Family in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

At Birketts LLP, ‘the team  is crammed full of talented individuals, who are excellent at what they do, and their care to clients is first-class‘. In Ipswich, Katie Beaven is a key adviser to local business people and farming families.  Legal director Juliet Harvey is the national chair of Resolution. In Cambridge, up-and-coming partner Sarah Overy has a strong international and local practice in both high net worth financial settlements and complex Children Act applications. Senior associates Lisa Cornish and Deborah Lloyd are key members of the Norwich team.

Other key lawyers:

Katie Beaven; Sarah Overy; Juliet Harvey; Lisa Cornish; Deborah Lloyd; Denise Findlay; Ivana Radovic

Testimonials

‘The team at Birketts is crammed full of talented individuals, who are excellent at what they do. The care to clients is first class.’

‘Special mention must go to Juliet Harvey and Katie Beaven for the way in which they deal with clients. Their knowledge is right up there with the best.’

‘Juliet Harvey – very experienced and has great judgment’

‘Birketts is able to offer London quality at regional rates.’

‘Lisa Cornish and Denise Findlay bring complementary qualities to the team. Their calmness under pressure and dealing with complex issues is a very important quality.’

‘The team have a flowing high standard of working. By that I mean from the secretaries to the assistants to the lawyers. They make for a reliable and easy and efficient service’

‘Ivana Radovic is exceptional at case preparation. She is incredibly diligent and ensures that the link between client and counsel is smooth.’

Key clients

Acted for the father in the published case of XM v XF [2021] EWHC 129 (FAM)

Work highlights

  • Acted for the father in the published case of XM v XF [2021]. The family lived as expatriates in Dubai. Following the breakdown of the marriage there were contested injunction, children and financial proceedings. The quantum, form and duration of contact was fiercely contested. Due to Covid, the parties were unable to attend Court in person.

Cambridge Family Law Practice

Cambridge Family Law Practice is a partner-only practice focused exclusively on family law. Clients and counsel remark that it is ‘a really excellent firm that punches above its regional weight and can easily match some of the Magic Circle London firms at far more competitive rates‘. Simon Bethel and Jeremy Ford , who is is nationally recognised as an expert in surrogacy law, child abduction and medical treatment of children disputes, are both notable practitioners in children law. ‘Formidable litigator‘ Tricia Ashton has specialist expertise in business, tax and pension issues of divorce. Adam Moghadas ‘has a way of smoothing the most anxious of clients with his gentle and calm nature‘. Gail Marchant-Daisley is ‘approachable, pragmatic and committed to securing an excellent outcome‘. Up-and-coming partner Kathryn Evans joined from Irwin Mitchell. Sue Varty retired from the practice.

Practice head(s):

There is no head of team – we are all equal partners

Other key lawyers:

Simon Bethel; Tricia Ashton; Adam Moghadas; Jeremy Ford; Gail Marchant-Daisley; Kathryn Evans

Testimonials

‘This is a really excellent firm that punches above its regional weight and can easily match some of the magic circle London firms at far more competitive rates. A first-rate firm that I can unhesitatingly recommend.’

‘Tricia Ashton – fierce in her approach, leaves no stone unturned and is always determined to do the very best for her client. An exceptional lawyer who is able to grapple with complicated legal and factual issues and distil them into a cohesive approach.

‘Adam Moghadas – a lovely client manner. He has a way of smoothing the most anxious of clients with his gentle and calm nature. Incredibly down to earth and approachable.’

‘Gail Marchant-Daisley is a very experienced, approachable and pragmatic lawyer who is committed to securing an excellent outcome for her clients. She is able to compromise where necessary but she is also a tough negotiator who is prepared to hold her ground on the points that matter.’

‘Tricia Ashton is extremely bright and able. She cuts through to the issues and is a really excellent lawyer. She is a force to be reckoned with and certainly someone to have on your side.’

‘CFLP in my eyes are definitely the top firm in Cambridge when it comes to Family Law. Unique that all the fee earners are partners, which ensures the client will always get someone of significant experience looking after their case at all times.’

‘Jeremy Ford is unrivalled in his knowledge of child law. Simon Bethel is a real tough negotiator who really has the client’s back at all times. Adam Moghadas – incredibly pragmatic in his approach. Superb judgement. Tricia Ashton works incredibly hard for her clients to ensure the right outcome.’

‘A regional firm that can easily compete with Magic Circle London firms offering better value for money. A key strength is their common sense approach in complicated Children Act matters.’

Mills & Reeve LLP

The family law practice at Mills & Reeve LLP is ‘utterly professional, exactly what you would hope to find in any highly respected legal firm‘. It is ‘the go-to premier regional firm – a truly London service with regional specialist knowledge‘. ‘The epitome of professionalism‘, Nick Stone is the lead partner in Norwich and head of the firmwide family and children practice. Also in Norwich, principal associate Frances Bailey is ‘highly pragmatic, professional and approachable‘, while senior associate and chair of the local Resolution committee Naomi Shelton provides ‘sympathy of touch married with a solution focused overview‘. Caitlin Jenkins is the lead partner in Cambridge and is ‘super-numerate and skilled in all aspects of family law‘. She is supported by principal associates Hannah Wilson and Rachel Brand, and senior associate Ania Tarasiewicz.

