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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > South East > Private client > Family: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Family: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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'Specialist family firm' Barrett & Thomson is ‘a safe pair of hands with a great wealth of experience, offering a great service’. Practice head Claire Fitzgerald is recommended by one client as ‘one of the most professional and trustworthy solicitors I have had the pleasure of engaging with, with a great outlook on life’. Her experience covers both private and public law matters, including care proceedings, leave to remove cases and adoption matters. The firm is ‘very strong in all areas’, including high-net-worth financial remedy proceedings, separation agreements, the freezing of assets and various other matters. Other key team members include Tanya Melville (‘provides sensible and sensitive advice to vulnerable clients in a crisis’),  Sue Scott  (‘gives advice with a great deal of pragmatism born from experience’) and Sabha Butt  (‘highly competent and thoroughly prepared advocate’).

The team at Blake Morgan LLP provides ‘an excellent overall level of service’. Head of practice Christine Plews is a ‘very experienced and dedicated family lawyer’, who ‘always strives to achieve for her clients’. Plews is recognised for advising high-net-worth individuals on divorce and cohabitee disputes and business asset division, as well as cross-border cases relating to children or multi-jurisdictional assets. Senior solicitor Laura Bennett ‘listens well, is empathetic, very knowledgeable, and a very good person to have on your side’, and senior associate Catherine Morgan’s ‘professionalism is exceptional’. Senior associate James Davies joined at the end of 2017 from Field Seymour Parkes LLP.

'Well-run firm' Blandy & Blandy LLP has ‘strong, solid staff who are willing to go the extra mile with a very quick response time’. Practice head Andrew Don gives ‘expert advice, timely information and action, and empathy’; he and solicitor Alice Cummins are recommended for ‘giving calming and solid advice in very trying circumstances’. Highlights included Claire Dyer and firm chair Brenda Long advising the wife on financial remedy proceedings in a complex asset situation. Shashi Sachdeva joined the team as a consultant solicitor, having previously been a partner at Thomas Eggar and Penningtons Manches LLP.

'Extremely good' Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors' ‘highly competent and dedicated team’ is ‘an excellent choice for those who want realistic advice without paying the earth’. Anne Deller (‘wonderful to work with’; ‘always approachable and incredible level of knowledge’) and Kate Grant (‘approachable, pragmatic and fierce advocate’) jointly head the team. Deller deals with complex cases involving companies, trusts and international properties and represents clients in complex children cases, while Grant advises on cases including high-net-worth divorces and financial cases and complex matters arising from relationship breakdown between cohabitees. Other notable team members include Nick Rodriguez (‘passionate about his clients and always willing to go the "extra mile”’), senior consultant Sarah Benfield (‘technical, available, incredibly hard-working and would be anyone’s safe "port in a storm”') and senior associate Rekha Joshi (‘empathy with clients who need reassurance but is not afraid of giving strong, sensible and sound advice’).

'Star solicitor' Rachael Oakes heads the ‘team of driven and passionate lawyers’ at Freeths LLP, which acts in complex and niche areas such as IVF, surrogacy and divorce cases relating to farming and agricultural matters, which is an area of strength for ‘very helpful and efficient’ senior associate Gemma Nicholls-Webber. Oakes is recommended as being ‘hugely impressive, formidable, very good with clients and well respected by the judiciary’, acting for high-net-worth individuals in matters regarding cross-border assets, businesses, complex trust structures, tax and pensions. The ‘widely respected’ Claire Cobert specialises in CMS appeals, Children Act matters and school appeals for parents, as well as traditional financial and children cases. ‘Efficient, professional yet friendly, and incredibly knowledgeable’ senior associate Elizabeth Stocker works primarily on family financial and children cases.

Penningtons Manches Cooper is ‘an outstanding firm offering real quality to rival the top end of the London market’. The family practices in the firm’s Reading and Oxford offices are headed by Kerry Fretwell and Jane Mitchell respectively. Fretwell specialises in acting for high-net-worth individuals on a range of cases, including financial settlements between unmarried parents, and acting for intervenors, while Mitchell is widely considered to be the go-to person for financial cases and disputes regarding child arrangement orders. ‘Tenacious fighter and good lawyerRuth James' practice focuses on resolving financial settlements between separating couples and arrangements for children. Also noted are senior associates Claire Clarke ('very dedicated and goes the extra mile for her clients') and Bethan Thomas (‘amazing; she is patient, kind and considerate, with her knowledge and expertise particularly reassuring’) and associate Stuart Webber ('a measured and reassuring lawyer').

Brethertons LLP possesses ‘experts in the field’ of family law and provides a ’ten out of ten level of service’. Sally Clark heads the Bicester practice and Simon Craddock leads the Banbury team, with both teams working cohesively on regional, national and international caseloads. Recent key areas of instruction have been in relation to financial remedies for high-net-worth individuals in divorce cases, legal funding orders, significant leave to remove cases and same-sex divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships. Other important team members include senior associate Matthew Montanaro  and associates Gemma Kelsey and Katie Phillips.

The 'excellent' team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP has niche expertise in armed forces pension-sharing orders and excels in high-net-worth financial work, including pre-nuptial agreements, dividing cross-border property assets, separation agreements and protecting business assets in divorce cases. The team is headed by the ‘hugely able and determined’ Sue Baker, who specialises in high-value financial cases and private Children Act cases. Michelle Mann is a ‘masterful tactician and strategist; an astute lawyer with a very thorough approach’, dealing mainly with high-value financial disputes in divorce and separation. Associate Lindsay Davies is noted for advising on high-value matrimonial finance and cohabitation cases. Natasha Ord joined the team from family law boutique Blanchards Law, while James Davies left to join Blake Morgan LLP.

