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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 > North West > Private client > Family > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Family
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Brabners LLP  fields ‘an excellent team of exceptional solicitors’ ‘ably led’ by the ‘very thorough, sensible and intelligent' Helen Marriott. Marriott ‘manages very large and complex cases calmly and efficiently; she always sees the bigger picture and does not get embroiled in trivial issues’. Senior associate Joanne Radcliff 'puts clients at ease immediately and conveys detailed legal concepts in an easy to understand manner ‘. Solicitor Leanne Instrall  is ‘calm and gives clear advice’. The department acts for high-net-worth individuals who are business owners, sports and media personalities, lottery winners as well as owners of landed estates and beneficiaries of trusts. It also regularly acts for parents in private law children matters where there are complicated issues of alcohol/drug addiction or allegations of abuse. There is frequently an international element to this work.

Hall Brown Family Law's ‘dynamic practice is at the top of its game; despite its small size it is more than an equal to the much larger and more established firms’. The ‘unflappable’ James Brown  ‘wins the confidence of his clients and the respect of his peers. He sees straight to the issues and gives each case 100%’. The ‘phenomenally bright’ Andrew Newbury is ‘hugely practical and takes really good care of his clients’. Sam Hall  is an ‘excellent strategist and is hard to beat; she is a top-rate lawyer who also has unrivalled experience in matrimonial litigation at the highest level’. Associate Laura Guillon  is ‘exceptional - a name to look out for in future years’. The team handles the most high value cases – current cases range from £10m to in excess of £300m. It is also well equipped to deal with high-profile divorces that generate significant media interest.

FIRMS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Vardags

Having initially trained as a Magic Circle corporate solicitor and a barrister, Ayesha was determined to bring blue-chip, City quality to the moribund area of family law. In 2005, she founded Vardags as a sole practitioner, combining razor-sharp expertise on complex financial matters with the empathy and common sense afforded by her own experience of divorce. A landmark Supreme Court win in the case of Radmacher v Granatino, which made prenuptial agreements legally enforceable in the UK, cemented Vardags’ status as a game changer in matrimonial law.

Read more…

At Irwin Mitchell  ‘cases are exceptionally well prepared and clients are given a stellar service’. The ‘outstanding and truly excellent’ Ros Bever heads the team and ‘is remarkably down to earth, with a superior aptitude for family work’. Nathaniel Groarke  has a ‘great tactical brain and really knows what he is doing’. The team was joined by the ‘technically very competent’ Katie McCann  from Kuit Steinart Levy LLP . McCann is ‘very professional and yet retains a human touch’. Associate Jenna Lucas  is ‘strong and very sensible; she works hard to resolve matters well for her clients’. ‘Nothing fazes’ solicitor Lara Tucker  who is a 'rising star’. Senior associate Hannah Saxe has particular expertise in high-net-worth finances, complex children cases (involving internal/external relocation, modern family and fertility law) as well as cohabitation.

JMW Solicitors LLP is now ‘a real force to be reckoned with’ following the arrival of the  ‘excellent’ David Pickering ,Elspeth Kinder  and Beverley Jones from DWF. Kinder is praised for her ‘technical expertise’ and Jones is ‘extremely bright and personable’. They join an ‘amazingly strong’ team that includes the ‘superb’ Michael Chapman, whose ‘client skills are second to none’; The ‘astute and tenacious’ Cara Nuttal , who 'combines being a compassionate lawyer with being a gladiator for her clients in court'; and senior associates Katie Lowe, who is ‘professional, personable and competent’, and Holly Tootill. The full service family offering is regularly instructed on high-value and complex financial matters by high-profile individuals. It is also renowned for its work on surrogacy, child abduction and adoption. Clients include business owners, entrepreneurs, property developers, footballers, legal professionals and sports stars.

Mills & Reeve LLP fields a team of ‘very able individuals with the capability to handle involved and difficult cases’. Key figures include Nigel Shepherd, who is a ‘very calming influence’, and the ‘absolutely brilliant’ Alison Bull, who ‘never misses a point and is excellent at creating opportunities to find solutions’. The ‘pragmatic and very thorough’ Andrew Moore and Sue Brookes  (both principal associates) are also recommended, as is senior associate Rose-Marie Drury, who is ‘efficiency personified’. The team provides the full range of family services and has three mediators, five collaborative lawyers and one arbitrator. It acts for clients in high-net-worth and complex financial circumstances, frequently involving other jurisdictions. Other areas of expertise include drafting pre- and post-nuptial agreements in complex cases.

