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Firms To Watch: Family

Boutique firm Family Law Matters Scotland LLP strengthened its specialist offering with the arrival of legal director Morven Douglas from BTO Solicitors LLP in January 2023. Under the leadership of Karen Gailey and Marisa Cullen, the team has particular strength in high-net-worth divorces, separation matters and international family law.

Family in Scotland

Brodies LLP

With an experienced bench of family law specialists, the family law practice at Brodies LLP is well placed to handle a wide range of instructions, from complex and high-value divorces to child abduction cases and residence issues; with the arrival of Jacqueline Stroud from MacRoberts LLP in June 2022, the team also boosted its capabilities in financial provision and mediation work. Shaun George leads the group from the firm's Aberdeen office, while Lisa Girdwood, who excels in international child abduction cases, is a key contact in Glasgow. Other key individuals include the Inverness-based Sarah Lilley (child law and family law mediation) and the Aberdeen-based Susie Mountain (particular expertise in the relocation of children); both were elevated to the partnership in May 2022. At associate level, the team is supported by Victoria Varty and Garry Sturrock. Senior associate Debbie Reekie  recently joined from BTO; she is known for being 'very easy to deal with' and 'adopting a constructive approach to her cases'.

Practice head(s):

Shaun George

Other key lawyers:

Jacqueline Stroud; Victoria Varty; Lisa Girdwood; Susie Mountain; Sarah Lilley; Garry Sturrock; Debbie Reekie


‘Lisa Girdwood in Glasgow is, without doubt, one of the best family/divorce solicitors in Scotland. Her preparation for my case was nothing short of outstanding. She developed a strategy for me, which worked greatly to my benefit. All due to her vast knowledge, experience and tenacity.’

‘Sarah Lilley was able to explore all avenues in the context of a complex case involving two countries. All this while ensuring that her client, despite the language barrier and the differences in legal functioning, fully understood all the options and the course of the procedure carried out. Her rigour, her relevance and her availability make her an excellent lawyer.’

‘They have big hitters at partner level (Lisa Girdwood is the standout partner) but also real strength in depth at associate level. As a full-service firm, they can provide unrivalled support in other areas on the more complex cases.’

‘Lisa Girdwood is an excellent choice for both high-value financial cases but also the more complex children cases. She cares deeply about her clients and does whatever it takes to achieve great results. She is an academic lawyer, who is able to combine a serious intellect with first-rate client care skills. A class act!’

‘Jacqueline Stroud is a particularly skilled and empathetic mediator – she is a first point of referral for my mediation cases. Lisa Girdwood is a strong and very experienced negotiator.’

‘Jacqueline Stroud: Excellent family lawyer, always a pleasure to deal with. She does her utmost to resolve cases collaboratively.’

‘Shaun George has a wealth of experience and keeps a direct eye on cases. Lisa Girdwood combines a sympathetic approach with a good knowledge of law and practice. Susie Mountain’s positive approach to cases makes her a pleasure to work with. Both Jacqueline Stroud and Victoria Varty are excellent practitioners. I would single out senior associate Garry Sturrock for his enthusiasm and commitment. He is one to watch.’

‘Debbie Reekie is very easy to deal with; she adopts a constructive approach to her cases, with resolution by agreement at the forefront of her mind.’

Work highlights


Praised for its ‘unrivalled breadth and depth of knowledge’, boutique firm SKO fields a strong team, whose expertise runs the full gamut of family and child law matters, with demonstrable strength in multijurisdictional work, novel child law cases and surrogacy and parentage matters. The highly regarded Rachael Kelsey, a ‘towering figure in family law’, has considerable expertise advising on both Scottish and international family law, and is a key member of the team alongside Robert Gilmour, who takes point on surrogacy, parentage and cohabitation issues, Alison Edmondson, who focuses on high-net-worth matters involving corporate and tax issues, Susan Oswald, who routinely acts for local authorities on public child law cases, and associate Seonaid Cochrane.

Other key lawyers:

Rachael Kelsey; Robert Gilmour; Alison Edmondson; Seonaid Cochrane; Susan Oswald


‘It was very reassuring to have Robert Gilmour on my side with objective yet empathetic advice to achieve what was a favourable outcome. His calm and pragmatic approach focusing on the job in hand allowed me to step back from the emotion of the situation and see the important issues.

‘Alison Edmondson is an excellent lawyer, who is extremely experienced and knowledgeable. She is able to grasp difficult issues and adopt a pragmatic approach in order to find mutually acceptable outcomes. She works well and is impressive in the context of not only acrimonious litigated cases, but also collaborative family law cases. She is also an excellent mediator as is Robert Gilmour.’

