Family in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP has 'a high level of expertise in this field and is committed to supporting its clients in a holistic way'. Practice head Oliver Gravell , who chairs the local branch of Resolution, and key partner Katie Beaven are the primary practitioners in Ipswich. 'Practical, diligent and intelligent,' senior associate Deborah Lloyd and highly regarded associate Lisa Cornish, both in Norwich, are rising stars. The firm also hired senior associate Sarah Overy from Gepp Solicitors LLP to work in the Cambridge office. It provides mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and litigation services to high-net-worth clients in East Anglia and beyond.

Practice head(s):

Oliver Gravell

Testimonials

A high level of expertise in this field and is committed to supporting its clients in a holistic way.

Debbie Lloyd is practical, diligent and intelligent.

They were professional, very efficient, always kind and pleasant to deal with. The advice given was solid and true to the outcome. They are good listeners, good communicators and efficient in responding. They recommended and secured me an excellent barrister who also did a good job for me.

I dealt specifically with Lisa Cornish and Samantha Yeomans. Samantha is incredibly efficient and helpful, always on tap and always responded quickly. Lisa gave excellent advice, and was thoroughly supportive throughout the long arduous process of divorce.

What makes this firm unique to me is I was never made to feel like just another client, more like the only client, by a friendly, polite, very committed  and professional team. Although I never met some of the team in person, as all communications were via email or over the phone with me either emotionally stressed and sometimes angry. They managed to be sensitive and sympathetic offering me support and calming me down which always gave me strength and left me feeling positive. They even added a sense of humour and made me laugh on occasions when all I wanted was to cry.

I would have to say for me the key capabilities of the team would be exceeding my expectations throughout the whole process. From the efficiency of prompt replies, always keeping me informed, respectfulness at my lack of legal jargon, to adding that something extra at difficult and stressful times.

I found myself lost, confused, not knowing which way to turn or even who I was after 22 years of marriage and jointly running a very successful business for over 18 years. Deborah Lloyd was recommended to me and at my first meeting with Debbie she listened to my issues, through tears, anxiety and rage. I can honestly say how at ease she made me feel with her cheerful smile and calming non-pretentious attitude.

Deborah Lloyd was an absolute gem with her vast knowledge of family law acquired over many years of experience. She reassured me and helped me feel positive with her gentle professionalism laying out my options offering a full range of appropriate outcomes. She handled some difficult conversations with sympathy and common sense.

My divorce was challenging, tough and complex and expanded over two years. It was not only the personal assets but also three businesses involved as they came with their own complex financial complications. Deborah Lloyd stayed with me every step of the way throughout the long journey keeping me positive and forward thinking and installed confidence back into me with her extremely knowledgeable approach in all matters.

It was the toughest couple of years I have ever been through but Deborah Lloyd and her fabulous team never made feel like just another client. They treated my case with sensitivity and understanding and saw me through the emotional roller-coaster of a journey. I can honestly say it was worth every penny and money well spent as all the bills were broken down thoroughly and there was never a moment where I had to take a second look or consider any of the charges. Thank you and full application to a great firm.

Cambridge Family Law Practice

'Its unique partner-led model provides top-quality advice at affordable rates with excellent client management,' says a client of Cambridge Family Law Practice. Despite the retirement of Sue Varty, the firm still has five highly experienced partners - Simon Bethel, Gail Marchant-Daisley, Adam MoghadasTricia Ashton and Jeremy Ford. All have strong track records in complex and high-value divorce matters, and long experience in mediation and collaborative law. Ford's practice includes surrogacy law, child abduction and medical treatment of children disputes.

Testimonials

CFLP’s unique partner-led model provides top-quality advice at affordable rates with excellent client management.

Tricia Ashton has great depth and breadth of legal knowledge and experience, as well as fantastic client care skills.

They all seem to be of a similar mindset and work as one for a common goal.

Simon Bethel is intelligent, reliable, knowledgeable and cool under pressure. Absolutely focused on doing the right thing.

I would recommend each and every partner. They are all approachable, reliable and easy to work with. The addition of Danielle Hainsby as a more junior solicitor is also a welcome addition.

Easy to approach, reliable and efficient. They get what clients need and approach matters with the sensitivity required.

The team works well together. All have exceptional knowledge and are able to give realistic, clear advice.

Simon Bethel provided extremely high-quality advice throughout. He remained firmly child-focused and was able to robustly and fairly put forward the necessary points to ensure a good outcome for them. He is kind and compassionate, and able to defuse situations extremely well. He clearly understood the complexities and needs of the family. Having had seven years of high conflict prior to Simon Bethel’s wise advocacy, I was impressed with how he managed to make the process so much easier. He was clear throughout with all parties. He managed to take the stress and pressure away, defuse the conflict, and get a final outcome that was fantastic for the children. I thoroughly recommend him and Cambridge Family Law Practice.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Nick Stone in Norwich and Caitlin Jenkins in Cambridge are the key partners in East Anglia for the six-partner national practice at Mills & Reeve LLP. In Cambridge, the team can also call on upon vastly experienced consultant Roger Bamber, who has a national reputation for family disputes, up-and-coming principal associate George Sprague and sought-after senior associate Rachel Brand. In Norwich, Frances Bailey is recommended for collaborative law. All play key roles in a practice that handles high-value matrimonial and children matters in the region, across the UK and internationally.

Practice head(s):

Nick Stone; Caitlin Jenkins

Testimonials

Mills & Reeve is a rarity amongst large national firms – it offers a full service across the board and on the family side, it is a real force to be reckoned with. Possibly the most highly regarded national firm in the country for family work.

In the Cambridge office, Caitlin Jenkins is a superstar. She is a rare combination of self-effacing; genuinely warm and approachable and extremely bright. An absolute asset to the firm.

In the Norwich office, Nick Stone is a national expert. Widely sought after and very much the face of Mills & Reeve’s family team.

Work highlights

  • Acted in a financial remedy case involving assets in the region of £100m including businesses, complex pensions and significant income.
  • Successfully appealed a Child Arrangements Order and secured the reinstatement of a previous shared care arrangement.
  • Negotiated the terms of Pre, and Post, Marital Agreements with assets in the region of £300m in a variety of European jurisdictions.

Taylor Vinters

Taylor Vinters acts for a diverse group of high-net-worth individuals, among whom are entrepreneurs and innovators with global interests, media clients, owner–managers of substantial domestic and multinational businesses, City of London professionals, landed estate owners, and foreign nationals living in the UK, notably especially eminent medics and life scientists. The practice led by Jackie Wells, who works from the Cambridge and London offices, also acts for professional trustees requiring strategic wealth preservation advice, and parties to complex private children law disputes especially leave to remove applications. Senior counsel Alexandra Gooden and associate Rachel Bevan are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Jackie Wells

Other key lawyers:

Alexandra Gooden; Rachel Bevan

Testimonials

A very competent team with extremely strong leadership in the form of Jackie Wells. The team benefits from its London and Cambridge base and is able to offer top-notch service to Cambridge IT and science companies and City financiers. It is commercially astute, efficient and reasonably priced. No nonsense, straight talking, but empathetic solicitors with an eye for detail and clearly defined objectives.