Practice head(s):

Caitlin Jenkins; Nick Stone

Other key lawyers:

Frances Bailey; Naomi Shelton; Ania Tarasiewicz; Hannah Wilson; Rachel Brand

 

Testimonials

‘I found Mills & Reeve to be utterly professional, exactly what you would hope to find in any highly respected legal firm. I had no personal prior experience or dealings with the legal profession and feel incredibly fortunate to have received a recommendation to enlist the services of this firm and particularly Nick Stone. I found the whole approach of this firm to be entirely straightforward, prompt and efficient.’

‘Nick Stone was, in my opinion, the epitome of professionalism and exactly what any client should expect from their legal representative. Nick gave me clear, precise, unbiased and completely straightforward advice with a dedicated focus on the best outcome for me as an individual. Nick guided me diligently through the process during a very difficult time but his robust advice and utter professionalism gave me the focus I needed.’

‘Nick Stone identified the key points concisely and clearly during our discussions and this resulted in excellent value for money and a clear understanding of how things were going. He did not waste time with matters that were insignificant or trivial & rather focused his wealth of experience in his area specialty to ensure I received a fair and proportionate outcome.’

‘They are the go-to premier regional firm: a truly London service with regional specialist knowledge. The quality of the lawyers is truly exceptional and the level of service is not replicated anywhere else in East Anglia.’

‘Frances Bailey: no case is too large, a wealth of experience, up to the minute with her legal knowledge, a highly pragmatic, professional and approachable excellent lawyer. Naomi Shelton: provides a most professional service, with clear explanations and transparency at every step and a sympathy of touch married with a solution-focused overview.’

‘The premier firm in family law in Cambridge. The team has strength and depth and is adept at dealing with very challenging cases and issues. Underestimate them at your peril!’

‘Caitlin Jenkins is the best family lawyer in Cambridge. Super-numerate and skilled in all aspects of family law. Hannah Wilson has fantastic judgment and can see a case from all sides. Great with clients and handles experts with ease. Ania Tarasiewicz is a star and a a force to be reckoned with.’

‘Caitlin Jenkins is a partner of the highest quality; detailed and able to provide an overview. Wonderful with clients. Nick Stone – master tactician. Frances Bailey – undertakes partner level work and is a partner in all but title. Ania Tarasiewicz – meticulous level of detail, masked by excellent client facing skills Rachel Brand is a rising star.’

Taylor Vinters

The family law practice at Taylor Vinters in Cambridge is ‘accessible, open, honest and considered, which builds trust‘. Jackie Wells leads the practice and advises clients throughout the UK and internationally on complex matters involving substantial assets. Senior counsel Alexandra Gooden, who handles high-value matrimonial finance work and private law children disputes, is ‘an excellent family lawyer – bright with sound judgement and exemplary client care‘. Associate Rachel Bevan deals with  complex finances following relationship breakdown, divorce and private law children matters and is ‘an accomplished lawyer, always happy to help and a good listener‘.

Practice head(s):

Jackie Wells

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Bevan; Alexandra Gooden

Testimonials

‘The team seemed to me knowledgeable about the family law issues that affected me, and did what was required efficiently at every stage.’

‘Alex Gooden was supportive and effective at all stages.’

‘Good service, very responsive, keen to help.’

‘Rachel Bevan is an accomplished lawyer, always happy to help and a good listener.’

‘I have had a really great experience with TV despite the situation I was being supported on being really terrible. I found them to be accessible, open, honest and considered which for me built trust and that was essential in what turned out sadly to be a long process.’

‘The professionalism and integrity of Alexandra Gooden coupled with her experience and honesty, even when things were difficult to accept, meant I had complete trust in her which was really important for me in my situation. She is human but pragmatic and was really accessible, especially at key points in the process.’

‘Alexandra Gooden – I have recommended Alexandra to friends on several occasions. She is an excellent family lawyer: bright with sound judgement and exemplary client care.’

Vardags

Vardags is a highly regarded matrimonial and family law firm specialising in high-net-worth and complex cases, often with an international element. The firm’s Cambridge office has a small team, led by Silvia Devecchi, but is closely involved in high-value cases involving pre- and post-nuptial agreements, arbitration, child arrangements, domestic violence and divorce. It frequently handles cases involving assets in the £3-£20m range or above. Clients praise Devecchi’s ‘incredible knowledge, tactical mind and practical approach‘. Associate Ciara Delaney also plays a key role in the practice. ‘The team is very knowledgeable, always trying to find solutions to resolve the case‘, remarks one client.

Practice head(s):

Silvia Devecchi

Other key lawyers:

Ciara Delaney

Testimonials

‘Vardags ability to keep me grounded and well informed throughout two separate cases was exceptional. Their level headed and professional approach was very impressive, and ultimately secured a positive ruling in both cases. I’m extremely grateful to them for their knowledge, adaptability and professional approach.’

‘Silvia Devecchi’s incredible knowledge, tactical mind and practical approach was second to none and I would happily recommend her to anyone seeking guidance on financial disputes.’

‘The practice in Cambridge is small but focused on the client’s needs. The team is very knowledgeable, always trying to find solutions to resolve the case. The use of social media with client was key to fast-track communication.’

‘Silvia Devecchi was able to connect with me, understood the complexity of the challenge, always offered potential solutions to engaje the other party and resolve the case out of the courts. Made me feel understood and kept me grounded. I was able to communicate with her without too many formalities, she was always available to talk, specially, in some very difficult moments.’

