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Who Represents Who

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Birketts LLP has a highly respected practice that represents high-net-worth individuals in East Anglia, London and beyond. It has twelve fee-earners across its four offices, all of whom are members of Resolution; their caseloads often include matters involving complex jurisdictional claims concerning finances and children. Oliver Gravell has more than 25 years’ experience and leads a team that includes experienced senior associates Katie Beaven, who acts in matters with complex financial arrangements including divorce, separation, and nuptial agreements, and who represents clients both in court and in arbitration proceedings; and the extremely organised and efficientRoopa Ahluwalia, who is noted for her ‘excellent feel for the law relating to children and for her great manner with clients’. Senior associate Juliet Harvey joined from Greene & Greene and sits on the national committee of Resolution. Solicitor Lisa Churchill is well regarded for financial and Children Act matters. Ahluwalia recently helped a client with a pre-nuptial agreement involving £6m in assets, which was drafted so close to the date of the wedding by the client’s husband-to-be that it had to be reworked as a post-nuptial agreement.

Cambridge Family Law Practice has a ‘first-rate’ team of six partners who are collaboratively trained and regularly conduct their own advocacy. Tricia Ashton and child law arbitrator Simon Bethel are ‘highly rated practitioners’. Sue Vartyhandles both clients and the other side really well’. Gail Marchant-Daisley is widely regarded as one of the region’s most experienced family lawyers and Adam Moghadas is chair of the Cambridge and West Suffolk branch of Resolution. Accredited family mediator Suzy Ashworth operates a mediation consultancy as part of her practice. The firm regularly acts for entrepreneurs, business people, academics, landowners, solicitors, barristers and investment bankers. In a key matter for 2016, the practice handled an international matrimonial case that involved assets in excess of £300m. Natalie Sutherland joined in September 2017.

Mills & Reeve LLPsits at the top of the league as one of the go-to firms for heavy and complex family cases’. Clients describe the ‘Rolls Royce service’ provided by the practice as ‘top tier in terms of client care, out-of-court resolution and contentious litigation’. Nick Stone in Norwich leads the team and is ‘first class; he is highly regarded as one of the best matrimonial lawyers in East Anglia, a stickler for procedure who gives clients sound advice’. Caitlin Jenkins leads the Cambridge team and ‘combines robust technical knowledge with excellent people skills’. The team’s third partner is Roger Bamber, who works from the London and Cambridge offices and has particular expertise in complex financial matters involving business owners. The firm also has a strong team of associates in ‘formidable litigator’ George Sprague, who is ‘incredibly thorough and dependable, smart and practical, and has a lovely bedside manner’; Hannah Wilson, who is ‘highly rated for her collaborative work’; and Frances Bailey, who ‘has a very personable manner, can provide difficult advice when needed, and prepares matters meticulously’. Barristers also praise family law executive Christine Bensley as ‘very experienced, comprehensive and impeccable in her instructions to counsel’. The team recently acted for a husband in divorce proceedings in the High Court, which involved assets valued at more than £50m.

Taylor Vinters is ‘at the top of the tree for family law in Cambridge; it offers unparalleled advice to clients’. ‘Simply brilliant’ head of department Jackie Wells is ‘a tough and effective negotiator with a sensitive but no-nonsense approach’. Clients value her ‘ability to make people feel comfortable discussing personal issues and blends personal warmth with professional acumen’. Her caseload comprises complex and high-value matters, often with an international element, and she acts predominantly for entrepreneurs, City professionals, landowners and business owners. Senior associate Alexandra Gooden is ‘clearly a rising star, thorough in her preparation with a knack for spotting problems and avoiding them’. Clients praise her work in highly contentious matters relating to children and highlight her ‘calm and reassuring manner as well as the realistic and honest advice she provides, which comes from being tactically astute; she brings uncommon intellectual rigour to emotive proceedings’. Senior associate Sylvia Haigh is also recommended for her advice to professionals in relation to both divorce and pre-marital agreements.

