Family: Kent, Surrey, Sussex in South East
The highly skilled team at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP offers clients expertise in complex proceedings involving disputes over both children and finances. The firm's work includes advising HNW individuals on matters with international complications. Karen Wilsher and Shona Alexander lead the team. Wilsher is experienced in handling both matrimonial finance and children cases with international aspects, while Alexander focuses on financial cases such as pre- and post-nuptial agreements. William Rollin, who specialises in financial work, is also recommended. Associates Felicity Chapman and Claire Devine are further key contacts.
‘CRS stands out as being a very efficient firm. Their strength is the quality of the personnel who work for them, who always give clear and accurate advice.’
‘The practice is extremely well run, and efficient. The team work well together.’
‘I give particular credit to William Rollin, partner in the family practice of the Guildford office of Charles Russell Speechlys. William is an exceptional technical and analytical lawyer, but what makes him stand out is his instinctive nature, drawn from years of experience, which makes him a brilliant strategist. Over the years he has acted for me on 4 pieces of litigation – all of which have been successful. This has been partly down to his impressive application of the, sometimes very complex, law – but also in the way he has made tactical decisions in the case. He fights hard for his clients while also understanding the human side to family law, and his advice is sensible and practical, but always with his client’s best interests firmly in mind. Essentially, you want him on your side.’
‘The Guildford team is very strong. They are knowledgeable about the law and work cohesively together to provide a very high quality service to their clients.’
‘Karen Wilsher is a lawyer who stands out for her excellent strategic skills and ability to distill the issues. She is confident enough to give her clients robust advice whilst also being willing to fight their corner. Claire Devine stands out for her excellent client care – she is able to promote the clients interests whilst not losing sight of the need to give realistic advice.’
Cripps Pemberton Greenish is active in advising clients on all areas of family law, including complex disputes involving finances and children. The team, which includes two mediators and two collaborative lawyers, also works on financial dispute resolution and arbitration. Many of the firm's clients, who often have international aspects to their cases, are referred to the team by other firms. Practice head Alex Davies is 'a pleasure to work with'; the team also includes Vanda James, who is increasingly active in advising on prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Associate Claire Tollefson is also highly recommended by clients.
‘The stand out firm for matrimonial finance work in Kent. A strong team, led by Alex Davies, who do high calibre work for the most demanding of clients.’
‘Claire Tollefson effortlessly represents clients with complex financial affairs- whether these are company structures, trusts or international assets. She is very intelligent with a great deal of common sense and a calm no nonsense approach.’
‘The family team is small yet has an impressive capacity for work. This is because most of their solicitors are very experienced and know how to deal with pretty much all of the scenarios that come up in family cases. Alex Davies is the head of the team and has been a specialist financial remedy solicitor for many, many years. He has a great personality and easily works with clients from all walks of life – a real skill when so many family cases involve different personalities and have differing demands and expectations.’
‘Claire Tollefson is the ‘go-to’ for straightforward and practical advice. Clients appreciate her frankness and know where they stand. She has an impressive case load with clients both in the local area and also clients from recommendations who are not necessarily in the Kent area. She handles the simple cases but comes into her own with the complex ones as she cuts through the complexity to get to the heart of the problem. I can’t rate her highly enough.’
‘A good solid team who are excelling locally with top advice.’
‘Alex Davies is a pleasure to work with. Knows the law, focused on solutions not problems, works constructively with opposing solicitor and an amicable fashion.’
- Acting for a media personality in a heavily contested divorce and financial proceedings, where the parties married later in life and had accumulated significant assets.
- Acting for the Managing Director of a global company on a collaborative basis with multiple business assets and structures.
- Acting for founder of an international company with extensive assets in multiple jurisdictions, in relation to a post-nuptial agreement.
Family Law Partners handles the full range of family law matters, and are particularly known for their emphasis on out-of-court dispute resolution, such as private FDRs. While the firm is particularly adept at advising clients on financial matters, they also have experience in complex children cases. The practice is led by Robert Williams, who is also a Deputy District Judge, and other key contacts include Gemma Hope and Lauren Guy. The firm opened a third office in Horsham under new joiner Kate Elliott in October 2019, and from this office services high net worth clients from the surrounding region. Mark Harrop heads the London team.
‘Instructing Family Law Partners as my legal representatives is one of the best decisions I have made. They are always professional and patient, putting their client’s first at all times. Legal proceedings can, at times, feel like an emotional tug of war. Family Law Partners empathise with their clients, providing both legal and emotional support throughout. They took the time to understand my situation inside out, tailoring their advice to the needs of my case. They are experts in their field. The advice they offer is accurate and I feel confident they will use their knowledge to achieve the best outcome for me. Family Law Partners have acted professionally and collaboratively at all times.’
‘Kate Elliott is brilliant with clients: she gives robust, clear, sensible advice and is highly effective at achieving negotiated settlements.’
‘They are a growing practice and deserve praise. They are a no-nonsense sensible firm who know exactly what they are doing. They understand the needs of a client and have the client at the forefront of their practice.’
‘Kate Elliott is excellent. She can navigate through complex cases and difficult facts and move seamlessly into settlement discussions.’
‘They are a hard-working, forward-looking team who work hard for their clients. They are good at coming to counsel when they feel they need assistance.’
‘Robert Williams is an expert in his field of financial remedy work. Approachable, engaging, forensic, he leaves no stone unturned in advancing a client’s case. Chris Maulkin is an outstanding solicitor in financial remedy work who brings a forensic mind to case analysis. Gemma Hope is a highly talented financial remedy practitioner with an in-depth knowledge of the law; she works extremely hard for her clients to achieve best outcomes. She is particularly effective in cases involving complex company structures. Lisa Burton-Durham is an experienced lawyer with a reassuring and empathetic manner and a necessary pragmatic approach to resolving financial remedy disputes. She manages clients’ expectations and guides them to a settlement when necessary but can also fight her corner.’
‘I think Kate Elliott is a real star – clever, approachable, humane and pragmatic. She is an extremely effective negotiator and I have had glowing feedback from any clients I have sent her way.’
