Family: Essex in South East

Birkett Long LLP

Praised by clients as an ‘exceptional firm in terms of breadth of knowledge within the sector’, Birkett Long LLP offers particular strength in advising on the whole range of divorce-related work, including financial remedy and private child law matters. The team is jointly steered by Lisa Collins, who splits her time between Chelmsford and Basildon, and Mel Loxley in Colchester; both are recommended for their capabilities in financial remedy proceedings, cohabitee disputes, and pre and post-nuptial agreements, as well as disputes regarding child arrangements. Philip Hoddell is well known for his strength in complex and high-value financial matters, and Francesca Cozens offers niche expertise in grandparent work, including special guardianship orders and child arrangement orders.

Practice head(s):

Lisa Collins; Mel Loxley

Other key lawyers:

Philip Hodell; Francesca Cozens; Farrah Harvey-Nawaz


‘Birkett Long has a wide breadth of knowledge within its family team, and I know from my own experience they are supportive of each other and all work to a very high level. They are an exceptional firm in terms of breadth of knowledge within the family law sector.’

‘Philip Hoddell is an exceptional solicitor who not only provides clear straightforward and honest advice and guidance, but goes the extra mile to offer reassurance, and care making you feel as a client that your best interests are put first.’

‘Mel Loxley is absolutely fantastic. The service we received was outstanding. We have complete confidence with her expertise and capabilities, and we feel very fortunate that we have such a wonderful solicitor.’

Birketts LLP

Financial remedy arbitrator and collaborative lawyer Emma Brunning leads Birketts LLP’s family team in Chelmsford, while Katie Beaven in Ipswich is overall leader for the firm’s South East offices. The team is sought out by company directors and shareholders, and high-net-worth individuals for expert advice on the whole range of family law matters, including complex corporate, financial, tax, trust and pension issues, as well as child arrangements. Jennifer Headon joined in July 2022 and further strengthens the team’s offering with her experience in handling complex financial remedy work and private children law matters, and niche expertise in international family law.

Practice head(s):

Katie Beaven; Emma Brunning

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Headon; Tom Wright; Ivana Radovic; Dharshica Thanarajasingham


‘They have taken a genuine interest in my case and have supported me throughout many challenging situations.’

‘Impressive teamwork and flexibility. They draw from a talented group of solicitors who work across all of their offices to ensure the best person is available to the client wherever the case may be heard.’

‘The Chelmsford team are providing London quality work at Essex prices and so are extremely good value for money. They are able to give pragmatic and solution-focused advice to clients.’

‘Emma Brunning – she has a quiet steel to her. Resolute in her support of her clients, able to give them clear and realistic advice and thinks ahead in order to get the best result.’

‘Dharshica Thanarajasingham – she is hardworking and committed to each case. She is encouraging and supportive to clients.’

‘I’ve worked with Jennifer Headon, and am impressed by her absolute commitment to clients. She masters being the right level of fierce and tenacious with the opposition, whilst having complete empathy and endless reassurance for the client. In short, she’s great.’

‘Tom Wright is punctual, thorough, client-focused, attentive, responsive and a pleasure to work with.’

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP

With resources to deliver high-quality advice across the whole spectrum of family matters, Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP stands out as a ‘safe pair of hands’ with ‘extensive experience’ in the space. Colchester-based Simon Osborn heads up the family department, and is reputed for his expertise in high-value and complex financial cases. Rachel Earnshaw is well versed in complex public law children matters, as is Charlotte Knappett, who also provides advice on complex domestic abuse situations. Julia Brewer‘s practice extends to private children, matrimonial and financial remedy cases. Ash Peachey was hired in 2022 and joined the firm’s new office in Braintree.

Practice head(s):

Simon Osborn

Other key lawyers:

Julia Brewer; Andrew Brown; Lisa O’Boyle; Ash Peachey; Rachel Earnshaw; Charlotte Knappett


‘There is a breadth of knowledge within this team, not only including private Children Act work and financial remedy, but also care work. They are known as a safe pair of hands, and have extensive experience in this area.’

‘Lisa O’Boyle provided an excellent service throughout my divorce. She handled my case with compassion and understanding.’

‘Charlotte Knappett stands out for her professionalism and expert knowledge.’

‘The team was accommodating, friendly and responsive.’

‘Julia Brewer and Lisa O’Boyle are an absolute credit to the legal world. They are honest forward thinking and extremely passionate about their role to help you.’

