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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > East Midlands > Private client > Family > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

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

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

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Next Generation Partners

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Rising stars

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Freeths LLP has a notable profile among high net-worth individuals. It excels in handling financial issues arising from divorce, with cases often involving pensions, family business interests and trusts. Judith Speed is increasingly sought out for advice on pre- and post-nuptial agreements, as well as private law Children Act applications. The practice is jointly led by Speed and Diana Copestake.

Practice head(s):Judith Speed; Diana Copestake;

Testimonials

'Judith Speed is a calm and rather understated lawyer, who has a wonderful grasp of her area of expertise which she puts to the good use of her clients.'

'Judith Speed always has all aspects of the case under control'.

The team at niche family firm John Hooper & Co is highly regarded for divorcing spouses and separating cohabitees matters. Disputes involving children are an additional strength, particularly in the context of financial applications under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. ‘Knowledgeable' practice head John Hooper is ‘loved by clients’ and ‘cannot be faulted’. The group’s knowledge also encompasses international family law, financial settlements, civil partnerships and pre-nuptial agreements.

Practice head(s):John Hooper;

Other key lawyers:Tim Quincey; Philippa Sanderson;

Recommended for its ‘prompt and personal attention’, Langleys Solicitors LLP's team handles divorces, financial disputes, Schedule 1 and TOLATA applications, and pre- and post-nuptial agreements. The firm is also home to a specialist team for child-related instructions, which undertakes domestic abuse cases alongside public and private law matters. John Conlon heads the group, which demonstrates experience in representing high-net-worth and agricultural clients. A significant number of mandates involve businesses, trusts or an international element.

Practice head(s):John Conlon;

Other key lawyers:Emma Lawler; Alison McGowan;

Testimonials

'They provide prompt and personal attention with a practical approach'.

Work highlights

  • Represented the husband in financial proceedings with assets in excess of £8m.
  • Successfully negotiated a settlement at FDR in a case involving complex pension issues and assets of £1.5 million.
  • Represents the wife in a farming divorce involving complex issues relating to a partnership dispute.
  • Represented a child in public law proceedings.
  • Represented the wife in financial proceedings and successfully defeated conduct arguments presented against the client.

Nelsons Solicitors Limited has an excellent reputation in financial relief cases involving high-net-worth individuals and complicated child-related proceedings. The ‘focused, pragmatic and well liked’ Kelvin Henderson, who leads the family department, specialises in divorces, financial disputes between cohabitees and pension matters. His team also has specialist expertise in marriage annulments and pre- and post-nuptial agreements. The children law practice is led by Melanie Bridgen, who handles stranded spouse, wardship, surrogacy and step-parent adoption cases, among others. Clients include entrepreneurs, business owners, company directors and private individuals from the farming sector. Gareth Protheroe, a specialist in Children Act proceedings, recently made associate.

Practice head(s):Kelvin Henderson; Melanie Bridgen;

Other key lawyers:Victor Collins; Emma Davies; Gareth Protheroe;

Testimonials

'They are well known for public child care work and domestic violence cases'.

'Kelvin Henderson is very highly regarded. He is a worthy opponent, focussed, pragmatic and well liked'.

'Melanie Bridgen is a feisty, experienced child care lawyer who goes the extra mile for clients'.

'Gareth Protheroe is very knowledgeable and  approachable'.

 

Work highlights

  • Represented a client on a claim under the Trusts of Land and Appointment.
  • Representing a client in connection with a Financial Order application.
  • Acting for a client in regards to an application for financial remedy, as the respondent had previously been served with a freezing order and search order.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s ‘heavy-hitting’ practice is reputed for its preparation of nuptial agreements and its knowledge of financial disputes stemming from relationship breakdowns. Child-related disputes are also a field of expertise, namely contact, residence disputes and matters involving jurisdictional issues, along with a growing number of Schedule 1 applications. Katherine Marshall and Caroline Elliott jointly lead the practice, following the departure of Andrew Breakwell. Recent hire Stephanie Kyriacou, who moved from Glynis Wright & Co, joined a team which includes the 'approachable and sensible' Sonia Bachu.