‘It is a firm that is truly focused on non-court dispute resolution and practises what it preaches. Very few firms do that. There is a real commitment to mediation, collaboration and arbitration. All of this is in the clients’ interests, avoiding acrimony and saving costs. But they can litigate if they need to, and know their way around the court system.’
A boutique family law firm, Jones Nickolds advises clients on family disputes with a particular expertise in matters involving complex financial issues. The team represents clients in the High Court and Court of Appeal, as well as handling alternative dispute resolution. Led by Lisa Jones and Claire Nickolds, the practice is spread over two offices in Chislehurst and Beckenham. In addition to Jones and Nickolds, Rachel Woodd, Laura Smail and Gemma Irving are recommended. Woodd and Nickolds are qualified mediators while Smail, Jones, Nickolds and Woodd are all members of Resolution.
‘Laura Smail is fantastic, pragmatic, highly efficient and excellent with clients. Rachel Woodd sees the bigger picture and works to resolve cases out of court for her clients. Both Lisa Jones and Clare Nickolds are strong leaders and highly regarded by their peers.’
‘Laura Smail is a highly intelligent and vastly experienced partner. Always gave spot on sensible advice and was 100% dedicated to my case. I felt in very safe hands with Laura – a brilliant family law expert.’
‘Rachel Woodd is an absolute ‘go-to’. Sensible, pragmatic and focused on problem solving in an amicable way.’
‘Rachel Woodd is probably the partner that I deal with the most. She is absolutely excellent and I often recommend her if I have a conflict or if my client’s spouse needs a referral. She is extremely bright, very capable but is constructive and if the case is capable of settling she will work as a team to produce the most suitable outcome. Rachel is also one of my first recommendations if somebody needs a mediator. She has mediated a number of my cases and the clients have talked about her very highly. Her mediation practice is exceptional and she is the go-to mediator.’
‘They are a highly intelligent and vastly experienced team. They deal solely with family law and are experts in their field. They give solid, sound and very sensible advice and are dedicated to your case from start to finish. I felt in extremely safe, knowledgeable and trustworthy hands. Highly recommend them.’
‘Gemma Irving had been reassuring, calming and decisive from the outset. I was especially impressed by her correct anticipation and forward planning. I felt she was prepared for all eventualities, even when things became extremely difficult she never gave me reason to lose hope or fear. Every action or step we proceeded with was entirely measured, appropriate and ultimately effective. She kept me involved, engaged and updated throughout this difficult period. Gemma also helped me by being a calming voice of reason at times when I was being provoked. I know that she truly empathised and fought for me in every possible way.’
‘Charlotte Croft, working alongside Gemma, was again very reassuring, and filled me with confidence by her diligence and dedication. She worked extremely hard with Gemma, coordinating different team members, as well as keeping me in touch with Gemma and the barristers. I cannot speak highly enough of both Gemma and Charlotte other than to say the their professionalism and dedication to my case were exemplary.’
Moore Barlow was formed by the merger of Barlow Robbins and Moore Blatch in May 2020, creating a sizable family law team with experience across this area of law. Judith Ball is 'great with clients and fantastic to work with', specialising in complex financial cases, while Joanna Farrands is also valued by clients and is described as 'practical and outcome-orientated'. Jan Galloway and Victoria Walker are similarly experienced, and both focus on financial disputes. Associates Mandy Spring and Helen Habershon are also recommended; Spring is 'completely on top of her cases' and Habershon is a 'dynamic solicitor'.
Other key lawyers:
‘I have worked closely with Joanna Farrands, and found her to be an extremely committed lawyer who builds an excellent rapport with clients and in whom they have complete confidence. Joanna is practical and outcome-orientated, which serves her clients very well. I have also worked closely with Beverley Cullis, who is an exceptional legal associate.’
‘Karen Barham stands out as a top quality mediator. She has a style that encourages dialogue and understanding. Karen is particularly good at dealing with separating cohabiting couples. Her knowledge of family law is extensive and she takes a proactive approach to assisting mediation clients resolve issues.’
‘Mandy Spring is a walking encyclopaedia. She is excellent to be instructed as counsel as she is completely on top of her case. Elizabeth Ennals is conscientious, bright and has an exceptional bedside manner.’
‘Karen Barham is without doubt the ‘go to’ mediator in the area. Her skill and experience is unrivalled, particularly when dealing with challenging and difficult circumstances. She is more than a safe pair of hands, clients warm to her and she gets the job done.’
‘Very involved and pay meticulous attention to detail to every case giving a real Rolls Royce service to clients.’
‘The go-to family law team in the Guildford/Surrey area despite stiff competition. The team are extremely user-friendly and have the capacity to deal with a whole spectrum of cases, including the most complex High Court cases involving multiple parties and issues.’
‘Judith Ball is the doyenne of family law in the area. She is absolutely faultless. Great with clients and fantastic to work with. Helen Habershon is a dynamic solicitor with a real expertise in dealing with complex cases, often with an international element. Erin Lyon is a rising star. Young, bright and extremely able.’
‘Victoria Walker is an asset to the firm. She is very experienced in her field and will approach matters practically and methodically and is a pleasure to work with.’
‘Jan Galloway is great to work with. No nonsense, efficient and really on the ball. Everything is in it’s place for each case and ready to fight for her clients.’
Mundays LLP has a proven track record in advising on family law matters involving cross-border aspects, including pre and post-nuptial agreements, divorces, and financial remedy claims. The team represents clients in the High Court, as well as in negotiations and private adjudications. In addition to cross-border issues, many of their cases feature challenging aspects such as unusual family structures or trusts of land and appointment of Trustees Act claims. The practice is led by Judith Fitton, who is particularly knowledgeable on TOLATA claims, she works with mediator Sarah Duckworth.
Other key lawyers:
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP handles family law matters for high-net-worth individuals, including matters involving children. Many of the firm's matters also feature cross-border elements. The practice is led by the experienced and 'stand-out' Veronica Gilmour. Rachel Donald offers particular expertise in pre-nuptial agreements. Associates Laura Hughes, Laura Naser and Lee Henderson are also praised by clients; Hughes is praised for her 'good judgement and practicality', while Naser has 'fantastic client care skills'. Henderson, 'a rising star', has been particularly active in matters involving surrogacy.