‘Firstly, the swift emotional and practical support I received from the team, how clearly understood the abusive situation i was in and where able to guide me to see what my rights were and what records I needed to keep to enforce them. Also the way that the work was passed down the chain dependent on requirements to keep costs down.’

‘I let they had an understanding of my situation as a professional woman facing emotional and financial abuse. They also had an understanding of the practical limitations of the law when it comes to a woman’s marital rights, and were able to guide me through the process. I felt comfortable with their values and they explained every step of the process.’

‘Very professional, communication between us was very friendly and matters clearly explained. I would certainly recommend their services.’

‘Silvia Devecchi was an absolute pleasure to work with last year. I was impressed by her pragmatism and she put the client first whilst not being afraid to give realistic and difficult advice where necessary.’

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal, which merged with Steeles Law in 2021, now has a two-partner practice that acts for clients with substantial assets and significant land and trust assets. The firm's approach to family law is '‘very straightforward and empathetic with clients in stressful circumstances'. Practice head Mary Pearce in Bury St Edmunds 'goes that extra mile to ensure that her clients achieve the very best outcome'. In the same office, associate Katy Rush specialises in the financial aspects of relationship breakdown and children’s matters. The niche international war crimes work undertaken by Stephen Williams in Ipswich is unique in the region. In Cambridge, associate Joanna Cotgrove is 'easy to communicate with, understanding, compassionate but always straight-talking'.

Practice head(s):

Mary Pearce

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Williams; Katy Rush; Victoria Close; Joanna Cotgrove

Testimonials

‘Very straightforward, empathetic with clients in stressful circumstances. Fair billing. Transparent. Good communicators’

‘Stephen Williams stands out. Well-experienced and very personable.’

‘Katy Rush listened to what I wanted, which was not straightforward, she responded quickly to my emails, explaining how the process would develop. She was very reassuring and honest which reduced my anxiety levels quite considerably. Due to the pandemic we never met face to face though we spoke on the phone, the option to meet was offered if required but I never felt I needed to do that. If she was not there due to holiday/part time work, there was another person I could contact if required.’

‘Prompt, client-centred and professional service.’

‘Stephen Williams and Victoria Close are both incredible for different reasons. Stephen understands how the legal process works, is extremely good at strategic thinking and timing of certain aspects. He thinks months ahead. Victoria is extremely diligent and detailed and is able to describe events in a very succint way which gets to the essence of the story. Both are extremely ethical in their approach, really try and reduce conflict and try to keep matters out of court if possible.’

‘Jo Cotgrove is really easy to communicate with, understanding, compassionate but always straight-talking.’

‘I have worked with Stephen Williams on a complex financial remedy case where there were a large number of tricky issues, including disputes as to the validity of alleged debts, an argument that sums paid to a child of the family should be ‘added back’ and a dispute as to the characterisation of assets. Stephen is hugely experienced and has excellent judgment. He has a calm, reassuring manner. He managed a difficult client very well and clearly enjoyed his confidence.’

‘Mary Pearce- she provides a very hands on approach going that extra mile to ensure that her clients achieve the very best outcome.’

Work highlights

  • Advising on a financial settlement on divorce, involving a family business. Working with the employment team to prepare the Consent Order alongside the Settlement Agreement in relation to the termination of the husband’s employment. Assets in excess of £1.5m.
  • Divorce and financial settlement matter for a client who had engaged in a pre-marital agreement with farmer husband, which was inadequate for the wife’s circumstances.  Negotiated an agreement which enabled the divorce to proceed and financial settlement of £2m.
  • Advised on a divorce and a financial order obtained for a high net worth individual with assets in a variety of countries circa £10m.

Barr Ellison LLP

Barr Ellison LLP  in Cambridge has a small but highly esteemed family, divorce and wealth protection practice, led by Sarah Martin. Her work focuses predominantly on complex financial divorces, both UK and cross-border, and is highly regarded for her experience in private children matters. Associate Karen Anker has vast experience in financial matters, arrangements for children and relocation disputes. She also advises on also wealth protection, including pre- and post-marital agreements and cohabitation agreements. The team is praised for ‘the impeccable quality of their work and advice.’

Practice head(s):

Sarah Martin

Other key lawyers:

Karen Anker

Testimonials

‘Sarah Martin and Karen Anker provide a top class service at this firm. The quality of their work and advice is, in my view, impeccable.’

‘Sarah Martin really cares about her clients and she does in fact go the extra mile. She has complex work which she handles with real skill and diligence.’

‘A boutique team. Focus on holistic support of client when going through the process of litigation.’

‘Sarah Martin: thinking of every possible avenue a case could travel. Gives unrivalled level of support to clients. Clients always feel they have a team 100% on their side.’

‘A very experienced family team in Sarah Martin and Karen Anker. Both very well respected within the Cambridge family law community and beyond.’

‘Karen Anker is an exceptionally proactive, dedicated and extremely talented family lawyer/collaborative practitioner. Her quick mind, extensive legal knowledge and ability to think outside the box has led to her being respected as one of Cambridge’s finest collaborative practitioners. She will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of the best possible outcome for her clients.’

‘Sarah Martin is a knowledgeable, approachable and empathetic solicitor who is adept at calming any given situation. A versatile practitioner with a gentle manner that hides a steely focus to get the best for her clients.’

‘A very experienced family team in Sarah Martin and Karen Anker. Both very well respected within the Cambridge family law community and beyond.’