Ashtons Legal provides a ‘straightforward, prompt and knowledgeable service’. The team ‘has the breadth of expertise and personal skills to go the extra mile in its clients’ best interests’. The firm regularly acts for clients with substantial assets, including significant land and trust holdings. ‘Superb, incisive and down to earth’ head of family law Stephen Williams can be counted on for ‘extremely helpful advice’. Clients describe him as ‘calm, intelligent, supportive and insightful’. He has 20 years’ experience and is known for his work with clients in the agricultural industry and in children cases. He is a member of the Family Panel, the Children Panel, The Advanced Family Panel, Re-unite and Resolution and is a trained collaborative lawyer. Mary Pearce specialises in the financial aspects of breakdowns in marriages or cohabitation arrangement and frequently acts for the firm’s commercial clients in family matters. Consultant Brenda Head and ‘kind, prompt’ solicitor Katy Williamson (who ‘will make an outstanding solicitor’) are among the recommended lawyers in the team of eight fee earners. In a key matter for 2016, the team acted in a high-profile separation in which the asset pool was valued at more than £100m and consisted of land, trusts and investments.

Buckles Solicitors LLP has ‘a highly effective family department’ that includes vastly experienced partners in Lyn Brisley and Roger Gurney. ‘Highly deserving of her reputation as a leading family lawyer in the region’, team head Brisley ‘gives straightforward and pragmatic advice based on a very good knowledge of the law and legal practice; clients like her and appreciate her down-to-earth approach’. Gurney is ‘very personable, gives sensible advice, shows empathy to his clients at a difficult time in their lives and fights their corner every inch of the way’. Gurney and Brisley have strong support from associates Donna Sandall, who is known for her ‘attention to detail and excellent client skills’, and Helen Saggers; and solicitor Anika Aston. The firm is best known for dealing with complex financial matters invoving trusts, international cases and agricultural matters involving complex land ownership and farming business interests. Among the firm’s recent cases was the separation of two highly paid professionals with assets valued at almost £50m.

I cannot recommend the firm highly enough’, says a client of Butcher Andrews, which has ‘lawyers who are extremely knowledgeable and outstanding in their areas of expertise’. Adney Payne (who is ‘the firm’s star and rainmaker’), Julia Buckingham and legal executive Jean Curtis ‘provide exceptional service to clients and achieve the best conclusion for their clients without resorting to antagonism or aggression’. Clients note that Buckingham is ‘careful, diligent and very good with clients, providing emotional support as well as legal advice’. Both partners conduct their own advocacy before the county and magistrates courts. The firm is handling a growing number of high-net-worth cases for clients based in East Anglia and London.

Gotelee Solicitorshas an outstanding grasp of the situation facing clients and always produces the right responses’. The firm is widely regarded as having one of the best family law practices in Ipswich and clients thoroughly recommend trained mediator and team head Helen Stuart. She has more than 20 years’ experience in high-net-worth divorce cases, often involving family-run businesses as the primary asset. She sits part-time as a Deputy District Judge in East Anglia and is a regyular fixture at the Divorce Unit in Bury St Edmunds, which processes divorce petitions for the South East of England. Collaboratively trained Jane Fowles, who works in both the Ipswich and Hadleigh offices, is well known for her sensitive approach to divorce, financial and children disputes. Ivana Radovic is a trained mediator and secretary of both the local Resolution Group and the Suffolk & North Essex Law Society. Legal executive Samantha Markham in the firm’s Felixstowe office is also recommended. The team recently obtained a Without Notice Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the removal of a child, and is currently involved in an ongoing case in Chelmsford and the High Court in London concerning children who are subject to child protection concerns.

An approachable, busy firm with bucketloads of experience’, Hunt & Coombs LLPhas an excellent reputation, especially in the areas of child protection and high-value matrimonial matters’. Denis White (who has ‘impeccable judgement and a wisdom judges respect’), Edward Owen and team head Farhana Buttall have excellent in-depth knowledge of their areas of law’. They are all collaboratively trained and do the majority of their own advocacy. Butt is praised for her ‘determination, business awareness, interpersonal skills and loyalty to clients’. Clients also recommend senior solicitor Louise Ballantyne, who is a member of the Law Society Children Panel and is ‘greatly respected among guardians’, and solicitors Sophie Scotcher, who is ‘part of a driven children matters team with a reassuring manner’, and Giuseppe Pingerna, who is ‘clear and informative’. The team also has the support of in-house counsel Davide Corbino. A key matter for the team was its work for a wife in a divorce with a complex portfolio of assets valued at £8m.

