Firms To Watch: Family: Hampshire

With the 2020 hire of legal director Helen Cort from Paris Smith LLP, BDB Pitmans is building on its Reading and Hampshire-based family practice.

Family: Hampshire in South East

Blake Morgan LLP

Blake Morgan LLP‘s family team is led by Southampton-based Simon Burge, who also serves as chairman of Hampshire Resolution, and brings special expertise in contested child arrangement cases and matters relating to the financial cost of relationship breakdown. The team draws on the firm’s well-regarded corporate, commercial, and property departments, as well as support from their colleagues in family law in the London and Oxford offices. Jennifer Williamson , who recently rejoined the firm as a partner, is extremely well regarded for her broad experience and pragmatic, strategic approach to meeting client needs. Senior associate Bryan Scant joined in March 2022, and brings special experience in cases related to naval pensions. Rachel Giles advises on a range of matters including divorce and civil partnership cases, and is increasingly focused on matters involving children.

Practice head(s):

Simon Burge

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Williamson; Bryan Scant; Rachel Giles

Testimonials

‘The Blake Morgan team are a safe pair of hands for any sort of divorce. They are knowledgable and experienced lawyers whilst at the same time being user friendly and approachable to clients.’

‘Confident, supportive, fight your corner and work with you especially when things are not straightforward.’

‘Simon Burge is very experienced and sensible. He is tactically astute but also has a calm manner which lets clients feel completely at ease.’

‘Jennifer Williamson was exceptional. She got results where others had failed to get engagement from my ex spouse. She is organised, communicates very well and clearly and totally understands the issues. She is empathic and kept me informed at all times. She gets results and made me feel that I was in safe hands. Her recommendation of counsel was also just right. I can’t recommend her highly enough.’

‘The team I dealt with were clearly a well-motivated and collaborative team who were universally (over the course of several years) and unfailingly polite, sensitive and proactive. They were flexible and imaginative when it came to billing and my solicitor in particular evidently worked with both my interests and costs in mind.’

‘Jennifer Williamson really put in effort to understand my situation and concerns. Was very honest about what was realistic and achievable and at no point misled my expectations. Was very impressed by her knowledge and her approach, along with her support during what was a very emotional time.’

‘Simon Burge is one of the key players in family finance in Hampshire. He has long experience of giving exceptional advice, with a sound head for commercial reality. Everything has beautifully prepared and he is capable of handling cases from more modest two very big money.’

‘Jennifer Williamson was a pleasure to deal with. We had a case with relatively complex assets and legal arguments. She was approachable and sensible in her advice and handling of the case. We were able to compromise terms of settlement providing a fair outcome to both parties and enabled our client’s to retain a civil relationship. Her drafting skills were thorough and clear.’

Moore Barlow

Working across the firm’s network of offices, Moore Barlow‘s family team is noted for its strengths in dealing with HNW clients and cross-border matters. Joanna Farrands heads the team from the Guildford office, while Debra Emery leads its Southampton offering. Emery has experience across the full spectrum of family law, and is particularly skilled in handling wealth protection and complex child-related cases. The team is extending its capacity in alternative dispute resolution, with Richmond-based Jan Galloway especially interested in child-focused mediation. Judith Ball works across the Guildford and Southampton offices, and has experience in cases involving significant business assets.

Practice head(s):

Joanna Farrands

Other key lawyers:

Debra Emery; Jan Galloway; Judith Ball

Testimonials

‘Quick and thorough response to all questions – sensible use of junior staff for less critical questions.’

‘Debra Emery and Jenny Wigginton gave excellent advice and looked after my best interests throughout.’