Buckles Solicitors LLP

The Peterborough office of Buckles Solicitors LLP plays a key role in the firm-wide three-partner family law practice. The firm provides ‘consistently strong client care, backed up by years of experience in family law‘. Lyn Brisley is the lead partner in Peterborough, where veteran partner Roger Gurney is regarded as a skilled mediator. Brisley ‘has a warm and supportive manner with clients, and a knack of explaining complex situations in plain language‘. Gurney is ‘an expert in his field but he is kind, approachable and reliable‘. Senior associate Victoria Hope joined from Roythornes Solicitors in 2022.

Practice head(s):

Lyn Brisley

Other key lawyers:

Roger Gurney; Jane Tatlock; Victoria Hope

Testimonials

‘Buckles are an extremely efficient and professional firm. In many years of using the practice, the quality of service has been consistently exceptional. I am kept informed and queries are responded to and assistance is provided swiftly. I had tried other practices but nothing compares to this one.’

‘Roger Gurney is an outstanding solicitor in every way. Not only is he an expert in his field but he is kind, approachable and reliable. He has gone above and beyond what one would expert of a legal expert, by consistently proving himself to be knowledgeable and extremely effective.’

‘Exceedingly high level of service and value for money.’

‘Roger Gurney is the best family law solicitor in Peterborough.’

‘Buckles’ family team is one of the most highly regarded in the region and deservedly so. It offers consistently strong client care, backed up by years of experience of family law in practice.’

‘Roger Gurney has over 30 years experience in family law. There can’t be much he hasn’t seen and it shows. Clients benefit from realistic advice, grounded in his knowledge of the law and the way it is likely to be applied in practice

‘Jane Tatlock is an experienced and pragmatic family lawyer, who is very attuned to the emotional needs of clients.’

‘Lyn Brisley has excellent knowledge of complex areas of financial disputes and is able to explain the principles to clients to empower them to progress the case. The rest of the team have a similar level of expertise.’

FM Family Law

FM Family Law is ‘a bespoke firm that really lives up to its stated values – client-centric and cost-conscious‘. One client remarks that it has ‘a really forward-thinking, imaginative, client-focused team of uniformly excellent lawyers‘. Lead partner in Cambridge Fiona McLeman is ‘an outstanding head of the firm who leads by example with modern working practices and exceptional levels of client care‘. In Norwich, the practice is led by Sue Bailey, who provides ‘tailored, empathic advice grounded by her legal knowledge and experience‘. Also in Norwich, associates Laura Clay-Harris and Karen Fox (who ‘clearly cares about the work she does and shows empathy‘) are key members of the practice.

Practice head(s):

Fiona McLeman; Sue Bailey

Other key lawyers:

Laura Clay-Harris

Testimonials

‘Bespoke firm that really lives up to its stated values – client-centric and cost-conscious.’

‘This is a really forward-thinking, imaginative, client-focused team of uniformly excellent lawyers.’

‘A well rounded and sympathetic understanding of a clients needs with a realistic knowledge of possible outcomes. Complete family law experience.’

‘Fiona McLeman is an outstanding head of the firm who leads by example with modern working practices and exceptional levels of client care.’

‘Sue Bailey is exceptional in her field. Sue has provided tailored, empathic advice grounded by her legal knowledge and experience. Sue was able to achieve financial, practical and emotional outcomes that were better than I had hoped for entering into the divorce process. More importantly, she did this in a way that was always sensitive to my families emotional well-being at that time.’

‘Sue Bailey and Laura Clay-Harris worked tirelessly to get the job done for the client in difficult circumstances – they were an impeccable team.’

‘Karen Fox was brilliant throughout my long and difficult case. Her communication is excellent and made things easy for me to understand and make decisions. Karen is friendly and very approachable she was always on the end of the phone for me to discuss concerns and she reassured me through a very difficult time. Her approach in Court is very calm and professional with a great depth of knowledge and expertise.’

‘Karen Fox clearly cares about the work she does and shows empathy within in work. With her hard work and dedication we got a positive outcome and my family and myself are extremely grateful to Karen for this. I would highly recommend Karen to anyone facing a difficult Family situation. I really couldn’t think of anyone better I would want by my side in a difficult situation. FM Family Law are extremely lucky to have someone like Karen representing them.’

Gotelee Solicitors

The first thing would be their kindness and willingness to listen to you about every detail of your situation‘, says a client of Gotelee Solicitors. Practice head Demelza Butler is based in Ipswich but also advises high-net-worth individuals across Suffolk through the firm’s other offices in Felixstowe, Framlingham, Hadleigh and Woodbridge. Legal director John Simpson is the only Resolution-accredited specialist practising in Ipswich. ‘His calm manner gave me confidence‘, remarks one of his clients. Legal director Samantha Markham also plays a key role in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Demelza Butler

Other key lawyers:

John Simpson; Samantha Markham

Testimonials

‘Everybody I had dealings with gave a ‘family’ feel to the company as opposed to being a faceless corporate company. Everybody from the receptionist through to my lawyer, John Simpson, to the accounting staff were incredible friendly and welcoming whilst still being professional in approach.’

‘John Simpson made the process of my divorce clear and straightforward. He explained everything to me as we went along and always kept me information either by telephone or letter. His calm manner gave me confidence. John and the company made me feel that I was being treated as an individual, that my case was important not that I was just another case/statistic.’

