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  1. Family: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire
  2. Leading individuals (region-wide)

Leading individuals (region-wide)

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Clarion’s ‘superb’ family law team is headed by the ‘extremely capable’ Fiona Kendall, who attracts praise for her combination of ‘a measured approach with a pragmatic manner; she will react and expedite all necessary steps efficiently and proactively’. Kendall works closely with private client practice head Justine Osmotherley to provide support to high-net-worth individuals and families, covering a diverse range of matters including divorce and financial settlement, particularly involving complex and cross-border issues. Kendall is dual qualified in England and Scotland, giving the firm the unique ability to provide cross-border advice, which clients appreciate it; according to one, the firm provides ‘not just helpful but unrivalled support on cross-border matters’, including those with an international element.

Irwin Mitchell’s family practice is now headed by Teresa Davidson following Peter Morris’ departure to Shoosmiths LLP. Davidson is singled out for her ‘experience and knowledge, which gives clients confidence that she will be providing the best advice, tailored to the individual circumstances’. She leads a practice that is praised for its ‘no-nonsense approach and ability to distil complex legal language into relatable terms’. Its expertise covers issues relating to high-net-worth matrimonial finance, including tracing hidden assets within the UK and abroad; private law children cases involving international relocation, abduction and schooling arrangements; advising spouses and pension trustees on pension-sharing orders; and all aspects of pre- and post-marriage financial planning and asset protection. Other key figures include Katy Moody, who is noted for her knowledge of financial remedy and cohabitation disputes, and David Lister, who focuses on financial and children matters.

Jones Myers LLP has ‘a family practice that is one of the best in the area’ and that attracts praise for its ‘sensible, expert, conciliatory advice that does what it says on the tin’. The firm is particularly singled out for its track record in financial remedy cases and matters involving children. Richard Peaker is ‘easy to deal with, pragmatic and always fights the client’s corner’.

Lake Legal LLP’s ‘exceptionally strong’ family law practice is ‘comfortably among the top in the region’. The practice, which is noted for its ‘sensible and pragmatic advice’, handles a wide range of family law matters, with a particular emphasis on divorce and financial settlements, often involving overseas assets. Managing partner Lyn Ayrton has ‘a wealth of practical knowledge and expertise that is second to none; her direct and sensible way of communicating is a breath of fresh air’. Other key figures include associate Claire O’Donnell, who is ‘very knowledgeable, committed, compassionate, highly motivated and willing to go the extra mile’. Ayrton’s recent work includes assisting a client with a post-nuptial agreement involving £96m-worth of assets.

Mills & Reeve LLP attracts praise for providing ‘first-class service levels’ and for the practice’s ‘responsive, sensitive and professional manner’. Philip Way stands out for his ‘very clear advice; he takes a holistic view of clients’ interests and the interests of their children, and focuses all his efforts on achieving the best outcome’. Way acts for local, national and international clients on cases involving complex trust, jurisdictional and pension issues, and leads a practice that has wide-ranging expertise in family law, including issues involving marital agreements, trust structures and inherited wealth. David Salter is ‘patient, thorough, with excellent attention to detail; his polite and professional manner is excellent at de-escalating tensions’. The firm was joined by Ellie Foster and Claudia Gilham from Harrogate Family Law in March and May 2017, respectively.

Stewarts Law LLP’s core family law focus makes it a ‘no-brainer; it can deal with simple through to complex matters in a cost-effective way, working collaboratively to deliver a holistic service to clients’. The key figure in Leeds is Adrian Clossick, who is ‘adept at managing client expectations as well as fighting their corner with determination; he can also summon an excellent sense of humour when appropriate’. The practice’s primary area of activity is high-value disputes, often involving cross-border trusts and corporate structures. Jenny Bowden joined the team in October 2016 from Clarion, and Edward Heaton joined in May 2017 from Mills & Reeve LLP.

Berwins fields a ‘very switched-on, well-organised’ family law team led by the ‘incredibly experiencedSarah Smith. The practice is regularly called upon to assist with complex trust issues involving assets in excess of £1m both in the UK and abroad. Smith’s expertise encompasses pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements, private children law work, and complex divorce proceedings, often involving foreign assets and pensions. Other key figures include Stephen Root, who attracts praise for his ‘good, sensible approach and sympathetic, caring manner’; his specialisms include financial matters involving trusts and farming assets and collaborative family law, which is an area the firm particularly excels in.

