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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



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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The β€˜very knowledgeable and pragmatic’ Helen Marriott heads the β€˜excellent team’ at Brabners LLP. Marriott is β€˜very intelligent and really understands accounting issues; she is unfazed by the most complex matters and does not waste time and money on irrelevant issues’. As an arbitrator she adopts a β€˜very balanced approach to all matters and has a wonderful ability to cut to the chase’. She is experienced in Schedule 1 Children Act cases involving the settlement of property, school fees and maintenance, and is skilled at advising on private children matters including international relocation cases in the High Court. Joanne Radcliff, who is a collaborative law practitioner, is a β€˜very safe pair of hands and does not get bogged down in detail; she can see the wood from the trees’. The β€˜very careful and considerate’ Katherine Livesey is also recommended. Family clients include business owners, sports and media personalities, lottery winners, land and estate owners, and beneficiaries of trusts. Other areas of expertise include acting for parents in private law children matters where there are complicated issues of alcohol/drug addiction, allegations of abuse or where a change of residence is required.

DWF attracts praise for its β€˜strength in depth, which enables it to manage and produce good results in cases at all levels’. The β€˜amazing’ David Pickering is β€˜hugely experienced and commercial’ and Elspeth Kinder is an β€˜outstanding lawyer who quickly grasps all aspects of the case and offers clear advice’. Beverley Jones has β€˜great intuition and inspires loyalty and hard work from her team’. Senior solicitor Richard Rigg’s β€˜preparation is thorough and exhaustive; he is determined to get the best result for his clients’ and β€˜meticulous’ director Gareth Curtis β€˜handles his clients very well’. The team advises on all aspects of separation and divorce, and is adept at handling complex financial proceedings where there are substantial onshore and offshore assets. It is also recommended for its work on complex children matters such as residence and contact, and is also well equipped to advise and represent grandparents. The group is regularly instructed by high-net-worth individuals to preserve their wealth through pre-and-post-nuptial agreements. The practice acts for a significant number of very wealthy clients with assets of up to Β£600m and beyond.



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.

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Irwin Mitchell has a β€˜modern outlook and is very professional; it has good-quality partners and associates and a real team spirit permeates the department from the top down’. The leading light is the β€˜immensely hardworking’ Ros Bever who is in a β€˜league of her own; she is a real class act and her advice and business acumen are always spot on’. Bever is a resolution-accredited specialist who is experienced in complex financial and children matters with a focus on ultra-high-net-worth individuals in addition to pre-and-post-nuptial agreements often involving international assets. Nathaniel Groarke is also singled out for considerable praise; he is β€˜extremely conscientious, supportive of his clients and has impeccable judgement’. He has extensive experience of cases involving assets held in overseas trusts and international pre-nuptial agreements in addition to complex private children work often with an international component. Jenna Lucas is also an β€˜excellent associate’.

JMW Solicitors LLP continues to be β€˜at the top of its game’. The β€˜personable’ Michael Chapman is the new head of department; he joined from Ward Hadaway and is β€˜very commercial, with a strong reputation in the market’. Cara Nuttal joined from Slater and Gordon and receives praise for her β€˜real eye for detail and a real passion for her clients’ case, striving to always achieve the best results possible’. Nuttall is β€˜everything that a demanding private law client requires: intelligent, experienced and completely committed’. Senior associate Holly Tootill is β€˜knowledgeable, approachable and has excellent people skills’. The team is particularly strong on matrimonial finance cases, Schedule 1 claims and on pre-and-post-nuptial agreements. It regularly acts for high-profile business owners, entrepreneurs, property developers, footballers, legal professionals and sports stars. Beth Wilkins joined Hall Brown Family Law.

Mills & Reeve LLP is a β€˜remarkable practice that is grasping the changes across the family market and has ensured that its practice offers what the clients wants and needs’. Alison Bull is singled out as being β€˜just superb at diffusing conflicts; she is very astute and technically brilliant and is a top-drawer family lawyer and mediator with an excellent manner with clients’. Also recommended are the β€˜very efficient’ Nigel Shepherd and senior associate Rose-Marie Drury, and principal associate Andrew Moore, who is a collaborative lawyer who β€˜works very hard for his clients’. The Manchester team has three mediators, five collaborative lawyers and one arbitrator and advises on the full spectrum of family law issues. It is best known for acting for high-net-worth clients from a wide range of backgrounds, often on matters where there are substantial assets in other jurisdictions. Its children law practice continues to grow and it has been advising on cases involving surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology.