‘Lisa O’Boyle provides sensible and pragmatic advice to clients. She is extremely knowledgeable and develops a good rapport with her clients. I would have no hesitation in recommending her.’

‘Rachel Earnshaw is hugely experienced, and is widely regarded as someone who is able to represent people even in the most difficult of circumstances. She is very knowledgeable, and provides pragmatic advice. I would have no hesitation in recommending her.’

‘The level of knowledge from both Julia Brewer and Lisa O’Boyle is amazing. Lisa O’Boyle represented me recently, and she was always on hand to offer advice. During a family dispute you need reassurance, honesty and advice, and they both excel in every field.’

Pinney Talfourd LLP

Offering ‘real depth of expertise’, Pinney Talfourd LLP’s family department exclusively undertakes privately funded work and is praised for its ‘strength in high-net-worth finances and children cases‘. With five offices, the firm is present all over Essex and has recently further strengthened its offering with the hire of three additional solicitors, including Surjit Verdi from Palmers in May 2023. Group head Catherine Polli and Catherine Loadman are experts for complex financial remedies, while Michael Sheville is recommended for financial provision matters and private children law, and Louise Eady is involved in the firm’s surrogacy and fertility offering.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Polli

Other key lawyers:

Louise Eady; Catherine Loadman; Michael Sheville; Surjit Verdi


‘Louise Eady is very impressive and is 100% committed to achieving the best outcome for her clients.’

‘Pinney Talfourd are an excellent firm, providing a top-quality service both in terms of legal advice and client care.’

‘I have worked with Catherine Loadman on several cases now and would not hesitate to recommend her. Catherine goes above and beyond for her clients and is a pleasure to work with.’

‘Pinney Talfourd are a forward thinking and modern law firm that stand out from competitors.’

‘I always enjoy working with lawyers such as Michael Sheville, who always gives me clear and concise instructions.’

‘Catherine Polli oversaw my case and was consistently excellent. She has extremely good in-depth knowledge of her topics, and provided solid, qualified advice.’

‘They have a real depth of experience in their family department, from recently qualified solicitors to those with over 25 years’ experience.’

‘The firm is very professional whilst keeping the personal touch that is important in family work. A large team covering all aspects, with strength in high-net-worth finance and children cases.’

Work highlights

  • Advising a high-net-worth individual in relation to a significant financial remedy claim with assets in excess of £15m.
  • Advising a client in relation to financial remedy claims where school fees, properties and tax were issues.

Holmes & Hills

High-value divorces, including those with business assets, and complex child access arrangements, are part of Holmes & Hills‘ wide family law offering. Providing an ‘outstanding service’ to her clients, team head Carol Toulson in Marks Tey handles the departments most complex cases, including financial settlements and difficult children cases. ‘Phenomenal solicitorSarah Russell and Alexander Garrett are recommended for high-value, complex financial matters.

Practice head(s):

Carol Toulson

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Garrett; Sarah Russell; Sue Wardropper


‘Compassionate, caring, professional, resourceful, knowledgeable, kind and experienced.’

‘Offices in multiple locations. Very useful initial consultation when ‘all seems lost’. Every staff member has been pleasant and helpful, always willing to find an answer.’

‘Carol Toulson has provided an outstanding service during my divorce proceedings.’

‘Sue Wardropper and team were extremely effective at dealing with a very hostile divorce, which eventually concluded to my total satisfaction.’

‘Alex Garrett has been outstanding in his conduct and professionalism whilst representing me. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field and has a very calming and methodical approach. He is a leading solicitor in this area of work, and I have had no hesitation in referring a number of friends to him.’

‘Sarah Russell has been a phenomenal solicitor during this very stressful time. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and caring. All the advice she has given me has been faultless. I would not hesitate in recommending Sarah to anyone.’

‘Great team all round. Very responsive and great communication.’

‘The team has a wide range of experience, and are able to offer alternate dispute resolution services, not just traditional avenues.’

Work highlights

  • Advising on a financial settlement whereby the client’s business assets in excess of £45m are anticipated to be mostly excluded from settlement.
  • Advised on a high-value, complex financial settlement complicated by disability, compensation and vastly differing financial situations.
  • Advised on a £5.5m financial settlement, including property investments within a SIPP.

Tees Law

Tees Law’s Essex family team works from the firm's offices in Chelmsford, Brentwood and Saffron Walden, and is praised by clients for being ‘efficient, informative, and very empathetic’. The department is led by Chelmsford-based Joshua Coombe, who excels in high-value financial claims, and Sally Powell in Bishop’s Stortford. Caroline Andrews leads the team in Brentwood, and has niche expertise in fertility and surrogacy law, as well as preconception agreements.