Blacks Solicitors LLP’s family team is singled out for conveying ‘a deep sympathy for the client’s circumstances’ and for providing ‘exceptional levels of support’. The practice handles a wide range of non-contentious matters, including pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements, as well as contentious matters related to divorce and separation, financial settlements and disputes involving children. Ann Robinson (who attracts praise for her ‘very good client manner’) heads the practice and is regularly instructed by high-net-worth clients to act in financial divorce settlements (often involving overseas assets), property disputes involving cohabitees, private children work and Inheritance Act cases. Clients also single out Paul Lancaster for his ability to ‘focus on the points that matter and achieve excellent results’. He has an extensive track record in private children applications, including those involving cross-border residence and contact issues, as well as handling TLATA cases where one party is seeking to assert a beneficial interest in property owned by another.

According to some, boutique firm Harrogate Family Law is ‘the best in Harrogate’ for financial proceedings arising from divorce, separation and civil partnership dissolution. Clients single out the firm’s diligence in ‘leaving no stone unturned; its very quick response times, detailed knowledge and thorough approach amounts to a first-rate level of service’. Andrew Meehan (who is ‘very thorough in his handling of cases, and a good listener to boot’) has a long track record of advice in complex divorce proceedings; recent work includes acting in heavily contested financial remedy proceedings, which were resolved in the client’s favour in arbitration.

Clients single out Lupton Fawcett LLP’s family law practice for its ‘professional, pragmatic and client-focused service, great attention to detail and specialist expertise’. Headed by Christopher Burns (‘particularly good at cohabitation disputes’), the practice provides region-wide coverage to high-net-worth and privately funded clients from its offices in Leeds, York and Sheffield, with particular emphasis on financial provision issues arising from family breakdown. Burns is ably assisted in Leeds by Peter Foskett, who has specialist expertise in financial remedy proceedings. York-based senior associate Nicola Mitchell attracts praise for her ‘knowledge of, and experience in, financial matters and the efficiency with which she runs her team’.

The ‘very professional, responsive and client-centric’ family practice at Raworths demonstrates ‘an excellent level of legal expertise’, combined with ‘exceptional value for money’. Carmelita Ardren (who is rated for her ability to ‘inspire confidence in her ability to manage the case and support the client throughout the process’) leads a family team that acts for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and their families on the full range of family work, from pre-marital and cohabitation agreements to financial matters arising from separation and divorce. Recent work includes acting in a high-value separation involving interconnecting business interests, several properties and pensions, and maintenance issues.

Simpson Millar LLP has a strong focus on public law children cases and cases involving domestic violence, although the firm is also growing its workload in divorce and financial proceedings. The practice attracts praise for ‘going the extra mile for clients and taking on challenging cases; it makes a real difference to clients who have struggled to get effective representation elsewhere’. Key figures in the Leeds team include Emma Pearmaine, who is noted for her expertise in ancillary relief, private law children matters and domestic violence cases; and Emma Hopkins Jones, whose expertise covers cohabitation matters and financial issues related to separations.

LCF Law has a ‘well-regarded’ family law practice led by Rachel Spencer Robb, who attracts praise for her ability to ‘negotiate in a constructive manner without needless confrontation’. The firm has capitalised on its merger with Harrogate-based private client firm Barber Titleys to provide specialist coverage of private children law issues and financial matters involving complex pension structures and offshore arrangements. Other key figures include Simon Stell in Bradford, who focuses on matrimonial finance issues, and Harrogate-based Tim Mellors, whose expertise includes advising high-net-worth individuals on children cases, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and cases involving complex business or trust structures.

Langleys Solicitors LLP fields separate family and children law teams, which collectively inspire confidence for their strength in public law and care proceedings and for their ‘great attention to detail’. Headed by Mark Day (‘an absolute expert in his field’), the family law practice handles a range of divorce issues, including those with an agricultural element, substantial business and corporate interests, or divorces involving complex trust and cross-border issues. Day also has a strong track record handling collaborative matters, and is assisted by Sheelagh Coles (‘she approaches cases collaboratively but isn’t afraid to fight her client’s corner when needed’), who focuses on private and public children law cases.

The family law team at McCormicks is headed by senior associate Stephen Hopwood and regularly acts for high-net-worth individuals and their families on a range of matters concerning matrimonial finance and children law. Recent work includes acting for the vulnerable wife of a high-profile entrepreneur in a settlement involving substantial business and other assets, and acting in high-value divorce and ancillary relief proceedings involving farming assets and assets held in trust. In an illustration of the firm’s track record in children law matters, for which Carol Hancock is highly regarded, it recently acted for a father in Children Act proceedings in which the firm succeeded in obtaining a Child Arrangements Order enabling the children to live with their father.

Ramsdens fields ‘a strong team of able and experienced solicitor advocates’ with ‘real breadth and depth in the area of care proceedings’. The family team is praised for ‘expertly guiding clients through divorce proceedings while maintaining an eye on the cast’. Helen Thewlis heads the practice, which includes the ‘knowledgeable, reliable, professional and consistent’ Joanne Coen and Kate McNally, both of whom attract praise for their ‘high standards of case ownership’. Also recommended are Jill McCurdy, Vikki Horspool and Laura Beevers, who ‘have the respect of the judiciary and other advocates’.