Prettys is ‘an excellent firm with friendly, reliable and well-respected lawyers who offer an excellent service’. Collaborative lawyer and team head Georgie Hall has more than 20 years’ experience and is widely regarded as one of the best family lawyers in Ipswich. The ‘approachable and straightforward’ Georgina Rayment, who has more than ten years’ experience as a family law specialist and mediator, ‘has a very good manne;, sympathetic but firm and confident in her advice’. Matthew Clemence rejoined the firm as a senior associate having spent eight years at Edmondson Hall. Solicitor and mediator Victoria Mayhew is also recommended. The firm operates an innovative dispute resolution service called Talking Works that is predominantly used for family law matters. It aims to identify the best method for resolving a dispute and includes mediation services. One of Hall’s recent cases saw her represent a retired woman in divorce proceedings concerning more than £20m in assets including a £1.25m home for the occupation of which both parties had applied for injunctive relief.

Woolley & Co, Solicitors is ‘a professional firm that knows how to identify the issues, advise well and prepare cases for court’. The team comprises a network of 23 experienced partners working across the UK, of which four are located in East Anglia. The ‘pragmatic, conscientious and persistent’ Karen Agnew-Griffith in Thetford is ‘very personable, always completely in charge of her cases and ready to work tirelessly for her clients’. ‘Excellent family lawyer’ Tamara Glanvill in St Neots is known for her ‘knowledge, good judgment and reasoned advice’. Nick Wiseman in Great Yarmouth is ‘very proactive and intuitive, which is a key strength in family law’. Abby Smith in St Neots is ‘amazing – very strong and knowledgeable in family law, delivering clear communication and strong advice’. Recent cases include a high-value ancillary relief matter that involved issues of coercive control, and a case concerning a post-nuptial agreement with complex jurisdictional issues.

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors continues to build its reputation as a prominent family law practice in Norfolk and is best known for its work in divorce, financial relief Children Act, unmarried couple and Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TLATA) matters. Neale Grearson is co-founder of the Norfolk Collaborative Law Group and has more than 25 years’ experience. He mainly handles financial arrangements surrounding divorce and separation but also handles arrangements for children post-divorce. One recent case involved assets valued at more than £10m. Solicitor Caroline Mitchell works from the Norwich and North Walsham offices and is now a committee member of the Norfolk Resolution Group. She undertakes all aspects of family work, from divorce and civil partnership dissolution to advising unmarried couples on property rights upon separation. She also assists with emergency applications such as injunctions. Managing partner Tammy Parnell is a qualified collaborative lawyer and often handles TLATA applications. Consultant Caroline Ashmole is also recommended.

FM Family Law is known for its ‘user-friendly, cost-effective and supportive approach’. The firm has been operating as a specialist family law practice for six years and, having started with just one partner in qualified mediator Fiona McLeman, has grown to four lawyers working from two offices in Cambridge and Norwich. Key figures in Cambridge include McLeman, who has 20 years’ experience and is a trustee of Relate Cambridge, and senior associate Christina Hale. Hale is a family mediator and serves as the Young Resolution representative on the Cambridge & West Suffolk Resolution committee and on the committee of Cambridge & Ely Children’s Contact Centre. Newly promoted partner Sue Bailey and solicitor Rebecca Calthorpe work in Norwich. Bailey is a committee member of the Norfolk and Norwich branch of Resolution and is a committee member of the Norfolk and Norwich Law Society.

The team at Fosters in Norwich has highly experienced practitioners in partners Iain McClay and Lucy Simpson, who jointly head the practice; senior associate Clare Sharpe; and solicitor Helen Barnes. McClay has 25 years’ experience of family law and specialises in the financial side of divorce. He also advises on pre-nuptial agreements and is a qualified mediator and head of the practice’s mediation team. Simpson has a wide range of expertise, including knowledge of financial matters, deeds of trust, private law cases for children, international cases and special guardianship orders.

