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  1. Family: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx
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Who Represents Who

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B P Collins LLP  is 'one of the premier firms outside London for high-net-worth divorces', and its family division provides 'an exceptional level of service, professional advice, and a proactive approach to dealing with other parties'. The practice is a regular fixture in complex cases involving high-value assets and complicated trusts, businesses or tax structures, as well as disputes regarding arrangements for children, assets or properties with cross-border elements. Practice head Sue Andrews is 'extraordinarily tenacious in fighting a client's case'; she has extensive experience in complex financial remedy matters, often handling matters involving overseas assets, trust arrangements, complex pension arrangements, or sizeable property portfolios. Other key figures include Claire Filer, who has notable expertise in matters involving complex trust structures, and Fran Hipperson, who is 'excellent at identifying the real issues and resolving what could be very acrimonious and fraught negotiations, whilst maintaining the highest level of professionalism throughout'.

Clients of IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)'s family rate its 'outstanding service and approachable and personable manner which puts clients at ease during stressful situations'. Areas of expertise include acting for high-net-worth individuals in divorce cases involving assets ranging from £2m to £10m; pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, co-habitation agreements and pre-civil partnership agreements; and representing children in private law cases in disputes involving contact and residence arrangements following the breakdown of parental relationships. Amanda Melton heads the practice and 'combines exceptional professional knowledge with strong interpersonal skills - her straight-talking approach and honesty about the potential pitfalls of a case inspires confidence'. Other key figures include Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, who is 'articulate, sensible and compassionate', and Vicky Preece, who has more than 15 years' experience representing children and other family members in care cases.

For family matters, Rayden Solicitors is 'the best firm in the local area (and beyond) by a wide margin'; clients 'always come back with positive reviews of the firm and recommend it wholeheartedly and without reservation'. The firm's clients are medium-to-high-net-worth individuals based nationally, in London or abroad, spanning industries including commerce, television, fashion and media. It is particularly well regarded for its track record in children and financial work, with Katherine Rayden ('a real name in family law') and Emily Watson ('calm, thorough, with a great eye for detail') singled out for these areas. Other key figures include Julian Bremner ('easy to talk to, approachable and pragmatic'), whose broad practice covers financial disputes and pre-nuptial agreements involving multiple jurisdictions; Priya Palanivel, whose 'thorough knowledge of the law ensures she can deal with any issue strategically and effectively'; and Paula Butterworth, who has extensive experience in complex divorce proceedings, jurisdictional issues and Children Act proceedings.

SA Law LLP has cultivated 'a well-deserved reputation for being extremely approachable and friendly - it stays on top of legal documents, is hugely client focused and builds excellent relationships'. The family practice has wide-ranging expertise covering complex and sensitive children-related cases, and financial cases involving international elements, trusts, company structures, and holding companies in England and abroad. The practice is headed by Marilyn Bell, who has a wealth of experience handling high-value, sensitive financial cases and matters involving children, and is 'very sensitive to the needs of clients'. Bell leads a team that includes. recently promoted partner Ruth Abrams, who handles international cases, including obtaining and enforcing worldwide freezing orders and international relocation cases; and Kiran Beeharry, who is noted for his 'extraordinary work ethic and willingness to fight very hard for his clients'. His track record includes advising on complex issues arising from divorce and civil partnership breakdowns involving unique and high-value assets.

Blaser Mills  fields an 'excellent' family department that provides 'a first-rate service', particularly in relation to public law care work - the firm fields a separate team handling complex childcare cases involving emergency protection orders, care proceedings, discharge of care orders, as well as connected work such as adoption and special guardianship. On the private family side, the practice handles complex high-net-worth financial matters, with assets often exceeding £2m, and pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. Jolene Hutchison, who heads the family and divorce team,'always offers clear, sensible advice and is not afraid to fight a case robustly, if needed'. Denise Herman heads the childcare team and is 'an excellent solicitor who knows her subject matter and the law backwards'. Also recommended are the 'very clear-headed, thorough and focused' Anna Ferro, and Naim Qureshi, who provides 'sound advice at all stages of the litigation process'.

Debenhams Ottaway fields 'a very high-quality family law outfit' that is noted for its 'ability to offer a good service to those with a limited budget'. The practice advises on the full range of family law work, with an emphasis on high-net-worth and complex financial cases and divorce proceedings, as well as cases involving children, often with international issues. Helen Young heads the practice and 'runs a very tight and happy ship'. She has more than 20 years' experience handling multimillion-pound cases, as well as advising on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial proceedings and issues involving children. Also recommended are Richard Gilbert, who has 'a sound knowledge of the law, provides pragmatic advice and has an excellent bedside manner'; Belinda Strange, who regularly handles high-value and complex issues for London-based clients; and Adam Paterson, who is 'hardworking, client friendly and has very good judgement'.

