Birkett Long LLP's specialist team is spread across the Colchester, Chelmsford and Basildon offices. In addition to covering a full spectrum of financial cases and children-related work, it is also increasingly sought-after for advice on TOLATA (the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act) matters involving cohabitees. On the financial remedy side, matters often involve owner-managed businesses, and property and pension assets, as well as issues with an international dimension; Philip Hoddell (who leads the group in Colchester) is recommended for his expertise in this space. Elsewhere, associate solicitor Francesca Cozens has specialist expertise in grandparent work involving Special Guardianship Orders and Child Arrangement Orders. Lisa Collins, whose practice is split between Chelmsford and Basildon, is the head of the South Essex team. Mel Loxley, and associate solicitors Muntech Kaur and Karen Johnson, are also recommended.
Family: Essex in South East
Birkett Long LLP
Philip Hoddell; Lisa Collins
Other key lawyers:
Mel Loxley; Muntech Kaur; Francesca Cozens; Karen Johnson
‘I trust Francesca Cozens completely and have no hesitation in recommending her to the other party in cases I am involved with, whether they are collaborative or non-collaborative cases. Francesca has a broad knowledge of family law and has a lovely way with clients. She is kind, patient and a very reassuring presence for her clients. I have no hesitation in recommending her.’
‘If Birkett Long are acting on the other side you know the other party will have good legal advice and Birkett Long with do their best to progress matters with a conciliatory approach.’
‘Birkett Long is the best firm by far. They have been such a strong supportive network to rely on in such breaking and hard times, nothing is ever too much trouble. I built a great rapport with them instantly, feeling listened to with the attention to detail and their excellent and clear communication skills they worked to resolve the issues. They are friendly, caring, warm and approachable. If my solicitor was unavailable, I received the same level of support and help from other staff members resolving issues immediately and with ease.’
‘My solicitor, Lisa Collins is amazing, she has gone above and beyond her job description to support and coach me through some very tough times. Lisa constantly reassures, encourages and really makes me feel at ease. Lisa has fully understood my case with great attention to detail, utilising her determination and rational judgment to set things out clearly resolving issues to gain the best resolution.’
‘I have found every member of the Birkett Long team extremely helpful and supportive. Even in the midst of the covid pandemic, when most businesses have been forced to work from home, there is always someone on hand to contact and discuss matters with when needed.’
‘I have dealt with Lisa Collins with regard to matrimonial matters- she has successfully negotiated my divorce settlement which is now concluded. Through out the process she has been consistent and clear in her advise, yet responding to my concerns and the situation as it developed. Her letters were excellently written and argued, which greatly strengthened the case. She was pleasant and approachable; non- confrontational , which greatly helped achieve a resolution.’
‘Lisa Collins has been my stand-out legal representative for the past 18 months and absolutely exemplary in all her dealings with my divorce. Lisa is an amazing solicitor who has always and consistently provided me with outstanding and exceptional legal advice, whilst also simultaneously giving encouragement, empathy, compassion and understanding when needed. Lisa has an amazing talent to absorb and cut through a huge amount of complex information, identifying and understanding essential and pertinent points on her feet and fantastic communication skills, speaking concisely and clearly in a way that makes a complex matter seem simple and easy to understand. I cannot praise or speak more highly of Lisa Collins and Birkett Long for every interaction and assistance Lisa has provided me over the last 18 months.’
‘Muntech Kaur from Birkett Long was instrumental to my case and the excellent customer service she provided to me individually. She demonstrated excellence in her professional skills, knowledge and capabilities. She always gave me the right advice and support which was a very complex divorce case, and I could not achieved the outcome without her professional support. Definitely recommend Muntech to anyone who requires such support. Muntech also sought the right Barrister for my case and whom was also instrumental to achieving the desired outcome within the timeframes.’
Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP's first-rate team includes members of the Law Society's Adult and Children Panel, as well as two Collaborative Family Lawyers. Under the leadership of Simon Osborn, it delivers high-quality advice across a multitude of areas, including divorce and family finance, public and private children law, and matters concerning cohabitees. Cases involving trusts of land and domestic abuse are also areas of strength. Osborn's team includes Charlotte Knappett and Andrew Brown. Also of note are Rachel Earnshaw, who has expertise in special guardianship orders, and associate solicitor Julia Hartley.