‘The Guildford family team has gone from strength to strength in a very short number of years. They have a breadth and depth of experience in family law and a range of fee earners to support their clients. They deal with high net worth and complex matters. I think they have a leading dynamic and innovative team.’
‘Veronica Gilmour leads the team. Her years of experience and her delightful manner make dealing with her on a client’s behalf very easy. This assists in bringing about an early resolution to matters. She always thinks outside the box and clearly is held in high regard by her team and other lawyers. Rachel Donald and Laura Naser are forward thinking practitioners and ahead of the curve with social media and particularly Laura’s book publication.’
‘Veronica Gilmour who leads the Guildford office is an exceptional lawyer. A warm and engaging lawyer who keeps her cool under pressure, has trained and continues to lead an excellent team of junior lawyers, and who runs one of the top, if not the top family law practice in Surrey. Every member of the team delivers a superlative service to their clients and from counsel’s perspective, are a delight to work with.’
‘Veronica Gilmour is a stand out partner who deserves recognition for the reasons set out above. Laura Naser is a stand out associate who deserves recognition. She is warm, empathetic and has fantastic client care skills. She has recently won a number of industry awards, has brought family law to Instagram.’
‘Penningtons is one of the most polished, professional solicitors’ firms on the market. Their lawyers have better technical skills and attention to detail than many of their peers.’
‘Laura Hughes is an associate of good judgment and practicality. She is very good tactically and can deftly turn defence into attack. She is also exceptional at detail. It is immensely rare that a solicitor spots a point of detail which is missing from my documents, but she did so in any enforcement case.’
‘Lee Henderson is an obvious rising star, a technological whizz and works brilliantly with counsel. We did a difficult case together in which many older solicitors would have panicked, but he kept a cool head and navigated some difficult issues in a way which avoided criticism from the court.’
Stevens & Bolton LLP handles complex family law matters for clients including ultra high net worth individuals. The team is particularly skilled at resolving disputes around finances and children which feature international elements. The practice is led by the highly rated Nicola Harries, who is particularly skilled at advising on matters involving complex financial proceedings. Associates Grace Parker-White and Sean Hilton are also recommended. Parker-White acts in all areas of family law and is an accredited mediator, while Hilton recently handled a case in the Court of Appeals alongside counsel. Caroline Gordon-Smith has now retired.
‘Expert professional service. Sympathetic but robust advice. Always considering the tactical advantages and disadvantages of each decision to be made. Real people that clients can relate to and trust.’
‘Sean Hilton is an amazing young lawyer, the best I have worked with. He excels at drafting statements for clients which make only the best points and allow the court to relate to the issues for the child at a glance.’
‘Good value for money. London service without London prices.’
‘Very strong and solid team with an exceptional leader in Nicola Harries.’
‘Nicola Harries is an exceptionally good solicitor. Diligent, punctilious, pragmatic and realistic, it is always a real pleasure to be instructed by her.’
‘Highly professional, caring team. Will act quickly, take responsibility even if they’re only standing in, and you don’t feel lost should things come in you need advice on. Always do what they say and don’t let you down.’
‘Caring, professional, and go that extra mile. It doesn’t feel like it’s just a job for them; it’s like they really care about your life and situation and what they can do to move you forward and resolve matters. My case has been long, painful and tough but it’s such a relief to know someone has my back to that degree. The attention to detail and care makes you feel like they’re only working on your case – it’s astounded me.’
Thomson Snell & Passmore
Thomson Snell & Passmore's 'highly experienced and well-respected' family team is skilled in mediation, with two Resolution trained mediators in the team. In addition to handling difficult cases involving children, it also advises clients on financial disputes. The team is led by Joanna Pratt, who specialises in high net worth financial cases as well as prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Other key contacts are Kirstie Law, Sarah Keily and Desmond O’Donnell, all of whom are praised by clients and offer broad experience in family.
‘A highly experienced and well respected team working out of a forward thinking and progressive practice.’
‘Joanna Pratt, Kirstie Law and Sarah Keily are highly competent, experienced and very sensible, straightforward solicitors.’
‘I have dealt with the TS & P family team for many years and closely since 2001. Some lawyers have left and others have joined. However, the team as a whole and the individuals in it have provided a consistent and professional service whether they are acting as solicitors, collaborative lawyers or mediators. Self-evidently, they are open to resolution processes which are not court based. They are easy to deal with and pragmatic.’
‘Each lawyer I have worked with has a high level of expertise and I feel they are a safe and sensible pair of hands. They are known as a strong alternative DR practice offering mediation and collaborative law as well as more traditional routes.’
‘Joanna Pratt is the Maestro. She is tough and fierce and extremely capable. Helen Waite and Sarah Keiley are both a joy to work with and very thorough and sensible.’
‘Kirstie Law is a strong mediator and offers a very high level of service as she is able to offer Facetime appointments at flexible times, many clients instruct her for MIAMs and mediation generally and have given positive feedback. Sarah Keilly is knowledgeable and offers exceptional attention to detail.’
‘Des O’Donnell is always hugely dedicated and diligent, protecting and promoting his client’s interests. Very easy to work with.’
Adler Family Law Solicitors LLP
Based in Kingston-upon-Thames, Adler Family Law Solicitors LLP is skilled in handling disputes involving finances and children for national, high-profile, high-net-worth clients. Its work includes advising on divorces, pre-nuptual agreements, and the enforcement of financial consent orders, with many of their cases involving complicating aspects such as cross-border assets or complex asset structures. The team also handles difficult cases involving children such as advising on Children Act proceedings. The practice is led by Leading Individual Charlotte Adler, a highly experienced practitioner in all areas of family law.
‘I mainly worked with Charlotte Adler herself. Her best quality is her personality: she has a fantastic “bed-side manner”; she is immensely calm, level-headed, pragmatic, and determined. Divorce is an incredibly stressful experience and the lawyers often are in the firing line of the client’s unhappiness & anger. I know that I certainly found Charlotte to be extraordinarily patient with me and she managed me in an exceptionally kind & capable way!