Weightmans LLP   has a ‘strong, reliable and intelligent team that looks to achieve the right result for the client’. Under the leadership of Carole Atkinson the team ‘continues to attract really good and high-value work’. Fiona Davidson  is ‘always very well prepared, very experienced and quickly grasps the key issues’. The ‘very sensible’ Emma Collins  is also ‘very able’. Associate Rachel Lim  is ‘conscientious and is always meticulously prepared’ and solicitor Matthew Taylor  is ‘excellent and thinks through cases very carefully to make very sound tactical decisions’. The group acts for high-net-worth individuals from the region and beyond and has particular expertise in pre- and post-nuptial agreements, the treatment of inherited wealth and offshore trusts. Other key specialisms include advising on cohabitation issues.

Aaron & Partners LLP fields a ‘highly professional team that is very well regarded for financial remedy matters'. It also has strength in agricultural family matters. Lorraine Saunders  is noted for her ‘friendly and supportive manner and very good attention to detail’. Head of department Richard Barge acts almost exclusively for business owners/shareholders or their spouses and regularly deals with cases where the assets and wealth are held offshore, in trusts and in complex pension schemes and company structures. Senior associate Katherine Livesey  is ‘very thorough; she carefully lays out all the options and implications for clients so that they can make a fully informed decision’. Livesey is also ‘exceptionally good for children work’. 'Very approachable' associate Simon Mawdsley is also recommended. The group is frequently involved in cases with an international element and as a result is well placed to advise on jurisdictional disputes and on foreign jurisprudence in family matters.

The ‘sensible and commercial’ Antonia Love heads the department at Farleys Solicitors LLP  and ‘really knows her stuff’. Love is highly experienced in financial remedies after divorce and frequently acts for high-net-worth individuals, footballers and business owners. The ‘excellent’ Tony Rebello  is experienced at advising on children’s law matters both public and private. Ian Brunt is also ‘highly skilled’ at advising on children law and care proceedings. The accomplished team acts for clients on a privately funded basis as well as in public law matters and supports vulnerable members of society through legal aid.

At Hill Dickinson LLP  ‘the level of service is excellent from start to finish; Nothing is too much trouble and information and costs are all made clear to at every stage of the process’. Department head Joanne Raisbeck combines ‘excellent technical knowledge with outstanding people skills’. ‘Pragmatic’ chartered legal executive Sarah McCarthy  is also recommended. Tricia Cottrell has retired. The group advises on a broad range of family law matters, with particular experience in areas such as financial remedies on divorce/dissolution, unmarried couples’ agreements as well as Schedule 1 Children Act applications.

Christine Barker  at Laytons LLP is ‘insightful and adopts a pragmatic approach to negotiation; she has the best interests of the family at heart’. The ‘really experienced and diligent’ Liz Bottrill has particular expertise in advising clients on complex financial matters where there are substantial business assets, multiple pension schemes involving complicated trust arrangements and resultant tax issues. The group routinely acts for celebrities and high-net-worth individuals. It has also considerable expertise in same-sex matters and acts for a growing number of fertility-related family and matrimonial issues.

Maguire Family Law   has an ‘all-round strong team – there is no deadwood at all’. James Maguire is ‘extraordinarily clever on financial remedy divorce work, international financial divorce work, child law and international child law’. Director Henry Venables and senior associate Jennifer Curtis ensure that ‘clients feel supported throughout; they take a sensible approach to negotiation and are always meticulously prepared’. Senior associate Denise Moran is ‘brilliant, intelligent, efficient and sympathetic’.