Other key lawyers:
Charlotte Knappett; Andrew Brown; Rachel Earnshaw; Julia Hartley
‘FJG have a full spectrum of skills and can turn their hand to both the large problems and the small problems which a client might have. Being large in number they are a firm that can resolve a problem at speed and with a high degree of legal expertise and clients come away feeling that they have been well served with a Rolls-Royce service.’
‘All of the solicitors I know at FJG are approachable and likeable people but always maintain their high professional standards throughout. Overall, a brilliant set of individuals that work together to make an even better firm of solicitors who serve the local area incredibly well. Clearly well run from top to bottom.’
‘Simon Osborne was my lawyer and became my sounding board. His advice has saved me money in the long term by me not making emotional decisions. I found his advise to be extremely thorough and he put forward solutions to respond to the other lawyers’ arguments.’
‘What can I say about the whole team at FJG – firstly, they know their onions and their family law. Secondly, they work carefully within your budget. Thirdly, they listen to you and care for you when you are at your lowest point or highest point of doubt.’
‘Charlotte Knappett has shown tenacity in resolving problems and unexpected issues. She has shown diligence, consistency and professionalism.’
‘Charlotte Knappett’s communications are concise and frequent and she is always available to explain the complexities of the legal system. Over and above this Charlotte is friendly and approachable, and left me with no doubts that my case would be settled fairly.’
Pinney Talfourd LLP's first-class family practice is a core part of the wide range of legal services delivered to private clients. The team includes practitioners with memberships of Resolution and the Law Society Family Panel, and it also houses collaborative lawyers. Led by Catherine Polli, it advises on complex financial remedy cases involving significant pensions, property, trusts and tax issues. Although the firm is best known for 'big-money' financial cases, the broader practice also covers TOLATA claims, Children Act applications and civil partnerships, among other matters. In addition to Polli, other recommended individuals include Michael Sheville, Claire Spurgeon and Catherine Loadman. Louise Eady and senior associate Kiren Dhillon are among other key figures.
Other key lawyers:
Michael Sheville; Claire Spurgeon; Catherine Loadman; Louise Eady; Sue Nash; Kiren Dhillon
‘Pinney Talfourd work with a full range of clients, from those with little resources, to those with plenty- offering all an incredible service and reasoned approached to family litigation, which by its nature can be emotional and difficult.’
‘Louise Eady is a really fantastic lawyer with a great tactical mind. Clients know they are getting fair and pragmatic advice and her cases are always excellently prepared.
‘Partner-led personal service and strong level of responsiveness to the initial enquiry.’
‘I have worked with Michael Sheville who was very responsive and gave practical and problem solving advice. This kept fees to an absolute minimum, which was excellent for the client.’
‘Their fee earners consistently impress with their knowledge and efficiency. They serve their clients well. They are a pleasure to have on the other side as they always deal with things promptly. The team has a significant presence in the area. They offer training seminars on their premises and have a member in most relevant local societies.’
‘I have found Michael Sheville to be exceptionally supportive and understanding. Sensitive to my vulnerabilities and specific anxieties. I was particularly appreciative of the fact he was always approachable, available even out of working hours, and kept me fully up to date on my case. I have never met a more hard working or dedicated professional, who always gave sound advice and acted with consultation with me and always in my best interest.’
‘Claire Spurgeon made me feel very comfortable upon first meeting her and I felt at ease to talk about very personal matters. Claire knew her stuff and gave me a lot of help and advice. The process was smooth, professional, friendly and efficient. A quick conclusion was sought and I had no stress.’
‘This firm is a local family firm. It is known as the best firm locally and word of mouth has always been one of their best allies. If you ask anyone in Havering, who is the best law firm, Pinneys is always the answer. They are known for getting you exactly what you need efficiently, professionally and to the highest standard. It is known that the lawyers are the best, and the experience I have had matches these reviews.’
- Advising and representing a client in contested Financial Remedy proceedings involving, multiple properties, tax and pension issues and intervenors – Value in excess of £4m. Settled just before trial.
- Advising and representing a client collaboratively in relation to financial remedy where the assets exceed £8m.
- Advising and representing a client in contesting Children Act proceedings where the issues were so serious and complex that the case bordered private/public law proceedings.