Particularly as I was faced with incessant (and often very unpleasant) attacks from the other side’s legal team, it was hugely important to the overall outcome that she maintained an extremely professional demeanour throughout, defending me with firmness, clarity, and confidence. I am very, very grateful to her indeed for what she achieved for me, both in legal terms and in psychological ways, during a very horrible year.’
‘Charlotte Adler is a very experienced specialist family lawyer, acquired in other leading firms before she established her own firm. Her strength is in financial remedy work. She has excellent judgment. She fights hard for her clients but is realistic about outcomes. She is ably supported by Aaron O’Malley.’
Brachers has a proven track record in advising on complex family matters, with a particular strength in disputes involving agriculture assets. In addition to handling financial matters, the practice also handles matters including children. Led by Mark Leeson and Mei-Ling McNab, the firm is also involved in private ADRs and FDRs. Leeson has over 25 years experience in family law, and is also a trained mediator, while McNab is known for her work on financial disputes and pre- and post-nuptial agreements.
‘Brachers’ family team is outstanding. They provide a first-rate, polished service. Their approach to litigation is tactical and clever in the context of an approachable, personable relationship with clients. They present extremely professionally.’
‘It is not unique, but it is exceptional by ref to other firms in Kent: excellent legal knowledge transferred between the fee-earners in the firm and an eagerness to promote knowledge and experience.’
‘A firm that have taken a leading interest in ADR by way of seminars and hosting events for other firms.’
‘Mei-Ling Mc Nab is an exceptionally able lawyer with excellent skills with lay clients and with the barristers that she instructs.’
‘They have real breadth of experience in financial remedies cases and, refreshingly, approach cases with real pragmatism and give realistic, sensible advice but are not afraid to get stuck in when necessary and when the client’s interests demand it.’
‘Mei-Ling McNab is really experienced and a very positive experience working with her as counsel as it is a real team effort, excellent channels of communication and an eye for detail.’
‘A great team with a fantastic combination of client care skills, great legal knowledge, and sound judgment.’
With offices in Guildford, Epsom and Reigate, TWM Solicitors LLP is home to an 'excellent calibre of partners and associates'. It undertakes matters involving cross-border assets, premarital assets, and TOLATA proceedings. The team is also active in handling cross-jurisdictional disputes involving children, including Children Act proceedings and Child Arrangement Orders. The teams also collaborate with their office in Wimbledon; practice head Sarah Cornes works across the Wimbledon and Reigate offices. Demelza Patricio is another key partner in Reigate, and is a collaborative lawyer with experience of acting for clients in FDRs. Caroline Keeley, who is also a mediator, is highly rated for 'getting impressive results for her clients.'
‘They have extensive knowledge and experience of all aspects of family law. While many of the team are specialists in one particular area, for example, financial remedies, another member of the team is very strong on jurisdictional work and so on so there is an excellent spread of people with in-depth knowledge of particular areas.
‘Caroline Keeley remains particularly strong. She has had quite a few complicated financial remedy cases recently and her ability to get to grips with a very substantial amount of financial disclosure across a number of jurisdictions has been impressive. She has also had very demanding clients in those cases that other solicitors would struggle to keep up with but she has anticipated the issues along the way and got impressive results for her clients.’
‘Slick stand out firm in Surrey – one of the top (if not the top). Excellent calibre of partners and associates who are not only knowledgeable but have their client’s trust and confidence from the outset. Well respected, sound and strongly recommend.’
‘Demelza Patricio is an outstanding solicitor, thoroughly prepared, fights for her clients and is super sensible. I would not hesitate recommending her and the firm generally.’
‘A great regional firm which always goes the extra mile for their clients.’
‘They were brilliant at listening and taking on board all of my fears. They managed to drill down to what was important to present so expertly and I always felt supported and believed by them. They made no judgement on me and really tried to understand my unique situation.’
‘Caroline Keeley and her associates were particularly good at helping me particularly with keeping me grounded. Caroline was human and kind and genuinely understood. I felt that she was personally determined to help me out of the situation I found myself in. She believed me and gave me confidence despite the pressure I was being subjected to. My case was not a usual or straightforward one and she ensured they looked at all the detail and investigated appropriately and looked for people with knowledge of my situation in her company. She also sought out the most fantastic barrister who was also meticulous and kind and together with Caroline Keeley made me feel supported and protected. They fought and won for my son.’
Blackfords LLP is known for its work in challenging cases involving children, particularly public law care proceedings, representing clients involved in proceedings with a number of local authorities in London and the South East. Many of their cases involve parallel criminal proceedings and serious medical issues, such as injuries to children which require investigation by medical experts. They also advise on private law proceedings involving children, such as divorces and Family Law Act injunctions. The practice is led by Nicola Chamberlain, who in addition to her knowledge of children matters is active in the areas of divorce proceedings and financial applications. Elizabeth Cape-Cowens is considered 'exceptional' for public law cases.
Other key lawyers:
‘A hard working, dedicated and personable team. They have a strong work ethic can put the client first. They have excellent judgment and pull together to ensure that a client gets a wrap-around service.’
‘Helen Worden is empathic and meticulous. She has an excellent manner with clients, and is particularly good with vulnerable clients.’
‘Natalie Mitchell is an excellent strategist and fights her client’s corner with tenacity but also with realism.’
‘Terri-Anne Taylor is newly qualified but has experience and maturity beyond her years.’
‘Kim Wintle is a new addition to the team having practices previously in Nottingham. She has excellent judgment a strong grasp of strategy and gives focused accessible advice to her clients.’
‘Elizabeth Cape-Cowens has a work-ethic second to none. She is able to think outside the box and has a very good grasp of the law and legal principles.’
‘They undertake the full range of family law work, both within the private law field (child arrangement orders) and public law proceedings concerning the involvement of the local authority in allegations of child abuse. They are a sought-after firm for cases of non-accidental injury often where there is a high volume of complex medical evidence. Their commitment to these difficult cases and clients is exceptional and easily comparable to “high end” public law firms.’
