is increasingly active in the creation of family investment companies, and also advises on international estate planning and wealth structuring for families with properties and businesses abroad. Matthew Hansell and John Grundy are highly regarded.

Practice head(s):Matthew Hansell; John Grundy

Other key lawyers:Sarah Wood


'M&R is really well known for its work on family investment companies in particular'.

'Matthew Hansell- he is God, so very knowledgeable'.

'Matthew Hansell is technically excellent'.

'Matthew Hansell is vastly experienced and well respected'.

'John Grundy is technically very good with excellent client handling skills'.

'Sarah Wood is very helpful'.

Key Clients

Acts for two of the Top 5 in the Midlands Rich List and many other notable local families.

Work highlights

  • Conducting a comprehensive review and re-structuring of family trusts and companies, to include inter-generational planning for the family businesses.
  • Co-ordination of worldwide wealth structuring to include business and personal assets and centralisation of new corporate and excluding property trust structures.
  • Helping to design and put in place a compulsory saving scheme for young professional players.
  • Doing all the private client work – inheritance tax mitigation, trust and company structuring, pension death benefit planning.
  • Advising business owner and his family on estate planning to include the creation of a family investment company from an existing corporate structure.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP focuses on wealth and succession planning, and also trust and estate administration. Its team regularly acts as professional trustees, executors and administrators. It also advises elderly clients on capacity issues, Court of Protection matters and personal injury trusts. Clare Laird heads up the group, which counts ultra high net worth individuals (including National Lottery winners) and landed aristocrats as clients.

Practice head(s):Clare Laird

Other key lawyers:Lesley Davis; Anne Tromans; Hannah Tait


'Strength in depth and an approachable, people friendly team providing excellent and understandable advice'.

'It is not just the partners there is a strong back up team of associates, directors and solicitors'.

'The firm is renonwned for its friendly 'hands on' bedside manner with clients and its approachability'.

'The private client team at Shakespeare Martineau is incredibly client centric and has a proactive and collaborative approach with client work'.

'Lesley Davis is exceptional. She gives you confidence in what she does'.

'Lesley Davis is very professional'.

'Anne Tromans-   I appreciated her advice and opinions that were always given in a constructive and friendly manner'.

'Hannah Tait is kind and caring and seemed genuinely interested in making sure I was happy with the outcome and that all the legal paperwork was completed in the agreed timescale'.

'Hannah Tait is professional and customer focussed'.

Key Clients

Trustees of St Martin’s Trust

Diocese of Birmingham

Work highlights

  • The team  runs the day to day administration of the St Martin’s Trust and Lesley Davis acts as clerk to the trustees.
  • Acts for a large landed estate, comprising over 200 acres of farmland.
  • Acted on a large intestate estate, requiring a court approved variation to mitigate tax liability and  advice regarding foreign assets and ongoing trust management and administration.
  • Acted for a wealthy individual with significant US assets to give effect to his wishes in respect of lifetime gifts and future planning in the most tax efficient way.
  • Represented a client following a substantial win on the National Lottery.

Wright Hassall LLP acts for wealthy individuals and families on complex tax and succession planning matters. Working with the agricultural team, its private wealth group also advises a significant number of number of landowners, farmers, landed estates and agribusinesses on bespoke tax and estate planning, among other matters. The group is also adept at advising on family investment companies and personal investment companies. In addition, it has a dedicated estate administration team, which has specialist expertise in high-value estates. Martin Oliver and Susan Floyd are recommended.

Practice head(s):Martin Oliver; Susan Floyd

Other key lawyers:Eamonn Daly; Jennifer Russell


'The team is very approachable and the advice to clients has always been communicated in a clear and understandable manner'.

'Everyone worked well in their speciality and was well prepared for meetings. Advice relating to matters discussed was given to me or, if necessary, sent to me quickly and any follow up questions were dealt with efficiently'.

'Eamonn Daly -I particularly value his friendly, approachable manner and his responsiveness'.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP is best known for its work with vulnerable adults, where the scope of its team's expertise includes compensation trusts, statutory wills and Court of Protection work. It is also knowledgeable about capital tax planning, and on protection structures for families and disabled individuals. In addition, the practice frequently advises corporate, housing and third-sector clients on legacy income generation and trust entitlements. Donna Holmes heads up the team. James Hall and Sheree Green have left the firm.

Practice head(s):Donna Holmes

Other key lawyers:Lisa Whitehouse; Alex Elphinston


'Anthony Collins is highly ethical, trustworthy, reliable and they always provide a high level of service. Alex Elphinston and Donna Holmes in particular'.