Tees Law's family law offering has a wide reach across Essex, with practitioners in Brentwood, Chelmsford and Bishop's Stortford. Its team is well-known for advising on all types of pre and post-nuptial financial issues, including those involving tax planning, overseas trusts and company structures. Joshua Coombe in Chelmsford and Brentwood-based partner Louise Margiotta collectively have almost 50 years of family law experience. Also located in Brentwood is senior associate Caroline Andrews, who is knowledgeable about fertility law, surrogacy law and preconception agreements. Sally Powell is the main contact in Bishop's Stortford. Louise Buttery moved to Family Law Partners in 2020.
Joshua Coombe; Louise Margiotta; Sally Powell
Other key lawyers:
‘Joshua Coombe is a great leader with good knowledge.’
‘Louise Margiotta is dedicated to her clients and ensures the very best outcome for them. She is pragmatic and offers sensible clear advice whilst protecting their position. She is a highly respected member of the legal community.’
‘Attention to detail and efficiency of service.’
- Advised husband on complex financial order proceedings involving experts to report on pension and corporate issues. Final order implementation necessitated share transfer, property transfer and pension share.
- Advised a father on an intended move by his former partner with their six year old child. A child centred and collaborative approach allowed the parties to agree terms, including the move, for the benefit of the child.
Birketts LLP is well-placed to advise clients on a myriad of complex issues arising from financial and children matters. Also notable is that its family team is able to work with other departments to assist clients with ancillary issues that interplay with family law, such as capital gains tax, TOLATA claims, transfers of shares and partnership disputes. The head of the family team in Chelmsford is senior associate Emma Brunning, who is collaboratively trained and is a Resolution-accredited specialist. She has particular expertise in complex child arrangement cases where there are allegations of drug (and other substance) abuse, as well as sexual, physical and mental harm. Financial matters (including those involving pensions, trusts and tax issues) are also a bedrock of Brunning's practice. Senior associate Ivana Radovic, who is a trained mediator, is also recommended. Oliver Gravell is the head of the family department firm-wide.
Oliver Gravell (overall head of family); Emma Brunning (head of Chelmsford family team)
Other key lawyers:
‘I consider Emma Brunning to be an excellent family solicitor, who is clever and committed to her client’s cause, but also able to provide the necessary advice and guidance that they sometimes do not want to hear. However, her clients trust her and she instils confidence. Emma is a pleasure to work with and her instructions and e-bundles are immaculate. ’
‘Ivana Radovic can be a fearsome opponent who fights her client’s corner with impressive skill and knowledge. She also mediates and works collaboratively so is able to suit her approach to the circumstances. I’d be more than happy to have her acting for me if the circumstances arose.’
‘Leaders in the field. Reputation for excellence, giving a bespoke service from start to finish. ’
‘Ivana Radovic has excellent attention to detail. She goes the extra mile in analysing financial disclosure in a divorce to make sure that nothing goes unnoticed. ’
‘Birketts appear to go above and beyond, they build rapport with clients but present a wonderfully balanced and impartial view when it comes to your stance as a client. All correspondence was speedy and thorough. The accounts department were efficient and very pleasant to deal with too.’
‘Emma Brunning is kind and caring and very sympathetic and tactful when dealing with emotional issues. She was a pillar of strength to me at times and also gave me a realistic perspective on my situation moving forward. She was always fair and balanced in her advice and I feel very lucky to have her represent me.’
‘The firm were organised, efficient, enthusiastic , knowledgeable and looked after us extremely well ensuring that our views were understood and taken into account whilst ensuring that the legal opportunities were clearly explained.’
‘Our lawyer was extremely understanding and took a great deal of trouble to ensure that our concerns and worries were taken into account and the legal options were fully explained in detail and at length, ensuring that we were made aware of legal options available. Extremely empathetic and client orientated thus ensuring that difficult situations were made understandable.’
Ellisons Solicitors‘ team is now led by Lisa Dawson, following the retirement of former practice head Nicola Coates in 2020. Associate MaryCarmel Wilson is another name to note in the group, which demonstrates a wealth of expertise in the entire ambit of family law issues, including divorce (and related financial relief), the dissolution of civil partnerships, children disputes and separation agreements. In addition, the team is experienced in domestic violence injunctions and pre-nuptial agreements, among other areas.