Practice head(s):Katherine Marshall; Caroline Elliott;

Other key lawyers:Sonia Bachu;

Testimonials

'Sonia Bachu is approachable and sensible but tough enough to fight the most difficult cases'.

'Caroline Elliott adopts a pragmatic approach and is keen to avoid costly litigation where possible'.

Work highlights

  • Represented the husband in long standing, highly publicised financial remedy proceedings in a case where the wife sought £520m.

Clients recommend Smith Partnership for its ‘superior legal knowledge and advice’. The family team, which is led by Ruth Jones, excels in the financial aspects of breakdowns in marriages. Also notable is that the practice has had a marked uptick in cohabitee disputes. Muctar Johal is ‘up to date on new case law’ and leads the childcare practice. His team represents children, guardians, parents, carers and local authorities on a broad range of issues, including sexual abuse and non-accidental injuries, as well as care, supervision, adoption, placement and secure accommodation orders.

Practice head(s):Ruth Jones; Muctar Johal;

Other key lawyers:Peter Dadswell; Rebecca Wallis;

Testimonials

'The legal knowledge and advice that is given - especially by Muctar Johal - is superior to advice from other legal firms'.

'Muctar Johal is up to date with all case law'.

'Peter Dadswell is attentive and delivers constructive legal advice. His written communication is understandable, technically precise and to-the-point'.

Work highlights

  • Appointed by CAFCASS to represent a child in an application for a Specific Issue Order made by her mother to allow her child to be immunised in accordance with the recommendations set out in the Green Book, this was rejected by the father.
  • Appointed by CAFCASS to represent a baby boy taken to hospital and found to have suffered bilateral parietal skull fractures when he was 6 weeks of age, the treating clinicians rejected the parents' explanation of an accidental fall.

Wilkin Chapman LLP is noted for its ‘broad experience and expertise’. Its team handles a wide range of divorce cases, including those involving members of the armed forces, farming-related matters, and other work comprising of business and trust elements. The ‘technically sound’ Lisa Boileau leads the team, which also specialises in pre-nuptial agreements. The recent arrival of senior solicitor Faye Bentley from Diane Genders Specialist Solicitors, has bolstered the group’s offering on child-related work.

Practice head(s):Lisa Boileau;

Other key lawyers:Mark Carlton; Faye Bentley

Testimonials

'A competent family law team based in a commercial practice'.

'Lisa Boileau provides a personable and professional approach. She is technically sound and gives pragmatic advice'.

Banner Jones Solicitors is active in a broad spectrum of family matters, including divorce, civil partnership dissolution, ancillary relief, pre-nuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements and domestic violence. Kelly Parks is the overall head of the family law department, while Helena Downing, an expert on non-accidental and neglect cases, leads the care practice. Child-related adoption, guardianship and abduction matters are other key strengths, as are cases with an international element. Shetal Gudgeon is noted for her ‘outstanding knowledge’, she recently joined the firm from Best Solicitors.

Practice head(s):Kelly Parks; Helena Downing;

Other key lawyers:Shetal Gudgeon;

Testimonials

'Shetal Gudgeon treats domestic abuse clients with respect and understanding. Her knowledge is outstanding'.

Work highlights

  • Representing a client and child who fled from the opponent due to domestic violence and abuse.
  • Represented the respondent in defended divorce proceedings.
  • Represented the applicant in an application for child arrangements that was successful despite the client not being the biological father.  

Flint Bishop LLP fields a ‘strong team of very senior and capable solicitors’. The practice is geared towards representing high-net-worth clients, handling complicated financial issues and matters involving arrangements for children. Department head Kirpal Bidmead is an ‘outstanding children solicitor’, and her team regularly handles cases involving a cross-border element, including jurisdictions such as China, Hong Kong and Dubai. The arrivals of Angela Davis and Kate Keenan from Shakespeare Martineau LLP have expanded the practice.

Practice head(s):Kirpal Bidmead

Testimonials

'The team is strong in numbers of very senior and capable children solicitors. They work very well together as a team and clients know that each member of the team is available to assist them'.

