Family: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 in South East
Advising clients on both a fee-paying and legal aid basis, Barrett & Thomson's 'saint-worthy' team has expertise in child and matrimonial matters including high net worth divorce proceedings, international freezing orders and Children Act proceedings. 'Highly-skilled' Claire Fitzgerald leads the sizeable practice and specialises in child law and domestic abuse matters, having previously represented clients in the Court of Appeal. Tracey Haynes represents all parties in family proceedings, including children. Associate Sabha Butt is recommended for her work on matrimonial finance and cohabitation issues.
‘I have worked with many different solicitors at Barrett & Thomson over the years. I have always found their people to be first and foremost good lawyers who really go out of their way to get to know the needs of their clients so that they can provide bespoke and valuable services.’
‘I work frequently with Tanya Melville and she is very good at dealing with difficult clients, as well as standing up to aggressive correspondence from the other side. What I like about Tanya is that she always keeps me in the loop as counsel and I feel like I am able to contribute to the development of the case as it proceeds, not just on a hearing by hearing basis.‘
‘They have instructed me regularly in relatively complex and sensitive private children and financial remedy matters. The cases I have dealt with have often had an international element. They have broad language resources in their teams to effectively cope with that. They always provide early, full and helpful instructions. They are wholly committed to achieving the best outcome for their client, whether privately or publicly funded.‘
‘Claire Fitzgerald is one of the best family solicitors I have ever worked with. She knows the law inside out, gives a first class service to clients and is completely reliable.‘
‘Tracey Haynes is another lawyer at the firm who I highly rate. She is extremely bright and knowledgeable with a reassuring presence and extremely liked by clients.’
Blandy & Blandy LLP's family practice is highly respected for handling the complete spectrum of matrimonial and children issues, including work for high net worth individuals and those in the public eye. Claire Dyer leads the team, while firm chairman Brenda Long has considerable experience in relation to financial settlements arising out of divorce, particularly where there are significant and less straightforward assets involved, such as companies, share options and Enterprise Investment Schemes. Associate Paul Linsell is a trained mediator and aids couples in all aspects of separation.
‘All members of the team were briefed and conversant with my case and went the extra mile to help in what is a stressful time for any client. This provided a sense of trust and respect, knowing that my instructions were being carried out effectively and efficiently.’
‘Brenda Long is an exceptional lawyer. I could not have managed this process without her.’
‘Blandys have a formidable reputation in the region dealing with high-value divorce cases and complex children matters and quite rightly deserve a top tier ranking.’
‘Claire Dyer is an absolute star and her experience and dedication in both money and children cases set her apart from her peers.’
‘Very professional service given by all members of the Family Law Team.’
‘Claire Dyer and Brenda Long lead a fantastic team who are extremely well regarded and are the go team firm in the area.’
‘Blandy & Blandy’s family team are without a doubt the leading firm in the Thames Valley area.’
‘The depth and breadth of experience they have in their team is unparalleled, which is why the work they get is the very best within their area.’
Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors provides a 'very comprehensive service'; the firm advises on high value financial matters, pre-nuptial agreements, and complex children issues, including those involving disabilities and capacity. The team also handles child abduction and abuse claims, and, on occasion, those with an international element. 'Tenacious' practice heads Anne Deller and Kate Grant both advise on mid-to high-net worth divorces and financial cases, including those involving partnerships, companies and trusts. Nicholas Rodriguez and Rekha Joshi are both recommended; the latter in particular handles a high volume of injunction work.
‘A friendly and professional firm.‘
‘I have been instructed by Kate Grant on a number of cases and I am always struck by her tactical thinking, attention to detail and brilliant client care. She is pragmatic about settlement, whilst fighting hard on behalf of her clients and making sure that every permutation of the consequences of a tactic has been considered.‘
‘The team are thorough and caring, whilst able to take a step back and give realistic and appropriate advice.‘
‘Anne Deller is a highly experienced practitioner who combines acute legal acumen with a dash of solid common sense. Anne has a great ability to focus on the wider outcomes for families going through painful separations. She is empathetic but also determined.’