Other key lawyers:
‘Lisa Dawson has exceptional knowledge of the law. She also works hard at trying to come up with creative solutions to resolve cases. Lisa has the balance of being able to really fight for her clients, putting forward strong detailed argument but is also able to work with Resolution principle to help families.’
‘I would not hesitate to recommend Lisa Dawson if people need assistance in this area. I have had nothing but excellent feedback when they have. Lisa provides a thorough and professional service, always striving to ensure that her clients achieve the best possible outcomes.’
Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors
At Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors, Joyti Henchie retired from the partnership in 2020, whilst remaining at the firm as a consultant. Recently promoted partner Belinda Strange has succeeded Henchie as the head of the family practice. With the department seeing a change of leadership, it now focuses on privately-funded family work, including private children law, TOLATA and financial remedy cases. Karen Wallace joined Belmont & Lowe in April 2021.
Other key lawyers:
Stephanie Holmes; Joyti Henchie
‘Attwaters undertakes the full range of family law work in relation to children and finances. They are well known for taking on extremely complex litigation, and number of cases see transfer to the High Court owing to their complexity. They have a strong family law department.’
‘I would particularly single out Joyti Henchie as an exceptional practitioner within the department. She is a consultant at the firm having headed up the department for a number of years She goes beyond the call of duty for her clients. She is held in the highest of esteem by her colleagues and I cannot commend her highly enough in terms of her representation. She has a reputation of fearlessly representing her client.’
‘Excellent team who go well beyond the call of duty. Highly competent yet extremely caring and very good at ensuring the client reassured, informed and robustly represented. The whole team works very efficiently and seamlessly.’
‘The family law team are a truly committed and hardworking team, able to offer robust and practical advise that is affordable and durable. The team places the client at the centre of what they do, guiding them through often the most difficult moments of someone’s life with care and sensitivity, but also ensuring they are fully informed and in control of the decisions made- available to assist before, during and after hearings, really going beyond with client care.’
‘Stephanie Holmes is bright and enthusiastic, Steph has the client’s best interest at heart. Stephanie works openly with all, proactive towards suitable compromise and settlement, but tactical about litigation on the points necessary. Stephanie offers robust and honest advise, she speaks from a wealth of experience and also naturally good instinct – a truly natural lawyer.’
‘I have found Attwaters’ quality and service to be impeccable. Their response times and engagement is impressive for a regional practice. I have no hesitation in recommending them to many clients who would have otherwise engaged City practices and they have been equally impressed.’
Holmes & Hills
Carol Toulson is the main contact at Holmes & Hills' new regional head office in Marks Tey, Colchester. The firm is a notably strong choice for advice on financial settlements that often involve issues over high-value matrimonial assets, pensions and business interests. It also excels in Children Act cases involving issues such as domestic violence and abduction, and are often complicated by mental health issues and alleged drug/alcohol abuse, among other matters.
‘The team listens to clients’ wishes and finds proactive solutions along with providing good professional advice. ’
‘During these unprecedented times I have found communications to still be as good as they previously were. Communication has been clear, concise and within very good timescales, responses quicker than expected, bringing an overall experience of excellent services provided. I have been presented with options with reference to billing and being giving some scope in difficult times has provided myself with ease and confidence when using Holmes & Hills.’
‘All the staff I had dealings with were very welcoming and helpful, from reception to solicitor.’
‘A good breadth of knowledge within the team means they are able to cater for all types of family difficulties at the appropriate level. They have a wide range of options including collaborative lawyers to give clients choice on the best way to resolve their family difficulty.’
‘Carol Toulson is always very empathetic with her clients, appreciating all the trials and tribulations they may be going through. She is always pragmatic and practical in her approach to cases.’
‘Carol Toulson was outstanding and very supportive. She made sure that I was aware of all issues at all stages.’
‘The team offers an excellent service to their clients. They are pragmatic and have an in-depth knowledge of family law.’
‘An excellent practice with fantastic client care and very professional. Made me feel at ease during my legal proceedings.’
- Assisted a victim of domestic abuse to leave the family home by putting her in touch with a relevant organisation and subsequently represented her in divorce and financial settlement proceedings, complicated by an outstanding property investment project.