‘The first thing would be their kindness and willingness to listen to you about every detail of your situation. Their strengths and capabilities are endless, whatever angle you come at they point you in the right direction. Other firms just seem to have a quick fix attitude but Gotelee Solicitors really makes you feel part of their family. Every aspect of communication from emails to billing is easy and very understanding. I would not even think about going anywhere else as they work with you in every possible way to achieve the right result.’

‘What can I say about John Simpson – the first thing that makes him different from others is his knowledge and understanding of your situation. He listens to every word you say and guides you in the right direction. I have been with John for nearly three years now and every bit of advice he has given me has been successful.’

‘Without John Simpson’s guidance I would hate to think where I would be now, not only has he helped me but also my two children in providing us with a better life together. Mr Simpson is truly a remarkable man in everyway and I value his passion, his respect, his knowledge and most of all his kindness in what has been a very tough time for me and my children. A truly truly remarkable man.’

‘The Family department were excellent, the communication was first class always keeping me up to date with proceedings. Very efficient and professional.’

‘John Simpson showed compassion to my situation and would always offer me advice on the best approach to take. He was always respectful in engaging with my ex partners solicitor even when the same could not be said of them. I feel having John by my side in court was one of the key factors in getting the result I wanted and deserved. I can’t recommend John highly enough.’

‘I am going through a very difficult divorce and my solicitor Samantha Markham has been amazing throughout. Extremely professional in some very trying circumstances.’

Greene & Greene

Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds has a family law practice that is highly regarded both locally and regionally, though it also handles matrimonial matters well beyond the bounds of East Anglia. Practice head Stuart Hughes is ‘a perfect mix of practical, down to earth, sharp on the law, no nonsense and firm in negotiations‘. Melanie Pilmer, who is ‘very thorough and always a pleasure to work with‘, is sought after for cross-jurisdictional issues, with particular expertise in matters involving Scotland. Associate and Resolution member Emma Alfieri is ‘well organised and proactive‘.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Hughes

Other key lawyers:

Melanie Pilmer; Emma Alfieri

Testimonials

‘Right from the start Greene & Greene produced clear, comprehensive details of how they operate, managed expectations and made an outline plan. They are warm and efficient whilst oozing professionalism. Nothing flash, just down to business with exceptional knowledge and forward looking positivity.’

‘Fantastic team all great communicators with a strong knowledge of the law. Two stand out partners for me are Stuart Hughes and Melanie Pilmer. I have worked with both in the past on different cases and been impressed by the professionalism and their desire to drive great client out comes every time.’

‘Stuart Hughes – Really fights his client’s corner. Tough and no nonsense and excellent on the law. Melanie Pilmer is very thorough and always a pleasure to work with. Emma Alfieri is well organised and proactive, and she is well liked by her clients.’

‘Extremely efficient running their practice long-distance during lockdown, really you wouldn’t have known they were operating in such difficult circumstances. Clear and concise monthly billing.’

‘Stuart Hughes nailed it, ever ready, practical with a dry sense of humour, an amazing capability to see through the fog and tears – to the important points, and a constant reality check. He really knows his stuff, never forgets a detail, and at the end of the day, always had my back.’

‘A very professional set up in the offices. Initial meeting very frank and informative, explaining my position and my options. All expected costs were explained initially and updated throughout. Efficient turn around between each step of the process. Prompt replies to emails and phone calls.’

‘Very professional approach, not swayed by personal opinion and was frank about what I should expect from each step of the process. Was firm about not giving me any illusions about how the process might unfold. No sign of bias – very ethical approach. Great attention to detail. Clearly very experienced and knowledgeable in their field.’

‘The people make Greene and Greene unique. Their billing is always transparent and clear. There is a great breath of skills in the team with good diversity. They collaborate well with other professional like financial advisers for example which can add greater value to their client situations.’

Hunt & Coombs LLP

Hunt & Coombs LLP ‘provides first-class advice in the area of public law care proceedings, and the team is diligent and provides realistic advice in the most difficult of circumstances‘. Practice head Farhana Butt in Peterborough ‘works tremendously hard, giving 100% to each of her clients, which engenders deep-rooted loyalty‘. Also in Peterborough, consultants Denis White and Edward Owen  remain closely involved in key matters, and associate Elizabeth Thompson is ‘hardworking and really does go the extra mile for her clients‘. Partner Hannah Byatt in St Neots frequently deals with financial matters involving complex issues and high-value assets.

Practice head(s):

Farhana Butt

Other key lawyers:

Hannah Byatt; Denis White; Edward Owen; Rachel Bridges; Elizabeth Thompson

Testimonials

‘Farhana Butt. She works tremendously hard, giving 100% to each of her clients. She engenders deep-rooted loyalty from her clients. I have no doubt that that is why Hunts achieves so much matrimonial work from recommendation.’

‘Rachael Bridges is incredibly conscientious, nothing is too much trouble for her and she has an amazing eye for detail. Her advice to clients is absolutely sound.’

‘Very strong teamwork. I anticipate that clients will feel that, regardless of who picks up the phone when they call, everyone is familiar with them and their case.’

‘Denis White is the stand-out member of the team. His knowledge is second-to-none. He is particularly skilled representing teenagers and is well-respected by the local Children’s Guardians.’