‘The family team at Clifton Ingram are exceptionally experienced and take a very balanced and pragmatic approach. This is one of the best family law firms in the Thames Valley.‘
‘Rekha Joshi stands out as striving hard for her clients. She is sympathetic to them, whilst ensuring they receive good advice and representation.‘
‘Kate Grant is exceptional. She is an absolute joy to work with.’
Freeths LLP's family team 'provides an excellent service' in high value financial matters and provides sensitive and practical advice on children matters, including Schedule 1 applications, removal from jurisdiction applications and cohabitation issues. Rachael Oakes leads the team and advises on pre and post marital agreements and children issues, along with Claire Colbert . Gemma Nicholls-Webber handles separation matters, often with a cross-border element. Associate Tom Burgess is one of relatively few in the area with expertise in IVF and surrogacy work.
‘Claire Colbert really has her eye on the ball – we could not recommend her more highly.’
‘Our overall impression of the firm is one of excellence and we would highly recommend them.‘
‘Both Tom and Claire are highly experienced. They each have an excellent ‘feel’ for any given case. This means that they are able to offer clear and realistic advice from the get-go, as well as managing client expectations throughout. Combined with a sensitive and empathetic approach, they are a pleasure to deal with.‘
‘Very professional, yet friendly and approachable. Forward looking and always looking for new ways to improve the service for clients.’
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP handles the full spectrum of family and matrimonial law, including children work, dispute resolution and pre/post-nuptial agreements. Its work includes negotiating financial settlements for married and cohabiting couples, dealing with divorce proceedings and negotiating children’s arrangements. Practice head Jane Mitchell's expertise in complex financial cases and difficult disputes concerning arrangements for children attracts an international client base. Kerry Fretwell is a trained mediator and has experience of Schedule One applications for unmarried parents. 'Assertive and fearless' associate Bethan Thomas is also recommended.
‘The team provides an excellent service at all levels. They are very well organised and highly focused on client care.‘
‘Kerry Fretwell is very good at thinking about what is really going on and is important in a case.‘
‘Incredibly professional and this is reflected in the polite, helpful and efficient manner of every individual I have had interactions with. Penningtons Manches Cooper is a firm which puts the client at the heart of everything it does, while maintaining its integrity.‘
‘The intellect and legal knowledge are both stand-out. In Oxford, Jane Mitchell and Ruth James are both impressive brains and have the legal experience to match.‘
‘The team span a large geographical area, so even though you deal with one branch, you get the expertise of the whole family team. Attention to detail is excellent and good quality work is attracted. The partners and consultants are extremely experienced and train up and coming lawyers very well.‘
Blake Morgan LLP's 'highly-regarded team' has considerable expertise in divorce matters and Children's Act proceedings. Notably, it is well-rated for its expertise in matrimonial finance matters and divorce proceedings involving complex company issues and assets in multiple jurisdictions. Christine Plews, who has retired from the partnership to become a consultant, leads the practice and acts for high-net-worth individuals in financial remedy cases , as well as handling pre and post nuptial agreements with an international element. Senior associate Catherine Morgan handles financial matters and domestic abuse issues.
‘Blake Morgan LLP whether in Hampshire or in Oxford remains an extremely highly-regarded team in the field of matrimonial finance. They have excellent premises, very good systems and great staff.’
‘James Davies is a first rate solicitor. His preparation is meticulous and second to none. He has an extremely good nose for hidden assets and will take all necessary steps to expose them.’
‘Christine Plews provides a high standard of practical and commercial advice and works extremely hard for her clients. She has excellent client handling skills.’
The 'exceptional practitioners' at Boardman, Hawkins & Osborne serve clients on both a legal aid and private basis, with a focus on care proceedings and private children law. Areas of particular specialism include representing parties in complex non-accidental injury matters, wardship and abduction cases. Established in 2018 as a boutique specialist firm, the practice is co-led by Ruth Hawkins, Emily Boardman and Irena Osborne, all of whom have 'great reputations' and a 'passionate interest in justice'.
‘Ruth Hawkins is totally committed to the practice, the local community, her team and her clients.’
‘Genuinely caring, totally professional, community centred, hard working and committed.Small enough to personally care, large enough to make a difference.’
‘Emily Boardman works with integrity and child focus.’