‘Rachael Kelsey: The matriarch of Scottish law; the ‘go-to’ Scottish lawyer for international work. Rachael is exceptionally collaborative and kind with an inner core of steel. She delivers a really high level of service. SKO has a heavyweight, expanding team – Susan Oswald is also excellent.’

‘Scotland’s strongest team of family lawyers. Formidable international family law experience to boot. In my view, SKO is the leading Scottish family law specialists. They have an unrivalled breadth and depth of knowledge. Their lawyers are consistently responsive, empathetic and demonstrate a deep understanding of the law.’

‘Robert Gilmour is renowned for his technical knowledge. He has been particularly helpful in relation to surrogacy matters, where he appears to be a leading expert on Scots Law. Alison Edmondson offers clients an impressive combination of empathy, legal knowledge and pragmatism.’

‘SKO is the pre-eminent family law firm in Scotland. The level of expertise from this firm is staggering, with Rachael Kelsey being an absolute powerhouse of legal knowledge with outstanding knowledge of complex international family law. She is hugely engaging and grasps tricky issues with a mastery of the subject. She is also a fantastically engaging speaker disseminating complex and dry material with impressive ease.’

‘Without a doubt, Rachael is a towering figure in family law. SKO is a top-tier family law firm – the level of knowledge is unparalleled. She is in a class of her own. I work mostly with Alison Edmondson and Robert Gilmour, who are both skilled and committed practitioners able and willing to take on difficult cases. In the last year, I have been impressed by Seonaid Cochrane, whose efficiency is rapidly becoming legendary.’

‘Rachael Kelsey stands far above her peers in this area – her legal expertise and client skills are second to none – she is indefatigable – this, alongside her contribution to international family law, is nothing short of staggering.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for a wife on a reported high-value Court of Session divorce with complex valuation and corporate structure issues.
  • Acting as Edinburgh agents on legally aided, reported public child law, judicial review case concerning privacy issues.
  • Handled a UHNW multijurisdiction prenup.

Aberdein Considine

Aberdein Considine's family practice is well placed to advise on high-value financial provisions and complex, sensitive child-related cases. Head of practice Ruth Aberdein is an experienced litigator with particular expertise in assisting high-net-worth individuals with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Isabelle Douglas handles novel cases involving property, company and succession law issues, while Leonie Burke and April Campbell are key contacts for litigation work. Also in the core team are Karl Brown and associate Megan Hannah.

Practice head(s):

Ruth Aberdein

Other key lawyers:

Megan Hannah; Isabelle Douglas; Leonie Burke; Karl Brown; April Campbell


‘I find Ruth Aberdein very amenable to speak with. She is open and frank, I feel like I get good advice and supported when she is on vacation. It always feels like I am well represented.’

‘Always professional and all queries are dealt with very quickly.’

‘Ruth Aberdein has offered support through a fairly protracted divorce case. She deals with all queries very quickly and with understanding and compassion.’

‘Isabelle Douglas has provided first-class advice on all aspects of the steps I have had to take through the legal system. I have at no point during the last 4 years been dissatisfied by the service Aberdein Considine  is providing.’

‘Leonie Burke worked with me over a period of months to draw up a prenuptial. It was my strong wish that, as well as being lawful, the document would be fair to both parties. Leonie took my aims to heart and skilfully blended her obvious expertise in family law with a caring, empathetic approach. I felt very looked after as a client and I strongly endorse working with her.’

‘This is an excellent practice. Communication is a key strength in this firm. Megan Hannah is a key strength of this practice.’

‘Megan Hannah is down to earth, professional, knowledgeable and a pleasure to deal with. She made a highly stressful separation much more manageable because of her skills, expertise and empathy.’

‘My main legal adviser is Megan Hannah: Her very diligent and precise approach to the case proves to be successful. She was very informative and patient when explaining possibilities and eventual outcomes of the case. She is firm when needed, cuts through emotions and leads to the positive result.’

Work highlights

Balfour+Manson LLP

With Shona Smith, who is trained as an arbitrator, leading Balfour+Manson LLP‘s ‘immensely strong’ family law team, it is best known for its alternative dispute resolution capabilities as well as handling contentious cases at both Sheriff Court and Court of Session levels. The team also receives regular instructions on private and public child law cases, high-value financial matters and reputational issues. Further key practitioners of the team include Lynne Mulcahy, Kirsten Knight and Jamie Foulis. They are ably assisted by ‘impressiveEmily Deans.