Jackie Wells is excellent: extremely committed, very astute, tough when necessary and great at helping clients make the right decisions.

Rachel Bevan’s talents belie her years of qualification. She is thorough, diligent and focused.

Alexandra Gooden is a class act: commercially savvy and very intelligent.

Woolley & Co, Solicitors

Woolley & Co, Solicitors is a nationwide network of 24 family law practitioners, of whom five are based in East Anglia. Karen Agnew-Griffith in Thetford, Abby Smith in St Neots, Nick Wiseman in Great Yarmouth were joined last year by Karen Willis in King's Lynn, previously at SJP Solicitors LLP, and Fiona Willis in Duxford, formerly of Leeds Day. They frequently handle divorce cases with an international element, leave to remove cases, complex children matters, and financial settlements with multimillion-pound assets. Among their clients are ex-pats, high-net-worth individuals, farming families, business owners and company directors.

Ashtons Legal

'Caring and genuinely interested in clients' issues' is how one client describes the family law practice at Ashtons Legal. The group led by Stephen Williams in Ipswich has a presence across the region thanks to partner Mary Pearce in Bury St Edmunds, senior associate Francesca Easter in Norwich and 'calm, pragmatic' solicitor Joanna Cotgrove who leads the Cambridge team. The firm has notable expertise in servicing the needs of clients who have very substantial personal, business, land and trust assets. The niche international war crimes work undertaken by Williams is unique in the region.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Williams

Testimonials

The Cambridge family law team is led by Joanna Cotgrove, who although not a partner, manages the team superbly. She is supported by partners across the region who have a wealth of experience.

Joanna Cotgrove is a stellar solicitor, Jo has the ability to see to the nub of the issue through all of the emotional and stressful aspects of family matters, so she is able to provide clear and practical legal advice, but always with emotional intelligence and sensitivity. I would highly recommend Jo to anyone who needs family law advice. Although Jo is not a partner in the family team, she leads the Cambridge office and operates at partner level both in terms of the advice given and her pragmatic and calm approach. I cannot rate Jo highly enough.

An approachable, transparent service is offered. Caring and genuinely interested in clients’ issues.

They are willing to give time to assess the facts of the matter in a very considered and honest way. Francesca Easter always goes the extra mile.

The team always seems to be available, responsive and quick but well considered.

Stephen Williams is good with clients and provides clear advice.

Great understanding and empathetic towards clients’ circumstances.

Jo Cotgrove is very thorough and will look for solutions to situations. Mary Pearce is tenacious.

Buckles Solicitors LLP

'The advice given has always been accurate, and their approach has been firm but fair,' remarks a client of Buckles Solicitors LLP in Peterborough. Practice head Roger Gurney leads a team of 11 lawyers, among whom is the highly respected Lyn Brisley, who 'combines knowledge, wisdom and empathy in equal measure'. 'Clear-headed and realistic' associate Helen Saggers is also recommended. The firm has extensive experience in complex financial matters including trust work, international work and agricultural matters. Their work encompasses divorce, civil partnerships, prenuptial agreements and all children matters.

Practice head(s):

Roger Gurney

Other key lawyers:

Lyn Brisley; Helen Saggers

Testimonials

I have only ever used Buckles for family law and I rate their service as absolutely first-class. The advice given has always been accurate, and their approach has been firm but fair, mirroring my views. I have always received timely responses to either my phone calls or emails. Appointments have been made and met on time. Everything one could desire from a family practice, guiding me through a very difficult and stressful time.

Lyn Brisley has been wonderful. She combines knowledge, wisdom and empathy in equal measure. Whilst being a person to be respected and listened to, she has always explained things in plain English and made me feel very comfortable. She is definitely a person to have on your side. Her advice has always proved to be correct. She has also made herself as available as possible for a busy professional. All in all, Lyn has preserved my sanity throughout this lengthy process.

They are good solid performers, dedicated to the clients.

Lyn Brisley is especially dedicated to her clients and has a strong commercial mindset.

The members of this firm who work with us show great empathy with clients and a real dedication to pro bono work and to making a positive difference to people’s lives when they encounter a family law problem. They also work collaboratively with our students, building strong professional relationships and nurturing the next generation of lawyers.

Solicitors Sellina Kauser and Rachael Butler stand out for their empathy and understanding. They offer practical advice to clients in a straightforward way and they are happy to share their knowledge and experience with our students.

They are committed to their clients and give sound tailored advice in all aspects of private children law and finance.’

Thorough and tenacious. They want good results for their clients and will encourage clients to mediate or litigate exactly as necessary. They are completely client-focused.

Collectively, the Buckles team went out of their way to make sure your experience with the practice was a good one. No matter who was the first to meet you, there was always a warm welcome, smiling face. They would always notify my representative of my arrival and offer a cuppa whilst I waited for my appointment. I would also like to mention Rob Glover who took care of all my billing and payment aspects. A very pleasant and friendly individual.

My representative on and off over a four-year period was Bev Harrison. From the initial consultation to the conclusion of my divorce, and subsequent marital home financial wranglings, Bev’s support, guidance and advice was unstinting. Bev always showed great empathy, which was particularly prevalent when I paused proceedings due to emotional circumstances. When I reconvened proceedings, Bev was there to support me through the process. She always responded to my calls and emails in a timely manner, notwithstanding her busy schedule, and always made time for me at often short notice. Bev always had my best interests at heart, and whilst she was mindful of the emotional circumstances she would ensure that I did not undermine my position, and reassured me that I was being more than fair and reasonable in my approach. Bev made the entire process as painless as possible and I would strongly recommend her to anyone in need of similar support. What really stood out for me was Bev’s refusal, despite my insistence, to charge me for previewing my ex-wife’s solicitor’s letters in relation to the marital home buyout terms. Her support enabled the matter to be concluded in a more timely manner, with minimum grief for me.

The Buckles’ family team has an excellent reputation for providing high-quality legal advice and representation in a supportive and personable way.

Lyn Brisley really listens to her clients and gives top-quality advice in a straightforward and compassionate way.

Associate Helen Saggers is clear-headed and realistic when providing advice based on 25 years’ experience. A pleasure to work with – her briefs are always well-prepared and her court paperwork well-focused.

An excellent and very experienced family law department. A regional leader in family law.

Roger Gurney has brilliant personal skills. He is calm and measured, gains the client’s confidence very quickly and is adept at guiding them through the court or ADR process. He is invariably able to establish a good working relationship with the other side and engages with them constructively, in the client’s best interest.

A fantastic team with a great focus on client care.

Lyn Brisley is tactically astute and a great lawyer.