Hawkins Family Law fields 'a very professional team that delivers a high-class service and has strength-in-depth from senior to junior level'. Managing director and team head Jo Hawkins provides 'clear and accurate advice and moral support through often testing times for her clients; she focuses on deriving the best long-term outcome for her client and other parties'. The practice has particular strength financial matters, including divorce and ToLATA proceedings. Other key figures include Loraine Davenport, who has strong collaborative law expertise and handles complex children cases and high-net-worth ancillary relief matters; Annabel Hayward, who focuses on complex financial provision and co-habitation matters; and Stacey St Clair.

Machins Solicitors LLP's public law family team is particularly well regarded for children law work, in which it 'regularly obtains superior results for its clients'. Its expertise covers standalone applications for special guardianship orders, international adoption, and High Court cases involving non-accidental injuries, death and sexual abuse. Liz Oldham heads the practice and is 'simply the best children lawyer in the area - she has just the right balance of judgement and tenacity'. In addition to handling public law cases for parents and children, Martin Oldham also undertakes private law cases where a guardian is appointed to represent children. Sarah Ashby is 'hardworking, dedicated and fights hard for the rights of her clients'.

Collins Solicitors handles a range of family law matters, from divorce and separation disputes including ancillary relief cases, to children law matters. Managing partner Paul McGinley is the key contact.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors is 'a well-established and respected firm that provides a high quality of work in an efficient and friendly way'. Its expertise covers divorce and matrimonial cases, with notable expertise in representing domestic abuse victims under legal aid and mediation, as well as ancillary relief expertise. It also handles public law and cross-border issues concerning children, and has niche shari'ah-law expertise. Key figures include Ravi Kaur Mahey, who is 'hardworking, committed to clients and ensures they get the best representation they can'.

Garside & Hoy's specialist family law practice is headed by the highly-rated Bernadette Hoy who has extensive experience of all aspects of relationship breakdowns including complex financial and children matters. She is skilled in mediation and is a collaborative lawyer in addition to handling cases that go to litigation. Senior solicitor Andaleeb Khandaker is a member of Resolution and has expertise in children matters, separations and financial settlements with a focus on complex children cases. The team's representative work includes assisting a couple resolve their relationship breakdown by way of a collaborative process despite there being children issues and substantial assets involved. Its cases also involve issues of domestic abuse and contested care proceedings.

Nockolds Solicitors is 'a professional outfit with a strong emphasis on compliance and client care'. Lynn Cowley heads the practice, which includes Peter Dodd and Karen Pritchard; collectively they are praised for their 'determination, proactivity and ability to achieve the best possible results for clients in a proportionate and cost-effective way'. The 'pragmatic and knowledgeable' Pritchard handles divorce proceedings, for medium-to-high-net-worth clients, private children matters, pre-and-post-marital agreements and cohabitation matters, and Court of Protection work. The practice is also noted for having extensive collaborative expertise, and regularly handles cross-border issues, including enforcement and recognition of orders outside the UK as well as foreign orders inside the UK.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP's family team attracts praise for providing 'thorough, precise and well-informed advice given in a calm and empathetic way', with clients noting that they 'feel supported all the way through very difficult proceedings'. The practice handles all aspects of family law, with an emphasis on high-value financial cases and complex children matters. Key figures include Jane Charlton, who is 'well-informed and keeps on top of all pertinent issues - she gives clear advice in an empathetic yet highly professional manner'.

Taylor Walton LLP's clients rate the firm for its ability to 'strike the right balance between flexibility and taking a firm line where necessary'. The practice acts for high-net-worth clients on a range of family disputes, as well as handling complicated financial issues involving family trusts, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and cohabitee disputes relating to children and property. Aileen Hartnett heads the team and has an extensive track record handling family law issues, including high-net-worth financial issues arising from divorce and collaborative work. The 'very reassuring and supportive' Ben Twitchen is also recommended.

Tees Law is growing its family law practice, adding three solicitors to the Bishop's Stortford office in 2017, including Elizabeth Gale, who joined in March 2017 from Withers LLP and has extensive experience acting for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth financial cases, often involving complex international business structures, remuneration and benefits schemes and trusts. Her expertise compliments the practice's track record in financial matters involving estate planning and farming land, financial remedy proceedings involving property, and matters involving overseas assets. Other key figures include Sally Powell, who heads the practice and is noted for her collaborative law expertise; and David Redfern, who handles complex financial issues.

At Woodfines LLP, John Egan handles high-net-worth financial claims and cohabitation disputes. John Leadbeater's expertise covers all divorce proceedings, high net-worth family finance cases and childcare issues. Sonia Topiwala is also recommended.

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Legal Developments in South East for Family: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx

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