'Kirpal Bidmead heads the team and is an outstanding children solicitor. She manages expectations with a calmness that inspires absolute confidence in her'.

 

Geldards LLP has ‘a strong presence in the Derby market, offering coverage of all aspects of family law’. Medium to high-net-worth financial remedy cases are the team’s speciality, particularly those involving trusts, businesses, farming assets, inherited or family-controlled assets, pre-nuptial deeds and same sex marriage or civil partnership breakdowns. Fiona Apthorpe is ‘an excellent head of department’. The group also includes Ben Lawson, who has specialist knowledge of TOLATA matters. Recently promoted partner Claire Dean  is experienced in family cases involving domestic abuse issues.

Practice head(s):Fiona Apthorpe;

Other key lawyers:Claire Dean; Ben Lawson;

Testimonials

'The team at Geldards specialises in high net worth divorce cases including complex issues such as family trusts and issues surrounding agricultural divorces'.

'The team is a leading firm in the East Midlands, with it having an excellent reputation across Nottingham, Derby and beyond'.

'The team at Geldards is always available to speak with directly and has an in-depth knowledge of every case it deals with'.

'Fiona Apthorpe is the go-to person for family law matters within the region'.

'Claire Dean is able to support Fiona Apthorpe and brings a can do attitude to clients. Claire is not afraid to give proactive advice and will not settle for anything less than a good outcome for her clients'.

'Fiona Apthorpe is an excellent practitioner with years of experience ,she handles clients expectations and manages matters with confidence and care'.

Howes Percival LLP is ‘capable of dealing with high-value and complex family law work’. Although financial cases (particularly those involving land and estate, tax, business and jurisdictional issues) are at the heart of the caseload, the team also undertakes a broad range of other family and child-related instructions. Examples include divorce and civil partnership dissolution, Children Act proceedings and cohabitation agreements. Amy Walpole and the ‘detailed, methodical’ Justine Flack jointly co-head the practice, which counts high net-worth individuals, CEOs, medical consultants and other professionals as key clients.

Practice head(s):Amy Walpole; Justine Flack;

Testimonials

' They are Among only a handful of firms in the East Midlands capable of dealing with high value and complex family law work'.

'Justine Flack has a detailed, methodical approach which instills confidence in clients and gets results'.

'They work together well, clearly good communication between the team members.

'Justine Flack understands the complications around divorce and approaches this difficult process with clear guidance and advice. She is entirely focused on good outcomes for her clients'.

Work highlights

  • Representing the husband, who is a director and a shareholder in a significant local business, in divorce proceedings.

Hailed for its ‘excellent service’, Rothera Sharp Solicitors’ varied workload encompasses pre- and post-nuptial agreements, collaborative matters and all aspects of divorce and separation. Disputes involving children (including those heard in the High Court) are also a particular strength, as is the team’s niche expertise in advising clients undergoing transgender-realignment surgery. Paul Cobb serves as the department head. 'Meticulous' and 'thorough' associate Sally Hartland is recommended for parental disputes involving issues such as contact, residency and domestic violence.

Practice head(s):Paul Cobb;

Other key lawyers:Joanne Millward; Ann-Marie Bowman; Sally Hartland;

Testimonials

'They provide an excellent service on very sensitive and upsetting issues'.

'Concerns and queries are always addressed promptly'.

'Sally Hartland is meticulous, thorough, empathetic and possesses qualities that are of a very caring nature'.

Specialist firm Woolley & Co, Solicitors has a well-regarded team, which is sought out for contested divorces involving children, high-value financial settlement disputes, cross-border finance and pension disputes. There has also been a recent increase in TOLATA and cohabitation-related mandates. The client base spans high-net-worth individuals, farmers, company directors and British expats. Kate Butler, Michelle Brammer, Kate Brooks and Andrew Robotham are names to note.

Other key lawyers:Kate Butler; Michelle Brammer; Andrew Robotham; Kate Brooks;

Testimonials

'They make themselves available almost 24/7 and give a really personal service to their clients They go above and beyond in the service they provide in the most sensitive of circumstances'.