MSB Solicitors   has a ‘genuine standing in the field of international children’s cases; the firm is able to litigate effectively and competitively in complex cases in the High Court in London against major London specialist practitioners’. The ‘always efficient, competent and knowledgeable’ Emma Carey  is ‘extremely impressive’.Emma Palmer  has ‘state of the art knowledge of abduction, jurisdiction and relocation cases’. Hayley Catteral  has a ‘calm and respectful manner’ and specialises in domestic violence and cohabitee disputes. The ‘excellent’ Wendy Eves  is a fully trained and accredited mediator and Sarah Achilles is ‘excellent’ – both are solicitors.

Myerson Solicitors LLP  has a ‘strong team’ that frequently works with affluent people in the Cheshire belt and is well-equipped to handle complex multi-jurisdictional issues. The family team provides ‘first-class advice that it delivers with empathy and care’. Jane Tenquist  heads the department with ‘confidence and flair’ and is ‘very skilled at high-value financial remedy work. She really fights her client’s corner’. Senior solicitor Nichola Bright  is ‘always very well prepared and has a good attention to detail whilst not losing sight of the bigger picture. She gives robust advice but always maintains good relationships with her clients’.

Shelley Chesworth   heads a ‘technically competent and approachable’ team at SAS Daniels LLP  that is ‘very well regarded in the North West’. Denise Woodward is a ‘very effective and very persuasive negotiator' with particular expertise in resolving financial disputes and children issues. Angela Moores  has a Resolution accreditation for high-value/complex financial settlements on divorce.

At Slater and Gordon the ‘very thorough’ Sarah Thompson  has experience in financial remedy cases where there are complex pensions and business assets including farms, companies, partnerships as well as trust and property assets often with an international dimension. Associate Kaleel Anwar  is ‘excellent’. Former head of department Amanda McAlister, Liz Cowell and Fiona Wood joined McAlister Family Law. Roland Humphreys is now at gunnercooke LLP.

Slater Heelis LLP   fields ‘a first-class team for children and money work’. The ‘very commercial’ Mark Heptinstall heads the team, which includes the ‘technically excellent and client-focused’ Phillip Rhodes, who is an accredited mediator and ‘has a wonderful way of putting clients at ease’. Consultant Kim Aucott  is ‘collaborative – but no pushover’. Newly promoted partner Patricia Robinson is ‘really fantastic, hardworking and an all-round great lawyer’. The team handles the full range of family law services such as advising on matrimonial finance, wealth protection, Schedule 1 Children Act cases as well as children disputes. Clients include sports and media personalities, business owners with complex company structures and high-net-worth individuals.

Nicola McInnes  heads the department at Gorvins Solicitors, which provides a ‘very personal service’. Associate Kerry Russell  garners praise for her ‘knowledge and her ability to answer any queries’. The team routinely handles divorce, separation and financial remedy orders as well as private children disputes, cohabitation disputes and pre-and post-nuptial agreements. Clients include business owners, directors, doctors, lawyers, financial advisers and teachers.

Linder Myers  deals with all aspects of relationship breakdown for married and unmarried couples. The team advises on financial and property matters including where assets are located or held offshore. It also advises on complex trust and pension arrangements and is well regarded for its work on child support issues. Tony Broadley is a ‘very safe pair of hands’ and Colin Davies  is also well-regarded.

Stephensons Solicitors LLP   has an ‘outstanding reputation in respect of family law’. Mike Devlin  is a ‘composed and thoughtful advocate who is always extremely well prepared’ and Victoria Gethin is ‘efficient and caring’. Amanda Rimmer  has particular expertise in high net-worth divorces and is ‘with her clients every step of the way’. Gwyneth John deals with all aspects of the law affecting children and is ‘extremely thoughtful and warm yet able to be assertive when needed’. Andrew Mountain  is a ‘powerful advocate with enormous experience’. Tim Galbraith  is a ‘very astute lawyer with a keen eye for detail who masters complex issues with ease and presents them simply and accurately to clients and professionals alike’. Nicola McDaid  is ‘energetic and committed’ and Jackie Price  is efficient and compassionate’ – Galbraith, McDaid and Price are senior associates. This is a team that is ‘well respected by other professionals and by the judiciary’.