Paris Smith LLP

Paris Smith LLP‘s family team is best known for its work with high- and ultra-high-net-worth clients ranging from business leaders to sports and media personalities, medical professionals, and those with significant overseas interests. Managing partner Huw Miles is one of two team leads. He works from the Winchester office, and boasts expertise in both complex cross-border cases and nuptial agreements. Co-lead Frank Prior, based in Southampton, is similarly well-regarded by his broad base of clients in the region and beyond. Experienced partner Neil Davies further strengthens the firm’s ability to handle complex financial matters, while Lisa Bray rounds out its offering with her specialisms in child cases, especially those involving relocation and parental alienation. Sarah Passemard, Rachel Osgood, and Heather Souter are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Frank Prior; Huw Miles

Other key lawyers:

Neil Davies; Lisa Bray; Sarah Passemard; Rachel Osgood; Heather Souter

Testimonials

‘Competent, efficient, approachable and professional, the team at Paris Smith Hampshire’s family division have been everything I would want from legal representation, and this applies to staff at all echelons of the firm.’

‘Strength in depth and real quality across the team.’

‘Huw Miles was outstanding in translating his expert legal opinion into clear concise advice that was readily understandable by a lay person. Where information was required from his wider team having corralled the requisite knowledge Huw responded in an impressively timely manner.’

‘The firm represented me throughout my divorce, which has been a somewhat complex affair, and I would recommend them to anyone going through similar circumstances: I have felt at every turn that they have had my best interests at heart.

‘Paris Smith is clearly the top family finance team in Hampshire in the south. Within the team are a number of the sharpest and best lawyers in the business. The firm has excellent premises and technology and so provides a full service to its clients. Overall the team provide an exceptionally high quality of service.’

‘Neil Davies has a wealth of experience and a fantastic client manner. He offers sound, pragmatic advice and is always a pleasure to work with. Heather Souter is extremely knowledgeable and performs consistently at the highest level.’

‘Frank Prior is a clear leader in the field. He is very commercially oriented and knows when to pursue an issue and when to leave it. He has long experience and is highly respected. He is capable of adeptly handling even the largest cases up to tens of millions pounds. Huw Miles is a meticulous and tenacious lawyer who provides exceptional service for his clients with whom he always forges excellent relationships. His preparation is second to none and his role running the firm has led to a very commercial outlook. Sarah Passemard has long experience of handling the most complex of cases and does so with great ability. She works extremely hard to make sure her clients get the best possible result. Rachel Osgood is another exceptional lawyer with very long experience and great good sense. She always brings practicality and realism to her cases and works hard for her clients, with whom she forges excellent relationships.’

‘I would rate Paris Smith highly and believe that they are the stand out Family Law firm in Southampton, Winchester and Hampshire. They are highly regarded for good reason. They are specialists in the field of family finance and also for private children work. They are highly motivated to achieve good results and to give practical advice. They try to negotiate settlements in a collaborative manner and try to avoid lengthy litigation where possible.’

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell’s combined family team operates across the South Coast, with lawyers split into smaller ‘teams of excellence’ to focus on specific areas of family law. Team lead Hayley Trim, who splits her time between the firm’s Bristol and Chichester offices, heads up the pre- and post-nuptial agreements sub-team, and brings a particular focus on wealth protection. In recent years, the team has complemented its broader family law offering with an increase in work relating to Court of Protection and serious injury cases. Associate Jelena Korobkova is especially recommended for her work in this area, and works out of Southampton. Eugenie Taylor, also in Southampton, recently joined from Paris Smith LLP, bringing experience in complex financial remedies.

Practice head(s):

Hayley Trim

Other key lawyers:

Jelena Korobkova; Eugenie Taylor

Testimonials

‘During a very difficult time in my life the team at Irwin Mitchell were so understanding, reassuring, compassionate, helpful and professional , always available to listen, talk and advise. They dealt with my divorce and financial order with minimal fuss or stress.’

‘The team prides itself on its client care. They have also set up Teams of Excellence – an initiative to allow colleagues to develop and hone their knowledge and skills in a particular area of family law so that other team members can approach them and tap into that knowledge.’

‘The team is an enthusiastic and energetic team with a passion for ensuring client satisfaction.’

‘Irwin Mitchell have a strong national presence, who pride themselves on the service they provide. Due to their size, they are able to use their wealth of knowledge across the team. They are developing their presence in family law in the area.’