'All team members are knowledgeable and professional in their delivery of the service'.

'Donna Holmes  is professional, competent and caring. She can only be described as an exceptional practitioner.  Clients are put at ease by her calm and patient nature'.

'Genuine and kind team that really cares about its clients. Donna Holmes is my 'go to' person for anything COP. Supported by Alex Elphinston who is experienced and professional'.

Work highlights

  • Advised on an application to court for approval of a complex property co-ownership via trust to recognise how JS’s needs were being met and how best interests could be served.
  • Advising on the resolution of an old trust where there was a dispute with beneficiaries over the trust value.
  • Advised on an inter-family asset restructuring to maximise family wealth and meet the needs of a family member in care.
  • Advised on maximising the use of Inheritance Tax Nil Rate Bands through appropriate will structuring.
  • Advising a farming family on utilising trust structures to tax effectively organise assets to enable farming to continue and all children to receive an appropriate inheritance.

DWF undertakes the full gamut of private capital work. Its team acts for business owners and entrepreneurs, as well as high net worth families with substantial UK assets. Tax planning and asset protection remain a major focus of the practice; much of the work involves multimillion pound estates. In addition, the team has extensive experience of handling complex probates which have significant tax issues. Team head Roger Williams is well regarded for his expertise in trust structuring and powers of attorneys, among other areas.

Practice head(s):Roger Williams

Work highlights

  • Acting as the trustee for a number of discretionary trusts for a wealthy married couple.
  • Acting in the estate of a wealthy former professional.    
  • Acting in the estate of a non-resident with substantial offshore assets.
  • Assisting in providing advice on the administration of the estate of a deceased widow.
  • Acting in the estate of a deceased partner in a firm.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP, whose practice is led by Julie Burn, undertakes community care, Court of Protection and contentious probate work. It is also strong in assisting business owners and farmers with complex inheritance tax planning and business succession issues. The team is increasingly sought out to advise on the benefits of family trusts for protecting family businesses, and also the protection of family wealth in the aftermath of divorce.

Practice head(s):Julie Burn


'Julie Burn is responsive, approachable, extremely knowledgeable, reassuring and fair'.

Gateley Plc's team excels in advising on the use of lifetime trusts in pre-sale business sale strategies, as well as the establishment of family investment companies. It is also adept at providing multi-generational advice to wealthy clients by way of wills and lifetime trusts. The group, which is led by Catriona Attride, is also experienced in administering complex UK-based and multijurisdictional estates, and acting as professional deputy in complex and high-value cases.

Practice head(s):Catriona Attride

Work highlights

  • Advising client on issues arising out of the current structure of a family investment company and proposals for restructuring.
  • Advising on a high value complex claim by the widow of her late husband’s estate and on settlements created during lifetime.
  • Advising the trustees of a large healthcare trust to include updating the scheme rules and trust deed and delivering regular training on compliance issues and their responsibilities and obligations.
  • Advising clients on their wealth structuring following the sale of a business and implementing a lifetime family trust and family investment company.
  • Advising the trustees of a land pooling trust on the establishment of a trust entity to manage the receipts and payment obligations of various land developers’ Section 106 payments to include relevant legal and tax advice.

Lanyon Bowdler's team has significant experience of advising on trusts, estate/tax planning and administration, as well as powers of attorney and contentious trust matters. The Court of Protection team, which acts for clients across the UK, is a core part of the private client department and advises on a wide range of complex property and affairs cases. It advises various clients, ranging from high net worth individuals and new parents to elderly and vulnerable people. Giles Scott is a key contact.

Practice head(s):Giles Scott

Other key lawyers:Edward Rees; Neil Davies


'Efficiency was evident in keeping us informed of progress and explaining the reason for any delays'.

'Lanyon Bowdler creates, for even the smallest client, a feeling of security and total help which sets them apart from any competitor'.

'The team is genuinely caring, approachable and efficient'.

'Edward Rees -  we were impressed by his depth of knowledge and the clarity of his explanations. We were able to ask all the questions we wished without time pressure and our questions were answered with reasoned explanations'.

'Neil Davies is exceptional in that his knowledge of minutiae, as it fits our case, and his ability to communicate with us in detail is outstanding and rapid in every respect'.

'Neil Davies is very helpful'.

Key Clients

Anne Baker

Julia Maureen Thomas





Work highlights

  • Acted for a client on the administration of an estate valued at £640,000.
  • Acted for a client on the administration of an estate worth £680,000and also in relation to the preparation & execution of a new will for the client.
  • Acted for a child with cerebral palsy on the management of multimillion pound award.
  • Acted for a client with learning difficulties in connection with suspected financial abuse and contested deputyship proceedings.
  • Acted for 13 year old girl with severe brain injury in connection with the management of multimillion pound award, including property adaptation.