Gotelee Solicitors

Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich is known for providing 'simple, clear advice' and clients say of the lawyers that 'the way they work should be used as best practice for other practices'. Helen Stuart and the 'simply amazing' Demelza Butler, who work from the Ipswich and Woodbridge offices, are the two lead partners. Stuart has a strong reputation in the local region for advice to high-net-worth individuals on divorce, separation and other family law matters. Both she and Butler frequently act for high-net-worth individuals across Suffolk. Associate Juliet Gordon and legal executive and Resolution member Samantha Markham are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Helen Stuart;  Demelza Butler 

Other key lawyers:

Juliet Gordon; Samantha Markham

Testimonials

The practice offers simple clear advice, whilst the situation is stressful, they try to make life easier as a client. They are clear in role and outcome. Pricing is clear and the whole payment system is easy to follow. It’s a shame other practices don’t follow this way of working. The capabilities of the practice have helped in the times of going to court and they offer a can do way of working. The Barristers offered were of a high standard and clear pricing given. The fact that every time we have gone to court it has been found in my favour is in no small part [down] to the team at Gotelees.

Juliet Gordon has been outstanding throughout the process, she has given clear and fact-based advice, making a complex system into a more user-friendly content. She has ensured that as a client I have a realistic outlook, and time periods. It has been stressful, but with the advice given it made the situation easier. The way they work should be used as best practice for other practices as if everyone undertook their work in the same manner it would ensure that the process would be completed quicker and with less stress. Other practices use tone to get a response but Gotelees have just been clear on message and not used tone to upset or hurt anyone. It is a shame others don’t follow this simple method of working.

Everyone I dealt with had a perfect manner for the case that I was involved in which became very difficult. The advice was perfect and measured and ensured that I stayed focused on the important aspect of my case without lowering myself to the level the other party had.’

Demelza Butler was simply amazing. Her manner and understanding of my case were exceptional. She showed compassion but also had a very clear view and exceptional knowledge of the specific laws involved in my case. Demelza was on hand any time I needed to speak to her regardless of whether it was within her normal office hours or not.

I have used Gotelee Solicitors twice in the last six years and have on both occasions found them to be an efficient practice that were able to simplify my matters and offer a friendly, compassionate service.

Both matters I have used Gotelees for have involved family law – a divorce and then a pre-nuptial agreement – and on each occasion I have been in direct contact with Samantha Markham. Samantha offers solutions to problems which in turn facilitated the passage of my divorce. My ex-wife was determined to drag out the whole process, Samantha was able to use her experience with her opposite lawyer to get our case into court rather than drag it out for months. She was able to work with my barrister to present the facts in such a way that I was able to get an acceptable settlement. I valued Samantha’s honest advice, it was always putting my needs front and centre.

Greene & Greene

At Greene & Greene, 'the quality of advice, attention to detail and personal approach rivals top firms in London', according to one client. 'Confident, driven and well respected' practice head Stuart Hughes and newly promoted partner Melanie Pilmer handle asset protection, nuptial agreements and high-value financial remedy work, in which the firm has a very strong reputation. 'I have always been impressed by her understanding of the case, her client care and pragmatic advice,' says counsel of associate Emma Alfieri who joined from Steeles Law.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Hughes

Other key lawyers:

Melanie Pilmer; Emma Alfieri

Testimonials

I am aware that the firm is well respected, regularly dealing with high-net-worth financial remedy cases. I have not carried out any work for the firm over the last two years, but have been involved in cases when on the other side, and I have always found them to be sensible and pragmatic in their approach.

I have been instructed by Emma Alfieri and I have always been impressed by her understanding of the case, her client care and pragmatic advice to the client. My instructions were always well prepared and considered.

This is a small bespoke team of very experienced solicitors providing a big city service in a beautiful town. The team is headed by a very confident, driven and well-respected team leader Stuart Hughes.

Stuart Hughes is confident, competent and no cases are too big for him. He makes sure he is on top of the door and razor sharp in everything he does. He provides a detailed supportive service to meet his clients’ needs and is very accommodating of them.

Melanie Pilmer has worked as a senior solicitor in that department for a number of years now and brings an approachable but pragmatic counterweight.

Greene & Greene delivers high-quality legal advice combined with excellent and empathetic client handling. They liaise efficiently with barristers and solicitors in other jurisdictions, keeping all parties informed at all times. Their knowledge of the court system is extremely impressive and useful for those based outside the jurisdiction.

Melanie Pilmer comes highly recommended and is empathetic and knowledgeable.

Greene & Greene’s family team offers a boutique service based in Bury St Edmunds. The quality of advice, attention to detail and personal approach rivals top firms in London. This offers excellent value to clients who do not pay London rates.

I have had the pleasure of working with Stuart Hughes on a number of financial remedy cases. Frankly, he puts a lot of his competitors to shame. Despite his seniority and experience he approaches each case with the enthusiasm of someone looking to establish a reputation for themselves despite, in his case, already having a very good one. His clients appreciate the huge effort he invests, as do instructed counsel.

One of Stuart Hughes’ trade marks is his encyclopaedic knowledge of procedure and case authorities. This is of significant value to clients as it means cases are conducted strategically from the get go. It also means that Stuart can give practical, robust advice early on to ensure that cases either settle on terms favourable to his clients or are best placed to succeed at trial.

Professional and approachable, Emma Alfieri is an excellent listener who really understands her clients’ needs.

Within its geographical area this team stands out as the leader for insightful advice and the ability to provide a breadth of experience and range of processes to obtain a solution for the client.

Stuart Hughes provides strong clear guidance to his client about the end solution at an early stage in his involvement. He has clear analytical skills in relation to financial issues, which are matched by his detailed knowledge and understanding of highly complex business arrangements which lead to creative ways to reach solutions.

Very quick to respond to my queries and they were very clear in all aspects of my case.

Great advice and support. Stuart Hughes was my solicitor and always there to provide the right advice and was instrumental in helping reach an amicable agreement.

Greene & Greene is the epitome of professionalism, with a caring nature towards its clients. When a client, friend or acquaintance is in need of help in this area I don’t hesitate in recommending Greene & Greene as I know they will deliver the very best overall client experience.

Overall, the team at Greene & Greene is very approachable and supportive, but a special mention must go to Stuart Hughes and Melanie Pilmer. They are always happy to take a call and no issue is too great. They don’t look down but share their depth of knowledge and experience openly, which is something I do not benefit from anywhere else.

Work highlights

  • Acted for the wife in respect of Financial Remedy Proceedings with assets in excess of £20m involving complex property and corporate structures.
  • Advised in the preparation of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement where a client had assets exceeding £35m and then in the subsequent Divorce and Financial Remedy negotiations which were favourably concluded with appropriate weight being given to the Pre-Nuptial Agreement.
  • Advised the Respondent Husband in relation to his wife’s application for financial remedy; this was a short childless marriage where the husband had substantial interests in land with a substantial value.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP provides family law services through its Cambridge and Norwich offices, with partner Amy Walpole and associates Sophie Key and Laura Clay-Harris working in both locations. They also support the wider practice in the Leicester, Milton Keynes and Northampton offices. The practice, in which all lawyers are Resolution members, has particular expertise in complex financial cases particularly those involving businesses, landed estates, complex investments, tax and jurisdictional issues. The firm acts for numerous high-net-worth clients, including CEOs from the banking and property sectors, barristers, medical consultants, entrepreneurs, and agricultural and business owners.