Practice head(s):

Joshua Coombe; Caroline Andrews; Sally Powell


‘They have been incredible. They are very responsive and provide clear, practical advice.’

‘Caroline Andrews has made what seemed impossible, possible. She explained every step of my divorce in understandable terms and ensured I received an amazing outcome.’

‘The family law department is particularly strong at working with third parties to ensure a good outcome for their clients.’

‘A good team of talented and experienced family lawyers led by Joshua Coombe. Approachable, knowledgeable and considerate lawyers, who offer pragmatic advice.’

‘The practice is amazing and extremely approachable, although being large, this has not inhibited the client service I have received.’

‘The team are efficient, informative, and very empathetic, which stood out for me at a difficult time. I felt in very safe hands, which gave me confidence.’

‘The individuals that I have dealt with have been empathetic to my situation but also dealt with me giving all the information that I needed in a clear and concise way that I could easily understand. Joshua Coombes in particular was very clear, informative and supportive throughout the process.’

‘They care and are always one step ahead in proceedings to ensure things progress as quickly as possible.’

Work highlights

  • Advising a client on an application for a parental order where the parties were outside the scope of the Human Fertilisation Authority Act 2008. Successfully arguing where the legislation can be ‘read down’ in line with case law.
  • Advising a client on divorce proceedings involving a substantial commercial property portfolio and personal wealth worth over £9m.
  • Advising a client in issuing financial order proceedings valued at £6m.

Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors

Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors‘ family department in Hertford has ‘a good reputation locally’, and is geared to support its clients on divorce and financial settlements, collaborative law issues, child protection matters and prenuptial agreements. Belinda Strange leads the team with over 20 years of experience in family law, and focuses on matters related to divorce or separation. Another key contact is Resolution member Stephanie Holmes. Collaborative lawyer Joyti Henchie remains active in the department as a consultant.

Practice head(s):

Belinda Strange

Other key lawyers:

Joyti Henchie; Stephanie Holmes


‘Their approach is personable, they do that brilliantly.’

‘Joyti Henchie is best described as being the standout lawyer of her generation in this field. There is no question of her ability as a lawyer, and there is in my view no-one better in this field.’

‘Attwatwers undertake the full range of family law work. A number of cases are transferred to the High Court owing to their complexity. They have a good reputation locally, and are well respected.’

Giles Wilson Law Limited

Providing a ‘first-class service’ to its clients, all individuals in Giles Wilson Law Limited‘s family department in Leigh-on-Sea are members of Resolution. Group head and ‘outstanding solicitor’ Richard Busby is a key contact for complicated prenuptial agreements, matrimonial conflicts, and child arrangements, while Philip Giles is recommended for complex financial divorce work and financial abuse cases.

Practice head(s):

Richard Busby

Other key lawyers:

Philip Giles


‘Giles Wilson provides a first-class service. The team are pro-active, forward-thinking and solution focused. Within matrimonial finance the team are adept at progressing applications swiftly and effectively making full use of ADR solutions where appropriate. Case preparation is second to none and client’s feel like they have a solicitor who will fully fight their corner.’

‘Richard Busby is an excellent solicitor.’

‘The team at Giles Wilson have been professional and friendly right from the start of contact. I can’t recommend them enough, the knowledge of everybody I spoke to has been exceptional.’

Work highlights

  • Successfully acted for a respondent in an internal leave to remove application.
  • Acted for a client facing multiple allegations of domestic abuse, and finished with no facts found and secured child arrangements.
  • Advised a client on a high-net-worth case with a combined asset value of over £10m.

Mullis & Peake LLP

Sally Ward, who is praised by clients for giving ‘consistent and well-explained advice‘, leads Mullis & Peake LLP‘s family department from Romford, but is also present in the firm’s offices in Shenfield and Upminster. Roisin McCorry specialises in complex financial matters, including those involving businesses, executive pensions and contingent assets. ‘Committed and reliable practitioner’ Jessica Thrower‘s practice includes handling complex child arrangements, cohabitee issues, adoptions and special guardianship work.

Practice head(s):

Sally Ward

Other key lawyers:

Roisin McCorry; Jessica Thrower


‘Very warm and welcoming.’

‘Sally Ward is very approachable. She is very good at explaining the legal process in layman’s terms. She has given consistent and well explained advice.’

‘Sally Ward is very patient and understanding, has been very considerate to legal costs, and has championed a low-conflict approach.’

