Family: Essex in South East

Birkett Long LLP

The family team at Birkett Long LLP has broad expertise in skillfully handling high-value and often complex divorce, child arrangement matters, and financial remedy proceedings. The team is led by the 'committed and drivenLisa Collins. Recent work highlights include a cross-border property development matter which was headed by Colchester-based head, Philip Hoddell, who is noted for his 'sharp focus'. Basildon-based Muntech Kaur  is commended for her 'fantastic advice'. Solicitor Lucy Birch joined the team this year from Pinney Talfourd LLP.

Practice head(s):

Lisa Collins, Philip Hodell

Other key lawyers:

Muntech Kaur; Lucy Birch


The team is strategic, pragmatic and – most importantly – honest and straightforward about the legal risks, costs and related issues.

Philip Hoddell provides very calm, straight-talking, business-like advice. He brings gravitas and commands confidence.’

The team inspires confidence due to their knowledgeable and extremely reputable practice.

Birkett Long is a remarkable practice, which has gone from strength to strength.

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP's family practice group is overseen by the 'diplomaticSimon Osborn, whose expertise lies in complex high-value financial crime and family litigation matters. The team has been acting for a number of private clients in cross-border financial remedy applications in relation to divorce proceedings. Melanie Wilson joined the department from Birketts LLP as a partner. Other key practitioners include Charlotte Knappett, who has experience in handling private law matters relating to children, having represented a client in a Hague Convention proceedings, as well as Rachel Earnshaw, who also specialises in child care proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Simon Osborn


Fisher Jones Greenwood is very efficient and professional. They keep you up to date and explain matters in a jargon-free way.’

Simon Osborn consistently provides very good advice in a manner which is both friendly and professional.’

Pinney Talfourd LLP

Catherine Polli is the key contact and head of the family team at Pinney Talfourd LLP, which manages a spectrum of contentious and non-contentious high-value matters, often with a cross-border element. Recent highlights for the practice include a representing a private client in a complex high-stakes financial remedy proceeding that is awaiting a final order. Similarly, Michael Sheville represented a client in a sensitive financial remedy case which he led to a favourable outcome. Other key members of the team include Sebastian Burrows and Catherine Loadman.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Polli


The team is highly professional: expert lawyers with a strong client focus, efficient and timely in their management of cases.’

‘The group demonstrated cohesive teamwork and collaborative working; identifying partners with the relevant level of expertise to assist. Excellent service.

‘The Pinney Talfourd family team is head and shoulders above its local competition and capable of holding its own with the very best.’

The team is very much in the image of Catherine Polli and there isn’t a weak link in sight. The strongest lineup of any family team that we dealt with in Essex.

Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors

Renowned as being the 'best family law firm in Essex', the 'impressive' team at Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors is led by 'stand-out lawyer', Joyti Henchie who specialises in a spectrum of matters ranging from divorce and separation, financial settlements, children disputes, child protection, pre-nuptials, and civil partnerships matters, as well as aspects of private and public law matters. Louise Eady is 'pragmatic and gives realistic advice', and is an accredited specialist in cohabitating and financial matters, advising clients on issues including applications for financial remedies. Stephanie Holmes undertakes private family law work.

Practice head(s):

Joyti Henchie

Other key lawyers:

Louise Eady; Stephanie Holmes


A small but impressive department where everyone, at all levels, is impressive in the way they prepare their cases and the service they provide to clients.’

Joyti Henchie is a leader in her field, without question and an exceptional practitioner in the department with a first-class practice.’

Henchie rightly has a reputation of fearlessly representing her client’s interests. She is extremely hardworking, dedicated and clients love her.’

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP's family practice area is led by senior associate Emma Brunning and overseen by the regional head, Ipswich-based divorce partner Oliver Gravell. The team undertakes significant high-value matters for high net worth corporate clients and private individuals spanning international divorce cases, pensions and child act matters. Melanie Wilson departed the firm for Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP. Senior associate Ivana Radovic joined the team from Gotelee Solicitors.

Practice head(s):

Oliver Gravell

Other key lawyers:

Emma Brunning

Ellisons Solicitors

The family team at Ellisons Solicitors - which handles matters including family litigation, property disputes between unmarried couples and dissolution of civil partnerships - is led by Nicola Coates, who is the 'go-to' practitioner for high net worth clients, advising on complex and high-value divorce matters. Newly promoted partner and mediation-trained lawyer Lisa Dawson continues to act for private clients in litigation and child arrangement orders. Samantha Chase joined the team upon completing her qualification.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Coates

Other key lawyers:

Lisa Dawson


Nicola Coates is very good with clients and takes a pragmatic and considered approach to cases.’