‘Nicola Chamberlain is amazing. She deals with extremely complex cases and is always able to get to grips with very complex medical evidence quickly. She is regularly sought after in difficult children proceedings. She has a reputation for hard work and sensitivity which is well deserved.’
‘Beth Cape-Cowens is an exceptional member of the team undertaking the most complex of public law cases with skill and tact. She is extremely tenacious as well as highly efficient.’
Boys & Maughan
Kent-based Boys & Maughan offers clients experience handling both financial disputes and children cases, including matters involving criminal proceedings. Practice head Jonathan da Costa focuses on financial issues, advising high value clients on divorces. He is a collaborative lawyer who handles FDRs, as well as advising clients on court proceedings. Max Konarek specialises in cases involving children, working on difficult cases involving jurisdictional issues, non-accidental injuries, and neglect. Both da Costa and Konarek are well-regarded; da Costa is praised as 'an excellent lawyer' while Konarek is described as 'an outstanding solicitor with a fortress of knowledge'.
Other key lawyers:
‘I can highly recommend Max J. Konarek. His client care and fighting spirit is amongst the best I have seen in the last year. He is their champion and no legal aid client could ask for more. I have now done two cases for him which were complex cases where we faced allegations of child abuse on behalf of our client. Max was a terrier in getting the evidence we needed to fight their corner.’
‘Jonathan Da Costa is an excellent lawyer, a safe pair of hands, a keen and committed collaborative practitioner and a joy to work with.’
‘Boys and Maughan is a very long established and well respected firm: I would regard them as having been for many years securely placed as one of the three or four leading firms in East Kent, both in volume of work and reputation with fellow professionals and the public. The firms handles a very wide range of legal work, both contentious and non-contentious,and its reputation is very high in all areas. The firm combines the ethos of traditional service that flows from its long history with a willingness to change and develop to meet contemporary demands. I have not come across any areas of weakness. I have had dealings with Boys and Maughan throughout my career in the law (now extending to almost 40 years in practice) and have always been very favourably impressed with the quality of the firm and its work. In my present role as specialist family law counsel I come across the firm on at least a weekly basis either instructing me or representing other parties in proceedings in which I am engaged. Their Family Law team provides consistently high quality advice and representation across the whole of that field of practice and I would have no hesitation in saying they are a leading firm in this area of practice across Kent and the South East.’
‘Max Konarek is an outstanding solicitor with a fortress of knowledge that makes him one of the best care lawyers in the country.’
‘The primary lawyers I have dealt with are Max Konarek and Holly Evans. They are both extremely conscientious and able family lawyers. I often come across Mr Konarek as an advocate and have always been impressed with his well prepared, calm but, when appropriate, forceful advocacy. Ms Evans’ particular area of strength is her skilled and empathetic handling of clients who are very often, given the nature of her work, disadvantaged, vulnerable and in a highly emotional state. Both provide exceptionally good instructions and support to me as counsel instructed by them. I would not identify any weaknesses in either of them. I also deal with Mark Lewis (Senior Childcare Executive) and Kristin Uttridge (Childcare Executive Assistant). I usually come across Mr Lewis as the advocate for other parties in my cases and find that his sensible and pragmatic approach is always effective and helpful to the court and his clients. I come across Ms Uttridge mainly in her role as providing paralegal/administrative support to Mr Konarek, Ms Evans and Mr Lewis. In this role she shows outstanding efficiency and she is particularly effective and helpful in acting as liaison between me as instructed counsel and my lay clients.’
‘Jonathan Da Costa in all cases works collaboratively, constructively and proactively with an eye on finding the best solutions for his client and their families. It is always a pleasure to work with him.’
'Approachable, knowledgeable and friendly', Coole Bevis LLP handles financial disputes as well as public and private children matters. The team's work on care proceedings often involves challenging aspects such as allegations of abuse, while their divorce and financial remedy cases feature complex asset and earning arrangements. Practice head Susan Knight handles all areas of family law, and is a qualified collaborative lawyer and mediator. Charlotte Youdan specialises in care proceedings, and has been appointed as a Recorder to the South Eastern circuit.
‘There is an air of total professionalism which is tempered by the congenial atmosphere which is much needed when seeking to engage a solicitor for the first (and possibly only) time in one’s life. I needed to feel that my interests were paramount and that my representative had the capability required to ensure they were catered for. I was reassured of that very quickly. Confidentiality is of course essential – and there was no doubt that this was total. Transparency with regard to charges and options was complete.’
‘Susan Knight was very reassuring yet professional. Divorce was what I engaged her for, and she was superb at ensuring that I did not get lost in the emotional aspect of the process, but remained focus on the legal and practical implications of each step. Her experience, gained over many years, reassured me that there was little she had not had to contend with and that she had my interests as a priority. I had no surprises, and was able to be as relaxed as one can be in such circumstances. A debrief after each collaborative meeting made it clear what the next steps were and what to expect.’
‘The team are approachable, knowledgeable and friendly. They have a broad base of skills and can offer a one firm solution to an individuals legal needs.’
‘Helen Evernett is tenacious in her approach and will leave no stone unturned to fight a client’s case. Charlotte Youden is measured and thorough in her approach, with a particular speciality of representing the Guardian in private law proceedings.’
‘Helen Evennett is a superb advocate for parents, tackling their cases with compassion and forensic excellence. I would never hesitate to recommend her.’
DMH Stallard LLP
DMH Stallard LLP has become increasingly active in pre and post-nuptial agreements, financial dispute resolutions, and matters involving vulnerable adults. While the team primarily focuses on financial cases, a significant proportion of its work involves issues around children. The practice is led by Mark Rennie, Philip Morton, and Joanna Potbury. Samantha Jago joined the firm from rhw Solicitors in October 2019, while Siobhan Lomasney departed in December 2019.
‘The family team are well placed to act for a diverse range of clients with a range of fee earners to match the right client. Geographical locations for the South East are varied and the firm have strong contacts with forensic accountants, barristers and financial planners for a one contact service.’