‘The team is a pleasure to work with. They are organised and prepare cases well. Briefs are always well time and include everything you need. The advice given to clients is always sounds and means the case is on the best possible footing it can be.’

‘All my work with the Hampshire office has been with Eugenie Taylor; I can’t recommend Eugenie highly enough. She’s particularly good with difficult clients in that she’s empathetic, always willing to listen but then doesn’t shy away from providing robust (but always realistic) advice. She also has a great skill for setting out a client’s perspective in correspondence so that even the most dubious points sound reasonable. If I had a friend who was very nervous about the prospect of consulting a family lawyer I’d have no hesitation in sending them to her!’

‘Eugenie Taylor is extremely hard working and diligent. All of her cases are prepared to a high standard and nothing is ever missed. Her care and attention to detail results in clients having full confidence in her.’

Thrings LLP

Led by Sally Pike and Matthew Kellow, the family team at Thrings LLP continues to grow, including the addition of Katy Barber from Moore Barlow as senior associate. Working out of the firm’s Romsey office, Pike handles high-value cases for HNW individuals, including those with complex company assets and pensions. She is also an accredited mediator. Kellow works out of Swindon, where he heads the firm’s wider family department. Barber has broad experience advising on both pre- and postnuptial agreements and relationship breakdown, where she is especially well regarded for her ability to navigate matters for unmarried couples. Clients include company directors and individuals in the sports and creative sectors, and the team is increasingly focused on alternative dispute resolution and mediation.

Practice head(s):

Sally Pike; Matthew Kellow

Other key lawyers:

Katy Barber

Testimonials

‘Thrings’ family finance team is amongst the very best in Hampshire.’

‘The firm has always had excellent leadership and its offices bring an element of calm in difficult cases. Everyone in the firm is a delight to deal with from the partners, through the associates and down to the support staff. They have excellent technological backup.’

‘The family team at Thrings have a solid, safe, and reliable reputation in Hampshire, in particular, in respect of family finance work. The most senior practitioner, Sally Pike, is hugely experienced in the field and well respected in the area. The team are now also very well complemented by the addition of Katy Barber; a real asset to the team – a star with an established practice of her own.’

‘Thrings are quite simply market leaders for family work in Hampshire. The team is strong from top to bottom and clients know that they are getting the very best service possible. I always feel reassured when papers arrive from Thrings and I know that I will be working as a team with my instructing solicitor right from the start.’

‘Sally Pike is one of the most respected and experienced family finance lawyers in Hampshire. As a result she is capable of handling adroitly cases from relatively modest assets to those where the assets are millions of pounds. She brings the same care and attention to detail to every case and forges excellent relationships with all her clients who quickly repose a great deal of confidence in her. This greatly helps the clients give their best and so achieve the best results. Sally stands out from the crowd for her sense, humanity and compassion.’

‘Kate Barber is a delight to work with. She has that rare ability to be able to put even the most nervous of client’s at ease. Kate is able to grapple with all the challenges of complex litigation and her knowledge of the law, couple with her excellent interpersonal skills mean that she is ahead of the rest.’

‘Sally Pike has been amazing at guiding me through the process of divorce. My divorce is complex and acrimonious and Sally has not only given me the legal support needed but emotionally she has reassured and kept me on track when things have been tough. She is always at the other end of the phone and she has made it clear that she is there to support and help. I am so glad that I have had Sally to help – she is strong, supportive and sensible when handling tough situations yet strikes the balance of advising form a legal perspective and the emotional side that goes with divorce cases.’

‘Kate Barber is a real team player and a rising star. She is always very hands-on and responsive. She is tenacious and creative in fighting her client’s corner. She will often find innovative/creative ways around an issue. She is a real thinker with great client care skills. She is always on top of her game, keen on marketing, and has a very good pedigree having trained and worked in top-tier family firms over the years, before her move to Thrings.’