- Representing a client whereby a pension was in place prior to marriage, and has not been contributed to since marriage. The client is seeking to keep this out of financial settlement, together with a pension settlement requiring valuation on the date of separation.
- Represented a client in divorce proceedings whereby both parties remained in the family home.
Jefferies Essex LLP
At Jefferies Essex LLP, practice head Anne-Marie Rainsford (who is a Child Panel-accredited solicitor advocate) handles public and private children law matters for parents and other family members, as well as children themselves. Elsewhere, the firm provides strong representation in financial cases; solicitor Farah Naz is prominent in divorce cases and financial relief proceedings that often have an international dimension. In addition, the firm is recommended for advice on domestic violence cases.
With Roisin McCorry at the helm, Mullis & Peake LLP, provides clients with excellent representation in divorce and financial settlement proceedings that often involve issues over child arrangements and real estate assets, among others. Noted for her particular pensions expertise, McCorry (who is a member of Resolution and is also a collaboratively-trained lawyer) acts for a mix of clients, such as police officers, GPs, consultants and dentists. She works with associate solicitor Jessica Thrower, who is accredited by the Family Law panel and is also a trained mediator. In addition to being experienced in financial disputes, Thrower is also recommended for her experience of children-related matters, including those concerning adoption and special guardianship.
Other key lawyers:
‘Jessica Thrower offers practical legal advice to her clients to produce a swift resolution to proceedings.’
‘A small but experienced team committed to finding solutions tailored to their clients’ individual needs.’
‘Jessica Thrower is knowledgeable and approachable. She has a warmth and understanding of her clients’ cases, which is outstanding.’
Palmers' wide-ranging workload covers divorce and civil partnership dissolutions, financial remedy, trusts of land, public and private law children law matters, and pre and post-nuptial agreements. Practice head Surjit Verdi is a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel and he is also a specialist member of Resolution, with particular specialisms in advanced financial provision and private children law.
Other key lawyers:
‘Approachable, thorough, and client-focussed. Papers always come well in advance, with high levels of contact up until the case ends. Practitioners are approachable and a pleasure to work with.’
‘Surjit Verdi is forensic, determined, and pragmatic, with an unwavering commitment to getting excellent results for clients; she is a pleasure to work with.’
‘Kim Mansfield is attentive, available, and down to earth; she is a pleasure to work with.’
‘Excellent communication. ’
‘Kim Mansfield is completely dedicated to her clients, very good at communicating.’
Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP's practice focuses on privately-funded instructions. Under the leadership of Christopher Wall, the team handles a broad-cross section of mandates for clients, such as financial remedy proceedings, pre and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements and child relocation cases. Wall is noted for his strengths in medium and large financial disputes that often involve complex issues over trusts, businesses and properties. In addition, he is prominent in cases with an international dimension, as is senior associate Melanie Steeples.
Other key lawyers:
Melanie Steeples; Lauren Larkin; Lorraine George
‘Paul Robinson approach family cases with pragmatism and tactical nous – I would have no difficulty recommending them.’
‘I have been instructed primarily by Lorraine George and have always been impressed by her helpful, targeted, and sensible advice.’
‘Paul Robinson provide an extremely good service in terms of the quality of the work they do in comparison with value for money. They are a really experienced team who tend to approach cases with pragmatism and cost-efficiency in mind. They are effectively providing a service that is comparable to leading London firms in terms of knowledge base and strategic decision making but at a much more affordable cost for clients.’
‘Lorraine George is a pleasure to work with. She handles a significant number of cases at any one time and is efficient in terms of focusing on the important issues and dispelling with the irrelevant. It is always refreshing working for a solicitor, like Lorraine, with that appreciation for the bigger picture because it tends to ensure that your client similarly streamlines their focus.’
‘The family team offers excellent value for money in small to medium financial remedy cases and is a strong regional player. The specific strengths and capabilities I commend are set out below with reference to Lauren Larkin.’
Sternberg Reed's practice has long stood out for its strengths in alternative forms of dispute resolution; one of the key figures at the firm is Julian Beard, who is a Resolution-accredited mediator. Led by Soulla Kokkinos, the team excels in a wide range of family matters, such as those concerning divorce and financial remedies, dissolutions of civil partnerships, international child abductions, child contact arrangements, grandparents' rights and domestic abuse. Francesca Clay, who made partner in December 2020, specialises in children cases involving social services issues and disagreements between parents and other family members.