Practice head(s):

Shona Smith

Other key lawyers:

Jamie Foulis; Kirsten Knight; Emily Deans; Lynne Mulcahy


‘Specifically Shona Smith has given sound advice and has been resilient in our negotiations when dealing with continual changes in regards to counter proposals.’

‘Jamie Foulis is a highly accomplished family lawyer. He took the time to understand my circumstances and advocated for me in a constructive and productive manner.’

‘Kirsten Knight has been a rock during a very tumultuous time, consistently unflappable and realistic in terms of what to expect and best ways of dealing with issues as they arise. I genuinely feel like she is on my side and has actively advocated for me.’

Work highlights

BTO Solicitors LLP

BTO Solicitors LLP has a strong family law offering with particular expertise in fertility law, donor disputes, surrogacy and adoption. The firm advises a diverse client base, including single parents, LGBTQ+ couples and high-net-worth individuals, and is also well placed to advise on high-value financial provision cases. Head of practice Lesley Gordon is noted for her expertise in collaborative cases, while senior solicitor Beverly Addison stands out for her expertise in fertility law. Other key names include senior associate Kirsty McGuinness, who is an accredited specialist.

Practice head(s):

Lesley Gordon

Other key lawyers:

Kirsty McGuinness; Beverly Addison


‘I was impressed by the depth of knowledge and expertise available.’

‘Lesley Gordon handled my case. Always there with sound advice. Listened, understood and quickly grasped the important issues from my jumbled thoughts, worries and fears.’

‘Every member of the BTO team that I dealt with offered quick, helpful and sound advice. They are a committed, professional and highly competent practice.’

‘Kirsty McGuinness: Adept at quickly understanding the issue – and providing fit-for-purpose advice in a clear and easy-to-understand way.’

‘Lesley Gordon knows her stuff, particularly good at collaborative cases, easy to deal with.’

‘BTO has an amazing law practice, in particular Beverley Addison has been so supportive. Beverley is empathetic and engaging. She breaks down parental law into an easy-to-understand pathway.’

‘Kirsty McGuinness is very experienced and solid. She obviously works hard, and is organised and prepared.’

‘Beverly Addison stands out as an expert in fertility law. She has an excellent knowledge of the law in this area and is extremely skilled in softer skills such as empathy and listening skills. She is pragmatic and focused on achieving economic solutions for clients.’

Work highlights

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP's family law practice was set up by accredited family law specialist and mediator Richard Smith, who now heads the practice, and Jennifer Wilkie, who has particular strength in divorce and pre-nuptial agreements with international elements, upon joining the firm from Brodies LLP in February 2022. The team handles a wide range of divorce and asset protection matters, including cross-border instructions. Other key members include senior associate and qualified trauma-informed lawyer David Coutts, who is dual accredited in family and child law, and solicitor Nilah Ulhaq, who regularly represents clients in the Court of Session.

Practice head(s):

Richard Smith

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Wilkie; Nilah Ulhaq; David Coutts


‘Richard Smith is an incredibly experienced family law practitioner. He’s bright and no nonsense. He fights his client’s corner ferociously where appropriate; he is pragmatic and thinks outside the box.’

‘Jennifer Wilkie is an excellent lawyer.’

‘The team was very dedicated and showed great attention to detail right from the start. With their wealth of experience in the field, I knew I was in extremely capable hands, and they achieved an excellent result.’

‘Richard Smith’s approach was methodical, analytical, compassionate and empathetic. He provided guidance and reassurance at every step of the way. Nilah Ulhaq was also extremely capable, highly efficient, reassuring and compassionate. They always updated me immediately with any new developments and explained everything thoroughly. They filled me with the utmost confidence.’

‘Jennifer Wilkie is a true example of a contemporary lawyer: not only is she highly knowledgeable, with excellent communicative and interpersonal skills, but also compassionate, assertive and creative.’

‘I have always admired Richard Smith for his calm good sense and overall competence. He and Nilah Ulhaq make a good team.’

‘Richard Smith – without doubt one of the best family lawyers in Scotland. He has a fantastic reputation. He can manage complex cases. He is all over the detail without losing sight of the bigger picture. Jennifer Wilkie is fantastic. She has a great focus on the detail, and her preparation is second to none. David Coutts is a great all-rounder in terms of matrimonial finance and children cases.’

‘Nilah Ulhaq is very impressive and will be one to watch in the years ahead. She is far more able than her years of experience would suggest. She works closely with Richard and has been a pleasure to work with. Really very good.’