Trethowans LLP

Led by Andrew Mercer from the firm’s Salisbury office, Trethowans LLP‘s family team offers a broad range of support to clients including HNW individuals and businesses, with a particular focus on matters involving complex financial assets and Children Act proceedings. Grant Cameron heads the Southampton offering, where he brings significant experience in alternative dispute resolution. In Winchester, Emma Wilders-Pratt is especially well known for her work for clients with inherited wealth, military pensions, and other intricate asset structures. Kimberley Davies, who heads the firm’s Poole office and splits her time between there and Bournemouth, is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Mercer

Other key lawyers:

Grant Cameron; Emma Wilders-Pratt; Kimberley Davies

Testimonials

‘Trethowans are the “go to” family firm in the area. They give their clients practical solutions in difficult solutions. Matters are always well prepared and their service is excellent.’

‘Trethowans are one of the best full service firms of solicitors in Hampshire. They have long experience and a strong regional presence due to their various offices. They are an exceptionally well run and resourced firm and highly respected.’

‘I have found the team always to be helpful and quickly responsive. When the instructed fee-earner was not available, there was always somebody else on hand to respond to queries. The admin staff were always excellent.’

‘Andrew Mercer is a first class head of team; leading by example. He is bright, extremely personable and clients, staff and other practitioners warm to him immediately. He is well used to dealing with medium to high net worth individuals in financial remedy cases and has excellent judgement. Emma Wilders-Pratt is a partner in the firm and whilst eminently approachable is a tough litigator and does all she can to achieve the best outcomes for clients.’

‘Grant Cameron is exceptional. He has a wealth of legal expertise which he combines with an abundance of empathy and emotional intelligence. He can, however, be tough when it’s required but remains professional and respectful at all times.’

‘Emma Wilders-Pratt is an extremely competent and talented solicitor. Clients are in the very best of hands with Emma and she goes above and beyond to ensure that the court process is as easy to manage for them as possible. She is unfailing kind and genuine when dealing with difficult and traumatic circumstances, and her human touch does not go unnoticed by clients who sometimes find themselves in awful situations. Emma is highly knowledgable but also pragmatic – a rare combination. Emma stands out above the rest in Hampshire and Wiltshire.’

‘Kimberley Davies is a highly respected and very experienced family finance solicitor who brings great good sense to all that she does. She is very practically minded and will not allow a client to spend money unnecessarily on a case. She works extremely hard both to forge good relationships with a client and to achieve the best possible results for them’

‘I instructed Emma Wilders-Pratt because I had absolute confidence that she understands domestic abuse and the challenges that this presents in divorce cases. I had previous experience with another reputable law firm, the difference between the two was stark. I recommend anyone who is going through a divorce to escape an abuser to use Trethowans and Emma.’

Family Law Partners

Family Law Partners provides comprehensive support to its clients, with lawyers supported by external financial and tax planners, as well as an in-house therapist. Emily Pain acts for a range of HNW clients from North Hampshire, while Hazel Manktelow specialises in armed forces pensions and runs a co-mediation practice. The firm was strengthened in April 2021 with the arrival of qualified mediator and Hampshire Resolution member Jayne Llewelyn, who has a particular interest in hybrid mediation.

Practice head(s):

Robert Williams; Emily Pain

Other key lawyers:

Hazel Manktelow; Jayne Llewelyn

Testimonials

‘Their down to earth, approachable and practical attitude and commitment to using progressive technology to benefit their clients. They’re all very nice to deal with and good at what they do.’

‘This is a practice which has expanded significantly over the last year or so, and has the feel of a firm which is going places.’

‘Emily Pain is a dynamic and experienced family lawyer who always goes the extra mile for her clients. I would not hesitate to recommend Emily to act on the other side of any dispute and I frequently refer clients to Emily if I am unable to act myself. Emily is a very safe pair of hands and she always fights to get the best possible outcome for her clients.’

‘Emily Pain stands out from the crowd as enthusiastic and passionate about her work.’

