Family in South West
Burges Salmon LLP is a leading firm in the region for handling complex financial settlements on relationship breakdown and divorce. In particular, its family team has a wealth of experience acting on matters involving multiple jurisdictions. Practice head Sarah Hoskinson routinely advises on asset protection work such as pre and post-marital agreements, many of which involve significant, complex wealth portfolios with international, corporate or trust elements. Another key name in the large team is the highly experienced Alison Hawes, whose expertise includes acting for farming families, and who has a niche specialism in advising unmarried couples.
‘Burges Salmon attracts top-quality national and international work.’
‘Sarah Hoskinson is a star among the new generation of partners at top-tier firms. She possesses a rare and winning combination of strategic intelligence, emotional intelligence and technical legal ability.‘
‘Burges Salmon have many good lawyers and give their clients a Rolls-Royce service from some of the best and most experienced lawyers in Bristol.‘
‘The firm has the resources to attract the best talent.‘
‘Sarah Hoskinson is outstanding with a national reputation and extremely well versed in the law. Alison Hawes is excellent and extremely well thought of; she has credibility that arises from a long and distinguished career.‘
‘They are a first-class team with strength and valuable technical expertise. Technically strong.‘
‘No. 1 in Bristol for high-net-worth divorce.‘
‘Mary Gaskins is very conscientious and Sarah Hoskinson is very knowledgeable.‘
Clarke Willmott LLP has expertise in handling divorce and matrimonial finance matters involving highly complex issues, including pension funds, private business structures and family enterprises. Team head Gareth Schofield's specialisms include Schedule 1 claims and enforcement issues, and he regularly acts on high-value financial remedy cases, including those with international elements. Another key lawyer is the highly experienced Alastair MacLeod, who combines a heavy caseload in matrimonial law with experience in children law. In April 2020, Daniel Eames departed to head up the family team at Michelmores LLP, and was replaced by Clare Webb from Sharp Family Law LTD.
‘Gareth Schofield is the best matrimonial finance practitioner in the country, let alone Bristol. He is clever, thoughtful, knowledgeable and brilliant with clients. He is the one I recommend my friends to. He has moulded his team in his image.‘
‘Possibly the best firm in the South West in family finance matters. They represent fantastic value. They have strength in depth and attract the very best work.‘
‘Gareth Schofield is almost without parallel as a family finance solicitor. He is calm and unflappable, charming and efficient. He is highly collaborative. Any firm would want to employ him. Emma Gordon and Hannah Livesey provide outstanding support.‘
‘Clarke Willmott have one of the strongest presences in Bristol and the South West of any firm. They are able to cover divorce and private client cases of any level.‘
‘A really expert firm with a high-powered team.‘
‘Alastair MacLeod is a thorough and careful practitioner with great attention to detail.‘
‘A good traditional firm with a sound knowledge base.’
‘Gareth Schofield is one of the most reassuring and practical family lawyers that I have ever met.‘
The family team at Irwin Mitchell focuses on high-value matrimonial finance matters, but also has expertise in children law, including child abduction cases. Team head Nicola Walker, who arrived from the firm's Birmingham office in 2017, has overseen considerable growth in the firm's South West offering. Her areas of expertise include handling complex, high-value financial disputes for high-net-worth individuals. Other strengths of the team include pre and post-nuptial settlements, as well as professional negligence matters arising out of matrimonial work. A notable area of work is advising US nationals in the UK, where senior associate Erin Sawyer is particularly experienced.
‘This team gives realistic and sensible advice. They charge a reasonable fee for it. They are extremely able lawyers.‘
‘Nicola Walker is an extremely wise person and an excellent lawyer. She gives realistic advice and provides robust representation.‘
‘Irwin Mitchell somehow offer clients the best of both worlds. A small specialist family team offers a very high standard of personal service and considerable expertise in the field. Access to colleagues in other parts of a large firm enables the family team to draw quickly and easily upon the experience of others when necessary. I would not hesitate to recommend them.‘
‘Nicola Walker is a good lawyer and a good leader. She is calm under fire. She is quick to understand the legal, factual and emotional complexities of a case. She is brilliant at reassuring and supporting her clients. Erin Sawyer has a ‘no nonsense’ approach which is to be highly commended. She gives clear, frank advice and is a staunch advocate of her client’s case.‘
‘Erin Sawyer is a brilliant lawyer who works collaboratively but is also a highly competent litigator. Her strategic skills are excellent and she consistently gives her clients measured and sensible advice. Erin is a great team player and excellent to work with. Her cases are very well prepared.’