Work highlights

Gilson Gray

The ‘outstanding’ Philippa Cunniff leads the family law team at Gilson Gray, which is regularly instructed to assist with cases concerning asset protection, cohabitation and sensitive childcare arrangements. Sally Nash takes point on high-net-worth financial provision cases, including in the Court of Session. Cross-border work is a particular area of expertise for the firm and bolstered by Nash’s and Cunniff’s dual qualification in Scots and English law. Denise Laverty has a specialism dealing with armed forces divorces. Shona Young is a key member of the team at associate level.

Practice head(s):

Philippa Cunniff

Other key lawyers:

Sally Nash; Denise Laverty; Shona Young


‘Philippa Cunniff has been my lawyer for a year and has been extremely professional, empathetic and quite outstanding. She has shown exceptional kindness and personal understanding in particularly difficult situations.’

‘They always give sound advice with great thought and make me feel they have my back and are there for me at all times.’

‘Immediately I was put at ease in a very difficult and emotional time. I was given empathy and understanding, which was important to me, alongside a very strong and professional polished legal team that gave me hope and strength.’

Work highlights

Harper Macleod LLP

With a deep and experienced bench that includes six accredited family law specialists, Harper Macleod LLP's family practice is well placed to advise on a wide range of matters, including financial provisions on divorce, asset protection, fertility law, child relocation and abduction. The team is led by Amanda Masson, whose caseload has seen an uptick in international child law work. Jenny Smith primarily handles divorce, cohabitation and civil partnership matters, while Alexis Harper and Karen Gibbons are key contacts for contentious work. The team is supported by senior associates Jane Blackwood and Linda Walker.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Masson

Other key lawyers:

Alexis Harper; Jane Blackwood; Jenny Smith; Linda Walker; Karen Gibbons


‘The team is connected. Whoever you speak with knows your situation and seems to understand your specific needs. My experience throughout a difficult period in my life has been one of empathy, compassion, understanding and support.’

‘Alexis Harper has been “my” lawyer since day one. She’s listened, she’s guided and she’s been unendingly supportive and honest. She’s clearly not out to make money but to get me the best outcome, and my confidence in her grows with every conversation. The difference between Alexis and other lawyers I’ve worked with has been her approach to difficult conversations. There’s no judgement. She assesses and advises. Steers without ever taking control away from me. She has empowered and supported me from the outset and I can’t recommend her highly enough.’

‘Jenny Smith is simply outstanding with a no-nonsense approach providing sound and easily understandable advice.’

‘Jenny Smith works in a collaborative way to avoid adversarial correspondence. Alexis Harper is highly diligent and effective as is Jane Blackwood. Amanda Masson is robust in pursuing her client’s interests.’

‘I have worked with Amanda Masson on a number of matters. Her client care skills are excellent. I have witnessed Amanda’s attention to detail, her knowledge of the black letter law and her commerciality.’

‘This is a strong and innovative family law team. They have been proactive in exploring developments in family law, for example through their “Modern Families” initiative.’

‘I work mostly with Amanda Masson, who impressed this year by tenacious work in overcoming obstacles in an international case. Despite matters looking almost insuperable, she persisted and secured a good result for her client. Karen Gibbons and Alexis Harper are excellent partners and Linda Walker is worth watching.’

‘Amanda Masson is the head of the family law team. She has great experience across multiple practice areas, including financial provision on divorce, adoption, permanence orders and relocation. She is very well organised, diligent and insightful. Jenny Smith is considered, thoughtful and hard-working. She is a clear thinker with a keen appreciation of what her clients want to achieve. She is very detailed in her work. Alexis Harper has very strong technical knowledge of the law and of court procedure. She is extremely robust in her client’s interest. She is well organised and focussed and has an empathetic manner.’

Work highlights

  • International adoption of five Cambodian children. Issues to be resolved include consent of children and a birth parent as well as securing Scottish government approval to adopt from a restricted country.
  • International surrogacy involving considerations of transport of embryos.
  • Handled a financial provision case involving assets valued at £25m, including complex issues around valuation.


Lindsays‘ family law offering runs the full gamut of contentious and non-contentious family and child law work, with the team receiving regular instructions from clients in Scotland and abroad to assist with high-value litigation. Accredited child and family law specialist Alison McKee heads the group, which includes ‘fearless litigator’ Nina Taylor, who has extensive experience handling cases concerning allegations of domestic and child sexual abuse, trained mediator and collaborative lawyer Jennifer Gallagher and solicitor Philippa Abernethy. Child law expert Duncan Mackinnon left the team in 2022 and joined Macnabs LLP as consultant.