Ridley & Hall attracts praise for its ‘excellent response times and up-to-date knowledge; questions and concerns are answered promptly by phone or email, and the team is always mindful to keep client costs minimal and ensure it provides a cost-effective service’. Practice head Vicky Medd is singled out for her ‘excellent mediation skills’, and for her knowledge of children law, particularly cases involving applications for children to be removed from the jurisdiction. Other key figures include senior partner Nigel Priestley, who attracts praise for his ‘very personal and supportive service and advice’, particularly in relation to adoption and care proceedings.

Clients of Stowe Family Law LLP are quick to praise the firm’s ‘high levels of service and knowledgeable, focused advice delivered promptly and clearly, often going beyond expectations’. Based primarily in Leeds and Harrogate but with offices in Ilkley and Wetherby, the ‘highly capable’ family law team regularly handles matrimonial matters involving complex assets and international elements, as well as having substantial expertise in children law matters. Key figures in Leeds include managing partner Julian Hawkhead, who is rated for his mediation and collaborative skills; Leeds office head Rachel Roberts, who focuses on matrimonial finance and cohabitation matters for high-net-worth clients; and Sarah Barr-Young. In Harrogate, David Milburn is rated as ‘a highly astute divorce lawyer who takes charge of cases and ensures they are kept moving with purpose, ultimately delivering very satisfying conclusions’.

Since its establishment in 2015, Consilia Legal has quickly cemented its reputation as ‘dominant in the field of mediation in Leeds’, with many clients viewing it as their ‘first choice for mediators’. Sally Clark and Laura Clapton attract praise for their ability to ‘handle situations where communication has otherwise broken down; to the point where they have achieved agreement between parties in situations that appeared impossible’. The firm’s holistic approach to mediation is singled out, as is its level of service, which ‘regularly goes over and above that which is expected’. The firm’s client base encompasses an array of local, national and international clients, which it assists on matters range from divorce and the dissolution of civil partnerships, financial remedy cases, and private children law matters.

Emsleys Solicitors Limited has an ‘excellent’ family law department headed by Gabbie Clasper, whose ‘knowledge on family law is way above other solicitors’, according to one client. Clasper regularly acts for high-net-worth individuals in financial issues arising from divorce proceedings, often involving international enforcement elements, and handles private children law cases where allegations of domestic abuse are involved.

Harrowells Solicitors has effectively tapped into the local high-net-worth client base across North and East Yorkshire, regularly advising them on complex family law matters, often involving business assets, or property in the UK and overseas. William Kaye heads the team and focuses on high-net-worth matters, including those involving farming assets and senior professionals with multiple occupational pensions and international assets.

Established in 2014 by Frank Arndt (‘the best matrimonial lawyer in Yorkshire’, according to one client) and James Thornton (who attracts praise for his ‘diligent manner and knowledge of the law’), Paradigm Family Law LLP has developed a strong reputation for ‘putting the client at the heart of what it does’. Collectively, Thornton and Arndt have more than 30 years of experience handling domestic and international family disputes, often involving complex onshore or offshore company or trust structures. Arndt has an extensive track record handling international enforcement matters, worldwide freezing orders, and cases involving pre-nuptial and separation agreements. Thornton’s recent work includes handling cases involving family and business trust assets where issues of liquidity are in play.

Switalskis Solicitors has a sizeable family and children law team spread across the firm’s offices in Yorkshire, enabling it to handle a wide range of issues for a variety of individuals and families. Broadford-based joint practice head Razia Jogi has particular expertise in private children law matters; her recent work includes representing the applicant mother in High Court proceedings to discharge a Prohibited Steps Order to enable the client to take her five children to Pakistan for the purposes of marrying the eldest child in accordance with the child’s wishes, which raised complex issues concerning the law pertaining to parental consent to the marriage of a 16-year-old in a foreign jurisdiction. Other key figures include fellow joint head Clare Peckett in Wakefield, who handles financial matters, cohabitation and pre-marriage advice; Ranjit Uppal in Huddersfield, who has extensive expertise in children law, particularly accommodation orders in relation to children at risk of sexual exploitation; and Lorette Law (also in Wakefield), who heads the childcare law practice.

Ward Hadaway made a bid to establish itself as a key firm for family law matters in Leeds with the recruitment of Andrea Dyer and Nicola Hunter, who joined in 2016 from Lupton Fawcett LLP. Dyer and Hunter bring extensive track records in family law matters, from high-value and complex divorce settlements to pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation disputes and children law issues, often with cross-border elements.

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