Sydney Mitchell LLP's team has a wealth of experience of a wide range of private client matters, such as advice on succession planning for individuals and families (including small to medium-sized business owners). It has also recently had a significant increase in mandates from elderly clients, for whom the scope of the work includes advice on continuing health care (assessments and appeals), care placement and care funding. Tracy Creed leads the team.

Practice head(s):Tracy Creed


'What a great team! '.

'Tracy Creed is very thorough'.


Work highlights

  • Advised on the administration of an estate with a mixture of beneficiaries, some of whom were chargeable and some were not chargeable to IHT.
  • Prepared a submission for an appeal against an ‘ineligible’ decision for Continuing Healthcare.
  • Advised on a complex estate and a deed of variation.
  • Advised on a complex estate where poor advice had been given from previous firm of solicitors and accountants.
  • Advising on an application for business property relief in an estate (Holiday let).

Ansons is particularly known for its expertise in handling agricultural estates and complex probate matters for farmers. Its team has extensive experience of the full range of private client matters, including estate administration, inheritance tax mitigation and will drafting. It also advises on lasting powers of attorney and applications to the Court of Protection. Associate director Adam Penn is a key contact.

Other key lawyers:Adam Penn

Band Hatton Button LLP advises on all aspects of wealth protection and inheritance planning for individuals and their families. Michelle Gavin leads the team, which advises on wills, estate planning, asset protection, powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. It also advises on the creation and administration of trusts, and also post-death tax planning.

Practice head(s):Michelle Gavin


'Michelle Gavin has an exceptional attitude and eye for detail. She creates a very welcoming atmosphere within the company, personally takes ownership and thinks through each situation prior to the event making sure everything runs smoothly'.

'Michelle Gavin is very thorough'.

'The team has strong local connections'.

Work highlights

  • Advised a couple on capital gains tax planning matters in relation to their second home.  
  • Made a successful application to HM Revenue and Customs resulting in significant inheritance tax saving for the estate.
  • Advised the trustees of a Nil Rate Band Discretionary Will Trust on the most tax efficient way to withdraw a bond from this trust and avoid an inheritance tax charge on the first 10 year anniversary.
  • Advising a widow on estate planning of lifetime gifts to children of various residential properties and business interests.
  • Estate planning to protect husband’s half share of the family home to preserve as much as possible for their only son but also make sure that his (dependant) wife who has dementia was financially ok.

Dawn Oliver leads the team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys, which advises on all aspects of wills and estate planning, primarily for wealthy clients. Oliver is increasingly advising on the use of private family charitable trusts to mitigate inheritance tax. Shirley Rabbetts has niche expertise in advising farmers on a broad range of inheritance issues. Beth King-Smith joined from Higgs & Sons.

Practice head(s):Dawn Oliver

Other key lawyers:Shirley Rabbetts; Beth King-Smith

Mander Hadley Solicitors demonstrates strong capabilities acting for elderly clients, particularly in relation to estate planning and inheritance tax. It also handles age-related mental capacity issues, and advises on lasting powers of attorney. In addition, its team has experience of acting as deputies appointed by the Court of Protection where a person lacks mental capacity to manage their own affairs. David Webb leads the group.

Practice head(s):David Webb

Other key lawyers:Andriy Buniak


'Professional in all aspects with a friendly touch which inspires trust and confidence. Clear information regarding process and cost both were provided verbally and supported by documentation'.

'The team always provides a very person centred approach to all its work'.

'David Webb is the ultimate professional, working quickly and thoroughly on everything I have presented, yet he has shown great care and compassion, together with much sympathy'.

Work highlights

  • Represented a client in a local authority application to the Court of Protection in a dispute relating to the client’s mental capacity.
  • Advised the client on matters pertaining to the revocation of her Lasting Powers of Attorney and the future management of her financial affairs.
  • Represented client in an appeal against decision not to provide CHC funding for care.
  • Drafted a will  with a discretionary trust.
  • Drafted a will with a property trust.

Valerie Robinson leads the practice at MFG Solicitors LLP, which provides a full-service to individuals and trusts. The group has extensive expertise in wills, powers of attorney and trust and estate administration. It also advises clients on providing for disabled beneficiaries, as well on high net worth cases involving agricultural and business property. Elderly client issues - including community care matters - are another area of strength.