‘Joanna Potbury is a safe pair of hands and is somebody in my view, easy to work with when going through a stressful period of time.’
‘DMH Stallard has increased its family team and started offering the services from Guildford as well as other locations. They compete with the other large firms in the area.’
‘Nigel Winter has been dealing with my divorce since June 2018. I have been through some very tough times, but his advice has always been fair and honest. I have felt throughout my whole time with him, that he genuinely cares and that I am not just another case for him.’
‘Phil Morton is excellent: he combines experience in family law with experience in general litigation. Joanna Potbury is calm and able.’
‘Marwa Hadi-Barnes is an excellent solicitor. She is thorough and always gives very practical advice.’
‘Samantha Jago heads up the Guildford family department, she has a wealth of experience and is a great addition to the team.’
‘Phil Morton, Pippa Marshall, Kirsty Kellerher, and Jo Potbury are all excellent matrimonial solicitors with solid technical expertise.’
Asb Law was acquired by Knights plc in May 2020. With offices in Crawley, Maidstone and elsewhere, the team advises clients across the South East and London on family law matters. As well as representing clients in disputes involving children and finances, it also assists on the creation of pre- and post-nuptial agreements. The practice is led by Gail Brooks, who handles matters across the field of family law.
Stowe Family Law LLP
With offices in Esher and Tunbridge Wells, Stowe Family Law LLP handles matrimonial finance as well as children matters. The team advised on cases involving Schedule 1 of the Children Act, TOLATA, and criminal proceedings, amongst other complicating factors. The practice is led by managing partners Kate Rayner and Emma Newman. Both handle all areas of family law, but have particular experience in financial matters. Holly Lamb is another key figure in the team, and leads on matters involving international clients.
‘A very professional outfit under the stewardship of Emma Newman, which seems to have made great strides in the short time it has been operating. The practice radiates efficiency and endeavour.’
‘Niamh McCarthy is very diligent. Her clients love her and with good reason. She is pragmatic and rational in dealing with the most difficult of situations.’
‘I am able to comment only on Emma Newman of Stowe Family Law having worked with her for a number of years. Emma has an excellent manner with her clients. She is empathetic and caring and they feel genuinely comfortable with her. Much of her work is from recommendations and referrals. She is also a very skilled lawyer and provides clear, systematic and structured advice. Emma is passionate about family law and prides herself on ensuring her clients are supported through whatever legal process she is guiding them through.’
‘Niamh McCarthy is excellent and efficient and I would highly recommend her.’
‘Emma Newman is dedicated, highly experienced and committed to her clients, yet is perfectly prepared to deliver unwelcome news where this is warranted – which gains her the respect of opponents and judges alike. She is a pleasure to be instructed by because you know everything will be in such good order.’
‘Emma Newman heads up Stowe Family Law in Esher and is always approachable, knowledgeable, and very easy to get on with. She is a fierce advocate for her client, but can retain sight of the ‘bigger picture’. I have referred clients to Emma in the past.’
‘The team are very approachable and knowledgeable. As a family solicitor myself, it is vital for clients that there is a dialogue between the solicitors in order to progress both negotiations and the case generally. I have found that the team at Stowe Family Law in Esher are both of these things and have been able to help a number of clients by being able to effectively communicate.’
‘Emma Newman is fantastic. Emma was recommended to me by a colleague who had gone through a divorce where Emma had represented her ex-husband. I met with Emma once face to face, where she listened to my reasons for a divorce, talked me through the legal system and provided an approximate indication of realistic costs and timelines. From then onwards, Emma proactively managed my case. Every time she received a letter from my husbands solicitor, Emma would draft a response first and then send it to me to review. Every response was spot on and needed very little re-work from my side. I was very emotional and distressed about filing for a divorce, and Emma was professional, caring and empathetic towards my situation. Emma always advised me in a fair and honest way, unlike some solicitors who promise you everything and deliver nothing. I would recommend Emma without any hesitation.’
Led by Sarah Haywood, ThomasHaywood Solicitors handles both financial and children cases. The firm advises high-net-worth individuals on divorce and financial remedy proceedings, many of which involve cross-border aspects or complicated asset structures. Haywood and consultant Juliet Franklin represent clients in both private FDRs and in court, and the team has worked on a number of reported cases in the High Court. Haywood is 'a brilliant tactician', while Franklin is 'responsive, clear-thinking and extremely committed'.
Other key lawyers:
‘This firm is outstanding at family work, particularly finance work. They are effectively a niche family firm although one partner does civil/commercial work. This is quite handy as civil and commercial issues often impinge on financial remedy work so it is useful to have someone there who understands this aspect of the law. They also have very close ties with a local forensic accountant which enables them to engage him as a shadow expert in appropriate cases – invaluable when there are complex business assets.’
‘This firm provides a niche Family Law service at the standards of a top London firm but at provincial prices.’
‘The real key to the success of this firm is Sarah Haywood. Nearly all, if not all, of her clients now are wealthy individuals. The last few cases I have been instructed have all had assets exceeding £4m and my impression is this is the normal bread and butter work for Sarah now with some clients being very wealthy indeed. The problems these cases throw up with complex business structures, overseas assets, trusts etc, are all matters Sarah takes in her stride. Her real skill is that she is not fazed by anything – she usually has a magic circle firm on the other side but this doesn’t intimidate or bother her. The fact that her work is now of such quality is testament to the fact that she is so good. She understands the issues, is a brilliant tactician (knowing when to pursue something and when to concede a point) and she writes wonderfully short direct letters (always with a view to the fact they might be seen by a judge in due course so she doesn’t beat about the bush but gets to the point, which judges like). It is also of note that clients really like her personally – she develops a great rapport with them, whether they are a businessman or a stay at home wife. Her real speciality is finance.’
‘Sarah Haywood is diligent, responsive, flexible and experienced.’
‘Thomas Haywood have a very dedicated personal approach and are efficient as a team of solicitors.’