Practice head(s):

Alison McKee

Other key lawyers:

Nina Taylor; Philippa Abernethy; Jennifer Gallagher


‘Alison McKee at Lindsays has been a phenomenal support over the past few months. It is apparent the family law team is strong and pulls on strengths and depth of knowledge as and when required. Response time is quick and always personalised.’

‘Always friendly and approachable but also pragmatic and focussed on what is needed to provide this service in an efficient way.’

‘Nina Taylor has been superb in looking after my legal needs. She is always prompt to respond to emails, answers my questions and has an ability to stand back and see the bigger picture. Her approach has worked very well for me – always sensible and pragmatic and ultimately helping to resolve all of the issues I have needed help with. I feel very safe and supported by her guidance and feel that she has provided an optimal service to me. Philippa Abernethy is also great and has excellent attention to detail, very calm and thorough.’

‘Nina Taylor is extremely client focussed but able to see the broader picture, which means she is well able to protect her client’s interests whilst encouraging a collaborative approach to cases. Nina’s knowledge of family law is impressive as is her knowledge of the rules of procedure, which means that if a case requires to be litigated, Nina is well equipped to provide excellent representation to her clients.’

‘I have worked with Jennifer Gallagher as a mediator in collaborative practice cases and in traditional litigated actions. She is great to deal with – pragmatic and focussed. Someone you can pick up the phone to and cut through weeks worth of correspondence!’

‘Family law services are part of the exceptional offering from this firm. They have broad expertise and are particularly good when advising family law clients on business interests.’

‘Jennifer Gallagher is an outstanding family lawyer at Lindsays.’

‘Nina Taylor: One of the very best family law practitioners in Scotland; possesses a remarkable range of strengths rarely found in others – knowledgeable, insightful, pragmatic and if necessary, a fearless litigator.’

Work highlights

Morton Fraser MacRoberts

Highly rated for its cross-border expertise, the family law practice at Morton Fraser MacRoberts (the result of the late-2023 merger between Morton Fraser and MacRoberts LLP) advises on complex financial provision cases and international family law matters as well as private and public child law, while assisting farming clients with divorce and financial provision matters constitutes another key area of expertise. Following the retirement of Rhona Adams in April 2023, mediator and expert in international divorce work Lucia Clark now jointly heads the practice with Fiona Sasan, an accredited family law specialist with particular strength in arbitration and collaborative work. At associate level, the team includes Ellen Bond and Nikki Hunter, both accredited family law specialists noted for their child law expertise. Following the merger, Sue Anna MacAulay and Manahil Qadir now also contribute to the practice.

Practice head(s):

Fiona Sasan; Lucia Clark

Other key lawyers:

Nikki Hunter; Ellen Bond; Sue Anne MacAulay; Manahil Qadir


‘They are unique in their cross-border knowledge of family law. They can provide advice to clients on complex issues under one roof.’

‘Morton Fraser was fantastic from the very start. From their advice throughout what was an extremely difficult time for me, to just how personable they were and understanding to my situation. Without doubt their biggest strength was their ability to judge the situation I was in and create a strategy that worked from start to finish.’

‘Nikki Hunter and Fiona Sasan were simply brilliant throughout.’

Work highlights

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern is regularly instructed by a diverse roster of clients to assist with nuptial agreements and financial provisions on divorce as well as with contact and residence disputes. Litigation is a key area of focus with the team frequently appearing in the Sheriff Court and Court of Session, while advising local authorities on adoption and permanence orders constitutes another key strength for the team. Janice Jones heads the group and is supported by Christina Abbott and Danielle Edgar at associate level.

Practice head(s):

Janice Jones

Other key lawyers:

Danielle Edgar; Christina Abbott


‘My case was complex due to elements of international law and corporate law. The team was very capable, well organised and diligent at all times. I felt safe in their hands.’

‘I immediately struck up a good rapport with my direct contact. I never felt I was one of many, always an individual and always being treated with respect, courtesy and with a delicate touch, which provided not only legal but practical and sympathetic emotional support during a tough period.’

‘The team are experts in most areas of family law, but have particular expertise in acting for local authorities in permanence and adoption proceedings. Their small but efficient team is easily contactable, excellently prepared and considered in their approach.’