‘The Team is very professional, efficient, and provides good quality legal advice.’

‘Jessica Thrower is a committed and reliable practitioner. Her clients speak very positively about her. She provides sensible and reliable legal advice and assistance.’

‘I enjoy working with Sally Ward and her clients. Sally seeks the best possible outcome for her clients and is keen to seek guidance on matters that fall outside of her expertise.’

‘The team is experienced, with senior solicitors with wide ranging experience in all areas.’

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP

With bases in Westcliff-on-Sea, Billericay and Benfleet, Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP‘s family department is reputed for its ‘great depth of knowledge and experience’. Department head Chris Wall is a key contact for complex financial matters, and private children law disputes. Annette Lowen is a member of the firm’s dedicated children department, while Melanie Steeples specialises in financial remedies, and Summer Croft is praised by clients as ‘a true asset to the firm’.

Practice head(s):

Chris Wall

Other key lawyers:

Annette Lowen; Melanie Steeples; Summer Croft


‘A very personable and friendly team with a great depth of knowledge and experience in relation to all aspects of family law. The team is very approachable and always go the extra mile for their clients.’

‘Fantastic, hardworking team. In particular Summer Croft, who is a true asset to the firm. Nothing is too much trouble, and she goes above and beyond. We would recommend Paul Robinson to everyone.’

‘Summer Croft is very knowledgeable, and nothing is too much trouble. I really recommend her for family law.’

‘I first spoke to Summer Croft for legal advice in relation to a potential divorce case, and she was incredibly sympathetic and provided concise advice without making me feel like I had to action anything straight away. Her help has been invaluable.’

Sternberg Reed LLP

Sternberg Reed LLP‘s ‘dedicated, hardworking, and always available’ family child law department is noted for its knowledge of private family law, including divorces, financial relief, child arrangements, and prenuptial agreements. A standout out feature is the team’s expertise in child abduction cases and leave to remove applications. Barking-based Soulla Kokkinos leads the team, and is an expert in cases involving domestic abuse and forced marriage. Romford-based Rebecca Viola heads up the private family team, and is particularly noted for her experience working with high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. Julian Beard has vast experience in handling complex financial disputes, while Francesca Clay specialises in children matters, and has taken over a variety of matters from Gordon Reed, who retired in April 2023.

Practice head(s):

Soulla Kokkinos; Rebecca Viola

Other key lawyers:

Julian Beard; Andrew Crossley; Francesca Clay


‘The team is diverse. I would say the unique quality of the team is that they are able to provide excellent legal knowledge with compassionate client care.’

‘Soulla Kokkinos and Francesca Clay are both stand-out partners in this firm.’

Soulla Kokkinos is efficient, she is excellent at communicating with clients and keeping them informed of developments with their case. She also provides clear and realistic advice which clients appreciate.’

‘The service I have received is nothing short of outstanding, from the first consultation to the present day.’

‘Julian Beard offers an exceptional service, and his extensive knowledge is really impressive.’

‘Strong family law knowledge. Excellent client care. Always looking for practical solutions to clients’ needs.’

‘Rebecca Viola was my solicitor, and I cannot praise her enough. She not only made sure my case was so in-depth with evidence to make it impossible to lose, but she also made herself available anytime I needed. Rebecca has become someone I call a friend and I know that I can call on her if needed.’

‘Soulla Kokkinos’ knowledge of family law is extraordinary and her leadership within the team is what drives its success.’

Family Law Partners

Overseen by Robert Williams in Brighton and led by Essex-based Louise Buttery, Family Law Partners fields a particular strong dispute resolution practice and is praised by clients for ‘going the extra mile in offering support’. Clients ‘would fully recommend’ Buttery, who is equipped to handle high-value financial cases, as well as complex children matters.

Practice head(s):

Robert Williams; Louise Buttery


‘This is a unique specialist firm with a real breadth in partners and associates. They have detailed knowledge of their areas and can draw upon wide family law resources within the firm.’

‘Vast experience and technical knowledge, with a personal touch.’

‘Louise Buttery is a joy to work with. She is passionate about good outcomes for her clients, and communicates with both clients and professional partners effectively.’

‘A huge breadth of experience, they bespoke their services to meet the needs of individual clients. They are at the forefront of alternate dispute resolution services.’

‘Louise Buttery is technically excellent. She knows all rules, procedures and black letter law but even better than that she is kind and empathetic to clients listening to their needs. She is an excellent collaborative lawyer who will always promote alternative dispute resolution where appropriate to get a quicker and less painful outcome for her clients.’