Practice head(s):Valerie Robinson

Pinsent Masons LLP’s focus is on trusts in a commercial context. The team acts for insurance companies, banks, pension providers and government agencies on all types of trusts that are used in commercial transactions, such as funeral trusts and insolvency customer monies trusts. It also has considerable strength in tax-specific trusts, particularly those that are linked to employment and reward structures. Chris Thomas is a key contact.

Practice head(s):Chris Thomas

Key Clients

Royal London


Scottish Widows

Standard Life

Work highlights

  • Advice to a mining company on a trust structure in relation to a compensation fund.
  • Advising a major insurer on the development of an online trusts product for use with insurance policies and bonds to be held in trust.
  • Advice to a major bank on the rectification of a complex trust error.
  • Advice on mitigation of risks associated with the holding of acontaminated site in Germany, as executor .

Aaron & Partners LLP advises high net worth individuals on complex tax and succession issues, both locally and throughout the UK. Newly promoted partner Lynda Richards is known for her work on taxable estate issues and capital tax planning. She also advises on the creation and administration of charitable trusts, and heads up the Shrewsbury offering.

Practice head(s):Clive Pointon (Chester)

Other key lawyers:Lynda Richards


'Lynda Richards is extremely personable and shows high levels of empathy when dealing with what can be a sensitive and difficult subject for clients. She has exceptional technical knowledge.'

Alsters Kelley LLP's private client practice is strongly represented throughout its four offices. Led by Neil Raiseborough, the team provides tax planning and will drafting advice, and also assists clients with the creation of trusts. Raiseborough regularly advises on protective trusts and is particularly experienced in acting for clients who have children with learning or physical disabilities. He also acts as a deputy and attorney for numerous longstanding clients of the firm.

Practice head(s):Neil Raiseborough

Baches Solicitors LLP's varied portfolio of private client mandates ranges from wills, trusts and probate matters to inheritance tax planning and court of protection work. Led by Gursharan Bunger, the team also assists elderly clients with powers of attorney and advises on nursing home fees.

Practice head(s):Gursharan Bunger

Work highlights

  • Advising on a  complex probate application .
  • Managing a trust for over 30 years.
  • Advising on a matter where there were complexities in trying to deal with the sale of the property in deceased husband's name and wife has lost capacity.
  • Advised on a will that was made in India fraudulently by the sister of the deceased although deceased had a wife at the time - it is being contested and was contested in India and once resolved the team can deal with the  estate.
  • Dealing witth a case where an affidavit was required to prove copy Will.

Brethertons LLP has a strong track record of administering high-value estates with cross-border elements, as well as advising on disputed estates and estates involving negotiations with the HMRC for business or agricultural property relief. Clients include elderly and vulnerable individuals, and also high net worth clients. Newly promoted partner Daniel Boyle and Linda Jones are recommended.

Practice head(s):Daniel Boyle; Linda Jones

Clarke Willmott LLP provides the full range of private wealth services, including advice on wills, tax planning, administration of estates, powers of attorney, Court of Protection and elderly client work. Erica Burt-Moore is experienced in lifetime tax planning for business owners and those in the process of selling a business. She also advises on trust structures to maximise inheritance tax relief, as well as on the administration of estates involving the winding up of businesses and large property portfolios.

Practice head(s):Erica Burt-Moore


'The expertise that we receive from Erica Burt-Moore is second to none and allows us to make decisions. She has a calm and measured approach that assists when she has to get buy in from the trustees of our company'.

Work highlights

  • Acting as professional trustee in a £5m trust.
  • Providing  high-net -worth tax planning advice.
  • Advising on a complex high value estate
  • Advising on various complex probates.

At Emms Gilmore Liberson, Terry Cooper has extensive expertise in inheritance tax and capital gains tax law, as well as the creation and  restructuring of trusts and the administration of estates. In addition, Cooper personally acts as an executor and trustee in a number of matters.

Practice head(s):Terry Cooper


'Terry Cooper is a highly experienced lawyer with deep technical skills and extensive commercial experience'.

'Terry Cooper is a very capable private client practitioner who delivers a great service in a friendly, but professional manner'.

'The team is small and led by Terry Cooper, who clients warm to. He is particularly good with those clients who are new to their wealth and need a layman's terms type of approach - he is technically excellent'.

George Green LLP, whose team primarily acts for local business owners/managers, generates a wide range of mandates. The work includes the administration of estates, wills, powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters. Led by practice head Claire Pottinger, the team also advises on the setting up and administration of trusts, including pilot trusts for insurance and death benefit planning.