‘Despite being a boutique firm, their practitioners are able to offer expertise in the entire breadth of Family Law and have a fantastic depth of knowledge therein.’
‘Irena Osborne cares about her clients and outcomes, making no distinction between legal aid and private cases. Manages expectations and handles sensitive situations with compassion and good judgement.’
- Acted for a mother in an appeal about reporting restrictions imposed by a judge following care proceedings.
- Acted for a family member in an appeal against a Placement and Care Order.
Focusing on children and collaborative law, Brethertons LLP uses its 'unique experience in the field' to advise clients on child abduction cases, international and domestic relocation, surrogacy, international adoption and wardship/inherent jurisdiction proceedings. 'Invaluable' Simon Craddock leads the practice and has expertise dealing with children matters in the High Court and Court of Appeal. Gemma Kelsey , one of four partner promotions in 2019, focuses on international child abduction and public law matters. Matthew Montanaro is also recommended and acts as a Deputy District Judge.
- Acted for a child in a case where the High Court has decided broadly that the costs of lay advocates for parents is to be met by HMCTS.
- Represented a father in the latter part of complex international proceedings
- Advised a father in a complex international case.
Field Seymour Parkes LLP acts for mainly high net worth individuals on complex matrimonial and children issues. The firm's international experience includes advising on cases involving foreign property, investments, businesses and pensions, declarations of non-recognition of foreign divorce and financial relief following foreign divorce. Practice head Sue Baker is an expert in the field of sharing armed forces pensions within the context of divorce; Michelle Mann is an experienced notary and advises on complex financial remedy cases.
Other key lawyers:
The 'professional and diligent' team at Gardner Leader LLP offers the full breadth of family law advice on issues including divorce, pre/post nuptial agreements, public and private children law matters and Schedule 1 Children's Act mandates. Seona Myerscough leads the practices and is a 'great ally' to her clients; she has a particular specialism in acting for adolescents and young people within the care process. Newly-promoted partner Simon Fisher has considerable experience in mid to high net value financial matters, often involving complex assets and international elements. Jenny Buchanan is also recommended.
‘Committed to providing constructive support to those going through the difficult time of divorce or separation.‘
‘Simon Fisher has been outstanding. He has guided me through the entire process. It has not been easy at all, with hidden assets and property outside of jurisdiction but he has been exemplary in his approach and has treated my family and myself with great respect and sensitivity. I have recommended him to family and friends who have been given the same impeccable service.’
‘The team were friendly, approachable and demonstrated good communication between departments. I needed both the family law and conveyancing departments to act on my behalf. I felt assured that these departments worked well together and alongside each other.‘
‘Seona Myerscough is highly professional and sensitive to the underlying issues that often affect parents within public law proceedings. She can therefore be clear about expectations, while remaining respectful of families.‘
‘No matter the work, they are open, honest, able to look at the longer term goals and guide appropriately with tact. The communication across the firm and out to clients is first rate whatever the situation.‘
‘Simon Fisher offers a unique blend of pro-active and empathetic support and is not afraid to think outside the box to find constructive proposals, which are equitable and sustainable. Simon is committed to achieving this in a non-confrontational manner and always mindful of the needs of his clients.‘
Royds Withy King
Royds Withy King's 'slick operation' provides expert advice on international pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, protecting dynastic and pre-marital business assets, and dealing with overseas financial claims following divorce, and reputation management in family matters. Practice head Simon Bassett has a number of celebrities in his client base. Mark Phillips and Andrew Nellist both advise medium to high-net worth individuals on financial matters following relationship breakdowns; the former has expertise in matters involving business and trust assets. Associate Monicka Rai is recommended and leads the Child Law team in Oxford.
‘Royds Withy King provide an excellent and reasonably priced service for divorce clients of all kinds and levels of wealth.‘
‘I worked very closely with Mark Phillips on a difficult divorce case, where his client had previously been running a multi million pound company that went into liquidation. Mark Phillips was able to give our client sound advice in difficult times.‘
‘I have worked with two senior members of the practice with separate clients and with entirely different needs. In all cases, the solicitors involved engaged with my clients’ needs, engendering trust and completed on the objectives, with no additional stress to the client.‘
BDB Pitmans' growing family practice advises clients in complex divorce/financial proceedings and private children proceedings. Finance specialist Matt Heyworth leads the practice and provides 'pragmatic and sound advice' to clients including wealthy business owners, politicians, famous musicians and international sportsmen. Associate Claire Burton has developed a broad child law practice since arriving in 2017, handling matters involving domestic violence, sexual abuse and addiction issues.