Practice head(s):

Amy Walpole

Other key lawyers:

Sophie Key; Laura Clay-Harris

Testimonials

Solid, professional and sensible. Amy Walpole is a calm presence in complex cases, with real quality.

Hunt & Coombs LLP

'One of the go-to firms in the region, long-established and with a solid and longstanding reputation for excellence in this field,' is how one client describes Hunt & Coombs LLPFarhana Butt leads the practice, which has nine specialist family lawyers in Peterborough, but also provides services through the offices in St Neots, Huntingdon and Oundle. Partner Edward Owen is the city's only solicitor to have Resolution accreditation for dealing with pensions in divorce settlements. Partner Denis White is known for his work on complex financial arrangements and children matters. Senior solicitor Louise Ballantyne is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Farhana Butt

Testimonials

They appear to be one of the go-to firms in the Midlands/East Anglia region, long-established, and with a solid and longstanding reputation for excellence in this field. They appear to have a substantial workload, generated mainly from referral from existing clients or past clients, which they are able to cover by continual expansion of their team.

I work mainly with the managing partner who still covers a caseload of her own as well as moving into mediation. She has recruited well, and is ably assisted by a number of ancillary staff, with varying levels of professional qualification. One of those, Sophie Scotcher, is particularly perceptive, well-organised, and calm under fire.

The firm provides a good High Street service to many towns throughout the region. Their offices cover a wide area but they know their local courts well. In the family law sphere they take on all types of private law and modest asset financial cases.

Farhana Butt has a lot of experience in all aspects of generalised family law and Sophie Scotcher is an underrated and rather talented, hardworking and focused younger solicitor who is turning out to be a really very good lawyer.

HC is one of my instructing solicitors and I am often against them when acting for other parties. I have dealt with them in two areas, public law children work and in private law children proceedings. In both areas, the cases are often complex and/or have difficult parties involved.

Their family team is part of a bigger firm which has more of a corporate image and structure than firms that rely solely on legal aid. They work very well as a team along with their assistants which means correspondence is answered urgently.

‘I have worked with Denis White, Edward Owen, Louise Ballantyne and Giuseppe Pingerna. All are well versed in the law and are particular in how they brief a case. Papers are sent complete and with detailed instructions. Their advice to clients is accurate, reasonable and appropriate for the case. I am never instructed to run a weak case for the sake of it. All are strong courtroom advocates.’

Denis White and Edward Owen are often the first choice “go-to” people if there is an urgent family case at court. Both are very experienced and ideal for this type of case because of their calm and measured approach.

This firm has a range of excellent lawyers in all areas of family work. They have a committed team of support staff who are always prepared to go the extra mile to assist. Whether you are speaking with the lawyer or their assistant, you always receive a first-class service. They are knowledgeable about local practices and are very well respected in Cambridgeshire and further afield. As a lawyer, I would recommend this firm to friends who need a lawyer.

Louise Ballantyne is a diligent and committed professional. She goes the extra mile to ensure her clients receive an outstanding service.

Edward Owen is a compassionate and careful lawyer who will always fight his client’s corner whilst providing realistic advice in difficult and emotional circumstances.

Giuseppe Pingerna has a charm and humour which reassures clients and colleagues but he is still a consummate professional with knowledge and ability in both private and public law.

A very impressive blend of realism, commitment and straightforward dialogue. They are always good to work with and for.

Edward Owen and Kathryn Chamberlain have been a delight to work with over many years – efficient, friendly, and providing great straightforward representation for clients – everyone knows where they stand.

Kerseys Solicitors LLP

Kerseys Solicitors LLP in Ipswich is not only highly respected in the local area, but also handles matters from further afield, particularly in the areas of public and private law children matters, and financial matters relating to companies, farms and pensions. 'Professional and sympathetic' practice head Clare Thomas has a 'calm, pragmatic, professional approach balanced by her personal empathy'. She has a particular focus on complex financial matters within divorce, including business assets. Partner and children law expert Elaine Webb, consultant and mediator Rosemary Carter and associate Victoria Cole are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Clare Thomas

Testimonials

Clare Thomas, senior partner and main contact in the family department guided me through a complex divorce settlement and procedures. I am entirely satisfied with the advice and practical support given during an emotionally charged time.

Clare Thomas was professional and yet sympathetic throughout. Her calm, pragmatic, professional approach was balanced by her personal empathy for my situation and the need to ensure that my best interests, and those of my three children, were represented within the rules of the law. She provided a steady hand at the helm in negotiating the stormy seas of divorce settlement, with a focus on what is fair and reasonable.

Communication is excellent. The written correspondence is clear, concise and accurate. My team are always able to update me swiftly, which leads me to believe they know my particular case and consider me a valued client. My recent experience with another local firm was dire by comparison.

It is not too much to say that Clare Thomas has restored my faith in the concept of solicitors with integrity. Throughout, her advice has been based on the best outcome for me, not the number of hours she can bill for her firm. The same can be said for the counsel she instructed on my behalf. They both explained the legal positions clearly and succinctly. They listened to what I had to say. They gave me the options available to me and explained the benefits and risks of each. Clare supported me 100% in my decisions once I had taken them.

Kerseys Solicitors are very supportive and helpful. The family practice team are always professional in their approach and offer very sound advice and support for their clients.

I have worked with Elaine Webb for many years and have always found her to be professional, approachable, knowledgeable, helpful and thoughtful towards children, parents and other professionals.

An extremely well-run and professional local firm, able to manage complex cases smoothly and calmly. Real attention to detail and getting the best outcomes for clients.

Vardags

Vardags in Cambridge is part of a nationally renowned family law firm that specialises in high-net-worth and complex cases, often with an international element. The Cambridge office opened in 2016 and has since handled high-value work in pre- and post-nuptial agreements, arbitration, child arrangements, domestic violence and divorce. Partner Arron Bortoft left to launch his own firm Bortoft Bell, so 'sagacious, brilliant and dedicated' senior associate Silvia Devecchi is now the lead lawyer, with support from head of the London family group Georgina Hamblin. Devecchi is 'sharp in identifying problems and solutions'.

Practice head(s):

Silvia Devecchi

Other key lawyers:

Georgina Hamblin

Testimonials

A colleague recommended Ms Silvia Devecchi of Vardags. The response was prompt. They offered 90 minutes free initial consultation over the phone, within 48 hours of contacting the firm, agreeing to my suggestion to arrange that through Skype. The consultation was exceptionally thorough, detailed and very clear as to the options available. The details of my financial and legal situation had been collected over the phone beforehand, thereby providing the solicitor with the essential background information. The consultation was vastly more informative and useful compared to a recent one I had with another firm, the latter on a fee basis.

Silvia Devecchi, the senior associate who is looking after my case, is sharp in identifying problems and solutions, provides clear and detailed explanations, is quick at replying to emails and at recommending the necessary actions. I find her attitude open, friendly and inspiring confidence.

If you want the best, look no further. The team at Vardags’ Cambridge office offer a Rolls-Royce service from start to finish. Silvia Devecchi is outstanding. There is real strength in the rest of the team too, with great support from Isabel Mee, Kari Jackson and Eva Wallace. Sheer attention to detail coupled with intimate knowledge of the law and never losing sight of the bigger picture makes them a formidable force. You want them to be on your side, put it that way.