Slater and Gordon has a β€˜very well-organised team with many approachable and friendly lawyers and staff’. The β€˜phenomenal’ Amanda McAlister heads the team, which includes the β€˜calm and intelligent’ Sarah Thompson, who is adept at handling financial remedy cases, and Georgina Chase, who is recommended for financial settlements. The β€˜knowledgeable and pragmatic’ Vicki McLynn β€˜cuts to the chase on childcare cases’ and Nick Hodson is β€˜very strong on care matters’. Paul Webb is a β€˜very thorough lawyer whose gentle yet firm approach puts even the most difficult and demanding clients at ease’. Fiona Wood is praised for her knowledge and ability to β€˜achieve the best outcome for her clients; she is a high-quality litigator and an effective negotiator’ on financial remedy cases. Chester-based Roland Humphreys β€˜brings a completely reassuring manner and in-depth preparation to each and every case; he has the ability to negotiate the high emotions engaged in family work and to drill down to the core issues’. The team has a particular specialism in children law and acts for ultra-high-net-worth individuals such as professional sports people, entertainers and their spouses, as well as a number of union members. Andrew Newbury is now at Hall Brown Family Law.

Weightmans LLP fields a β€˜technically very strong, very professional and sensible team that fights hard for its clients while also being very collegiate and supportive’. Carole Atkinson is β€˜the consummate family lawyer, with superb experience and an unrelenting eye for any weaknesses in the opponent’s arguments’. Fiona Davidson is a β€˜first-class solicitor who attracts high-value financial remedy work; her preparation for each case is second to none’. Emma Collins has a β€˜very wide range of experience that enables her to deliver practical advice’ and the β€˜extremely thorough, sensible and knowledgeable’ Fiona Turner is also recommended, as is associate Rachel Lim, who is praised for her β€˜confidence, clarity and professionalism’. Solicitor Matthew Taylor is praised for his β€˜sensible approach’. The β€˜excellent’ team acts for high-net-worth individuals regionally and nationally and has also been attracting a steady flow of international work, with an emphasis on pre-and-post-nuptial agreements, the treatment of inherited wealth and in onshore and an offshore trusts. Other key areas of focus for the practice include advising on cohabitation issues.

The β€˜outstanding’ Richard Barge heads the department at Aaron & Partners LLP. Barge is praised for his β€˜exceptional knowledge’ and has a particular expertise in advising on pre-and-post-nuptial agreements. He acts almost exclusively for business owners/shareholders or their spouses, and is experienced at handling cases where the assets and wealth are held offshore, within trusts or within complex pensions schemes or company structures. He is also skilled at dealing with cases involving farming/agricultural issues. Lorraine Saunders advises on all aspects of matrimonial and family law issues including medium-to-high-net-worth financial cases, divorce, children issues, cohabitation disputes and pre-nuptial agreements.

The large team at Farleys Solicitors LLP is praised for its β€˜very good advice and clear and fast communication’. Antonia Love is β€˜really caring, commercially minded, pragmatic and excellent at putting herself in her clients’ shoes’. Love is experienced at advising on financial remedies after divorce and regularly represents high-net-worth individuals, footballers and business owners. Tony Rebello is described as being β€˜very knowledgeable in both public and private children’s law matters’. The skilled team advises on all aspects of family and relationship breakdowns such as domestic abuse and forced marriages, with particular expertise in children matters including complex Schedule 1 Children Act applications. The group acts for clients on a privately funded basis in addition to acting in public law matters and supporting vulnerable members of society through legal aid.