‘I found Juliet Franklin an excellent solicitor and professionalism was paramount. All matters were dealt with promptly and with expert attention to detail. We had a good relationship which meant that my needs were met with the degree of sensitivity that was greatly appreciated. Francesca Braham is an excellent legal executive who delivers a top professional service and is extremely knowledgeable. It was very reassuring to have Francesca as a part of my legal team whose personal skills alleviated the pressure one can feel during legal proceedings.’
‘Sarah Haywood brings both a sense of compassion and approachability along with a sense of humour at what is often a very difficult time. I work with her in a professional connection capacity and have met her both with and without clients. She is incredibly knowledgeable and can think outside of the box at providing solutions for her clients. I think it also helps that she is a mediator which means that she can deal with situations in a non-confrontational way.’
‘Juliet Franklin is both approachable and efficient. This means that at a human level she is not difficult to communicate with, she is not patronising and she demonstrates appropriate empathy. At a professional level she is responsive, clear-thinking and extremely committed.’
Clarkson Wright & Jakes
Clarkson Wright & Jakes advises mid and high-net-worth individuals on financial and Children Act matters, including cases with international elements. Practice head Claire Schneck particularly specialises in TOLATA cases, and alongside Kevin Bristow advises on divorces, cohabitation and nuptial agreements, and matters related to children. A barrister who worked with Schneck described her as 'dedicated to providing an excellent service for her clients'.
Other key lawyers:
‘In Claire Schneck I found a comforting, professional, thoughtful person, who guided me throughout a difficult time. Straight and to the point. I was able to see “the wood from the trees”. Very much appreciated.’
‘The Family Law team in CWJ is known for its provision of clear and strategic advice. They are a delight to work with.’
‘Claire Schneck is dedicated to providing an excellent service for her clients.’
Led by Julian Hunt, Dean Wilson LLP acts for clients in financial remedy, care order, and divorce proceedings. Hunt, a mediator and collaborative lawyer, is experienced in the full gamut of family law matters. Associate Sarah Phillips is highly praised by clients and barristers; she is described as 'practical, pragmatic, thorough and extremely passionate about her clients' cases' and is particularly noted for her work with vulnerable clients.
Other key lawyers:
‘Sarah Phillips is an excellent family lawyer; practical, pragmatic, thorough and extremely passionate about her clients’ cases.’
‘They really fight their clients’ corners. Good grasp of the realities of litigation and the prospects. They know when to push a point and when to back off.’
‘Sarah Philips – she is fantastic. Hardworking and shrewd but with a real desire to get the best result for her clients. Very good at handling vulnerable clients and giving them the strength to pursue their case to its conclusion. Empathetic but realistic.’
‘I have found everyone at Dean Wilson to be knowledgeable, committed, honest and pragmatic in their approach. There is excellent communication between the team and compared to other firms I have found the practice to be much more up to date and much more cost efficient.’
‘My solicitor is Sarah Phillips. She was recommended to me as someone who will “handhold you through the process but also know how to deal with a difficult ex partner” and this is exactly what I have found. I have found Sarah to be an amazing balance of emotionally literate, kind and understanding but also pragmatic and focused on resolving issues. She is patient in explaining the process to me and has also been very honest in her advice which I have appreciated. She has maintained a focus on the issues at hand despite sometimes personal attacks on her from my abusive ex partner. She has never allowed these unpleasant and unnecessary attacks on her to detract her focus or impact on her work. She has also responded with kindness as well as a firm protective legal response when my ex partner was arrested for assaulting me. This was a very frightening and upsetting time for me and Sarah’s support and focus was immensely helpful and something which I am very grateful for. I completely trust Sarah to give me good legal advice, even if it’s not what I want to hear, and I will be forever grateful for this. Sarah has also supported me to fund my proceedings by helping me understand how to access a loan for legal fees which means I can continue in trying to get a fair settlement in my divorce so that my children have somewhere safe and secure to live. I have particularly valued Sarah’s correspondence style and her skill for focused, succinct and to the point correspondence. It’s difficult to articulate just how grateful I am and how much I appreciate Sarah’s approach, if I tried to summarise I would say it is: kind; focused; pragmatic; supportive and trustworthy.’
Furley Page Solicitors is a full service family law firm that advises clients on divorces, disputes over children, and financial remedy issues. Many of its cases feature problems involving pensions, trusts or overseas assets. The practice is led by Rayma Collins, a collaborative lawyer who offers experience across the field of family law. Associate Naomi Hayward is 'an excellent lawyer' and is also known for her work in collaborative law.
Other key lawyers:
‘Rayma Collins is an excellent asset to this team which will now I am sure go from strength to strength.’
‘I worked with Rayma Collins at Warners and continue to do so here. She’s excellent, gives realistic advice to clients at outset and works to achieve the settlement that is appropriate.’
‘Good strong family law team in regional practice.’
‘Rayma Collins is wise, reasonable and a committed collaborative law practitioner. Always good to work with. Naomi Hayward is an excellent lawyer and a joy to work with. A truly collaborative practitioner.’
‘Rayma Collins has been my rock in the last year. It is because of her that I have a future. Her kindness, caring and understanding whilst being highly professional in all matters relating to my case has left a lasting impression on me. I just cannot recommend her highly enough. Rayma Collins and her team have just been fantastic. Heather Dunlop went out of her way to when I needed legal help she made herself available at short notice so I could see her and get my will written.’
Mayo Wynne Baxter LLP
Mayo Wynne Baxter LLP is known for its work in collaborative law, advising clients on alternative dispute resolution such as FDRs. The team handles proceedings including divorces and Children Act as well as cohabitation cases. Practice head Charles Le May is involved in all areas of family law, and is especially experienced in dealing with financial and pension issues. Zoe Summers and Emma van Bunnens are the other key contacts. Grant Parker joined the team in May 2019, while Tia Harrison is now a partner.
‘There are no weak links in the family team. The team offers excellent representation at all levels from relatively straight forward cases to complex matters in both finances and children. This firm presents the most consistent high quality legal advice locally.’
‘Charles Le May, a highly experience and careful practitioner who always keeps his clients’ global needs in mind. A solicitor who will always put in more to obtain the best for his client. An endlessly kind and compassionate lawyer who never overlooks the huge emotional impact of matrimonial litigation on the people he represents. Susie Parsons offers amazing support and can be relied upon to support both clients and the legal team in the firm.’