Michelmores LLP offers significant expertise across the full range of family law to a client base including a number of high-net-worth individuals. In a major hire, Daniel Eames joined from Clarke Willmott LLP in April 2020 to head up the team following the departure of Simon Thomas in October 2019. Eames has a considerable reputation in international family law, and is highly experienced in jurisdictional disputes and financial claims in England following a divorce abroad. Rachael Shearmur, whose practice covers financial matters, children law and domestic violence, is another key name.
‘A strong and experienced team with a solid knowledge of family law. Michelmores are one of the best family law teams around.’
‘Pippa Allsopp is dedicated to her clients and a very good lawyer.’
‘Sue Ellingham is very efficient and hugely knowledgeable. Always there to help.’
‘An extremely well-respected firm in this field.’
‘Pippa Allsop is an outstanding practitioner. Her preparation and organisational skills are phenomenal. She is unerringly calm and professional and she has a proven ability to predict and to lay impressive groundwork for multiple potential trial strategies. She prepares clients well to anticipate difficulties and uncertainties within litigation and has all of the skills and flexibility needed to navigate unseen events and adversity.’
‘Rachael Shearmur is, rightly, highlighted as a leading partner in this area.’
Royds Withy King
Royds Withy King has an excellent reputation in public children law and is also highly regarded for private wealth matters and matrimonial disputes, with a client base of high-net-worth individuals. It continues to be a go-to firm for areas including the representation of children in care proceedings, which is the specialism of Bath-based team head Richard Ellis. Rebecca Stevens, whose practice includes private children law, is another key name. In a recent development, Maria Mulroe joined the firm's Swindon office from Herrington Carmichael LLP in July 2019; she brings expertise in handling cases involving Spanish assets and Spanish nationals.
Stephens Scown LLP
Stephens Scown LLP fields a sizeable family law team in the South West, spread across three offices in Devon and Cornwall. The experienced and highly regarded Liz Allen heads up the team from Exeter, while Sarah Atkinson leads the Truro practice. While the department is skilled in handling high-value divorce and financial settlement matters, it also has strength in children law, especially when benefiting from the expertise of Mark Smith. Other key names include Andrew Barton, who specialises in pre and post-nuptial agreements, and associate Thea Bennun, whose specialisms include divorce cases with complex pensions issues.
‘The strongest team of solicitors I work with. Excellent working practices headed by very experienced and knowledgeable partners with a great team of associates, paralegals and trainees. The best in the South West in my opinion.‘
‘Liz Allen is possibly the best known and most experienced financial remedy solicitor in the South West. She takes on the biggest cases and settles the vast majority but fights when she needs to. Whatever the problem she will have seen it before and will know how to deal with it.’
‘Stephens Scown are head and shoulders above any other firm in Devon and Cornwall. Sarah Atkinson is the youngest and most capable team head I know.‘
‘Andy Barton in Exeter is very sound. Sarah Atkinson and Lauren Mankee in Truro are exceptional.‘
‘The best firm in Devon and Cornwall for family finance matters. They have a strong team, well-located offices and generations of expertise.‘
‘Mark Smith is brilliant. He is a highly talented individual, proved by his ability to exhibit equally high intellectual and emotional intelligence throughout a case. He has a very special rare acumen indeed. His accomplished skills enable him to deliver not only top-quality legal advice, but highly perceptive judgement of the matters. He gets it all right every time.‘
‘This practice is unique in its first-class humanistic, empathetic, customer-centric approach to everything it does. The family team gives the outstanding service of human beings who actually care about the individual client. It requires a high degree of empathy and emotional intelligence in addition to the legal intellectual knowledge in order to pull this off as brilliantly as the Stephens Scown team do.‘
‘There is no better team in the South West.‘
TLT's Bristol-based family team acts for high-net-worth individuals on all aspects of family law, often involving complex, high-value financial remedies, divorces and children arrangements. The department has recently built up a well-known practice advising wealthy unmarried couples on cohabitation and separation matters. In addition to matrimonial finance work, Natalie Drew, who heads up the team, often handles private children law and domestic violence cases. Other notable lawyers are the highly active Mark Sage and associate Sarah Green, whose growing practice spans both matrimonial and children matters.
‘The team at TLT are thorough and conscientious, providing an impressive service for a range of clients.‘
‘Mark Sage is a partner who is held in high regard by clients and opponents alike. He has an enviable reputation for being fair, measured and sensible, adopting a cost-effective approach to litigation which seeks to reduce the cost to the client while making real progress with a case.‘
‘TLT are one of the absolute top-tier firms in Bristol, offering a really high-quality service. I would strongly recommend them for the most complex and difficult cases in any area of family work, including international cases and multi-million high-net-worth clients.‘
‘Natalie Drew is an outstanding lawyer with excellent client care skills. She gives very proportionate and pragmatic advice and has good tactical skills. Mark Sage has a brilliant manner with clients – he is hugely reassuring in the most sensitive cases and an excellent lawyer. Sarah Green is a real star; she is really good and definitely one to watch.’