The team is quick to respond to queries and has good customer service.

Tees Law

Tees Law merged with Brentwood firm Wortley Byers LLP, creating a 30-partner strong team. The merged family team, which is led by Sally Powell in Bishop's Stortford, has expertise in handling a broad scope of work in divorce and litigation, with additional niche areas including international child abduction cases. In Brentwood, where the well-regarded Louise Margiotta is among the key partners, the merged business will be known as Tees incorporating Wortley Byers. Joshua Coombe heads up the family team in Chelmsford.

Practice head(s):

Sally Powell

Other key lawyers:

Louise Margiotta; Joshua Coombe; Louise Buttery; Caroline Andrews


‘I have recommended the family department to a number of clients and friends. I have also been involved in transactions with the corporate and commercial department. Both departments provided a very efficient service.’

‘My solicitor Caroline Andrews was extremely helpful and explaining things to me in layman’s terms. I would thoroughly recommend her to deal with your divorce.’

‘The practice is very professional in its approach and has a family feel to it. They are very caring and empathetic to your needs and take the time, no matter how long, to understand the situation.  It is then dealt with in a very efficient manner.’

‘I was immediately impressed by the professionalism and knowledge of the staff. They quickly took over my family law case and ensured that there was no further delay in progressing within the legal process. I am particularly impressed by the level of communication I have observed. Work does not stop when my solicitor is out of the office or on leave. There is always someone available to answer my queries or deal with any issues which arise.’

‘Louise Margiotta went above and beyond to help her client, showing compassion where needed. Her tenacity helped tremendously when on the verge of throwing in the towel. Her professional yet caring approach would endeavour to recommend her to anyone who needs a strong solicitor on their side.’

‘Louise Margiotta is very experienced, has great judgement and provides a hugely supportive service to her clients.’

‘Caroline Andrews and Louise Margiotta handle matters with a calm, pragmatic manner. Having worked with Caroline for a number of years I have found her to be a responsive and pragmatic family solicitor.’

‘Louise Margiotta made my dealing with the practice exceptionally easy. She understood the personal nature of my situation and always tried to put herself into my shoes and provide me with best advise. At times, we would disagree on matters, but would always have a professional conversation and agree on the way forward. Although my case has concluded, she has kept in contact and because of this I would always recommend them.’

‘What impresses me most about Louise Margiotta is her wealth of knowledge, she is highly experienced and this is evident when speaking to her. She is straight to the point and positive in her approach to my case. I would not hesitate to instruct Louise again in future if necessary.’

Baxter Harries

The family practice at specialist boutique Baxter Harries is competent in the full range of services in the family law area, particularly childcare. 'Extremely experienced' Ongar-based practice head Deborah Baxter leads the team and has expertise in LGBT parenting issues and family creation matters. 'Exceptional advocateLaura Carr is based in Basildon and has a speciality in representing parents and carers with learning difficulties and/or mental health problems.

Practice head(s):

Deborah Baxter; Laura Carr


A joy to work with. They are always thorough and coherent, nothing is ever missing.’

Deborah Baxter is highly experienced and extremely knowledgeable . This is reflected in the advice given, her direct approach and the way in which she responds to what can be very difficult parent requests or complaints.’

Work highlights

  • Represented two teenage refugees in Care Proceedings in which their return home to the care of their father was secured.
  • Represented a female parent of adopted children in contested proceedings against her estranged female partner.
  • Represented a father in lengthy Care Proceedings involving allegations of sexual abuse.

Holmes & Hills

The family department at Holmes & Hills is led by 'committed and outcome driven' Carol Toulson and has vast experience in complex and sensitive child care matters and high-value divorce proceedings. Examples of the firm's work include advising a client in divorce proceedings and the financial settlement over matrimonial assets worth more than £4m.  Collaboratively trained lawyer Sue Wardropper is a key figure in the practice and also has experience in divorce and separation.

Practice head(s):

Carol Toulson


Holmes & Hills are a very well established firm and have a longevity within the Essex legal community which is almost unparalleled.’

‘Carol Toulson is an industrious and clear thinking partner in Holmes & Hills. She is empathetic towards her clients while at the same time offering clear and concise advice which is easy to digest.’

‘Extremely good wide-ranging legal advice to the community.’