Gardner Leader LLP's experienced team is led by practice head Seona Myerscough , who specialises in child care work and is highly regarded by guardians and sought after by parents for representation. Jenny Buchanan  specialises in the resolution of financial issues in divorce and relationship breakdown, alongside her role as a finance partner for the firm and member of its management board. The team was strengthened in 2017 by the hire of senior associates Suzy Hamshaw from Charles Lucas & Marshall and Simon Fisher  from Bells Solicitors into the firm’s Newbury and Maidenhead offices respectively. Longstanding partner Collette Bailey retired from the partnership and the firm at the end of 2017.

'Very capable' family law firm K J Smith Solicitors has a number of offices in the Thames Valley area, located in Henley-on-Thames, Reading, Windsor and Abingdon. Founded by Kerry Smith, the firm specialises in private client matters and handles everything from cohabitation disputes and divorce financial settlements to Children Act proceedings. Jason Lazard has extensive experience in all areas of family law, including the resolution of middle and high-net-worth financial matters and private law children matters. Senior solicitor Amanda Phillips-Wylds is noted for her expertise on resolving mid-to-high-value financial disputes on divorce.

Royds Withy King has ‘sensible, practical lawyers who represent their clients well’ and is noted for its advice in the financial remedy and private children law areas. ‘Excellent’ practice head Simon Bassett's expertise includes divorce, separation, financial matters, cohabitation and financial claims under the Children Act. Mark Phillips is strong for financial matters, and is recommended as ‘particularly knowledgeable and well-prepared; he is able to develop strong relationships with his clients’. Solicitor Monicka Rai (‘calm and measured; she represents her clients effectively and is a pleasure to deal with’) specialises in private children matters, including removal from jurisdiction and parental alienation cases. The experienced  Andrew Nellist is also noted, especially for conducting much of his own advocacy.

The 'excellent' Spratt Endicott is ‘very responsive with clear communication, quick responses, clear and transparent billing and excellent value for money’. The family practice is headed by ‘outstanding solicitorPatrick Mulcare, who ‘mixes the best of the new and the old of the profession’, with particular expertise in divorce cases concerning complex and high-value financial matters. Associate and mediator Gemma Davison heads the firm’s dedicated mediation offering, predominantly focusing on the financial aspects of relationship breakdown. Davison is recommended for her ‘professionalism, knowledge and understanding’. Other figures of note are ‘intelligent, no-nonsense barristerJustine Cadbury and associate and childcare law expert Sandeep Sandhu ('listens carefully and goes the extra mile for her clients').

The 'excellentPitmans LLP team is headed by Matthew Heyworth, who specialises in all aspects of family law, including divorce, matrimonial finances and children matters, and routinely acts on cases involving complex asset holdings such as business interests, assets held in trust, multiple properties and foreign assets. Heyworth is recommended for his ‘very good listening skills, being thorough in meetings and managing a smooth process’. The team has been strengthened in recent times by the hires of senior associates Claire Burton (‘exceptional practitioner; she is organised and efficient’) and Tanya Dhillon.

The family law practice at Hedges Law is led by Nicola Poole, who ‘has great experience in children disputes’, and also has expertise in complex high-net-worth financial remedy cases, disputes over inherited wealth, variation of maintenance cases and prenuptial agreements. Other figures of note in the practice include Carrie Rudge, who is strong for divorce cases and has considerable experience of resolving arrangements for children, and Laura Mortimer, who ‘has proven herself to be extremely capable at handling financial remedy cases – she is thorough and well organised’.

The ‘incredibly sensible and down to earthMaria Mulroe heads the 'very good' Herrington Carmichael LLP family law team. Mulroe divides her time between Wokingham and Camberley and is noted for her expertise in settling complicated financial matters and advising on children-related work, including complex, cross-border matters. Mulroe is assisted by a team of ‘conscientious and dedicated younger solicitors who are rising stars’, most notably ‘very hard-working and meticulous’ associate Danielle Bentley, who advises on leading work for high-net-worth individuals and has a strong grasp of complex family finance issues.

Boutique family law firm Leiper Gupta Family Lawyers Ltd (LGFL Ltd) delivers a ‘first-class personal service’ to clients ‘who demand a high standard of service and who can afford to pay for that service but do not wish to instruct the usual London or City firms’. The main contacts at the firm are Rita Gupta (‘clients love her and she has a certain gravitas that instills confidence; she is a class act) and Anne Leiper (‘formidable litigator’ who ‘fights the client's corner without compromise’). Gupta focuses on Children Act mandates, while Leiper specialises in high-net-worth and complex financial work. The firm has been handling variation of maintenance and capitalisation proceedings, adoption matters, leave to remove cases and various other issues.

Reeds Solicitors has developed a sophisticated family law practice, having originally been renowned as a criminal defence firm. Firm director Rod Fowler leads the Oxford office family law team and is personally noted for his work representing clients in public and private family law cases, receiving instructions regularly both from private individuals and from child care professionals. The practice also handles divorces and separations, care proceedings matters and financial claims.

Professionals, high-net-worth individuals and high-profile clients instruct ‘excellent’ boutique firm Tony Roe Solicitors in the full range of children and financial matters, including Children Act proceedings, divorce cases and pension-sharing orders. Providing solid experience in cross-border work, Tony Roe ‘responds quickly and effectively to deal with any issues raised’. Tracey O'Dwyer was promoted to associate and utilises ‘a great combination of professionalism, knowledge and support’ in cohabitation, divorce and children work. Solicitor Tracy Jefferis, who is dual-qualified in Australia and the UK, is adept in family finance and private children law, including child arrangement orders.

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