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Family: Essex in South East

Birkett Long LLP

The 'tenacious and courteous' Philip Hoddell (Colchester) and the 'committed and highly knowledgeable' Lisa Collins (Chelmsford and Basildon) are in charge of the family team at Birkett Long LLP. Spanning three offices, it features counsel who are all trained and accredited Resolution members. The team has a dedicated sector practice focusing on divorce, while also covering the financial aspects of family breakdown as well as related private child issues. With notable expertise in these traditional areas, it also out carries out an increasing amount of work for cohabitees under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act. Associate solicitor Muntech Kaur is recommended.

Practice head(s):

Philip Hoddell; Lisa Collins

Other key lawyers:

Mel Loxley; Muntech Kaur


The team is very efficient, responding immediately to either my questions or when new information becomes available. I felt I could completely trust them and was happy to be guided by them. I never had to chase anything up. They were totally on the ball. I felt totally confident in leaving the whole thing in their hands and that it would work out well. I never felt that my case was one of many (which it obviously would have been) but that every detail was attended to as soon as it could be‘.

Everyone was very welcoming at the firm. It was easy to make appointments to see my solicitor, there was clear communication among staff‘.

We have always found all of the solicitors and support staff exceptionally professional and helpful – we deal with hundreds of law firms and Birkett Long LLP really stand out.’

From personal experience I would simply say that Birkett Long deliver. From the outset the advice, the proposed fees and the timescales were all set out clearly from the start and were billed accordingly. Consequently the bills were all paid upon presentation.The team were all very approachable and I always felt that throughout the whole process that I was being very well supported indeed‘.

Philip Hoddell is tenacious, courteous, approachable and gets things done. He stands up for his clients without being contentious‘.

Engaging Philip Hoddell was the best decision I made regarding obtaining a divorce. He was so completely professional – dependable, responsible and hard working. He spoke with clarity, and was unemotive yet caring, kind and sympathetic. Because of his knowledge and experience he didn’t give me questions I was ill advised to answer, but confidently explained the path we should take. His responses to questions were immediate and he always maintained a cool calm approach to everything‘.

Lisa Collins: unwavering commitment and dedication to providing clients with an outstanding service. Responsive and contactable. Achieves excellent rapport with her clients which instils their complete confidence in her ability to represent them‘.

I cannot speak too highly of Lisa Collins. She has all the usual attributes of a top class solicitor, professional, committed, extremely capable, highly knowledgeable and a good communicator. But the level of support, empathy and understanding that we received from Lisa is what sets her apart‘.

Work highlights

  • Assisted client with a multijurisdictional trust case with assets in excess of £10m.
  • Represented a client with multiple property assets in an intervenors case where two other local firms lacked the necessary expertise and depth to handle this case.
  • Acted for a high-net-worth individual in a successful collaborative case (with substantive employment law crossover).

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP

Based in Colchester, accredited arbitrator Simon Osborn leads the family team at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP. Specifically, the offering covers complex cases featuring issues such as special guardianship, alienation and infertility. In addition, clients can source assistance for public law children proceedings, domestic abuse and international child abduction: Charlotte Knappett specialises in all three areas. Furthermore, Rachel Earnshaw, a member of the Law Society’s Children Panel, caters for particularly vulnerable clients, those with low cognitive development and parties affected by drug use.

Practice head(s):

Simon Osborn

Other key lawyers:

Charlotte Knappett; Rachel Earnshaw

Pinney Talfourd LLP

Catherine Polli leads the family team at Pinney Talfourd LLP. Collaboratively trained, she has substantive experience dealing with complex divorce and financial remedy cases. More broadly, the firm includes a number of Law Society panel members and is known for its ability to handle high value disputes. Aside from divorce, areas covered include: financial remedy, Children Act applications (including special guardianship and adoption), pre-nuptial agreements and TOLATA. Michael Sheville is an expert in financial provision matters, Catherine Loadman specialises in private children law and senior associate Louise Eady (a recent hire from Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors) is an accredited specialist in cohabitation.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Polli


A highly efficient practice, with a high level of expertise in respect of the entire range family work, both children and financial remedies. Excellent correspondence aimed at narrowing the issues where possible‘.