Hegarty LLP’s team ‘has an excellent breadth of knowledge and experience to cover every aspect of family law, in particular complex financial remedies and children cases’. The firm has a six-lawyer practice in its three offices in Peterborough, Stamford and Oakham , which handles high-value financial matters as well as a broad palette of cases involving divorce, pre-nuptial agreements, parental responsibility agreements, children’s issues, domestic violence and change of name deeds. The team is led by the ‘charming’ Carl Russell, who has 42 years’ experience and brings to bear his ‘experience, wisdom and abundant common sense’. Associate Chris Brown ‘takes on hard work with an air of ease and charm’. Legal executive Lesley Knight is recommended for domestic violence and Children Act matters. Highly experienced and collaboratively trained solicitor Jane Tatlock handles high-value private cases. One recent case involved the division of multimillion-pound assets and the sale of a limited company.

Kerseys Solicitors is ‘very reliable, professional and proficient, and its lawyers are well organised, helpful and clearly have full knowledge of their cases’. The firm has two experienced partners in Elaine Webb (who ‘can be fully relied upon to run a case appropriately and efficiently; she is excellent in court and advocates effectively on behalf of her clients’) and Clare Thomas (who is ‘very knowledgeable’). Clients of Resolution member Thomas praise her ‘excellent negotiation skills and her ability to keep cool and calm in stressful situations’. Consultant and accredited mediator Rosemary Carter is also recommended. The team has a number of talented up-and-coming lawyers in associate Janet Raeburn and ‘extremely courteous, conscientious, kind and accessible’ solicitor Victoria Cole, who is ‘very diligent and meticulous’. Thomas recently completed a complex divorce matter involving a husband with a high-profile job who lived in Europe. A financial settlement was reached fifteen years after the initial breakdown of the marriage.

Leathes Prior delivers ‘exemplary service and clear and accurate advice’. The firm advises on all aspects of private family law including divorce, financial remedy, private children matters, nuptial agreements, cohabitation disputes and non-molestation and occupation orders. Its financial relief cases often involve large incomes and pensions, interests in limited companies and assets derived from inheritance, trusts or bonuses. Partner Alisdair Douglas leads the team and has almost 20 years’ experience in family law. He is an advanced member of the Family Law Panel, an accredited Resolution specialist in the areas of advanced financial provision and private children law, and a member of the Good Divorce Group in Norfolk. Associate Simon Willis is ‘superb – he is always clear, on time and makes clients feel valued’. The team also comprises legal executive Laura Savage and trainee Carla Morphett. Recent work includes acting for a husband on a divorce involving assets valued at £6m.

Slater and Gordon launched its family team in Cambridge in September 2016, adding to the firm’s national practice. Caroline Watson, who is predominantly based in Milton Keynes but spends a significant amount of time in the local office, leads a team that has experience in international cases as well as complex financial and children matters. ‘Straight-talking, concise and empathetic’ senior associate Grace Brass, who joined from Tees Law, is president of the Cambridgeshire & District Law Society and is a member of the Law Society’s Family Committee. She recently undertook advocacy in a children matter before the High Court. Associate Marc Etherington regularly undertakes his own advocacy and is known for representing clients in complex cases involving divorce, finances, cohabitation, children and applications under the Family Law Act. One of his recent cases involved a client who separated from his wife, with whom he had two children, and who had been served with a non-molestation order due to incidents of domestic violence.

Clients of Steeles Lawwould not hesitate to recommend the firm’ and note that ‘the client service is second to none; all of the advice is professional and to the point, as well as fair and clear’. The firm has a strong reputation in divorce and high-net-worth financial remedy cases; pre-nuptial, post-nuptial and cohabitation agreements; matters involving same-sex couples; and Children Act proceedings including applications for child arrangements orders. The firm’s strong agricultural links see it act in many cases involving farms and family businesses. Associate and head of team Amanda Owens shows ‘empathy without sympathy and is fair but firm’; ‘her wonderful, kind personality gives clients reassurance’. Emma Alfieri ‘always works for the best interests of her clients’ and has ‘brilliant communication skills and clear judgement’. In a recent case Owens acted for the wife divorcing her husband after more than 20 years, in which she obtained a favourable settlement for her client in regard to maintenance payments.