‘Hunt & Coombes provide first-class advice in the area of public law care proceedings (which is the area I have direct experience of dealing with them with). Their team are diligent, and provide realistic advice to clients in the most difficult of circumstances.’

‘Elizabeth Thompson stands out. She is diligent, hardworking and really does go the extra mile for her clients. I would recommend Elizabeth to any families who need someone to help them.’

‘The Family Team at Hunt and Coombs remain absolutely committed to legal aid work. They provide an excellent service to parents and Children’s Guardians in public law Children Act proceedings. They are also developing an interesting practice in complex private law work.’

‘Rachael Bridges is a very caring and conscientious solicitor. Sensible and realistic.’

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors

Clients of Clapham & Collinge Solicitors remark that the firm 'takes a very caring approach to clients and has been quick to adapt to remote court hearings'. Practice head Neale Grearson is 'really caring and empathetic with clients, and very sound and pragmatic advice is given at all stages'. He acted for a husband in financial relief proceedings involving substantial property and assets and in particular dealing with his business, with the wife remaining in the family home with a value in excess of £1m and a final hearing conducted to resolve financial relief.

Practice head(s):

Neale Grearson

Testimonials

‘This team takes a very caring approach to clients and has been quick to adapt to remote court hearings by providing facilities for the client to attend their office where there is a big screen so that the client does not feel remote from their legal team at any stage.’

‘Neale Grearson – really caring and empathetic with clients. Very sound and pragmatic advice given at all stages.’

‘Neale Grearson – very helpful and knowledgeable to both clients and other professionals when involved together.’

Work highlights

  • Acting for the owner of his own business in protracted dispute with his ex-wife involving the realisation of his interest in his business and its valuation.
  • Acting for the Intervener in Proceedings between her daughter and son-in-law for divorce. Seeking to uphold contributions made by Intervener to the family assets and preserving her interest.
  • Acting for the husband in Financial Relief Proceedings involving substantial property and assets and in particular dealing with his business. Wife remained in family home with a value in excess of £1 million and Proceedings leading to a Final Hearing were needed to resolve financial relief.

Fosters

Fosters is ‘one of the most progressive firms in Norwich and they are known to have high-standard technology, diversity and people skills‘. The family law practice handles the full range of work, including advising high-net-worth individuals on divorce and ancillary relief claims, complex private law children disputes, public law children matters, and the representation of extremely disadvantaged and vulnerable clients including those with serious mental illness, significant learning disability and substance misuse issues. Emerging partner talent Lucy Simpson leads the practice. Clients report that she is ‘very approachable and informative, a good listener and offers good advice‘. Up-and-coming partner Clare Sharpe ‘works tirelessly for her clients and provides superb advice and support‘.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Simpson

Other key lawyers:

Clare Sharpe

Testimonials

‘There are some really stand out individuals particularly Clare Sharpe who specialises in public law work, and Lucy Simpson. Clare works tirelessly for her clients and provides superb advice and support.’

‘A strong Legal Aid team. Well located high street firm. Focus on mediation and court work.’

‘My solicitor was supportive, knowledgeable and direct. I appreciated the fact she took the trouble to understand my relationship with my husband and attempted to keep the divorce proceedings as non adversarial as possible.’

‘Lucy Simpson has been competent, calm and efficient.’

‘Lucy Simpson has been very approachable and informative. She is a good listener and has offered some good advice.’

‘The Team are really excellent at Fosters and have a good depth and breadth. they have a number of very experienced solicitors leading the team and a good selection of more junior solicitors and support staff. They have excellent premises and make good use of ensuring the highest standards for clients. The firm is one of the most progressive in Norwich and they are known to have high standard technology, diversity and people skills. I am aware that they work collaboratively and often refer to many other professionals to assist their clients.’

‘Lucy Simpson is highly knowledgeable, efficient, sympathetic and approachable with any concerns. Explains things clearly and in an understandable manner. She has given me strength at my most vulnerable time.’

‘Lucy Simpson is a brilliant solicitor. Not only does she provide excellent advice, she shows empathy too, which other solicitors have lacked from other firms. She is responsive and I feel like I am in such good safe hands I trust her 100% to get me the best outcome she can. I have always felt she has the big picture in mind and isn’t after the quick wins which can ultimately undermine your case. She has great integrity which really matters to me.’

Hatch Brenner LLP

Hatch Brenner LLP in Norwich has a seven-lawyer family law practice that grew substantially in 2021 with the arrival of lead partner Amy Walpole and senior solicitor Sophie Key from Howes Percival LLP. The firm ‘provides advice in a professional and compassionate way‘, and clients remark that Walpole ‘is exceptional in her ability to help her clients really understand what they need and can expect while also having the skills, experience and tenacity to give them the outcome that means they can move on‘. Key has ‘an approachable and professional manner that is essential when dealing with clients addressing challenging family matters‘. 

Practice head(s):

Amy Walpole

Other key lawyers:

Sophie Key

Testimonials

‘The family team at Hatch Brenner provide advice in a professional and compassionate way. They have the expertise and pricing structure to assist clients with differing levels of complexity and needs.’

‘Sophie Key has an approachable and professional manner that is essential when dealing with clients addressing challenging family matters. In addition to the service she provides clients, she is also an excellent professional contact and is willing to share her expertise.’

‘Hatch Brenner is a gem. Although the practice has fewer than 30 employees, working with them on behalf of clients feels very much like being part of a team. The silo mentality that pervades larger practices has mostly been avoided – which is a great advantage for clients seeking holistic advice.’