Other key lawyers:
‘Matt Heyworth has providing outstanding advice and help . He always reassures me and makes me feel more confident.‘
‘They have an excellent family department and are a go to firm in the Thames Valley.‘
‘Claire Burton is the solicitor with whom I work most often. She is exceptionally dedicated and diligent, with a great feel for cases and how to achieve the best outcome. Claire instructs counsel early and there is then a real team feel to the advice given to the client and the management of the running of a case, which is absolutely invaluable for clients.‘
‘They have a sold stream of good quality work and represent great value for money, providing a first class service without the magic circle price tag.‘
‘Matthew Heyworth stands as a very astute lawyer and strategist and a partner who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves.‘
Gateley Plc advises high net worth clients on a range of issues following relationship breakdowns. Practice head and key practitioner Owen Reynolds has expertise in numerous aspects of family law, including divorce, matrimonial finance, cohabitee disputes, disputes involving children, domestic violence injunctions and pre-and post-nuptial agreements. The firm is also developing a focus on surrogacy law.
With a recently opened office in Newbury, K J Smith Solicitors is able to provide an 'excellent' service to clients throughout the region on a full range of family law issues. Firm founder Kerry Smith advises clients from Henley-on-Thames. Elizabeth Stocker departed in April 2020 to join Setfords Solicitors .
‘KJ Smith are very well regarded family law specialists with a large number of offices in the South East. They are accessible and incredibly user-friendly.’
‘The staff are rigorous, hardworking and very helpful.’
‘The staff are friendly, and the service is excellent.’
Established in 2008, Leiper Gupta Family Lawyers Ltd (LGFL Ltd) has become a 'pre-eminent family law firm' in the region, according to clients. The firm is co-led by Rita Gupta and Anne Leiper; Gupta is 'loved by her clients for her calm and cool approach', while Leiper is 'a formidable lawyer who will not shy away from fighting her client's corner.' Much of the firm's work focuses on high-value divorce proceedings and Children Act matters, often with an international component. The firm is looking to add surrogacy law to its offering and has recently taken additional office space in central Reading.
‘I was impressed with both the knowledge of my particular legal issue as well as the accessible nature of the solicitors and the open nature of their communication with me.’
‘Since its inception some twelve years ago, LGFL has carved a reputation as a well-respected boutique firm specialising exclusively in family law. The firm has been very ably led by its formidable founders, Rita Gupta and Anne Leiper, who are experienced family lawyers. The firm has garnered an incredible reputation for itself as a client-focused firm, attracting well-heeled clients who appreciate the significant commitment the partners are able to provide on an ongoing basis. The high level of service and commitment the partners are able to provide contrasts remarkably well with its competitors, which tend to be bigger, blue-chip firms in the TV and Berkshire area, typically with set-ups which tend to allocate most of the work to associates or more junior members of the team.’
‘The team at LGFL are always very efficient. They return telephone calls, are always pleasant and understanding during which for me is a very stressful time.’
‘The great strength of LGFL is its size and personality. With only two lawyers, Anne Leiper and Rita Gupta, they manage to keep their work on a small scale but are still capable of handling the biggest cases. In many ways they are the perfect niche firm.’
‘The practice itself is one I have had recommended to me professionally several times. I have in the past referred colleagues and friends to them off the back of these recommendations and have only had very positive feedback. I therefore chose to use the firm for my own circumstances, due to their reputation, genuine interest and rapport with the staff. Everyone from the receptionists to the representation are friendly, patient and the practice and building has a professional but welcoming atmosphere. It is a boutique style firm which pays attention to detail and this was why I continue to recommend them. ‘
‘It was good to have an experienced and knowledgeable person in charge of my case, and that they understood sensitivities.’
‘I have been a client of the law firm for almost two years and have put my trust firmly in their court; their responses to any query that I might have had have been immediate, always extremely clear and dealt with instantly.’