Other key lawyers:
Julian Bears; Francesca Clay
‘Julian Beard handled my case sensitively and knowledgeably. What started out as a fairly run-of-the-mill divorce case quickly turned acrimonious and Julian was worked with the other side’s legal team to help reach a resolution. He was able to cut through their unnecessary accusations to find a solution that helped move the case forwards. He made himself available when deadlines were tight and was empathetic when I needed someone to speak to. He always reassured me that my information was confidential and, when I needed a Barrister to represent me, connected me with someone who was right for me and my family.’
‘Prompt at dealing with urgent issues.’
‘Julian Beard was professional but with a very clear understanding of my unusual situation. Very reactive on a couple of occasions when things became very unpleasant out of normal office hours.’
‘Julian Beard is hugely experienced and sits as a judge as well, bringing a perspective that assists his clients. Always prepared to go the extra mile he has a strong rapport with his clients and is never afraid of a challenge.’
‘Ensuring the overall fee to the client is realistic, transparent and fixed before any work is undertaken. Frequent reviews to ensure strategy with client front and centre.’
‘Julian Beard – knowledgeable, approachable and a tenacity of purpose on every client’s behalf’
- Acting for a client in a complex financial dispute involving trusts and an overseas business.
- Acting for a client in a complicated private children matter involving historical abuse against the child’s siblings.
- Acting for a client in a High Court abduction case where the mother and children were fleeing the abusive father.
Stowe Family Law LLP's Chelmsford family law practice was founded by managing partner Sebastian Burrows in 2019, who joined from Pinney Talfourd LLP. Under his leadership, the practice has attracted an increased flow of work from Chelmsford-based professionals, including surgeons, solicitors, financial traders and accountants. It undertakes a wide variety of mandates; on the financial remedy side, these often involve pensions, trusts, properties and businesses. Children work is another key feature of the practice, such as cases involving international abduction, grandparents' rights and adoption. Elsewhere, the firm is prominent in complex Trusts of Land cases. In addition to Burrows, who serves as chair of Resolution in Essex, senior solicitor Lucy Birch is another key individual in Chelmsford.
Other key lawyers:
‘Adept client management and sensible robust advice. Realistic and open about prospects of success. ’
‘Sebastian Burrows always brings a clarity to the issues when he seeks instruction. He has the ability to reduce complex issues so that they can be comprehended by his clients and by the accountant instructed. Seb never seems harassed and I imagine that calmness is comforting to his clients. I have also worked with another member of the team, Lucy Birch, at her previous firm, and she was very competent. ’
‘I have worked with Seb Burrows and his interaction with us has been timely and useful. His understanding of his client’s position enables me to provide accurate technical advice to help move matters forward.’
‘Stowe Family Law in Chelmsford is in the ascendant. Seb Burrows has guided the ship masterfully through the choppy waters of lockdown, maintaining engagement with clients using modern technology. Stowe Chelmsford benefits from Seb’s management and his years of experience, together with the assistance ably provided by Lucy Birch. Stowe Chelmsford offers a first-class service, be it in matrimonial finance – including complex cases, private children disputes (with international or other complicating factors such as alleged domestic or substance abuse), and disputes involved cohabiting couples.’
‘Seb Burrows has built up a strong reputation in matrimonial finance matters, particularly when it comes to litigating City bonuses, dividing pensions and achieving top class results in dividing property portfolios. His natural affable charm is the icing on the cake of his considerable legal and practical knowledge. He is very able – being a gifted litigator and strategist. Seb’s confident and reassuring bedside manner is matched with his legal skills in moving cases forward in court, where correspondence has not delivered the necessary results.’
‘Sebastian Burrows is an extremely able and immensely likeable practitioner. He has the intelligence to understand even the knottiest points, the experience to identify what matters (and, often more importantly, what does not) and skill to present his client’s case – whether on paper on in negotiations – in the most persuasive light possible. He is a reassuringly unflappable presence in even the most fraught dispute.’
‘Sebastian is a charismatic and intelligent lawyer. Eloquent and a strategist.’
‘This is a strong team, with knowledgeable and helpful solicitors able to assist clients and barristers alike.’