‘Amy Walpole is exceptional in her ability to help her clients really understand what they need and can expect while also having the skills, experience and tenacity to give them the outcome that means they can move on.’

‘An up and coming team. Recently recruited Amy Walpole and Sophie Key who bring new enthusiasm.’

‘Amy Walpole – fantastic manner with clients, really makes the client feel as though she has listened and is understanding of their position. Sophie Key – extremely thorough with complex divorce matters, totally on top of the figures.’

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP is ‘a well-respected regional firm that draws on a breadth of expertise between offices that work collaboratively together‘. The firm handles complex matters for high-net-worth individuals, notably those involving pre-nuptial agreements and other wealth preservation strategies. Sally Harris in Norwich, who joined from Steeles Law when it merged with Ashtons Legal, leads the practice. Clients describer her as ‘a very experienced and safe pair of hands, a problem solver with a kind and non-confrontational approach‘. Also in Norwich, senior associate Caroline Eaton joined from Clapham & Collinge Solicitors. Both are members of Resolution. Partner Amy Walpole and senior solicitor Sophie Key both moved to Hatch Brenner LLP.

Practice head(s):

Justine Flack

Other key lawyers:

Sally Harris; Caroline Eaton

Testimonials

‘Sally Harris is a very experienced and safe pair of hands. She is a problem solver and is a kind and non-confrontational person. I would highly recommend her.’

‘Sally Harris an experienced and able family lawyer.’

‘HP is a well respected regional firm with strong presences in various cities countrywide. They appear to draw on this breadth of expertise between offices who work collaboratively together.’

‘Sally Harris has extensive experience, an empathic yet pragmatic approach with clients and a solution-focused outcome. She knows which battles to fight and which will inflame for no gain.’

‘The Norwich team is headed by Sally Harris. The team regularly collaborates with other offices and they form part of a wider support network. The team regularly engage with social media platforms to promote their services and to provide legal information on topical issues.’

‘Sally Harris is an experienced family practitioner with a wealth and knowledge and expertise. She has a keen interest in resolving family finances as a result of divorce. She is known in the area for her “no nonsense approach” and dedication to try and get the best result possible for her clients.’

Spire Solicitors LLP

Spire Solicitors LLP has a two-partner practice that works across its entire network of seven offices in Norfolk. Sarb Gosal  in Dereham leads the practice, in which Norwich-based partner Amanda Maruca is a key practitioner. Both handle a busy caseload of divorce, financial provision, and private law childcare matters, as well as disputes involving unmarried couples. Gosal is an accredited member of Resolution.

Practice head(s):

Sarb Gosal

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Maruca

Tees Law

The family law practice at Tees Law in Cambridge 'goes above and beyond to fully understand every aspect of your case'. Practice head Clare Pilsworth 'inspires confidence and has grounded solutions which she conveys clearly with no jargon'. She is currently resolving financial matters through a collaborative process where the assets are valued at over £9m. Solicitor Francesca Skakel, who is 'commercially-minded, yet empathetic', is handling a divorce and financial proceedings with issues arising in children matters, non-molestation and occupation orders.

Practice head(s):

Clare Pilsworth

Other key lawyers:

Francesca Skakel; Anna Jones

Testimonials

‘In my experience Tees goes above and beyond to fully understand every aspect of your case and take the time to ask for additional clarity when required as opposed to making any assumptions.’

‘Tees has lawyers attracted by its size and reputation, but maintains the client focus of a family law firm. They are responsive, good value and give practical grounded advice.’

‘Claire Pilsworth inspires confidence and has grounded solutions which she conveys clearly with no jargon. She clearly has my interests as her client front and centre. Francesca Skakel as her assistant has been responsive, efficient and understanding as well as clear with practical solutions as things crop up.’

‘Clare Pilsworth has a sensitive approach to all her cases and is committed to providing a well rounded service in what is often a very emotive area of law.’

‘Francesca Skakel – Francesca’s service is superior to many people far senior to her. She knows everything there is to know about her field, is commercially-minded, yet empathetic. Francesca is often known as a lucky charm, as her cases have a habit of finding favourable endings!’

‘It’s the attention to detail that really sets Anna Jones apart from other Solicitors that we have worked with. She is diligent and thorough when compiling information and consequently relaying it to us and others.’

‘The team at Tees Law matches me so well, I have a need for them to be assertive yet fair and they do exactly that. Their knowledge of family law is incredibly high and they always let me know what I can expect next and what the possible outcomes are. They give me time to digest information and explain it to me so I remain an expert in my own case.’

‘Anna Jones and her team are incredible. Anna works around my time with the children so they are never impacted in the legal going ons. Anna gives me honest legal advice and will research specific didability areas which have impacted our family law case. Anna has helped to make this awful reason for needing her services a positive one and I truly wouldn’t have made it this far legally without her. She respects my stance to be be fair but assertive and never forgets that the children are the most important part of this case.’

Work highlights

  • Resolving financial matters through a collaborative process where the assets are valued at over £9m. The matter involves complex tax points given the entrepreneurial nature of the main asset and the need for the shares to maintain value.
  • Advising on a divorce comprising complexity both in terms of Children Act and CAFCASS aspects, and also that a farm tenancy which provided the family home and the agricultural income is now being removed therefore affecting compensation payment.
  • Acting for a Husband/Father client in divorce and financial proceedings (valued at £2 million), with issues arising in children matters, non-molestation and occupation orders.