I have had the pleasure of working directly with Silvia Devecchi supported by Isabel Mee. If you need a financial remedy solicitor, go to Silvia. Sagacious, brilliant and dedicated, I cannot fault her. Silvia is enormously hardworking, offering clients great value as well as the best advice. Her accolades speak for themselves. Her case preparation is meticulous, but Silvia never takes her eye off of the bigger picture, always looking for the strategic advantage to ensure a case settles favourably for her client or is best placed to succeed at trial.

Clients benefit from Silvia Devecchi’s in-depth knowledge of the law, which also makes life much easier for instructed counsel and saves costs for clients by avoiding duplication of work – a rare thing. What also sets her apart is a genuine empathy with clients, sadly something lacking in some of her competitors. Suffice it to say that Silvia has made a very good name for herself already despite being a relatively recent hire.

Isabel Mee is a reassuring presence at court. Everything is at her fingertips, even on more complex cases, making her indispensable at court – especially when in a tight corner. Clients adore her. Surely she has a very bright future ahead of her.

Hardworking, trustworthy and  loyal, they provide reassurance on matters. I feel like they will fight my corner well.

They were generally very professional and knowledgeable.

Silvia Devecchi helped my wife and I through an incredibly difficult situation. Silvia was personable, engaging and always seemed to genuinely care, well beyond anything I have experienced from a legal professional before. She was also extremely knowledgeable and quick to provide an answer, yet clear and honest if she didn’t have the answer to hand. In the rare event she was unsure of a matter, she would quickly draw on the wealth of experienced individuals from her firm and wider network.

I feel Silvia Devecchi provided legal council which was in all aspects, above and beyond anything I have previously experienced.

The team works really well together on cases with a number of staff being up to speed on the case, which I find really helpful as counsel, so that I can always find someone to speak to when issues arise in the case or when seeking an update. They are always very organised and several steps ahead compared to other firms.

I have worked with Silvia Devecchi very closely on one case. I found her to be extremely passionate about her job and very supportive of her client. She went the extra mile in assisting the client and ensuring her voice was heard in a very complex private law case.

The team has quickly become a market leader in the region, despite being a relatively new offering. The fact that it is within a network of national Vardags offices also is an advantage, and they are adept at handling complex disputes as a result.

Silvia Devecchi is one of the most impressive associates I have encountered recently. Her client management skills are exemplary, and she has judgement well beyond her years. She brings a helpful international and immigration law perspective to her work.

The senior lawyer, in my case Silvia Devecchi, would always respond to my questions personally and swiftly. Only on routine matters would one of her junior colleagues contact me. This made me feel that my case was being taken seriously and that I was getting the best possible legal advice throughout the whole process.

The team on my case was headed by Silvia Devecchi and included Eva Wallace and Kate Jackson. All three were of course courteous and were efficient. This was in marked contrast to the team acting for the other side, who took many days, in some cases weeks, to respond to simple questions. Vardags appeared very experienced in cases such as mine – a divorce petition – and was very clear in explaining the options I had at each stage. It was important to me to have every step explained and not we be left in a fog of legal gobbledygook.’

BDB Pitmans

'The small team allows for more flexibility and ability to use creative solutions,' says a client of BDB Pitmans in Cambridge. 'Level-headed and pragmatic' partner Roopa Ahluwalia, who joined from Birketts LLP 'manages to combine a robust legal knowledge with a caring, empathic approach to her clients'. She is a solicitor and mediator with a particular interest in international cases, especially those involving the relocation of children. David Thompson, who works in both the London and Cambridge offices, predominantly focuses on complex financial and international issues, and he has significant experience in difficult leave-to-remove children cases.

Practice head(s):

Roopa Ahluwalia

Other key lawyers:

David Thompson

Testimonials

I have no hesitation in recommending my clients to Roopa Ahluwalia, partner, mediator and collaborative practitioner, if they wish to use the mediation process to resolve their disputes. She has extensive experience and an excellent reputation within Cambridge and further afield for being a practical and sensible mediator. I also have no hesitation in working with Roopa on collaborative cases together. I trust her to comply with Resolution’s Code of Practice and to work with me to find the most appropriate outcome for separating families.

Roopa Ahluwalia often represents clients in very complex family matters and her client service is always exceptional. She really strives to achieve the best possible outcome for her clients. Roopa is also well known for being an outstanding mentor to more junior practitioners and is an elected committee member of the Cambridge and West Suffolk Resolution committee, which is a voluntary role.

I think it is excellent that partners promote and encourage dispute resolution outside the court process. I am based in Essex and know that their team has an excellent reputation for their work beyond their office locations.

Both Roopa Ahluwalia and assistant Matthew Hasler are accomplished family lawyers who have a pragmatic and sensible approach to family matters. They are clear in their instructions to experts, provide information in a timely manner and resolve matters expediently. They have strengthened the firm’s presence in Cambridge.

The team work well together and are very supportive of one another. The small team allows for more flexibility and ability to use creative solutions.

Roopa Ahluwalia manages to combine a robust legal knowledge with a caring, empathic approach to her clients. She is level-headed and pragmatic.

The family and matrimonial team has an empathic, bespoke and totally focused approach to achieving the objectives of their lay clients. Where necessary, they can draw on the expertise and knowledge of other teams within the firm, such as trusts and property.

Butcher Andrews

The retirement of Adney Payne in early 2020 left the 'compassionate and fair' Julia Buckingham in charge of the family law group at Butcher Andrews. Payne remains a part-time consultant and the firm continues to advise a broad range of clients from Norfolk and further on high-net-worth divorces involving complex financial elements, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, children arrangements and cohabitation matters. Buckingham, who is a member of both Resolution and The Good Divorce Group, is 'quite simply the solicitor you want on your side in difficult times', according to one client.

Practice head(s):

Julia Buckingham

Other key lawyers:

Adney Payne

Testimonials

The practice is effective and well-managed, handling a range of both high-value financial and complex matters. The team is made up of varying levels of experience and expertise allowing clients to find the right lawyer for their application.

Julia Buckingham is quite simply the solicitor you want on your side in difficult times. She is compassionate and fair but able to give firm and valuable advice to clients whatever their circumstances. She is particularly gifted at advising survivors of domestic abuse and is able to build rapport and trust with clients when they need it most.

Litigation executive Jean Curtis brings her years of experience to every client and every case. She is able to advise clients in a straightforward manner and ensures that they understand every step of the process from the first instruction.

The team are very well organised and excellent communication was experienced from start to finish. They were all approachable and helpful.

Julia Buckingham was wonderful throughout, she was kind and helpful offering excellent advice and really listened to me and was able to make recommendations which were the right way forward for me as an individual and my family. She had an excellent secretary supporting her work and I am very grateful to them both. With Julia handling my divorce it made a difficult, stressful and upsetting time very much more bearable. My ex-husband and I remain on good terms which I feel has definitely been assisted by the collaborative process.