A large and cohesive team of family practitioners offering a breadth of experience in all areas of family law.Thoroughly prepared and responsive‘.

Pinney Talfourd is a fantastic firm. They are extremely knowledgeable and have great attention-to-detail, yet are also very down-to-earth. They are always available to assist in whichever way they can, which is greatly appreciated. They truly deserve the excellent reputation they have‘.

Unbelievably efficient‘.

Catherine Polli leads the team and is first rate. She is highly intelligent and – almost more importantly – has excellent judgement. Her ability to deal with clients and opponents is second to none‘.

Catherine Polli herself is a very clever solicitor, having trained as a barrister previously. She is passionate about achieving the best outcomes for her lay clients, and she is very helpful to counsel she instructs‘.

Catherine Polli is very experienced and knowledgeable. She is reassuring and has a calm manner. She is always highly professional but at the same time adopts a common sense approach‘.

Michael Sheville continues to provide an outstanding service to his clients. He is careful and comprehensive in assisting clients and highly effective in case preparation and presentation. Catherine Loadman’s professionalism and warmth are immediately apparent on meeting her. She is insightful and able with a razor sharp readiness to analyse and clarify the legal issues in cases‘.

Tees Law

Louise Margiotta (Brentwood), Joshua Coombe (Chelmsford) and Sally Powell (Bishop's Stortford) lead the family team at Tees Law. Following its merger with Wortley Byers, the firm has increased its expertise in the following areas: judicial separation, domestic abuse, child arrangements, intervenor proceedings and tax planning. In addition, it is noted for its emphasis on alternative dispute resolution, a field in which it increasingly operates in an online capacity. In this regard, Louise Buttery is distinguished by her mediation skills (and stands as an active member of the Resolution National Membership Development Committee). In addition, Caroline Andrews is known for her niche focus on fertility work.

Other key lawyers:

Louise Buttery; Caroline Andrews


This is a tight and well run team with no weak links. It has high standards and is very client focused‘.

Their key knowledge in family law and their work etiquette gives clients extra peace of mind. I was very relaxed when I went through the divorce and Tees Law definitely supported me the whole way. Updates were constantly given about the case and they went the extra mile at all times to make sure I understood the law. Brilliant company and they look after all their clients‘.

I have experience of the Chelmsford, Brentwood and Bishop’s Stortford offices, and all the staff across the board are extremely efficient and provide an excellent service to their clients. As a well resourced firm they are always able to provide expert advice quickly and efficiently‘.

I finally found a solicitors in Tees Law that I could trust after being let down by so many others. Unlike alternatives, Tees Law actually find a solution and then see it through to the end

Louise Margiotta has been exceptional: sympathetic to my situation, implementing a comprehensive approach to my case, encouraging, pushing me and being firm when required (all to achieve the best legal outcome for me as her client). A professional approach at all times‘.

Joshua Coombe is a fearless advocate for his clients, in both high worth money cases and children matters‘.

Caroline Andrews is an exceptional practitioner. She works closely with Louise Margiotta as part of the team and is very approachable. She has an in-depth knowledge of family law and utilises this to ensure the best outcome for her clients‘.

Louise Buttery is a stickler for detail and always goes above and beyond for her clients‘.

Work highlights

  • Represented a wife on the implementation of a post-nuptial agreement to provide protection for family assets to be passed to her during the marriage.
  • Assisted a wife in negotiating a financial settlement involving assets worth circa £20 million.
  • Represented a client in negotiating against a pre-nuptial agreement to secure a £1.8 million settlement, following a short marriage of approximately 7 years.

Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors

All aspects of family law are covered by the team at Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors. Led by Joyti Henchie, it also features senior associate Belinda Strange (a recent hire from Debenhams Ottaway) and collaborative lawyer Karen Wallace (who joined as a result of the November 2019 merger with Stafford Young Jones ). Capable of handling cases involving high-value ancillary relief, it also handles public and private child work TOLATA claims, prenuptials and cohabitation disputes. In addition, clients can source assistance in relation to divorce, separation and same sex marriage issues. Associate Stephanie Holmes is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Joyti Henchie


This team provides a high quality all round service.’