Tees Law has ‘a client-focused and pragmatic approach that ensures good client service’. ‘Pragmatic, sensible and candid’ associate Elisabeth Sneade leads the Cambridge team and ‘serves as an effective advocate for her clients’. She was joined by associate Deborah Hargreaves and a paralegal following the firm’s merger with Irena Spence & Co. Simon Gummer returned to his former firm Edmondson Hall and Grace Brass joined Slater and Gordon. Despite the recent changes in the team the firm retains a strong reputation in Cambridge for mediation, collaborative law and litigation. Sneade recently assisted a nationally renowned sculptor and artist with the negotiation of a financial agreement after separation from his wife. She avoided contested proceedings and negotiated a modest lump sum as settlement.

Vardags opened its new Cambridge office in August 2016, and its ‘excellent team’ is establishing itself as a strong competitor to firms in the area. The firm is ‘involved in matrimonial disputes at the highest level and its group of specialist lawyers apply an impressive level of analysis and thought into its representations’. ‘Extremely sensible family lawyerArron Bortoft is ‘incredibly energetic, detailed and conscientious, but has a fantastic, user-friendly rapport with his clients’. He recently acted for the wife of a successful entrepreneur whose assets are valued in the hundred of millions of pounds and include substantial business holdings in the UK and overseas. The matter is currently being heard in the High Court. He is also acting in the high-profile case Quan v Bray, which raises issues around whether a trust was a nuptial settlement when it was set up.

Cozens-Hardy LLP attracts praise for its ‘in-depth local knowledge’. The collaboratively trained Jane Anderson is ‘a leading divorce lawyer in the area with a reputation for being approachable and fair with sound judgement and a clear legal mind’. The firm has a 40-year track record in Norwich and maintains a solid reputation for both private and public law children cases. Iain White, Sandra Nunn and collaboratively trained Jane Anderson are highly recommended. Anderson regularly handles high-net-worth divorce and ancillary matters. The team is a member of Resolution and the Law Society Family Panel, and has a Legal Aid Agency contract for public law children’s advocacy.

Fraser Dawbarns is ‘rated very highly indeed on everything from the simplest small money cases through to the most complex financial cases; it has a client-focused approach and the team combines a high level of expertise with the ability to provide realistic and sensible advice’. The firm is seen as the ‘the leading practice in West Norfolk, combining the expertise of a large firm with the personality of a small firm’. The ‘very approachable’ Deborah Allen leads the team and is a highly experienced financial remedy lawyer for high-value and farming cases’ who ‘not only has a no nonsense approach, but also a sense of humour’. Melinda Smith is recommended for her ‘great client manner and efficient style’. The firm’s recent matters include a case involving complex and technical pension issues successfully argued on behalf of client who held the pension, and a high-net-worth matter involving pensions and assets abroad that raised issues of jurisdiction.

Greene & Greene has a highly capable family team and is seen as one of the leading practices based in the Bury St Edmunds area. Stuart Hughes leads the team has a reputation as a robust litigator who also excels settling matrimonial matters amicably through constructive negotiation. Hughes is qualified as a mediator and is assisted by collaboratively trained solicitors Melanie Pilmer - and Emily Woodhouse. Pilmer specialises in resolving complex financial disputes that often involve business assets. Consultant Kate Chandler supports the team with her experience in divorce and Inheritance Act matters. Hughes and Pilmer recently achieved a favourable settlement for a husband by arguing that assets valued at £5m were entirely non-matrimonial and the claims of his wife were limited to needs, enabling a negotiated settlement without court proceedings. Juliet Harvey joined Birketts LLP in Ipswich.