‘Hazel Manktelow has a sensitive yet pragmatic approach. She gives down to earth advice and her clients like her. She doesn’t inflame the situation and works well with solicitors on the other side to resolve matters collaboratively and cost-effectively. Her knowledge of pensions in particular is great.’

‘I would highly recommend Jayne Llewelyn at this firm. She has a wealth of experience in all aspects of family law and gives pragmatic advice and is very solution focused as a solicitor, mediator and collaborative lawyer.’

Larcomes

Led by Portsmouth-based Mark Tooley and Sandra Phillips, Larcomes‘ family law practice is especially well known for its experience in complex childcare cases, with significant experience taking matters to the high court. Tooley regularly works on cases involving domestic and emotional abuse, neglect, and drug and alcohol misuse, while Phillips heads up the wider family department and has experience in matters relating to residence and guardianship. Jennie Swaby is also recommended for her focus on public children law.

Practice head(s):

Mark Tooley; Sandra Phillips

Other key lawyers:

Jennie Swaby

Testimonials

‘The family team at Larcomes (Mark Tooley, Jennie Swaby, and Sandra Phillips) are quite simply exceptional. Their strength lies in their compassionate and kind approach to their clients, coupled with their skilful knowledge of the law. They are well equipped to provide calm, rational advice at a time of family crisis. They are equally at home representing parents, children and guardians.’

‘Mark Tooley is an excellent solicitor advocate, whose cross-examination skills are equal to the Bar. Jennie Swaby is regularly instructed in complex cases.’

‘The Family team has a breadth and depth of knowledge in family law. Led by Mark Tooley, each member of the team is highly experienced. They present cases with confidence and in a manner that tactically serves to best meet the needs of their clients.’

‘The team is led by Mark Tooley. The years of experience that Mark has had in Public Law (children) work makes him stand out head and shoulders above his peers. Always measured and composed, Mark is superbly perceptive and has the ability to cut through to the key issues in any case. Consequently, he commands the respect of the judiciary and his peers alike.’

Phillips Solicitors

Basingstoke-based Phillips Solicitors handles a range of complex and high-value cases, with mediation support from well-regarded local provider Haymarket Family Mediation, and a particular focus on cases involving complex finances. Team lead Hayley Eachus draws on her complementary practice in residential conveyancing to assist clients with matters including financial remedies. Partner and deputy district judge Howard Gardener  brings deep experience to bear on complex matters, and is also a family and civil mediator. Elizabeth Taylor, also an accredited family mediator, focuses on financial and children cases.

Practice head(s):

Hayley Eachus

Other key lawyers:

Howard Gardener; Elizabeth Taylor

Testimonials

‘Phillips has a diverse team, and are happy to discuss the various services giving clear expectations. Having a solicitor registered with Resolution was a key factor in choosing a company to represent me in my divorce.’

‘There was a good team ethos and everyone helping to deliver on their promises to their clients. The team delivers clear and transparent advice across multiple disciplines.’

‘They’re extremely knowledgeable and offer advice based on experience. They have excellent relationships with chambers and are able to recommend barristers based on individual cases. Very reasonably priced and quick to act.’

‘Hayley Eachus is remarkable. She’s dedicated and tenacious but fair and honest.’

‘Elizabeth Taylor has been excellent. She is extremely approachable and clear in her advice. I feel comfortable I am being well represented and confident in her ability.’

‘Hayley Eachus – highly professional, compassionate, understanding, and quick to respond and advise, regardless of time or day (including weekends).’

‘Elizabeth Taylor has been excellent dealing with my divorce.’

‘Howard Gardener – renowned mediator and family legal solicitor within the best team in Basingstoke.’

Work highlights

  • Acted on contentious financial remedy proceedings involving allegations of domestic abuse.
  • Acted on financial remedy proceedings in which we successfully argued that a number of our client’s assets should be ring-fenced as non-matrimonial inheritance against a background of a highly emotive divorce.
  • Acted on financial remedy proceedings, successfully disproving the wife’s allegations that our client was hiding assets and obtained an award favourable to our client at a final hearing.