‘The entire team have shown me extreme civility, warmth, friendliness and efficiency. I really cannot say anything other that I remain delighted with their service and have already recommended LGFL to various friends who are in need of reliable and honest advice.’
‘This firm has been built from scratch by Anne Leiper and Rita Gupta. It is now one of the pre-eminent family law firms in Surrey / Hampshire. Together they are relentlessly focused on achieving the best results for their clients.’
‘Rita Gupta worked tirelessly to address the overall goal and, more importantly, on issues that arose during the course of progressing the primary objective.’
‘Rita Gupta is an experienced family lawyer, with a real talent for complex children work. She is also very adept at handling family finance cases, where those do not fall within the remit of Anne Leiper. Rita is wholly committed to her clients and will really go the extra mile to fight her client’s corner. Her client dedication is second to none. She has admirable client care skills. She is tenacious, determined, but also a real team player.’
‘Anne Leiper is a formidable lawyer, Anne will not shy away from fighting her client’s corner. She is very comfortable undertaking high-value finance cases, and is not afraid to give robust advice to her own clients where necessary. Anne is also a real team player and like Rita Gupta, is tenacious and determined.’
‘Anne Leiper is very thorough; she prepares meticulously and has excellent client handling skills which is why her clients love her.’
‘Rita Gupta is always loved by her clients for her calm and cool approach. She is highly efficient and works with admirable economy. Far more than a safe pair of hands, she is a great solicitor.’
‘I dealt with Rita Gupta, who always gave solid advice and support but was equally very collaborative in her approach. She was always very clear and explained procedures and possible outcomes at every stage of the process. I felt she was very positive in her approach to the outcome of my circumstances and was fully engaged with my circumstances. She was also respectful of my choices once I had received all the information I needed to progress. This was very important as I needed to feel in control of my circumstances in order to move forward.’
‘In comparison with other firms I have dealt with I feel Rita represents the personal approach and has a genuine interest in her clients’ welfare.’‘Anne Leiper was very straightforward and explained things in a simple no-nonsense way.’
‘Anne Leiper advises me and is acting on my behalf; she is an extremely fair lady and has impressed me by her direct approach, I realise that she is hugely well informed and the promptness with which she acts never ceases to impress me. I respect and very much like her direct approach with which she gives out advice; she is forthright and honest – this is of great importance to me.’
‘Both Rita Gupta and Anne Leiper are entirely client focused. From the outset they devise a strategy designed to achieve the best result for their client whilst deploying the proper level of resources. They are both terrier-like in their tenacity to achieve success for their clients.’
The 'approachable, professional and honest' team at Spratt Endicott offers its clients an 'outstanding service' in relation to family law matters involving business assets, agricultural land and international property portfolios. Director and head of department, Patrick Mulcare , specialises in complex and high value financial issues within divorce proceedings and is dual qualified in England and Wales and Ireland. 'Expertly prepared' associate Gemma Davison is also recommended. She has experience handling issues relating to military pensions, self employment, and spousal maintenance in the context of divorce.
Other key lawyers:
‘Spratt Endicott are a firm with a reputation for excellence in the field of Family Law. When a client is at their lowest, they speak without judgement and repeat things when the legal jargon is not easy to take in.’
‘Patrick Mulcare and his team always offer an outstanding service; they are compassionate, professional and very helpful. They consistently give solid support, advice and clear expectations of the process. Gemma Davison is also standout for me.‘
‘Extremely helpful. Excellent response time, friendly but professional.’
Stowe Family Law LLP
Since opening in Reading in 2018, Stowe Family Law LLP has rapidly built a reputation as a team with 'great expertise' in a range of family matters. Practice head and managing partner Naheed Taj has experience advising clients in high net worth financial remedy cases involving substantial and complex assets, including businesses, pensions, investments and trusts, often with an international element.
Other key lawyers:
‘Naheed Taj is a very experienced and hard nosed litigator who gets the very best results for her clients.’
‘Great expertise in family law.’
‘Natasha Ord has an exceptional manner with clients, is clear in her advice and understanding of client concerns.’
‘Excellent legal knowledge combined with an approachable and friendly manner.’