Hall Brown Family Law is β€˜already making big waves in the legal community in Manchester and is the firm to watch for the future’. The firm fields a team of β€˜first-class lawyers who are approachable and truly excellent for high-value matrimonial finance cases’; according to some, it is β€˜among the best for matrimonial finance outside of London’. The β€˜very reassuring’ Sam Hall β€˜makes clients feel very comfortable and is clearly very knowledgeable with heaps of experience’. Other key figures include James Brown, Andrew Newbury, who is β€˜well known locally and nationally and is immensely experienced’, and Beth Wilkins, who joined from JMW Solicitors LLP and has β€˜an unparalleled level of knowledge and expertise in matrimonial finance’. It is currently representing Stacy Giggs the wife of Ryan Giggs in the high-profile divorce and related financial proceedings. Its caseload ranges in value from Β£5m to Β£50m and often involves complicated business structures and trusts, as well as assets across multiple jurisdictions.

Hill Dickinson LLP is known for β€˜taking on the most difficult and complex cases and achieving excellent results for its clients’. Joanne Raisbeck heads the family team and β€˜produces work to a very high standard and is very sensitive and respectful to her clients’. Director Tricia Cottrell attracts praise for her β€˜high standards of service’ and chartered legal executive Sarah McCarthy is β€˜thorough and down to earth’. Raisbeck regularly acts for media, sports and business owners where there are family business issues, overseas assets or complex family trust arrangements in play. The team advises on a broad range of family law matters with particular experience in areas such as financial remedies on divorce/dissolution, unmarried couples’ agreements and cohabitation disputes in addition to Schedule 1 Children Act applications.

Headed by the β€˜pragmatic’ James Maguire, James Maguire & Co is a niche firm that handles a wide range of high-value and complex international work, including child abduction/relocation cases, matters where there are substantial offshore assets, and on the enforcement of foreign orders. The skilled team frequently advises professional sports people as well as high and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. The team is acting for the mother under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 in relation to the financial provision for her children. The assets and trusts involved in the case exceed Β£25m.

Laytons has a β€˜strong reputation in the market’. The β€˜empathetic’ Christine Barker heads the team and is praised for her β€˜no-nonsense and straight-talking approach’. She is ably assisted by the β€˜very experienced’ Liz Bottrill, who β€˜fights her clients’ corner but also adopts a sensible approach during negotiations’. The team advises on the full spectrum of issues including divorce, financial settlements, children issues and cohabitation disputes. It represents high-net-worth individuals and high-profile figures in the North West such as television celebrities, sports personalities, entrepreneurs and wealthy local figures and their spouses.

Myerson Solicitors LLP is β€˜committed to providing a highly professional and humanistic family law service’. The β€˜calm, bright and measured’ Jane Tenquist heads the team and is β€˜thorough and persistent in seeking to always get the full picture and to know the full extent of financial disclosure, so that she can fully assist her clients in the most complex financial cases’. Senior solicitor Nichola Bright is β€˜intelligent and totally committed to her clients; she does not shirk from giving advice that is not always welcome to her clients but clients trust her judgement totally’. The β€˜strong team’ is adept at resolving high-value financial arrangements and has increasingly been advising on pre-nuptial agreements which have involved complicated multi-jurisdictional issues. In addition the team is well regarded for its work on contested children cases, where it is praised for its β€˜focus on achieving the best possible outcome for the children’.

Key figures at SAS Daniels LLP include the β€˜thorough’ Shelley Chesworth and Denise Woodward, who is β€˜very committed to working to resolve disputes in the best possible way for clients’. Also recommended are Angela Moores, who has a Resolution accreditation for high value/complex financial settlements on divorce; and David Moores, who has particular expertise in difficult financial and property matters and also regularly deals with complex children cases. Nicola McInnes is now at Gorvins Solicitors.

Slater Heelis LLP is a β€˜reputable and well-established firm that provides practical and well-thought-through advice’. The β€˜excellent’ Mark Heptinstall heads the department and is β€˜very sensitive to clients’ needs and expectations’. Also recommended are newly promoted partner Phillip Rhodes and consultant Kim Aucott, who is β€˜capable and brilliant at finding practical solutions’. The team was joined by associate Patricia Robinson from Slater and Gordon; she is β€˜knowledgeable, commercial and superb at cutting to the chase’. It advises on the full spectrum of family law issues, from matrimonial finance and Schedule 1 Children Act cases to disputes under the Inheritance Act. It also advises on wealth protection.