From the desk staff, the secretariat up to my practicing partner the experience is friendly, welcoming and efficient.

Julia Buckingham became a friend as much as my legal representative. She has a friendly, open and sympathetic approach. She is very available when required and she gave clear explanations and advice. She operated on a flexible payment basis which helped me a lot.

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors handles a broad range of divorce and separation, financial relief, children matters, as well as advising unmarried couples on property rights and TOLATA claims. Based in Norwich, the firm has a major presence across North Norfolk through its office in North Walsham. Head of family and charities Neale Grearson has more than 25 years' experience in handling divorce and separation matters, which increasingly involve high-net-worth clients with overseas assets. Solicitors Emerald Priscott and Caroline Eaton, who frequently advises cohabitees on cohabitation agreements and property rights on separation, also play key roles in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Neale Grearson

Other key lawyers:

Emerald Priscott; Caroline Eaton

Testimonials

A friendly and approachable team whose members provide clear and practical advice to their clients. Expectations are well managed and unwelcome advice is always delivered with sensitivity.

Neale Grearson is really kind and empathetic with his clients, who are invariably going through the difficult personal circumstances which accompany relationship breakdown.

Caroline Eaton provides clear and practical advice to her clients.

They are very friendly and welcoming and they make you feel at ease whilst being professional. Every member of staff I encountered was of an equal level of professionalism whilst being supportive and kind.

Neale Grearson is the team leader and oversees all aspects of the department. It impresses as having a kind and bespoke approach to meeting every client’s individual needs.

Neale Grearson has endless patience with clients and nothing is too much trouble for him. Junior recruits have proved to be well spotted: Emerald Prescott is particularly assiduous and dedicated to her clients and takes the lead from her boss.

Highly professional representation mixed with empathy and a practice that connects on a human level.

I have received balanced, calm reassuring support that is underpinned by a high degree of competence that left me feeling very well supported. I have really valued their integrity and honesty.

I was very happy with my experience. I worked with Clapham & Collinge twice, with different partners, and both times had an excellent experience. I felt that the partners and associates really cared about my needs, there was no pressure to get more than I needed, and I felt the advice was very well thought out, clearly explained, and actions to be taken were very clearly laid out for me. They made the process as painless as it can be. They provided a smooth and empathetic procedure. I always knew exactly what was happening and what they needed from me, and everything was clearly and correctly resolved. They are also very nice people that were welcoming and a pleasure to work with.

I have not had that many experiences with lawyers beyond buying and selling houses, so this was a fairly new experience for me. I worked mostly with Caroline Eaton who was great. She was there with me through my divorce and provided clear, thoughtful and empathetic help along the way. She progressed everything as rapidly as was in her control to do, and was consistent and clear in what she needed from me, from my husband, and where the process was at. This helped tremendously in making this potentially awful process as smooth as it can be. She was very nice and extremely professional and efficient. I was very impressed.

Work highlights

  • Acted in Children Act proceedings for a mother where there were allegations of sexual abuse against the father.
  • Acted on behalf of a mother in contested Children Act proceedings, in which there were a number of Court hearings and the firm was able to negotiate a Consent Order setting out the arrangements for the child.
  • Acted in a divorce for wife client where the total pension fund exceeded £1m.

Cozens-Hardy LLP

Cozens-Hardy LLP in Norwich has three experienced partners in Jane Anderson, Sandra Nunn and Iain White. Having been one of the first firms to establish a dedicated family law practice more than 40 years ago, the firm continues to be highly respected in the local area. Anderson, who frequently acts for members of the farming community, and newly promoted associate Sophie Smith are collaborative lawyers and all members of the practices are Resolution Members. The firm also has a Legal Aid Agency contract for public law children’s advocacy.

Other key lawyers:

Sophie Smith

Testimonials

The team are all very helpful and direct you to the appropriate person for your needs. They are very informative and offer practical and legal advice when asked ensuring that they keep you up-to-date with information that they need to tell you or that they require to help your case.

I needed a Solicitor to help me with family law. I found Cozens-Hardy solicitors and Sophie Smith was the Solicitor who got in contact with me. Sophie is very helpful and has a lot of knowledge regarding family law. She kept me informed of what was happening with my case, what information she needed and how to deal with going to court, with what to expect and what would be needed to make it a less stressful process. Sophie is very friendly, approachable and gave me very good advice while I had to go through this process. Sophie accompanied [me] to both of my court proceedings and was a wonderful support with the whole process from beginning to end. Sophie also helped find me a barrister for a court hearing and another solicitor colleague at the firm when I had to deal with conveyancing and transfer of equity.

I felt treated very well by everyone I dealt with. They gave genuine care and a personal approach that, in my opinion, made a massive impact on my current situation.

Sophie Smith and her secretary were outstanding – very professional and supportive throughout my divorce process. Their care was genuine and made a difference to how I dealt with this sad chapter in my life.

The firm has a good team with a particular strength in child care work.

Jane Anderson, Ian White and Sandra Nunn all have excellent reputations. They are very professional and helpful. They always put their clients first and are happy to go the extra mile when needed.

Jane Anderson really has been a tower of strength through my recent divorce proceedings and I trust her implicitly. She has always been available to talk to me and give me good advice in what has been a very difficult period of my life. She has always dealt with matters in a prompt and efficient manner. Jane is a credit to the practice, and I would have no hesitation in recommending her and the firm to others in the future.

They treated me as an individual and I felt very supported. They were fair and professional. They went through all the options I had and did not in any way try to persuade me that I have to use a solicitor. They explained things in plain English and helped me feel in control.

Sophie Smith stood out. I worked with her for my divorce at a very difficult time for me. She was calm and reassuring and looked at my specific situation and not just another divorce job. I found her very personable and professional.

The team is highly experienced, knowledgeable, organised, efficient and supportive – very child-focused.

Sandra Nunn has a fantastic team that offers a highly organised and efficient service in both public and private law proceedings.

The team is highly accessible and supportive with many years of experience and a very child-focused mind set.

The team is very stable and exceptionally experienced, providing high-quality provincial services in all area of family law. Not as well known outside of Norfolk and Suffolk, it provides a high-quality service from longstanding premises. A totem of the local legal world.’

Jane Anderson provides an exceptionally sensitive, supportive but tough service in all matters of high-value ancillary relief and private law childcare. She has a good network of loyal London and Southeast circuit counsel and is excellent at matching them to the client if litigation follows. She is collaboratively trained, and undertakes ADR frequently. No-one on the Norfolk/Suffolk ancillary relief circuit is quite so well connected.

Fosters

The family law practice at Fosters is based in Norwich, but the firm also offers client meetings in its offices in Wymondham, Lowestoft or Bury St Edmunds. The firm handles both private and Legal Aid matters, including those involving children. The firm increasingly focuses on high-net-worth clients, but has a wide following among a diverse group of private clients across Norfolk. Iain McClay, who has almost 30 years' experience in family law, is the lead partner. Partners Lucy Simpson and Clare Sharpe are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Iain McClay

Other key lawyers:

Clare Sharpe; Lucy Simpson

Testimonials

I have had to use Fosters solicitors family Dept for six years unfortunately. What isn’t unfortunate is the level of service I received. The team is a tight knit one, under highly stressful circumstances they were always able to get back to me in a timely manner. Communication was good with members of the team should the lead solicitor in my case not be available.