‘I think that this is an excellent firm that gives very sound advice to their clients. They have a wide variety of clients.’
‘I have mainly dealt with two lawyers in the team. Emma van Bunnens is very approachable and easy to work with. She sends briefs over in good time and likes to discuss matters well in advance of the hearing to try and iron out any difficulties. I have been working with Emma on one case where the assets are nearly £2,000,000; the other side are extremely difficult and Emma has been excellent at keeping on top of the various (complicated) issues that have been cropping up, but with a firm eye on proportionality. Emma puts in the hours to get the work done.’
Charles Le May: Excellent at seeing the ‘bigger’ picture and keeping an eye on all the pieces in the jigsaw. As he is very busy he can sometimes take a while to deal with enquiries, but when does so is thorough. I have been working with Estella Hilsnikowski who is a solicitor that is assisting Emma van Bunnens, and is relatively junior but has been a pleasure to deal with and has been keeping on top of the difficult case I have referred to above.’
Led by Elizabeth Leah, rhw Solicitors represent high-net-worth clients in divorce and financial proceedings, including handling alternative dispute resolution such as FDRs. The firm is particularly experienced in dealing with cases involving cross-border aspects.
Based in Uckfield, Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP is active in all areas of family law. The practice is led by Alan Foster, who is particularly active in trusts; Janet Raeburn is another key partner. In advising clients, the team works alongside colleagues in other practices such as commercial and residential property.
Other key lawyers:
‘Alan Foster is a well-rounded family lawyer who you can be reassured looks after his clients with an assured confidence from his extensive experience. I would happly recommend work to Alan.’
‘Janet Raeburn employed a ‘creative, make-it-happen approach’ to a very difficult divorce.’
‘I have had the misfortune to go through a divorce due to domestic abuse. During a confusing and frequently scary period which has included Police involvement Janet Raeburn has helped me see sense. She is reassuring, calm and always personable. Through a totally testing time, she has helped me to see the bigger and longer term picture and has assisted me in getting tough when I needed to be.’
Stantons Solicitors, a boutique family law practice based in Gravesend, provide advice to clients on matters ranging from financial remedies in divorces to Children Act proceedings. The practice is led by principal Jan Stanton, who also serves as a Deputy District Judge in the Kent Courts.
Starke & Co
A specialist family law firm based in Horsham, Starke & Co advises on family law issues arising from relationship breakdowns, including cohabitation, financial and children disputes. The team also advises clients on pre-nuptual agreements. The practice is led by Andrew Delo, who offers clients a 'straightforward but nonetheless highly thoughtful approach'. Sue Jago and associate Ryan Yates are the other key contacts in the team.
‘All members of the team that I have met have been friendly and helpful. They clearly all get on with one another and seem to be efficient in communication, other firms I have worked with have been let down by lacking this. They give a personal and thorough service.’
‘Ryan Yates particularly has stood out, he is friendly and empathetic, yet practical in his manor. His memory of details mentioned in conversation and ability to recall and link to issues is impressive. He seems honest and speaks freely and clearly.’
‘Starke & Co is a small team of caring and professional solicitors who are level-headed and know how to move a case forward. They are are sensible, pragmatic but have their client’s corners.’
‘Sue Jago is a pleasure to be instructed by. She is well-prepared, thoughtful and gets papers to you early (always appreciated!) She gets great work and is pragmatic in her approach which is most helpful for people caught up in family law disputes.’
‘Clear, straightforward advice. Excellent support at all times with a thoughtful and highly professional approach.’
‘Andrew Delo is highly accessible, clear in his advice and excellent at evaluating/discussing options. He has a straightforward but nonetheless highly thoughtful approach which makes him a pleasure to deal with.’
‘Very impressed with clarity of advice and delivery of outcome based services tailored to client expectations and concerns.’
‘Andrew Delo is stand out adviser delivering relevant, clear advice quickly. His experience and technical expertise allow Andrew to focus on the issues that his clients know they need help with and those unknown to the client from which they will gain greatest advantage and added value.’
Based in Haywards Heath, Tisshaws Family Law Solicitors handle family law matters including disputes over children and finances and work involving vulnerable clients. The practice is led by Gilva Tisshaw, who focuses on the financial aspects of divorces, and is home to a highly capable team of associates. Associate Craig Yeung Williams is particularly praised for his work on private children cases; Hana Khodabocus is also recommended.
‘This is such a lovely firm. I can see why they are so busy as they offer a specialised service dealing with all family matters for clients in the South East and Sussex in particular. All the team are approachable and friendly and know their stuff. I really like them and in my experience their clients really appreciate their pragmatic, costs sensitive approach. They know their stuff and can handle any type of case – whether it’s a middle class couple with £3m of assets or a low value case. What impresses me is their service is unwaveringly good.’
‘A really good regional firm which handles complex cases. Good on both children and money work.’
‘I have previously worked with Hana Khodabocus and Lidia Farrell. They provided a faultless service.’
‘This firm is unique in that every single practitioner goes that extra distance for their client whilst also giving realistic advice.’
‘I would particularly like to recommend Craig Yeung-Williams in private law children matters. Craig is excellent at client communication and ensuring that the case is fully prepared for each stage of the process which makes it a pleasure to work for him.’
‘Gilva Tisshaw is the driving force behind the firm and the team. She is deceptively mild mannered but be under no illusions, she is absolutely tenacious on behalf of her clients. However her judgment is good and she always approaches cases from the point of view of wanting a realistic but fair outcome. She is a strong advocate of continuity in her practice- both of those who work for Tisshaws and in counsel she instructs – all seen as being for the benefit of her clients’
‘The quality of the written work is superb. Statements are meticulous and persuasive and care is taken at every stage of the process. Hana Khodabocus is particularly conscientious and goes the extra mile for her clients, all of whom value her calm and strategic approach.’
‘Caroline Keeley is great. She handles both children and money work to a high standard and understands what Judges need to hear. I highly recommend.’