At Gorvins Solicitors, new recruit Nicola McInnes β€˜leaves no stone unturned and is a very dedicated practitioner with considerable wit and charm’. Clients also single out her β€˜meticulous attention to detail’. Senior associate Nicola Fraser is also recommended. The team regularly represents business owners, directors, doctors and other professionals in addition to having considerable strength in police divorce. The group is adept at advising on a myriad of issues from divorce and separation to financial remedy orders, private children disputes, co-habitation and pre-nuptial agreements. Sally Leaman has left the firm.

The β€˜efficient team’ at Linder Myers is led by Tony Broadley and attracts praise for its β€˜prompt responses’. The practice, which acts for high-net-worth individuals in England and Wales, includes a qualified arbitrator, a collaborative law specialist and two children panel members, and has a particular strength in childcare proceedings as well as regularly advising on cross-jurisdictional family matters. It also advises on financial settlements involving complex police pension schemes and acts for more than 20 police federations in England and Wales.

MSB Solicitors has an β€˜extremely strong family department’ that handles all areas of family law β€˜to a high standard’. It is active in both public and private law matters, including those related to children, divorce, finance and domestic violence. For some β€˜the firm is now almost on a par with the leading London-based child abduction firms and is quickly developing into a leading firm for international family law work in the North West’. Emma Carey is an β€˜excellent leader; she has superb knowledge of the law and is also very sensitive and insightful, which is of huge importance for her vulnerable clients’. Emma Palmer β€˜pulls out all the stops for her clients and is excellent at child abduction and care proceedings’. Kirsty Leather has a β€˜great brain and has taken to international child abduction work very quickly’. For children law matters, Sarah Achilles is β€˜always friendly, approachable and very much puts clients at ease’.

Ward Hadaway has β€˜a strong and dedicated family department that deals with children and money cases extremely well’. Head of team Martin Karran is a β€˜strong advocate with a wealth of experience; He has the ability to gain his clients’ trust but also maintains a realistic view of proceedings, ensuring that clients remain focused on all the relevant issues’. The department is best known for acting for business owners, entrepreneurs and high-profile individuals, and for drafting high-value pre-nuptial agreements in addition to handling complex and long-running private children law cases. Michael Chapman is now at JMW Solicitors LLP.

Watson Ramsbottom is β€˜particularly strong in the fields of domestic abuse, stalking and harassment’; for some say it is a β€˜leading firm nationally for domestic abuse’. Rachel Horman β€˜cares passionately about her clients and victims in general’. The team advises on domestic violence, forced marriage, Children Act cases and childcare issues in particular. It has also established a reputation for its work on cases involving stalking, harassment and cyberstalking. It is also skilled at advising on other issues such as cohabitation and divorce.

Elizabeth Hassall Family Law is a boutique firm with a particular emphasis on matrimonial finance, and is highly rated for its client care; β€˜each and every client is offered a Rolls Royce service’. Elizabeth Hassall is β€˜a terrific lawyer, always calm and sensible and very good at keeping on top of every detail; she has a well-earned reputation as being sharp and extremely effective while also being very fair’. Hassall advises high-net-worth individuals in the aftermath of marriage breakdown or where cohabiting couples are separating, and has considerable experience of high-value pre-nuptial agreements. Clients include wealthy individuals, senior directors and executives who are based both locally and nationally.

Kuit Steinart Levy LLP’s team is praised for its β€˜calm approach and its dedication to protecting the clients’ best interests’. Head of department Katie McCann is β€˜professional and forceful (without being pushy) and is very knowledgeable; she has the knack of dialling into the key points and understanding the bigger picture’. Her primary focus is on financial matters. Michael Gregory is well equipped to advise on the law affecting those in alternative family structures, including surrogacy and fertility law issues.

The team at Nexus Solicitors Limited provides an β€˜exceptional service’ under the leadership of director Janet Fleming, who is described as being β€˜patient, knowledgeable and very professional’. She deals with all aspects of private family law, from financial settlements following the breakdown of relationships to disputes over arrangements for children, as well as issues between same sex couples. She is also skilled at advising on pre-and-post-nuptial agreements and has acquired particular expertise in dealing with the division of pensions on divorce. Clients include international business people, local celebrities and leading figures in the health, finance and public service sectors.

Shoosmiths LLP’s team is led by β€˜very knowledgeable’ senior associate Christopher Longbottom. The group advises on the financial issues arising from relationship breakdown and is skilled at handling cases with an international element.