Vardags has ‘already made a great impact having only opened in Manchester relatively recently’. The ‘incredibly hardworking’ Emma Gill  has ‘been doing some great work and is completely devoted to her clients’. Vicki McLynn  is ‘always on top of matters and is always well prepared; she is great with clients and retains a cool head under pressure’. The ‘terrific’ Naomi Rainey  is also recommended. The practice regularly represents clients with wealth between £10m and £350m. It has acted for the wives of international footballers and was recently instructed by George Kay (the husband of Kerry Katona) to act for him in divorce and financial matters.

Martin Karran  heads the team at Ward Hadaway . Karran advises on a wide range of complex family issues such as high-value financial claims which mostly relate to business and family assets but sometimes involve complex income structures for high-profile musicians and sports people. He is also skilled at advising on disputes over arrangements for children and has considerable expertise in parental alienation cases and on pre-nuptial agreements. Solicitor Sally Stanway  is a Resolution accredited family lawyer with particular experience in cohabitation cases in addition to complex financial remedy cases and claims involving family trusts.

Watson Ramsbottom  has a ‘fast paced and client-focused team that is one of the leaders for domestic violence cases regionally’. It has a ‘strong all-round family team that is also particularly strong in the area of children law’. ‘Nationally recognised’ Rachel Horman   has a ‘high profile and is committed to her clients’. Solicitors Stephanie Pollitt  and Sophia Isa  are also ‘very strong members of the team’. The group handles complex areas of family law and childcare frequently with an international dimension. It has considerable expertise in cases where there are mental health issues, gender, religious or cultural sensitivities as well as domestic abuse either through physical means or coercive control and other means of online abuse such as stalking, cyberstalking and harassment.

The ‘proactive and forward thinking team’ at BPS Family Law LLP  provides an ‘outstanding service’. The ‘very knowledgeable, caring and professional’ Caroline Swain  has the ‘ability to see through the chaff and pick out the wheat’. She and solicitor Karen Jones  are ‘fearless in taking on difficult cases. Swain is skilled at handling disputes involving multinational companies, overseas properties and inter-family financial structures and has particular expertise in non-disclosure cases.

The ‘professional and sensitive’ Elizabeth Hassall Family Law at Elizabeth Hassall Family Law  is ‘caring and compassionate. She deals with things calmly and firmly and is a very polished solicitor and an excellent tactician. She is also an excellent negotiator’. This firm is one of the ‘‘go to’ firms for financial remedy proceedings’. Rebecca Muirhead  is ‘very motivated, professional and efficient. She is very well prepared and knows her files like the back of her hand’. Hassall’s caseload is very much based on high-net-worth individuals and the financial aspects either on the breakdown of a marriage or a cohabiting relationship.

Forbes Solicitors provides a ‘very personable and caring service'. Its sizeable team has extensive experience in children law (both public and private) and matrimonial finances, and is well equipped to deal with a wide range of work from small assets to high-value cases. For private law family matters head of team Rubina Vohra is ‘excellent and has a team that works hard to support clients extremely well’. Associate Judith Wright  is also recommended. Head of the public law team Helen Shirbon is best known for representing children in cases of exceptional complexity. Shirley Wignall adopts a ‘shrewd and common-sense approach- she is a force of nature with a reputation for being able to handle the most demanding clients in the most difficult situations’. Gill Carr  ‘combines technical expertise with a powerful punch in court’ –both are associates. Solicitor Alex Reid  is ‘always up to speed with issues on her cases and can recall a significant amount of detail easily’. It is a ‘well organised team with a core of highly experienced practitioners’.

Kuit Steinart Levy LLP  has a ‘very good reputation for family work' and regularly deals with high-profile and celebrity clients. It is a ‘small but highly experienced team that is capable of dealing with the full spectrum of financial and children cases’. Associate Michael Gregory  is ‘excellent – he is pragmatic and very good at providing objective solutions’. Katie McCann joined Irwin Mitchell.

Janet Fleming   heads the team at Nexus Solicitors Limited and deals with all aspects of private family law specialising in financial settlements following divorce and cohabitation, usually involving substantial amounts of money, complex asset arrangements and international property. She is also adept at dealing with disputes over the arrangements for the children as well as issues between same sex couples.