Key clients

Advocate General

Work highlights

Blackadders LLP

Based primarily in Dundee and Aberdeen, Blackadders LLP's family law practice routinely handles financial disputes involving international, corporate and tax law aspects. Led by litigator Craig Samson, the team includes accredited family and child law specialist Gareth Masson, whose practice covers child relocation cases, adoptions and permanency orders, and associate Joanne Murray, an accredited family law specialist and mediator, who regularly appears in local sheriff courts.

Practice head(s):

Craig Samson

Other key lawyers:

Gareth Masson; Joanne Murray

Work highlights

  • Advising on a cohabitation financial dispute under s28 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, including a successful appeal to the Sheriff Appeal Court.
  • Advising on a case concerning sudden relocation of children from Scotland to Northern Ireland, including allegations of domestic abuse, contempt of court, reinstating contact and a complex financial dispute.
  • Acting for an individual in a Court of Session action brought by the opponent and pertaining to financial provision. This involves tax liabilities, proceeds from the sale of a company, and a dispute regarding financial support (aliment).

Macnabs LLP

With a strong presence in Perth, the family law team at Macnabs LLP fields several accredited specialists in family and child law. Seasoned practitioner and managing partner Ruth Croman leads the practice, which has seen an increase in instructions on surrogacy matters. With an offering that spans the full range of family law services, the team has particular strength in contentious issues, especially alternative dispute resolution. Litigator Stuart Hunter routinely advises on cases with international aspects, while Rachael MacDonald is the key contact for high-value divorce work and nuptial agreements.

Practice head(s):

Ruth Croman

Other key lawyers:

Stuart Hunter; Rachael MacDonald


‘I haven’t looked back since moving to Macnabs. After months of uncertainty with my previous solicitor, Macnabs turned my case around within days and I felt confident they were handling my case in my best interests. The staff at Macnabs leave you feeling reassured you are in safe, capable hands. They treat you with understanding and respect.’

‘My main contact throughout has been Ruth Croman. I instantly felt at ease with Ruth and found her to be empathetic, knowledgeable and caring in her approach, and she has a great sense of humour. Ruth is an outstanding and highly competent lawyer. A call of reassurance from Ruth immediately calms me and I would recommend Macnabs to anyone in my situation.’

‘Lawyers, who provide advice and recommendations. In brief, say what is the best course of action and act accordingly.’

Work highlights

  • Advising a client in a high-value contentious divorce case with substantial corporate interests, including the operation of a hotel business.
  • Acted on a high-value contentious divorce with complex partnership issues involving the running of a family hotel business.
  • Acted for a wife on a high-value complex divorce action involving significant farming assets; achieved a favourable outcome for the client.

MTM Family Law

The family law practice at MTM Family Law, based in Glasgow, advises on matters across the full spectrum of family and child law with particular expertise in high-value litigation and arbitration. Collaborative lawyer Carolyn MacBride and accredited mediator Shona Templeton jointly head the practice, which includes associates Caroline Smith, Fiona Anderson and Michaela Hinchin.

Practice head(s):

Shona Templeton; Carolyn MacBride

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Anderson; Caroline Smith; Michaela Hinchin


‘Carolyn MacBride is a brilliant solicitor. She is hugely experienced in court settings in both Sheriff Courts and appeal courts and capable of explaining court procedures in a clear and transparent way. Her approach to negotiation is precise and well thought out, and she possesses great attention to detail. Her advice has always been spot-on. It didn’t take long to build a trusting relationship with her. I would highly recommend her services.’

‘This practice is efficient, warm and welcoming in what can be an extremely challenging time. They are a team of knowledgeable lawyers and they provide a great service all around, no matter what staff member it is that I’ve been in touch with.’

‘Carolyn MacBride has quite honestly been an outstanding solicitor for me. My case has been ongoing for over 3 years and in each part of it, we have chunked down and she has guided me through it with an honest and calm manner. She never fails to make me feel at ease in every challenging moment that has been thrown my way. She is quick and efficient in her communications with myself, the other parties involved and the court. Her knowledge, experience and confidence in her profession are second to none. I have recommended Carolyn to a number of people and will continue to do so. In what still remains a challenging situation in my life, Carolyn continues to advise in a highly competent, yet realistic manner. She is an asset to the legal profession and this practice.’

Work highlights

Thorntons Law LLP

The Arbroath-based Sandra Sutherland supervises Thorntons Law LLP‘s family practice, which is regularly instructed to act on high-value and novel cases concerning surrogacy and adoption. ‘Formidable negotiator‘ Lucy Metcalf, based in Edinburgh, handles nuptial agreements, while legal director Angela Wipat in Perth is recommended for ADR, and legal director Cheryl Wallace is a key member of the team based in Cupar. Following its merger with Stuart & Stuart WS in 2022, the team strengthened its Edinburgh offering with the arrivals of the ‘technically excellent, tactically astute and extremely diligentJohn MacKenzie and seasoned litigator Fergus Macmillan. In 2023, the firm also opened an office in Glasgow.