Stephensons Solicitors LLP has a β€˜large and strong team’ that is led by Mike Devlin, who runs a β€˜tight, efficient and client-focused ship’. Devlin has a β€˜good reputation for his knowledge and skill in the area of care and children work in particular’. Donna Roberts is a β€˜very capable lawyer whose knowledge and case management is second to none’. Gwyneth John is β€˜competent and experienced; she does not make false promises but does her very best to achieve realistic aims’. Andrew Mountain is β€˜very reliable and efficient and can diffuse tensions in difficult situations; he has the confidence to challenge without ever being confrontational’. Anna White β€˜really fights her clients’ corner but is also good at challenging her clients when needed’. The team is particularly well known for its representation of children, parents, couples, guardians and local authorities in all aspects of family and children law.

Vardags is β€˜very much one to watch in Manchester’. Emma Gill is β€˜already very busy and has a razor-sharp eye for detail’. She is β€˜incredibly energetic, remarkably driven and client-focused, and is building up a strong team around her’. Among them is senior associate Naomi Rainey, who β€˜treads the fine line between being compassionate and professional very well’. Gill is particularly experienced at dealing with issues surrounding share valuations, option schemes, trust and other issues where there are properties abroad. Rainey has specific experience of advising on family businesses, pre-acquired assets and inherited wealth. The team is particularly skilled at advising on divorce and matrimonial finance in addition to Schedule 1 applications and disputes around care arrangements for children.

BPS Family Law LLP has β€˜its clients’ interests at heart, but also remains very professional and level-headed. It covers the pros and cons of each situation in detail and the client always has a clear understanding of each issue and the next course of action.’ The β€˜very dedicated and hardworking’ Caroline Swain is praised for her β€˜professionalism, compassion, common sense and calming influence’. The team advises on the full spectrum of family law issues.

The β€˜proactive and hardworking’ Rachel Cryan heads the department at Butcher & Barlow LLP and has a β€˜sharp legal mind, as well as being focused and sensitive to the needs of families and children’. Caroline Cockill-Guy (an accredited mediator) is an β€˜extremely experienced family lawyer who is excellent with vulnerable clients and can provide firm and realistic advice when needed’. Angela Gleave is a β€˜skilled and forceful advocate’ and the β€˜patient’ Kevan Hankinson (a trained mediator) has β€˜excellent knowledge and experience’. The team handles the full array of family issues and also has legal aid contracts to carry out family legal aid work at seven offices. Helen Oakes is a collaborative lawyer.

Tom Price heads the team at Hibberts LLP, which advises on the full spectrum of family law matters primarily in South Cheshire and North Shropshire. The group is particularly experienced in property and financial matters and regularly handles complex matters on behalf of its agricultural client base where partnership, land, assets and family trust issues need to be considered. The team is also skilled at advising on Children Act matters and care proceedings.

β€˜Sensible but firm’ associate Charlotte Beck heads the team at KBL Solicitors LLP. Beck provides β€˜measured and holistic advice and guidance; she is particularly skilled in finances’. The team is well equipped to deal with complex financial issues, including joint businesses, division of pensions and property issues both in a national and international context.

Pauline McNamara is the key figure at PMC Family Law, an β€˜exciting new start-up’ that is already a β€˜well-respected firm’ and praised for its β€˜sensitive approach and ability to attain good results for its clients’. McNamara is praised for her β€˜no-nonsense approach; she is a strong, concise and precise advocate’. Associates John Owens and Caroline Hamilton are β€˜establishing themselves in the market place’.

At Simpson Millar LLP, associate Kate Donohue Jones is β€˜brilliant; her preparation is thorough and she provides great support to her clients’. The team represents a broad range of clients in divorce and financial remedies and also acts for victims of domestic violence who are unable to fund private proceedings. It also regularly acts in complex private children cases where there are allegations of abuse and implacable hostility.

Nastassia Burton at Stowe Family Law LLP β€˜knows exactly how to achieve the best results for clients – she is a strong all-rounder’. The β€˜calm and professional’ Kate Rayner is also recommended. The team advises on all areas of relationship breakdown particularly in complex high-value cases involving divorce, cohabitee disputes and children issues.

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