Barker Gotelee

Barker Gotelee in Ipswich has experienced consultant Rory O’Brien leading its family law practice, which he has built up since joining the firm in 2019. He handles all aspects of matrimonial work, including divorce, separation, finances, child arrangements, injunctions and pre-marriage planning. He predominantly advises high-net-worth individuals, often ex-pats, and has represented numerous clients living in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Associate Amanda Erskine handles divorce and relationship breakdown, the ending of civil partnerships, financial settlements, arrangements for children, and nuptial or cohabitation agreements.

Practice head(s):

Rory O’Brien

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Erskine

Ellisons Solicitors

The Ipswich office of Ellisons Solicitors is an important extension of the firm-wide family law practice, which is led from Colchester. Senior associate Francesca Easter, formerly of Ashtons Legal, is ‘a committed, excellent and empathetic professional‘. Clients remark that she is ‘a tenacious advocate and lawyer who is readily available to give pragmatic advice to her clients and devise solutions to problems that crop up‘. Her work encompasses divorce, cohabitation disputes, financial remedy, nuptial agreements and children arrangements.

Practice head(s):

Lisa Dawson

Testimonials

‘The team has a wide breath of knowledge which make it suitable for all clients.’

‘Francesca Easter is a stand out quality solicitor who gives everything for her clients and provides realistic, sensible and pragmatic advice. I have worked with Francesca on a number of cases and have always found her personable, knowledgable and very well prepared, knowing her cases inside out.’

‘Francesca Easter’s knowledge and ability to look after her clients is second to none. She is readily available to give pragmatic advice to her clients and devise solutions to problems that crop up. She is a tenacious advocate and lawyer, and I would have no hesitation in recommending her.’

‘I have one particularly difficult case with her where we have been able to discuss together ideas on how to achieve the best outcome for the client, and as always I was impressed with the skill she exercised in those discussions. It is not always easy to manage client expectations, but somehow Francesca Easter has an ability to put her clients at ease. I am unable to comment as to the partners, as I have had no engagement with them.’

‘Professional and capable.’

‘Francesca Easter is a committed, excellent and empathetic professional, I have always found her very positive to work with and observed her going that extra mele for her clients.’

‘From my involvement with the firm, the team are highly skilled, diligent and client focused. They are happy to collaborate to try and reach a positive and fast resolution.’

Fraser Dawbarns

Fraser Dawbarns has a family law practice that advises clients across West Norfolk and East Cambridgeshire on a diverse range of issues, among them high-net-worth divorce and pre-nuptial agreements involving business or agricultural assets, complex children matters including guardianship orders and adoption, cohabitation agreements and TOLATA applications. The firm 'aims to provide a high-quality service at realistic prices, the ethos being that a couple's assets should be shared between them rather than spent on unnecessary legal fees'. Practice head Deborah Allen in King's Lynn is 'an inspirational and effective team leader'. Senior associate Rebecca Woodley in Downham Market also plays a key role in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Deborah Allen

Other key lawyers:

Daniel Sims; Emma Stearman; Rebecca Woodley; Jackie Jessiman

Testimonials

‘Fraser Dawbarns aims to provide a high-quality service at realistic prices; the ethos being that a couple’s assets should be shared between them rather than spent on unnecessary legal fees. With that in mind, if they can avoid legal proceedings then they will.’

‘Deborah Allen is a hugely experienced solicitor and has been an inspirational and effective team leader. She has excellent people skills and builds a strong rapport with her clients who in turn trust her advice. Her ethos has been passed down through the firm to up and coming practitioners like Daniel Sims and Emma Stearman.’

‘This firm is very professional. They explain their service and rates. They made me feel welcomed and no questions were unanswered. I felt I was in capable hands straight away.’

‘Emma Stearman was amazing. Very approachable I was made to feel safe and in their care . The whole team are very kind . Even now I know I can call Emma and she will either pick up the phone straight away or answer my email within a couple of days if she’s out of office . I have recommended the team to many friends. I can never stop thanking Emma – she’s amazing!’

‘The team at Fraser Dawbarns are well equipped to handle even the most complex and acrimonious of family disputes. They apply a high level of care and attention to detail to each case. The lawyers provide sensitive yet practical advice with the intention of minimising conflict for the clients as far as possible. Equally, they will put together a clear and robust case for the client if resolution is not achievable.’

‘Daniel Sims is an extremely diligent, conscientious lawyer who always goes above and beyond for clients. He is trustworthy, compassionate and never afraid to fight his client’s corner. Rebecca Woodley is a robust and knowledgeable solicitor with a high level experience in family matters. She has a practical, sensible approach to every case and is always firmly in her client’s corner.’

‘Fraser Dawbarns provides a good value service and excellent local knowledge.’

‘Jackie Jessiman was well prepared, quick to respond to my queries and client focused.’

Work highlights

  • Advised an East Anglian resident with multimillion-pound assets in UK, Dubai and Singapore following the breakdown of a long marriage.  Complications included inequality in pensions and latent Capital Gains Tax issues. Successful outcome reached.
  • Acting for the wife in the divorce of a financially secure couple after a long marriage; the financial situation of one party is complicated by an ongoing medical negligence claim.
  • Acting on a range of private children and guardianship matters across West Norfolk and East Cambridgeshire.