They have good, solid and diverse team that deals with all aspects of family law. They provide a great service as a team, and a real team is what they are. It’s a delight to experience. They are miles ahead of any competitor. I honestly cannot speak highly enough of them – the matters they deal with are so very stressful for the people involved and they make a wonderful job of it all‘.

Attwaters deals with some of the more challenging cases in the Essex area. They are not afraid to act for demanding clients and those with a high net worth or complex financial affairs‘.

The team, ably led by Joyti Henchie, manages a mix of high end money and children work‘.

Joyti Henchie, the stand out member of the team, effortlessly manages all aspects of client’s cases from children through to finances. She is not afraid to give realistic advice. She is very hard working, really cares and rises to a challenge‘.

Joyti Henchie is quite frankly the only family lawyer anyone would ever need. Her abilities as a lawyer are absolutely first class – there is simply no-one better in this field. Her strategic thinking is beyond measure and she is the calming influence on everybody involved‘.

I would particularly single out Joyti Henchie as an exceptional practitioner within the department with a stellar practice. She is at the top of her game. She has an extremely busy and successful practice, and always goes above and beyond the call of duty for her clients. She is held in the highest of esteem by her colleagues locally and I cannot commend her highly enough in terms of her representation of parents in what are difficult and stressful proceedings‘.

Key clients


Work highlights

  • Acted on behalf of a wife in contested divorce proceedings and financial remedy proceedings in the High Court. A multi-million-pound matter with difficult and complex issues.

Birketts LLP

The family team at Birketts LLP is known for its ability to handle the most complex domestic violence and Children Act cases. Led by Oliver Gravell and Emma Brunning, it benefits from a large team of in-house experts (from which it can source cross-disciplinary knowledge). In particular, it has developed a niche specialism in divorces where the interests of company directors and shareholders overlap. As such, key clients are medium to high-net-worth individuals with substantive stakes in pre and post-nuptial agreements. The firm is also adept at arbitration, with Ivana Radovic also providing mediation services.

Practice head(s):

Oliver Gravell; Emma Brunning

Other key lawyers:

Ivana Radovic


Birketts in Chelmsford are one of the go-to firms for private client family law in the area. They are well organised and have great admin support‘.

The firm are friendly and professional. During the most stressful times, when I was under intense pressure and more demanding as a client than usual, the staff showed great support and patience. They were all unflappable, incredibly switched on, bright and helpful. Everyone I spoke to in the office relayed messages in a timely manner and acted on critical documents and matters with a calm competent air‘.

The minute I walked into Birketts I felt comfortable and confident . They way I was greeted was friendly and yet professional‘.

Emma Brunning is an absolute superstar. She is clever, hardworking and provides a fantastic service for her clients. She is a pleasure to work with‘.

Emma Brunning guided me through one of the most difficult times in my life. Emma was professional and yet a rock, standing firm by me at all times. I can honestly say with hand on heart I could not have come through this without her guidance her advice and her kind heart which was an absolute necessity at this time‘.

Ivana Radovic is an exceptional lawyer, pragmatic and thoughtful when needing to move the process forward and yet mindful that family law situations are wrought with emotion. She has showed kindness allied to quiet effective counsel throughout the journey‘.

Ivana Radovic is superlative in so many ways. She is articulate, very bright and switched on in all aspects of family law that were pertaining to my case. She took time to explain the most complex terms in ‘plain English’ to me. She was brilliant at releasing the pressure and taking much of the stress off my shoulders. Shes competent, compassionate and at the same time, razor sharp. Ivana never takes her eye off the ball, is an amazing negotiator and not scared of the opposition‘.

Ellisons Solicitors

The family team at Ellisons Solicitors, which handles matters such as family litigation, property disputes between unmarried couples and dissolution of civil partnerships, is led by Nicola Coates , who advises on complex and high-value divorce matters. Mediation-trained lawyer Lisa Dawson continues to act in litigation and child arrangement orders and handles the firm's work in pre and post relationship agreements.