I had used several firms prior to Fosters and the way they operated had no comparison. They were always very clear and realistic about the expectations regarding my case and guided me through what I can only describe as a minefield of family law. I certainly couldn’t have managed without their expertise.

I would particularly like to mention Lucy Simpson. Where do I begin, in all honesty she was my guiding star in a legal world full of darkness and panic. She was down to earth and always displayed the utmost professionalism at all times. There were some extremely distressing and emotional experiences throughout my time being represented by Lucy. She always managed to break things down when everything seemed chaotic.

Lucy Simpson was knowledgeable and clearly demonstrated a wealth of experience that helped me feel more confident in extraordinary circumstances. I can honestly say without her real, honest and robust approach I would have most certainly crumbled. I felt like I was never too much trouble and had to call her several times out of hours in which she was of great help and allayed my fears and concerns. She certainly shielded me from numerous harassing emails from my ex-husband as these would have just added to my anxiety and distress further. There were several occasions where a barrister was necessary and she was able to also seek the appropriate person for my case. I cannot fully put into words this time of my life, as things happened to me that I could never imagine or foresee. I can wholeheartedly say I absolutely recommend and commend Lucy Simpson for all she did for me, she went above and beyond and I know it’s her job but I simply couldn’t have gone through all I did without the support of her and her team.

Work highlights

  • Undertaking mediation with husband and wife over three sessions to resolve the financial side of their divorce, culminating in the preparation of an open financial statement and a summary of proposals within a memorandum of understanding.
  • Receiving instructions from a wife on a high-net-value divorce; assisting and advising on a financial settlement concluding with a consent order filed at court.
  • Application for a child arrangement order on behalf of father; a matter of complexity as a result of significant concerns raised by the mother leading to a fact-finding hearing.

JG Poole & Co. LLP

JG Poole & Co. LLP joins the ranking having opened a new Norwich office around experienced family partner Ginny Colman, who joined from Birketts LLP. Colman, who joined the firm in August 2019 and is chair of the Norfolk Good Divorce Group, was a key player in the leading practice at her former firm and frequently advises high-net-worth clients for complex matrimonial and cohabitation matters, as well as private law children issues. She now handles a growing caseload from the firm's established clients in the education sector, as well as cases for clients based in London.

Practice head(s):

Ginny Colman

Testimonials

I have known Ginny Colman for many years in a professional capacity. She had worked for Birketts Solicitors in Norwich for many years and has significant experience of dealing with high-net-worth cases. She is extremely experienced, able, conscientious and has a good approach to client care.

I chose this firm because of reputation. Ginny Colman has been consistent with her professionalism even though she has only recently started up this business after moving from Birketts where I was a client of hers. I moved with her and she has kept on the ball throughout her move. She is extremely reassuring and sensitive to emotional situations. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her to anyone who should need a family lawyer. Lucy Poole, her assistant, is very efficient and they seem to work very well together.

Ginny Colman handled the matter in which I was involved in an extremely sensitive, professional and effective way. I was very impressed. I acted for the other party and she was polite and pleasant throughout.

Spire Solicitors LLP

Spire Solicitors LLP has seven offices throughout Norfolk, making it one of the largest legal firms in the county. It has a highly regarded practice with extensive experience in family and childcare matters, and it is particularly well known for work on divorce, pre-nuptial agreements, financial provision, childcare matters and injunctions. Sarb Gosal, who works in the Dereham, Wymondham and Watton offices, and Richard Bevan in Norwich are the lead partners. Collaboratively trained partner Amanda Maruca in Norwich and Aylsham is praised as 'very compassionate, kind and caring'.

Practice head(s):

Richard Bevan; Sarb Gosal

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Maruca

Testimonials

My experience was very difficult as Amanda Maruca was dealing with my divorce from someone who was very awkward and nasty. She was very professional and kept me updated all through the process. Amanda and her secretary were very helpful and very understanding of the situation which could at times be very frustrating. They kept very professional boundaries at all times as my ex-husband could be very awkward, nasty, rude and even threatening a lot of the time. It was a very frustrating experience which I feel Amanda and her secretary dealt with very professionally.

I worked with Amanda Maruca and my first visit was very emotional. She was very compassionate, kind and caring and made me feel relaxed. It was a very difficult divorce and she helped me step by step through what needed to be done and advised me and gave me all options and information on engaging barristers. Amanda was very professional even when my ex-husband was quite awkward and threatening towards her and her secretary. I feel Amanda was very kind, caring and professional with what was a very arduous situation and it is difficult to put into words how she supported me throughout the process.

Work highlights

  • Represented the wife in divorce proceedings in which both maintenance and pension claims involved an overseas military pension scheme.
  • Securing a prenuptial agreement for wife to protect a multimillion-pound family business and inherited assets.
  • Negotiating a financial settlement for a wife in divorce proceedings to secure a significant Pension Sharing Order to allow husband, who suffered from ill-health and could no longer work, to remain in the family home.

Steeles Law

Steeles Law, which is 'a long-established and respected firm of solicitors in East Anglia', sadly lost practice head Amanda Owens in 2019. Since then, the family team has been rebuilt with the arrival of associate and new practice head Sally Harris and paralegal Sally Briggs, both previously at Hansells. Harris, who is 'sharp and highly experienced' has more than 25 years' experience in family law. She advises clients in Norwich, Diss and the surrounding area on divorce, financial and property issues following relationship breakdown, and childcare disputes including contact.

Practice head(s):

Sally Harris

Other key lawyers:

Sally Briggs; Emerald Priscott

Testimonials

Sally Harris is sharp and highly experienced, and a pleasure to work with.

Steeles Law is a long-established and respected firm of solicitors in East Anglia.

Sally Harris has only recently joined the firm, but has many years experience as a family solicitor. She is well respected, conscientious and tenacious. I have recently completed a high-net-worth case for her, and her preparation and conduct of the case was impeccable.

A competent firm. Sally Harris is a very good solicitor with a practical and sympathetic approach.

‘Emerald Priscott is an extraordinarily competent young lawyer who is realistic, and extremely thorough. Her attention to detail is second to none and I value her as a professional client. She knows when she needs to involve counsel and does so at a sensibly early stage. She works extremely hard for each client to achieve a realistic outcome.‘

‘Emerald Priscott deserves a special mention as she was outstanding throughout. Her knowledge, insight and communication helped to ease a very stressful time.‘

Tees Law

Tees Law continues to grow its reputation in Cambridge for mediation, collaborative and roundtable discussions, as well as traditional court matters. 'Tenacious and committed' practice head Clare Pilsworth, who joined the firm in 2018, has more than 20 years' experience in complex financial issues arising from divorce and separation. She also has an in-depth understanding of farming partnerships and frequently advises clients in the agricultural sector. 'Clear and realistic' associate Deborah Hargreaves is a mediator and collaborative lawyer who focuses on both financial and children law cases.