Practice head(s):

Sandra Sutherland

Other key lawyers:

John MacKenzie; Fergus Macmillan; Lucy Metcalf; Cheryl Wallace; Angela Wipat


‘Cheryl Wallace has supported me in a highly competent, fair, calm and professional manner over several years. I have every confidence in her professional knowledge and advice.’

‘It was evident that effective communication between team members facilitated a seamless client experience.’

‘Lucy Metcalf facilitates the client in focusing on their best interests, and is exceptionally solution-focused.’

Work highlights

Gibson Kerr

Under the joint leadership of the 'formidable' Fiona Rasmusen and the 'highly experienced' Nadine Martin, the family law practice at Gibson Kerr combines the firm's wider property and private client capabilities to advise on a wide range of matters. Martin has a niche specialisation in trauma-informed law, while senior solicitor Karen Sutherland is a key contact for cases concerning the welfare of children.

Practice head(s):

Fiona Rasmusen; Nadine Martin

Other key lawyers:

Karen Sutherland


‘Nadine Martin has been nothing short of amazing to deal with. Aside from her insight, advice and guidance – which I really value – she is an excellent communicator and a genuinely nice person – sincere, compassionate, interested and engaged and a pleasure to work with. I am extremely grateful for her support.’

‘Karen Sutherland always looks out for her clients’ best interest and knows what that is. She is dependable and 100% trustworthy. I would happily recommend her to anyone.’

‘Fiona Rasmusen is extremely experienced and knowledgeable. She is able to take a pragmatic approach with a view to finding mutually acceptable outcomes, whether in the context of litigated disputes, or less contentious but still difficult matters, such as the drafting of prenuptial agreements. She is honest and straightforward in her approach.’

‘Fiona Rasmusen, Nadine Martin and Karen Sutherland are all excellent family lawyers with a keen eye for detail and a compassionate and considered approach to clients.’

‘Fiona Rasmusen is a formidable lawyer in family law. She exudes gravitas and knowledge. She leads the firm’s family department.’

‘Fiona Rasmusen is vastly experienced across all areas of family law. She is highly competent. She takes a proactive stance in litigation and, as a result of her very significant experience of arguing cases herself in the Sheriff Court, is able to organise and manage cases with the minimum of guidance from counsel. She is highly attuned to her clients’ needs and prepared to fight for their position if necessary.’

‘Nadine Martin is sensible, pragmatic and also highly experienced in family law. She has an excellent manner with clients and a willingness to engage with opponents with a view to resolution.’

Work highlights

Patience and Buchan

Patience and Buchan's family law practice has a strong litigation and arbitration offering. The practice is jointly headed by founding partner and family and child law specialist Lorna Buchan, whose broad practice includes contentious divorce cases, and 'very effective mediator' Ashley Simpson. They are supported by associate Gillian Mitchell.

Practice head(s):

Lorna Buchan; Ashley Simpson

Other key lawyers:

Gillian Mitchell


‘Highly professional, efficient and able to back up instructions with results. There seems to be a strong sense of networking and teamwork within the firm. Strengths revolve around a clear understanding of the position of the law, effective and timely communication and carrying out all instructions on my behalf efficiently.’

‘Ashley Simpson has been a very effective mediator.’

‘I found the team to be very professional and reliable.’

‘Ashley Simpson has a warm and approachable manner to accompany her knowledge and experience. I felt confident I was in good hands and could be open and honest about my concerns and the emotions I was experiencing during a very difficult time.’

‘The team, from the admin to the solicitors, is friendly and reassuring – they always listen and have time for me and my concerns.’

‘Ashley Simpson is my solicitor. She listens to what I have to say and gives relevant advice. She comes across as empathetic, while being professional and realistic. I never feel rushed or like she doesn’t have time. I feel she ensures that our meetings are productive and she teases out relevant additional information. When in court, I feel Ashley knows my case really well and can articulate what I want in a very measured way, as well as using relevant examples that date back to the beginning of my case. I always feel she is prepared and is working to try and help me advocate for my daughter.’

‘Lorna Buchan really was excellent. She made time for me in her busy schedule and gave me her full attention and knowledge when meeting. Although the discussions were complex, she always ensured that I understood the context and discussed it in simplistic terms. Lorna was very empathetic, realistic and informative.’