PMC Family Law  has an ‘unrivalled reputation as a specialist boutique family law firm in Liverpool’. Head of department Pauline McNamara  is a ‘strong and experienced negotiator. She commands respect as an opponent and clients praise her determined approach’. She is ‘supported by a close group of fee earners who are a force to be reckoned with’. Caroline Hamilton  and John Owens  are ‘quickly gaining strong followings and substantial caseloads’. It acts for high-net-worth clients in multimillion-pound divorce settlements across the country and abroad. Other areas of expertise include advising on all aspects of private children law matters as well as advising on injunctive relief and the legal aspects of a breakdown in a cohabitee relationship.

Stowe Family Law LLP   has a ‘selection of dedicated and talented experts who will represent their clients in court when required but look for alternative solutions wherever possible’. The ‘very bright and hardworking’ Gareth Curtis  who moved from DWF ‘sees the wood from the trees and is great with clients’. Helen Miller  is a ‘positive and capable lawyer who takes special care of her clients’. New addition to the team Daniel Jones from Jolliffe & Co LLP  is  ‘prompt at responding, very efficient and effective’. Jennifer Reddy  has ‘an excellent manner with clients’ and Jason Stanley is ‘practical and approachable’.The group is experienced at dealing with complex matrimonial matters involving complicated assets, trusts and businesses often with foreign elements.

Susan Howarth & Company Solicitors has ‘very experienced practitioners who have unmatched attention to detail and are also adept as advocates’. The ‘highly experienced’ Susan Howarth has ‘a wealth of experience in complex cases’ with particular expertise in working with family finances. Victoria Poole  is ‘highly respected and competent’ and is well known for her work on domestic violence and children matters. Poole has her ‘clients’ best interests at the top of her priority list’. Solicitor Stephen Jones  is ‘extremely experienced and has a calm and sensible nature. He is realistic and is also a fine advocate’. Solicitor Jeanette Birch  ‘really listens to her clients’ needs and is able to manage their expectations well’. The practice has two specialist family mediators.

Butcher & Barlow LLP  has a ‘very strong team’ that has been bolstered by the recent arrival of Charlotte Beck  from KBL Solicitors LLP . Beck is a ‘sensible practitioner who understands her clients’ needs and puts those ahead of any view of profit’. Solicitor Abigail Smith is also an ‘excellent solicitor who is compassionate, supportive and very clear in her advice’. Caroline Cockill-Guy  an accredited mediator has a ‘lovely way with clients and gives them wise advice’. The team also regularly receives referrals to act on behalf of children from the Children’s Guardian.

Hibberts LLP fields a ‘reliable and sensible team of matrimonial solicitors that deliver an excellent service’. Chartered legal executive Ian Hamilton-Fey is a ‘very safe pair of hands and is marvellous with clients’. The team advises on the full array of matters with particular expertise in property and financial issues. It routinely deals with complex matters that affect its agricultural client base including dealing with partnerships, land, assets and family trusts. Solicitor Tony Dimelow  is known for his work in care proceedings.

KBL Solicitors LLP  has a ‘commanding presence in Bolton and is growing its family practice’ with the addition of Victoria Melling as the new head of department. Melling joined the firm from Stephensons Solicitors LLP. The ‘extremely thorough’ Melling is a ‘very safe pair of hands and a highly effective negotiator who leaves no stone unturned. She picks the right moment to have a fight and then fights as hard as she can when necessary’. The team deals with all aspects of divorce and family law including resolving finances post-separation, Children Act cases, protection from domestic abuse as well as pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements. Charlotte Beck joined Butcher & Barlow LLP.

McAlister Family Law   is a newly assembled matrimonial team comprising a number of heavy hitters formerly from other well-established Manchester firms - it is 'one to watch’. ‘Leading light’ Amanda McAlister, Liz Cowell and Fiona Wood all joined from Slater and Gordon. McAlister’s primary specialisms are dealing with complex pensions and divorce cases with an international element. Cowell is an ‘excellent communicator and is enormously experienced. She has a lot of commercial nous and brings great insights to each case that she handles’. The ‘thorough, hardworking and meticulous’ Wood is a ‘splendid lawyer with an uncanny ability to reality-check any situation’. Associate Charlotte Percy has a ‘wealth of experience and compassion'.

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