Stowe Family Law LLP

Sebastian Burrows leads Stowe Family Law LLP's newly established family practice in Chelmsford. Formerly of Pinney Talfourd LLP, he is a recognised divorce specialist bringing substantive experience in financial remedy, asset division and HMRC interventions. The team is distinct for its ability to call on in-house forensic accountancy specialists to support client interests. It is also characterised by its interest in developing areas of law such as special guardianship and surrogacy. Lucy Birch is known for her work in composite private child cases, often including elements of domestic violence, substance addiction and parental alienation.

Practice head(s):

Sebastian Burrows

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Birch


Exceptionally knowledgeable, empathetic and approachable. When their client is having a really hard time and is finding the process emotionally and physically difficult , they take off so much stress and pressure. You can trust them to be honest with you, but to also be exceptionally caring‘.

Professional, sensitive, knowledgeable, transparent, delivering an efficient service on-budget. Advising when necessary at a moment’s notice without hesitation or delay. Sebastian and his team are a great example of a family law practice exemplifying and delivering just and ethical family law‘.

Stowe has only recently launched in Essex, and it is very capably headed-up by Sebastian Burrows. I have been instructed by Seb for many years, in both private children, TOLATA 1996 and matrimonial finance matters and he is very able and an excellent lawyer and strategist‘.

I could trust them, implicitly, with the most emotionally difficult situations .The solicitor I used (Sebastian Burrows) honestly gave the best advice, the most honest cautions and was always able to help with every worry‘.

Sebastian Burrows has been faultless in every aspect of dealing with my case. He has advised me in a professional, knowledgeable, supportive way: always with consideration of the emotive and sensitive situation that I am dealing with. I cannot recommend him highly enough‘.

I have been instructed by Seb Burrows for many years, in both private children, TOLATA 1996 and matrimonial finance matters and he is very able and an excellent lawyer and strategist. Seb has an excellent reassuring bedside manner, and is not afraid to litigate where correspondence has reached an impasse. His papers are very well prepared, and he is bright, intuitive and very good at achieving excellent results for his clients. Having trained as a barrister, he is able to conduct his own advocacy and does so very successfully and persuasively. His case analysis is clear and his instructions succinct and to the point. He is definitely one to watch‘.

Holmes & Hills

The family team at Holmes & Hills is recommended for its work in complex children matters. Led by Carol Toulson, it avoids legal aid work to concentrate on private cases. Specifically, it deals with child issues where the clients are not direct kin (but can be friends of deceased parents or members of an extended family). The firm also handles high-value matrimonial assets, pensions negotiation and the non-disclosure of finances.

Practice head(s):

Carol Toulson

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client who experienced difficult behaviour from their children’s father, including allegations of abuse and attempted kidnap of the child. This case involved a three-day fact-finding hearing and was extremely contentious in nature.
  • Represented a client as an applicant in financial remedy proceedings, divorce proceedings and Children Act proceedings. The case involved many hostile allegations and centred on two Australian nationals.
  • Advised a client on divorce proceedings, financial matters ancillary to divorce, injunction proceedings and application for a child arrangements order.

Jefferies Essex LLP

Southend-On-Sea based Farah Naz is in charge of the family team at Jefferies Essex LLP. Offering clients assistance in divorce and financial proceedings, the team handles medium to high-net-worth financial proceedings that feature international elements. In addition, it covers civil partnerships and is adept at orchestrating claims arising from TOLATA principles.

Practice head(s):

Farah Naz


The care, dedication and passion from all at Jefferies Essex LLP is exceptional. They are driven to ensure that all aspects of very difficult cases are handled with care and compassion whilst being realistic. The practice are not driven by money but on ensuring their clients receive the best care and support. The expertise and experience on offer is outstanding‘.

Farah Naz is very available to clients‘.

Farah Naz has worked tirelessly to ensure that the divorce is dealt with in a way that has the least lasting damage to myself and my children. Her advice is second to none. She is always available to support and answer any questions. I particularly appreciate that Farah is able to be honest even if it is not what i want to hear. She does this in a professional and reassuring way. She is everything i could have wanted in a solicitor acting for me. I am grateful that she is on my side and not against me!‘.