'Andrew Robotham's qualities are numerous. He is able to combine empathy for the situation as well as total professionalism that the circumstances demand'.

'Kate Butler is extremely hard working and is robust in progressing her client's cases. She is knowledgeable and pragmatic in her approach aiming to reach a settlement if that is in her client's interest but prepared to fight hard within the court process if necessary'.

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client in a multimillion pound contested financial remedy case.
  • Advised a client on divorce and financial arrangements involving property, pension and inherited assets.
  • Advised a client on divorce and financial settlement, involving family businesses, holiday let properties and complex trust arrangements.
  • Advised client on financial remedy with properties in Nigeria and third-party intervener in Angola.
  • Advised client on contested private law s8 Children Act application.

Swati Somaiya is a new name at Knights PLC and her arrival follows the firm’s acquisition of Spearing Waite in 2018. Somaiya specialises in the resolution of financial issues arising from divorce and civil partnership dissolution, and she regularly advises high-net-worth individuals who own property, business interests and large pension pots. In addition, she assists clients with pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation contracts and various matters involving children.

Practice head(s):Swati Somaiya;

Sills & Betteridge LLP offers ‘a rare combination of commitment to the client, excellent knowledge of the law and imagination’. The matrimonial and finance department is active in pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cases involving public service pensions, matters with cross-border elements and private children law proceedings. The firm is also home to an emergency injunction and care team, which works to obtain protective injunctions for domestic abuse victims. The group grew substantially over the past year, most notably with the arrival of new partner Siobhan Thompson from Family Law Group.

Practice head(s):Helen Derby; Chrystal Theofanous; Mo Hayes; Nicholas Flatt;

Other key lawyers:Siobhan Thompson; John Mitchell;

Testimonials

'Sills and Betteridge is one of the top firms in Lincolnshire for dealing with complex financial remedies cases. With offices across Lincolnshire, and now Nottingham, it attracts some of the most complex divorce cases in the area'.

'Their particular strength is their strength in depth of good lawyers who can deal with such cases, including an excellent bunch of young lawyers progressing through the ranks'.

'The team is always friendly, professional and accommodating. They are organised and have produced excellent documentation'.

'John Mitchell clearly has many years of experience. The advice and guidance is always pragmatic and clear'.

'Siobhan Thompson is a very hard working person. She cares a great deal  about children. In court, she is always very professional and efficient with all the parties'.

'A rare combination of commitment to the client, excellent knowledge of the law and imagination'.

'John Mitchell is an outstanding strategist. Chrystal Theofanous could not be more enthusiastic and has a great instinct for the good legal point. Mo Hayes is very intelligent and and a very able lawyer. Nick Flatt is extraordinarily dynamic and committed'.

'The family team is excellent for the way it deals with clients on a personal basis, and builds empathy with them to understand their situation'.

Work highlights

  • Successful appeal to the Court of Appeal on grounds of procedural unfairness and duress following an Interim Care Order.
  • Acting for young Mother, whose baby was subject to care proceedings in a successful challenge of Local Authority Care Plan and High Court appeal.
  • Acted for Mother, whose baby was subject to care proceedings in a challenge to a Circuit Judge’s decision to refuse an expert opinion.
  • Acting for the husband in an application for financial relief following an overseas divorce  under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984.
  • Acted for the wife in financial proceedings involving a lengthy marriage and division of significant Armed Forces Pension.

Specialist family law firm Turner Nicholson advises clients on the full range of relationship issues, including divorce, pre-nuptial cases and financial settlements. Matters involving children are also a key strength. Clients include entrepreneurs, city professionals, academics and landowners. Among the key names is founder and name partner Brigid Turner. Helen Taylor moved to Shoosmiths LLP.