‘Lorna Buchan’s experience across all areas of family law is extensive. She is quick, clever and personable. She has a great knowledge of the substantive law and is very practical and pragmatic. She is very willing to negotiate where that is the best way to achieve her client’s goals but is an excellent litigator if that becomes necessary. She has considerable experience of appearing in the Sheriff Court herself.’

Work highlights

Weightmans LLP

The family law practice at Weightmans LLP, based in Glasgow, has particular experience in nuptial arrangements, assets and cohabitation issues. The team is led by 'diligent, thorough and dedicated' solicitor advocate Noel Ferry, whose broad practice covers divorces, cohabitation claims and child relocation cases. Principal associate Dawn Finlayson is an accredited child law expert with particular expertise in alternative dispute resolution. In June 2023, the practice was boosted by the arrival of a team from Clyde & Co, led by Caroline Gillespie, a ‘fierce negotiator’, who handles complex financial provision cases as well as international child relocation matters, alongside associate Alison Dewar, who is noted for her ADR capabilities.

Practice head(s):

Noel Ferry

Other key lawyers:

Dawn Finlayson; Caroline Gillespie; Alison Dewar


‘All team members are committed and exceptionally good. They have a real understanding of the processes and law, and genuine empathy with clients.’

‘Noel Ferry is a solicitor advocate and has depth of knowledge, experience and professionalism, which are second to none. He is very personable and able to explain issues and complex legal matters in a straightforward, understandable way. He is supported by a fantastic team. All wish the best outcome and to support clients in whatever way they individually require.’

‘Noel Ferry is diligent, thorough and dedicated to achieving the best possible result for his client. Noel is a tactical thinker.’

‘Caroline Gillespie was excellent!’

‘Caroline Gillespie and Alison Dewar are straightforward, pragmatic and willing to think outside the box to achieve for their clients. Caroline will fiercely represent her clients, but remains approachable and her attention to detail is second to none. Alison provides expert, no-nonsense advice whilst remaining empathetic to her client’s particular situations.’

‘Caroline Gillespie is an extremely experienced and capable litigator. Alison Dewar is a rising star.’

‘Caroline Gillespie has a huge amount of experience and is sensible in negotiation and correspondence. She thinks out of the box and is creative in trying to work out solutions. Caroline is a very able litigator and is an excellent advocate for her client in the courtroom. Alison Dewar is also very experienced and brings both litigation and alternative dispute resolution methods to full use to settle cases in the best interests of her clients.’

‘Caroline Gillespie presents her cases in a robust manner. She is a fierce negotiator and knows her cases with impeccable detail.’

Work highlights

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP

Led by Tom Quail, Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP's family law practice has particular expertise in contentious adoption applications. Litigator Roger Mackenzie advises on both private and public law adoption matters, including cross-border cases. Associate Emma Letham, an accredited trauma-informed lawyer, and solicitor Iona Whyte are both noted for their expertise in handling adoption-related work.

Practice head(s):

Tom Quail

Other key lawyers:

Robert MacKenzie; Emma Letham; Iona Whyte


‘In my dealings with the practice, I have been impressed by the high level of professionalism, legal expertise and care shown towards clients.’

‘I personally dealt with Roger MacKenzie. I really couldn’t recommend him enough if you have a sensitive and scary journey ahead of you. He reassured me step by step, and I would use him again and recommend him for anything of this nature.’

‘They make you feel at ease and comfortable. They explain things well. Good communication.’

Work highlights

Scullion LAW

The boutique family law practice at Scullion LAW has offices in Hamilton, Glasgow, and Edinburgh and advises on complex separation and divorce cases, with particular expertise in advising on the financial aspects of matrimonial disputes. Head of practice Judith Higson routinely deals with highly acrimonious residence and contact cases, while Nicola Buchanan handles divorce and cohabitation separations.

Practice head(s):

Judith Higson

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Buchanan


‘The team is very forward thinking and is keen to be involved in the areas of family law which are still developing. You can tell they want to be different from the rest.’

‘The practice is able to offer very personal service and keep matters simple. They are able to cut through issues and offer straightforward and understandable advice. They use social media as a great tool.’

‘Nicola Buchanan is very experienced and has a very pleasing manner and genuine empathy for clients. She is very easy to connect with and offers great insight to family dynamics and family situations. She can explain issues in an easy manner. She is totally committed to her clients and to achieving the best outcome for them and their families.’

Work highlights