Meaby & Co

Resolution member Joanna Toloczko leads the family team at Meaby & Co.  A noted specialist in financial relief, she is recognised for her experience with family business and trust issues. More generally, the firm handles areas such as private children law, family mediation, domestic violence, separation and cohabitation. Both domestic and international cases are pursued.

Practice head(s):

Joanna Toloczko


Fantastic communication skills, very prompt and accurate with timekeeping and deadlines. Always able to speak to someone when needed and very helpful and polite‘.

Strong practice with good expertise.’

Meaby & Co LLP have a small family team but a very effective one. They are always well prepared, knowledgeable, available and approachable. They get good results for their clients and make sure that they are content with the outcome‘.

A friendly and forward thinking practice which does things differently from other firms‘.

Joanna Toloczko is a fantastic solicitor. She has an amazing approach which is calm concise and caring but also strong and firm. The perfect balance.Her professionalism is second to none and I couldn’t have coped without her caring nature as there were times throughout my divorce that I found very hard and emotional‘.

Joanna Toloczko is an excellent lawyer with a practical approach to all types of family disputes. She deals with the most complex of litigation in a straightforward and efficient manner‘.

Joanna Toloczko is an experienced family solicitor who really cares about her clients and gives them an excellent service‘.

Joanna Toloczko is approachable, highly efficient and has a wealth of experience in this area‘.

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented the father of two young boys in connection with a change of residence due to welfare issues emanating form presence of the mother’s new partner.
  • Represented a client in financial remedy proceedings involving several high value properties and complex Capital Gains Tax issues.
  • Represented the wife of a diplomat in connection with financial remedy proceedings involving cross-border issues and assets in several jurisdictions.

Mullis & Peake LLP

The family offering at Mullis & Peake LLP is led by Roisin McCorry and undertakes a wide array of private child care matters. In particular, Angela Sharma handles complex financial settlements and is known for her work in divorce cases. Other notable practitioners include Jessica Thrower, an associate solicitor who has experience in complex (and often sensitive) child arrangement matters

Practice head(s):

Roisin McCorry

Other key lawyers:

Angela Sharma; Jessica Thrower


Surjit Verdi, who is based in Thurrock, leads the family team at Palmers. Fluent in Punjabi, she is known for working on cases involving complex property and pensions issues. More generally, the firm offers support in areas such as TOLATA, civil partnership dissolution, domestic violence and personal harassment. Schedule 1 Children Act matters are also handled, as are applications for Special Guardianship.

Practice head(s):

Surjit Verdi


The divorce in question has been protracted and complex since assets/income are in four national jurisdictions, three different languages are involved and the other party has changed legal representation several times. Palmers, in the person of lead solicitor Surjit Verdi, have dealt with all matters expeditiously and comprehensively, helping progress a case marked by procrastination and prevarication on the other side, while maintaining a good working relation with the opposing legal team‘.

Palmers is a highly organised and efficient firm. Briefs are thorough, timely and well-presented. Solicitors at the firm are diligent about contacting counsel across the currency of a given case and are prompt in responding to emails. In short the firm is great to work with‘.

Excellent family team. Always willing to help clients and see them at short notice. Sensitive to their needs and able to progress matters quickly. Every member of the family team is efficient and deliver excellent service‘.

The Family team are exceptionally hard workers and dedicated to their client’s cause. The partners and supervisors are always available to assist and advise junior members. The team are accessible to counsel in answering enquiries and are usually ahead of time in sending briefs and case papers to instructed counsel‘.

Surjit Verdi is particularly exceptional family lawyer. She is highly experienced, and a trusted advisor for any family matter. She is intuitive and sensitive to clients needs. She offers sound and practical advice tailored to the client’s individual circumstances. I have no hesitation in recommending her, confident in the knowledge that clients will get the right advice, expertise and client care they deserve‘.

The Palmers team have been excellent at all levels from secretarial and paralegal to the lead solicitor and the barrister engaged on my behalf. Their approach has always been friendly, helpful and supportive. In addition to competent legal advice, my solicitor Surjit Verdi has also provided welcome reassurance in a seemingly unending four-year process. I have no hesitation recommending her and the firm‘.