Wilson Browne Solicitors is distinguished by its ‘professionalism and ability to get things done above all expectations’. The group assists clients with all aspects of relationship breakdowns, including contact and resident agreements (in relation to children) and financial matters. Practice head Sally Robinson   acts for public sector workers, business owners and professionals, among other clients. Her team has specific expertise in matters involving business and farming assets, inheritance and pension interests. Joe O’Brien, who recently joined from Brethertons LLP, 'never fails to impress',

Practice head(s):Sally Robinson;

Other key lawyers:Helen York; Ed Rawlins;

Testimonials

'Helen York grasps problems immediately and is always available for timely advice. The turn round of documents was very quick and efficient'.

 

At Gateley Plc, ‘service standards are high’ and lawyers are ‘very proactive’. Led by the ‘first class’ Jane Cowley, the team is advises on divorce, cohabitation agreements, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and private law children applications. Financial disputes are also a core area of strength, particularly those involving family businesses, trusts, farming businesses and landed estates.

Practice head(s):Jane Cowley;

Other key lawyers:Amrit Hunjin;

Testimonials

'Jane Cowley is extremely competent and responds to communications quickly and efficiently'.

Work highlights

  • Acting for an applicant wife in financial remedy and divorce case valued at approximately £15m.
  • Acting for the wife in divorce and financial remedy case totaling £3m.
  • Acting for the father in Schedule 1 Children Act matters
  • Acting for the husband in divorce and financial remedy case which involved assets in the UK, USA and Japan.

Roythornes Solicitors fields a team, which is noted for its ‘good depth’ and ‘immediately impressive service’. Cases involving company, partnership, trust and pension assets are among the drivers of the work. Pre- and post-nuptial settlements, separation and divorce, Inheritance Act claims and civil partnership disputes are among other matters handled. In addition, child-related instructions include adoption matters, Children Act proceedings and child maintenance disputes. Nick Ingrey leads the team, which is reputed for its handling of farming cases.

Practice head(s):Nick Ingrey;

Testimonials

'The team's knowledge of the subject is first-rate. They are friendly and approachable. Clear in their views, accurate in their presentation, able to set a timetable which works for all parties, and most importantly understand of the client's requirements'.

'Every member of the team is completely professional and empathetic'.

'The service is not just professional and efficient, it is also personal'.

'I felt they really cared about my case and the implications of the outcome. I could not recommend them more highly'.

'Nick Ingrey is exceptional. He looks at every detail of a case and leaves no stone unturned'.

Work highlights

  • An ongoing and complex agricultural matter in which the team are defending the husband’s assets for which the wife has made an application for Maintenance Pending Suit.
  • Acted for the husband who ran a successful farming business in a divorce matter.
  • Acted for the wife in resolving the Children Act proceedings.
  • Representing two adult sons of the deceased in a matter in which his second wife brought a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, following his death.

Sushma Kotecha and Maria Coster are new names to Stowe Family Law LLP, following the recent opening of the firm’s Nottingham office. The pair joined from Shoosmiths LLP and John Hooper & Co respectively. They cover all types of family law issues, including divorce, prenuptial agreements, financial settlements and investigations, cohabitation, grandparents’ rights and international child abduction. Specific experience is held in relation to matters involving individuals with high incomes, businesses and trusts.

Practice head(s):Sushma Kotecha;

Other key lawyers:Maria Coster;

Testimonials

'Maria Coster is always easily accessible and gives a measured and insightful opinion. Her expertise cannot be praised enough and she is highly recommended'.

'Approachable and professional practice that has the client's interest at heart'.

'Stowe Family Law are forward thinking and are not short of new, exciting ideas of how family law should be in the ever evolving market'.

'Sushma Kotecha leads the team with fresh, innovative ideas. She is very pragmatic in her approach to cases, always thinking outside the box. Maria Coster has a great head on young shoulders. Her advice and views on cases are much wiser than others of her experience'.

'Sushma Kotecha is a strong advocate, experienced, committed and a worthy opponent. She is committed to her clients and highly regarded as a solicitor and family mediator. Maria Coster is well liked and highly regarded locally'.

'The family team are thoroughly prepared and deal with complex financial remedy issues'.

'Sushma Kotecha is straight talking, pragmatic and knowledgeable'.

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