‘They go the extra mile in offering support.’

‘Louise Buttery has been exceptional from the outset and guided me through a long divorce case.’

‘Louise Buttery was absolutely outstanding in explaining every step of the process, telling me what my options were and also giving me very clear legal advice on the situation. Throughout she was exceptional in staying in touch and keeping me informed about the latest developments, and remained incredibly calm during the court hearing. I would fully recommend her to anyone seeking advice on issues of family law.’

Jefferies Essex LLP

Solicitor advocate Anne-Marie Rainsford in Southend-On-Sea heads up Jefferies Essex LLP‘s ‘outstanding’ family department, which is split into distinct children and matrimonial teams. The children team consists of Sian Jenkins, Brooke Robdrup-Kilgour and Shannon Tomkins, and is equipped to handle a wide spectrum of matters, including public and private law proceedings. The ‘highly efficient’ Marsha Edinburgh, who joined the firm in November 2022, advises on separation agreements and high-value divorce matters as part of the matrimonial team.

Practice head(s):

Anne-Marie Rainsford

Other key lawyers:

Sian Jenkins; Brooke Robdrup-Kilgour; Shannon Tomkins; Marsha Edinburgh


‘Anne-Marie Rainsford and Brooke Robdrup-Kilgour are clear and comprehensive.’

‘Extremely diligent and professional team who have an unmatched knowledge of family law.’

‘All members of the team at Jefferies are outstanding. Brooke Robdrup-Kilgour cares deeply about their clients and always has an unrivalled knowledge of each client’s case and position.’


Providing ‘an amazing service’, Palmers‘ family department is based across five of the firm’s Essex offices, and its wide-ranging practice encompasses divorce, financial remedy, cohabitation, pre-nuptial agreement and domestic violence matters. Rayleigh-based Sarah Dowie also carries out advocacy work in financial and child arrangement matters. Former head of the department Surjit Verdi left the firm in May 2023.

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Dowie


‘Amazing service, very personable.’

‘The team is quick at responding, and has letters out pretty quick. It is great with its knowledge of the law, and easy to talk to.’

‘Thorough, responsive, a pleasure to work with. The firm secures a high level of great quality work.’

Rayden Solicitors

Rayden Solicitors operates from its office in Epping and is led by Stuart Clark and Nazia Rashid, who joined the department in October 2022 from Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP. Described as a ‘brilliant legal mind’, Clark is well versed in handling all financial aspects of separations and specialises in divorces with international elements, while Rashid’s practice includes niche expertise in non-qualifying ceremony of marriage or marriage abroad issues.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Clark; Nazia Rashid

Other key lawyers:

Sara Roddis; Mehnaz Zanil


‘Nazia Rashid is my solicitor. She is outstanding. I am so so so glad that she is looking after me. She is an absolute star, and I don’t know where I would be without her.’

‘No matter what the problem, they always had a person that could help find a solution for me. These guys are the best!’

‘Mehnaz Zanil was always available on call. I really appreciate all her efforts.’

‘One of the best and most competitive boutique firms in the South East. I could not recommend the whole team more highly. They are excellent collaborators. Their key strength is teamwork.’

‘Stuart Clark – a brilliant legal mind – chews through problems. He always has a solution however complex the issue and is charming to boot.’

‘Sara Roddis is an up and coming associate solicitor. Quite amazing, she has experience and calmness far beyond her years. She is one of the hardest working associates I have come across.’

‘Specialist Family Law practice with a breadth and depth of knowledge.’

‘The team is very close knit which means they work together very well. They have excellent links internationally which is important for international family law cases. They also collectively have a high level of expertise.’

Thompson Smith and Puxon

Thompson Smith and Puxon recently recruited the well-reputed Louise Margiotta in May 2022 to restructure its family department. Clients ‘have every confidence’ in Margiotta, who has more than 26 years’ experience in working with separating couples, and excels in complex financial and children matters, such as relocation and child protection issues. Stuart Tyler joined the team in February 2023.

Practice head(s):

Louise Margiotta

Other key lawyers:

Stuart Tyler


‘We worked with Louise Margiotta, and her experience and her demeanour were ideal.’

‘Louise Margiotta was very confident and professional which made me feel that I was in good hands. Louise was exemplary in the understanding of the stresses and emotions of a divorce and she explained the stages of divorce clearly to me. I had every confidence in Louise.’

‘I had confidence in trust, that they are the best people to do the job for me. They went above and beyond to achieve the result required.’