Surjit Verdi and Kim Mansfield stand out at this firm. Both are highly committed to their clients; thorough and diligent; quick to respond to queries; approachable and easy to work with. Both take the time to ensure that they are providing the very best service to clients and are cognisant of the ever-developing rules, procedures and case law changes in the Family Court‘.

Kim Mansfield is a dedicated and caring family lawyer to who takes a detailed interest in achieving the best outcome for her clients. She is always willing to discuss the case details with instructed counsel and colleagues no matter the time pressures to ensure her clients get the best all round service‘.

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP

A member of the Law Society's Advanced Family Law panel, Christopher Wall oversees the sector team at Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP. Pre/post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation disputes and cross jurisdictional assets are all covered by the firm. In addition, the team handles child arrangement disputes and has experience with complex relocation cases. Melanie Steeples is recommended for financial remedy work while Lorraine George has a 'great eye for detail'.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Wall

Other key lawyers:

Melanie Steeples; Lorraine George


Excellent, responsive, knowledgeable and dedicated team with great strategic planning and good at building client confidence. A pleasure to work with‘.

Lorraine George is an experienced and highly knowledgeable family lawyer. She has a great eye for detail and has a great manner with clients, being sympathetic and reassuring at all times. When dealing with her as an opponent, she has been efficient, constructive and solution focused, which has allowed us to resolve matters for our respective clients quickly and cost effectively‘.

Work highlights

  • Represented a client in a divorce featuring private law children proceedings, local authority investigations, injunctions under the Family Law Act 1996, criminal prosecution and financial proceedings. This featured a 3rd party intervenor.
  • Acted for a wife in relation to divorce, matrimonial finances and children matters, whereby the largest asset is a Personal Injury award given to the Husband.
  • Represented a wife in relation to divorce and finances involving properties transferred by the husband without the client’s knowledge.

Sternberg Reed

The family team at Sternberg Reed is jointly led by child law specialists Soulla Kokkinos in Barking and Elizabeth Bendall in Grays. Taking on a mixture of privately and publicly funded work, it covers areas such as financial relief, abduction, international adoption and child care. The firm places significant emphasis on alternate dispute resolution, with Julian Beard standing as an accredited family mediator.

Other key lawyers:

Julian Beard


Julian Beard: a super manager in a league of his own. He is devoted to his team and is an excellent supervisor. From Junior Solicitor to Consultant they will have excellent leadership and supervision. This means clients receive a great service in terms of both advice and also client care generally‘.

Julian Beard – a supreme litigator in Family Work. He is a fighter, and wins‘.

Giles Wilson LLP

Giles Wilson LLP's family team is led by divorce specialist Richard Busby. Notable for its ability to take on international cases, it is capable of handling complex asset division within both traditional marriage and TOLATA parameters. Other areas covered include pre-nuptial agreements, freezing orders and the analysis of business interests. Philip Giles has substantive experience in financial abuse cases while Rachel Haine is recognised for her work in domestic violence and child arrangement orders.

Practice head(s):

Richard Busby

Other key lawyers:

Philip Giles; Rachel Haine


Giles Wilson is a highly specialist practice. The practitioners have a wealth of experience across a wide range of specialist areas. The practice communicates very effectively internally which enables their clients to easily access, in depth advice across a broad range of legal fields‘.

The team at Giles Wilson are energetic and highly professional. They have a young team who bring new enthusiasm and skills to client care and case preparation and presentation‘.

Richard Busby and the team are very conscious to obtain early advice on the merits of a case which makes being drawn into the matter later far easier. They are friendly, approachable and understand the need for detailed financial planning in finances cases‘.

I would say overall company sets very high standards in the professional way it keeps you up to date with your case setting out realistically the best ways to go forward with your case. Some firms I have used had a tendency to miss giving you the concise but caring service Giles Wilson has given me‘.

Richard Busby is very knowledgeable in his field and will go the extra mile for his clients. He is also very user friendly for clients and opponents alike‘.

I believe Richard Busby has gone over and above in helping towards achieving a good result in a difficult case often staying late in office to smooth over any potential pitfalls that could arise talking me through realistic outcomes‘.

Richard Busby was very helpful and knowledgeable‘.