Practice head(s):Claire Pottinger

GHP Legal acts for several generations of many families on the implementation of tax-efficient financial arrangements, with the advice to clients being aimed at both protecting them during their lifetimes and also enabling them to pass on their wealth to beneficiaries. The team also acts for executors ranging in size from smaller intestacies to those worth several millions. It also acts as professional executors for many clients. Victoria Wilson is the department head.

Practice head(s):Victoria Wilson

Work highlights

  • Acting for the trustees who wish to retire and appoint new trustees in their place, one trustee lacks the mental capacity to retire and appoint.
  • Acting in the administration of the estate of a lady who, during her lifetime had made several staged gifts into trust to mitigate her IHT liability.

Emma Harrison leads the team at Pickerings Solicitors, whose wide-ranging expertise includes the setting up and administering of trusts and probate issues. The practice also covers lasting powers of attorney and Court of Protection work, as well as advice to elderly clients on nursing home issues, care home fees, care packages and appeals.

Practice head(s):Emma Harrison


'Emma Harrison is doing good work and is doing it well'.

Work highlights

  • Providing intestacy advice to the niece of a deceased with a significant estate and no will in place.
  • Advising on a trust which had been set up by another organisation and had significant flaws and complications.
  • Advice on the matter of disregard of property for the purposes of means assessment upon entry into residential care.
  • Advising on and managing the property and financial affairs for a donor.
  • Working with other professional advisers to provide estate planning advice to a widow which included significant planning around capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

Talbot & Co has a longstanding track record advising generations of significant families on all types of private client issues. Its team advises on trust administration, personal tax (including tax planning) and general wealth management. Tom Bramall is the head of the practice, which generates mandates from clients based locally and nationally.

Practice head(s):Tom Bramall

Work highlights

  • Advised high -net-worth individuals with private art collection on tax planning, wills and philanthropy.
  • Advised on a complex trust administration.
  • Advised on complex will preparations for a high-net-worth individual.
  • Advising the administrator in a High Court compromise.
  • Acting for the trustees in negotiating options for the development of land.

The Wilkes Partnership covers all areas of private client work, including wills, estate administration (taxable and non-taxable), inheritance tax planning, trust creation and administration. It also regularly advises on powers of attorney, Court of Protection and community care issues. Birmingham-based Andrew Hasnip has a steady work flow of trust, complex inheritance tax planning and estate work. Ellie Holland in Solihull has extensive experience of inheritance tax issues faced by private individuals, and also assists with lifetime planning and post-death matters.

Practice head(s):Ellie Holland; Andrew Hasnip

Thomas Guise Solicitors, which is highly regarded in the care sector, has a wealth of experience of advising clients on issues such as inheritance tax, care home fees and on potential claims against the estate. It also handles deputyship applications. Amanda Oakes is a key figure.

Practice head(s):Amanda Oakes

Other key lawyers:Nicola Thomas


'Amanda Oakes is very knowledgeable about all aspects of probate law. She clearly explained things'.

'We felt that our dealings were important to Amanda Oakes   and found her very professional throughout and very approachable'.

'Nicola Thomas - honesty, integrity and professionalism are her main traits. She provides a service that is second to none'.

VWV advises on all areas of the law relating to estates, tax planning and trusts. Its team is adept at handling a broad range of private client matters, such as those involving business assets, agricultural assets, family businesses and cross-border assets. It is also active in Court of Protection work. Rachael Armstrong is experienced in inheritance tax planning, the creation and administration of trusts, drafting powers of attorney and deputyship applications.

Practice head(s):Rachael Armstrong

Other key lawyers:Jennifer Morries


'VWV is proactive and is armed with very knowledgeable professionals who are at the top of their game and can assist whatever the situation, a field of experts you can rely on'.

'The private client team is very capable and has an understanding of how clients lives work'.

'Rachael Armstrong is very proficient at what she does, is brilliant at relaying complex issues and legal jargon into layman terms. Rachael can think on her feet fast, her responses have always been thorough'.

'Both Rachael Armstrong and Jennifer Morries explain complex areas easily. Working with both of them is a pleasure and they give clients confidence in the advice given'.

'We have been impressed in particular with Rachael Armstrong and Jennifer Morries' communication skills and attention to detail. They deliver effective solutions'.

'Rachael Armstrong is the model of efficiency'.

Work highlights

  • Provided client A with advice in respect of the sale proceeds of her company and the loss of Business Property Relief and the Creation of a Discretionary Trust prior to the sale of the company
  • Advising on a high-value contentious estate administration.
  • Advising on the  creation of a family trust.
  • Dealing with complex will instructions from a vulnerable client.
  • Dealing with a complex estate and trust administration.

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