Howes Percival LLP is ‘exceptionally good; clients feel reassured about their cases’. Collaborative lawyer and team head Amy Walpole ‘keeps clients thoroughly informed and is absolutely straightforward and honest in her advice’. Walpole established the family practice in the Norwich office three years ago and has seen it go from strength to strength. In 2016 her caseload included complex divorces that involved inherited wealth, trusts, final salary pensions and issues of undue influence. She also advised on a significant TLATA matter. The team acted for a respondent husband and local business owner in divorce matters and financial proceedings that involved assets exceeding £9m, in which it successfully ringfenced all of his business assets.

Irwin Mitchellhas quickly become one of the big players locally’, and its ‘outstanding’ practice delivers ‘a stellar service to clients’. The ‘approachable and friendlyAlison Fernandes, who leads the teams in the Cambridge and Sheffield offices, ‘has strong judgement and a good command of the different areas of law that overlap in family cases; her best characteristics are arguably her warmth and her ability to deal deftly with vulnerable clients’. Fernandes focuses mainly on medium-to-high-net-worth financial disputes and complex private children cases, and Cambridge-based assistant Shereen Chohan handles private children and injunction work. The team works closely with the firm’s personal injury, Court of Protection and private client teams to provide specialist advice in cases involving multimillion-pound personal injury settlements on divorce.

Rogers and Norton is ‘very good indeed. The ‘personable, professional and efficient’ team comprises two senior solicitors and one trainee; the ‘consultative and supportive’ Kerry Rowell leads on family law matters from the Norwich office and is ‘a credit to the firm’, and Averil Ballam in Attleborough is a key part of the ‘strong, professional and knowledgeable team’. Both Ballam and Rowell have more than 15 years’ experience and have built up the practice’s reputation as one of the best in Norfolk. Among the matters Rowell handled in 2016 was a divorce in which the assets involved exceeded £5m in value and included a large property portfolio, pension investments and discretionary trusts. She also acted in several cases relating to final salary pension assets, one of which concerned two ITV final salary schemes with compound accrual valued at more than £750,000.

At Woodfines LLP, collaborative lawyer and experienced mediator Clare Pilsworth has more than 20 years’ experience in family law. She is a member of the Family Mediation Council and has the Law Society’s Family Law Accreditation. Pilsworth works alongside Resolution-accredited chartered legal executive Jackie Jessiman, who specialises in advanced financial provision and cohabitation law. In one key matter from 2016 the team acted in divorce and financial remedy proceedings involving a marriage of more than 20 years. After separation, the husband developed a severe brain condition that led to a stroke and permanent disability. The proceedings included payments from critical illness policies and resulted in a clean break order for the husband.

Barker Gotelee’s team consists of one partner and two solicitors. Resolution member Nicola Furmston leads the team and has 25 years’ experience in family law and mediation. She regularly handles divorce, civil partnership annulments, financial settlements, arrangements for children, pre-marriage and civil partnership financial planning and cohabitation agreements. Solicitor Josephine Hayes and Amanda Erskine are also recommended.

At Blocks, partner Demelza Butler is ‘fantastic – professional, friendly and knowledgeable enough to look at a situation from many perspectives’. She has 13 years’ experience, is a member of Resolution and ‘is in tune with how difficult it is to go through a divorce, which makes it easy to talk to her’. Her recent work includes advising on a long-running farming case that is currently at the litigation stage and involves complex legal structures including a trust settled a number of years before the marriage. She also handled a case relating to a very short marriage where the parties are nearing retirement, raising legal principles concerning pre-acquired assets.

Edmondson Hall’s specialist family law team has undergone some changes: Matthew Clemence re-joined Prettys in Ipswich, while the highly respected Simon Gummer returned after seven years at Tees Law in Cambridge. Gummer has 40 years’ experience in family law that includes issues relating to children, International child abduction, pre-nuptial agreements, land trust issues between separating couples and high-net-worth financial relief claims within divorce proceedings.

At Spire Solicitors LLP, Richard Bevan specialises in all aspects of public and private child care law and is very highly regarded in the local community around Norwich. He also handles numerous cases of domestic violence. Litigator Sarb Gosal is head of the family team and a member of Resolution. Collaborative lawyer Amanda Maruca specialises in divorce, separation, cohabitee disputes, domestic abuse advice and financial provision. Legal executive Karen Fox has 30 years’ experience in family law.


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