Practice head(s):

Clare Pilsworth

Other key lawyers:

Deborah Hargreaves

Testimonials

I only have experience of Clare Pilsworth, whom I rate highly). Clare is a tenacious and committed lawyer.

Clare Pilsworth is a polished operator. She shows steely determination and does not take bad points.

I have worked with Deborah Hargreaves. She is clear in her communications and realistic in her approach, avoiding long drawn out arguments.

They are a dedicated and experienced team able to deal with all types of family cases.

I have worked with Clare Pilsworth on a number of cases. Whilst she always has to follow her client’s instructions and do her best for them, she is still approachable and willing to try and find a practical solution for the situation. She is a tough, but fair negotiator.

Tees are one of my instructing solicitors in private client family work. They always brief in plenty of time, in detail and provide excellent advice to clients. In my experience, they adopt a team approach to complex cases in that they involve counsel from an early stage and use conferences effectively. Cases always seem well managed and clients kept very much informed. Where cases have been particularly complex, advice is sought well in advance.

I have been instructed by Deborah Hargreaves and Lorna Chapman. As a barrister instructed by them, I value the team-based approach they adopt and being attended when we are in court. They keep me apprised of a case and will call me for advice and to discuss tactics when needed. I have found Deborah and Lorna to be particularly good at dealing with difficult clients and complex legal issues.

Tees is a well respected and regarded firm with national reach.

Claire Pilsworth is a superb lawyer to have on the other side of a case. She works efficiently and works effectively with other lawyers to secure the best outcomes for her clients. Claire and I have worked on opposite sides of a case and she is really good to deal with, always prepared to have one-to-one discussions to resolve matters.

The firm is friendly, approachable and good to work with.

Deborah Hargreaves is a strong solicitor who is hardworking and clear-thinking. Lorna Chapman is an experienced and valuable member of the family team and clients really like her.

The practice has a wide range of expertise, therefore in a somewhat complicated separation situation the firm were able to provide all the required assistance needed, from separation agreement, through tax advice and conveyancing for transfer of jointly owned properties.

The partners and associates I have seen have all been highly professional, helpful and fair. I have from every individual meal they are keen to ensure I have the correct advice, but no more than I need to ensure costs are maintained within reasonable bounds.

Barker Gotelee

Barker Gotelee joins the ranking this year having launched its family law practice in Ipswich with the hire of divorce solicitor Rory O’Brien  from Lightfoot O'Brien. With 30 years' experience, O'Brien has a busy domestic caseload, though he also handles expatriate divorce matters, advising British clients based in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. He is supported by family law associate Amanda Erskine and by experienced partners in the corporate, tax, trusts and property practices.

Practice head(s):

Rory O’Brien

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Erskine

Fraser Dawbarns

The family law practice at Fraser Dawbarns has a presence across Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Senior partner Deborah Allen leads the practice from King's Lynn, with senior associates Rebecca Woodley in Downham Market and Jackie Jessiman in Ely and March also playing key roles. Allen specialises in negotiating financial claims and applications to the Court, as well as dealing with mid- to high-value assets including farms and trusts.

Practice head(s):

Deborah Allen

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Woodley; Jackie Jessiman

Hayes + Storr Solicitors and Notaries

Hayes + Storr Solicitors and Notaries has a busy family law practice that, although based in Fakenham, acts for clients through a network of seven offices in North and West Norfolk. Practice head Rob Colwell has  13 years' experience in this field of law, and his work encompasses mid-to-high-value asset matters involving child arrangements, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, separation and change of name deeds. Solicitor Maria Endall focuses on  ancillary relief matters and private law child cases, including cases involving the removal of children from the UK if one parent lives outside the EU.

Practice head(s):

Rob Colwell

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell's Cambridge office joins the ranking this year, as it is a key point of contact for the firm's London-based family law practice. Though mainly operating from London, lead partner Toby Hales who joined from Seddons, senior associate Kathryn Evans (who is 'a very sensible, competent solicitor who can manage clients well with a deft touch of humour') and solicitor Rachel Frost-Smith frequently work from Cambridge. The firm handles the full range of family law work, including complex and high-value financial matters, often including substantial business assets, and children cases.

Practice head(s):

Toby Hales

Other key lawyers:

Kathryn Evans; Rachel Frost-Smith

Testimonials

An honest firm that doesn’t try to rip off its clients and has great solicitors with a lot of experience, giving extraordinary service.

Toby Hales is one of the BEST solicitors/barristers I have dealt with. He represented me in an extremely complicated case both on child arrangements and financials – five cases in total, all of which he won. He provides amazing customer service, great knowledge and the ability to stir the case into the direct direction. He has always been fair on his advice and same with charging.

I have been instructed by Kathryn Evans, who is a very sensible, competent solicitor who can manage clients well with a deft touch of humour. She gives honest, proper advice to enable clients to consider their position with knowledge of all the facts. Good judgement. Very organised and helpful to counsel.

Kathryn Evans is a very competent solicitor with excellent judgement and a reassuring manner with clients. The firm does not lead its clients up the garden path: it gives them an honest appraisal of their case and its weaknesses. This is in stark contrast to some solicitors who string clients along and leave counsel to give them the bad news at the door of court. Kathryn is easy to work with and down to earth. Clients like and trust her.

The member of staff that works with us is empathetic and very much understands how to give advice to our clients in the Law Clinic. She is also extremely effective in working with our students, sharing her knowledge and experience.

Rachel Frost-Smith stands out amongst our volunteer lawyers in our law clinic as she is always willing to go the extra mile for clients and she is happy to spend the time explaining things to students and involving them in the advice process. She truly understands what we are trying to do in the law clinic and she is a great example of a lawyer who is committed to pro bono and to bringing on the next generation of lawyers.

The firm offers a comprehensive family law service to its clients with the added benefit of multiple supporting teams with expertise in other areas of the law.

Rachel Frost-Smith’s corporate tax background caters for high-net-worth individuals with offshore assets. A rising star who, whilst being a strong and experienced litigator, will also adopt a collaborative approach where appropriate. Calm and confident. A welcome addition to the Cambridge community!

Rachel Frost-Smith in Cambridge is very professional, competent, enthusiastic and determined to give a first-rate service. She goes the extra mile with her clients.

I think that the family team at Irwin Mitchel provides an excellent, professional service to its clients. Cases are well and cost-effectively managed and the quality of work is first-rate. There seems to be a real team spirit amongst the individual members who take collective pride in doing the best possible job for the people they represent.

Kathryn Evans is terrific. She has a wonderful manner with clients (who all love her) but a sharp legal mind to go with it. I think she is intensely pragmatic too – she is quick to identify the problem and work out a solution that is client-focused and effective.

Rogers and Norton

The matrimonial law practice at Rogers and Norton comprises one partner, one solicitor and one chartered legal executive, who handle both litigation and mediation. Practice head Kerry Rowell in Norwich frequently handles private law children and financial enforcement matters. Solicitor Averil Ballam in Attleborough is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Kerry Rowell

Other key lawyers:

Averil Ballam