Jefferies Essex LLP

Jefferies Essex LLP's family department undertakes a significant amount of work related to childcare and public law care cases, with an emphasis on international child care cases. Anne-Marie Rainsford is currently representing a child in private law proceedings over her living arrangements, involving an order by the client's mother seeking her to live overseas. Overseen by practice head Stella Young, the firm has expanded its practice with a new office in Chelmsford and new recruits such as Farah Naz who moved from The Sethi Partnership Solicitors.

Practice head(s):

Stella Young

Other key lawyers:

Anne-Marie Rainsford

Mullis & Peake LLP

The family practice at Mullis & Peake LLP is led by Roisin McCorry and undertakes a wide array of private child care matters. Angela Sharma , who was previously head of the family department at Sackvilles , brings a wealth of experience to the firm and manages complex financial settlements and divorce cases. Other notable practitioners include Jessica Thrower , who has experience in complex, and often sensitive, child arrangement matters.

Practice head(s):

Roisin McCorry


Palmers family practice team is led by 'standout lawyer' and recently promoted partner Surjit Verdi, and spans across four locations in Essex. The team handles all family law matters, including high-net-worth divorce cases. Kim Mansfield , who 'stands out for her commitment to clients', has expertise in divorce and separation matters, and has advised clients on six-figure divorce and financial remedy cases.  Basildon based Tanya Dodo is also a name to note.

Practice head(s):

Surjit Verdi


Surjit Verdi is extremely experienced, personable and a real asset to Palmers. She has a no-nonsense approach to the law and I would highly recommend her.

Surjit Verdi is a delight to work with.

Palmers are professional, helpful, have a pragmatic approach to the law and are able to provide great service efficiently.

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP's family team provides a full scope of services including cohabitation disputes, financial remedy proceedings, cross-jurisdiction assets to child care disputes and complex child relocation cases. Christopher Wall heads the team, which has recently acted for a client in a high-value financial remedy case with foreign interests abroad. Melanie Steeples specialises in pre and post-marital agreements.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Wall

Other key lawyers:

Melanie Steeples

Sternberg Reed

Sternberg Reed covers all aspects of family law with an emphasis on childcare matters, including adoption. Overseen by joint practice heads Elizabeth Bendall and Soulla Kokkinos, the group has vast experience in financial remedy cases, cohabitation proceedings and disputes over children . Gordon Reed handles complex public law child matters and is a consultant with the firm. Francesca Clay is noted for going the 'extra mile for her clients' and, as such, inspiring 'total confidence.'

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Bendall; Soulla Kokkinos

Other key lawyers:

Gordon Reed; Francesca Clay


Gordon Reed and Elizabeth Bendall are both highly experienced, reliable and dedicated to good outcomes for clients, even in very complex, difficult & demanding cases.’

Excellent communicators who give high-quality advice to clients.


The family team at Cunningtons is led by Chelmsford based Katie Beer and also spans offices in Braintree and Wickford. The team undertakes a wide range of family services with Beer handling cohabitation agreements, prenuptial agreements and representing unmarried couples. Wickford based senior associate Louise Paynter handles child care matters and often acts for high-net-worth clients. Jill Wiggins in Braintree advises on both public and private law matters.

Practice head(s):

Katie Beer

Other key lawyers:

Louise Paynter; Jill Wiggins

Meaby & Co

'Refreshingly modern and welcoming', the family team at Meaby & Co is led by specialist Joanna Toloczko , who brings over three decades of experience to the team in Chigwell, where she has been overseeing the practice since joining from Mullis & Peake LLP. The group is proficient in handling a wide array of medium to high net worth matters for clients in relation to divorce, applications for financial remedies, private children law and more. The team has recently been engaged in a £2m cross-jurisdictional divorce and financial remedy case. The firm is expanding and is due to open a new office in Dublin.

Practice head(s):

Joanna Toloczko


Joanna Toloczko impresses with her client service, technical knowledge, and commercial acumen.’

Joanna Toloczko is simply great at what she does. She goes above and beyond to help her clients.’


Thompson Smith and Puxon

The 'impressive' team at Thompson Smith and Puxon deals with all family law matters and is led by Clacton-based Marcus Price. The team undertakes a wide range of work spanning divorce proceedings, financial settlements, post-nuptial agreements, and private family law matters. Collaboratively trained solicitors Alison Cantor and Shelley Cumbers , who are based in Colchester, are core members of the team and handle high-value matters. Alongside family matters, Cumbers also manages related financial and property issues.

Practice head(s):

Marcus Price

Other key lawyers:

Shelley Cumbers; Alison Cantor


The team places traditional customer service at the heart of their work .  A good all-around team to work with.’