‘Natalie Drew has a common-sense, practical approach and is always keen to promote a sensible solution.‘
‘This firm continues to attract excellent work and rightly so. They are pragmatic, commercially minded and client focused. They have the benefit of commercial and private client colleagues, who are able to support the family team.‘
‘Mark Sage is the unsung hero. Omnipresent in Bristol, he is pragmatic and solution focused. He is prepared to compromise to preserve the client relationship, but he is equally firm on those points which are important to his clients.‘
Operating out of three offices across the South West, Ashfords LLP advises on all areas of family law. Clients include business owners, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals, particularly in the agricultural sector. The team has expertise in complex financial remedy proceedings, asset protection and collaborative law. Exeter-based team head Zoe Porter is highly adept at handling divorce matters, while Jayne Turner in Taunton specialises in high-value cases, especially involving complex pension schemes. Senior associate Samantha Newton, who joined from Thrings LLP in July 2019, is highly active in the growing Bristol team.
‘Professionalism with a relaxed and friendly face at all levels. This is what we have come to expect and we have never been disappointed in our dealings with every department of Ashfords. A well-led firm that uses clients’ time efficiently and fast.‘
‘Excellent client skills deployed in a comfortable manner. Jayne Turner personifies this, coupled with a steely resolve to fight for the client and willingness to enlist top-class legal opinion.‘
‘Across the firm’s family department there is a real interest in supporting the client through what is probably the most difficult time in their lives by offering measured, sensitive and realistic advice. Preparation of cases for court is timely and excellent.’
‘I would commend Zoe Porter and Samantha Newton for their client management skills and their professional courtesy to all whatever the circumstances. Both exhibit good judgement and an ability understand the issues and deliver proper advice to clients.‘
‘Jayne Turner really cares about her clients and this is clear in her communication and style. Divorce is an emotive time and high levels of empathy are critical.‘
‘Not only was Samantha Newton extraordinarily capable and efficient, she works from her heart.‘
Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP
Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP offers the full range of services in family and fertility law, excelling in high-value matrimonial finance matters and children law (especially relocation cases). The sizeable Bournemouth-based team is jointly led by the highly experienced Deborah Leask and Sean McNally. Katie Taft specialises in international relocation and Hague Convention cases, while Ian Butterworth, who was made up to partner in January 2020, has a wealth of experience in family finance matters. Also notable is the team's fertility law offering, which is led by associate Suzi Denton.
‘The family team offers real breadth and depth in terms of areas covered. The team has grown from strength to strength under Deborah Leask and Sean McNally.‘
‘Deborah Leask is an absolute star and a go-to family finance lawyer. She does not leave any stone unturned and is able to think creatively, outside the box. She is tenacious and determined, and really thrives on cases which require detailed analysis of figures and complex asset structures. She is tireless and will not hesitate to roll up her sleeves to work on a case, into the early hours if necessary. She is a real team player and great strategist. She is a confident advocate in court.’
‘Katie Taft is a very safe pair of hands and hugely respected for her international relocation and Hague Convention cases. She is one of a handful in the region to specialise in those areas. She is determined and bright, and will think through a case thoroughly and holistically. Like Deborah, she is tireless and will go the extra mile for her clients.’
‘Ian Butterworth punches above his weight and has a real depth of knowledge in his field. He also has the added advantage of conducting advocacy for a majority of his hearings, which gives him added insight as a lawyer into his cases. He is hardworking and will leave no stone unturned.‘
‘The family team at Ellis Jones is very good. They are professional and value the training of junior members of the team.‘
‘Ian Butterworth is superb. His attention to detail and technical ability is much better than most family lawyers who have been working in the field for twice as long as he has. Ian is also a great advocate. Deborah Leask is simply superb when it comes to financial matters.‘
‘The knowledge of the team coupled with their tenacity makes them a formidable presence in the family law arena. Whenever Ellis Jones are an opponent, others sigh in disappointment due to knowing that they will not have an easy ride. Ellis Jones leave no stone unturned and fight fearlessly, yet fairly for every client.‘
‘Katie Taft is extremely personable and adaptable. She can calm and promote confidence in an anxious client, whilst being able to be firm enough to manage a difficult client.‘
‘Ellis Jones is the best family law team in Bournemouth. They have two of the most experienced and most knowledgeable practitioners and they provide a top service. They are capable of dealing with cases from the more modest to very substantial high-net-worth individuals.‘
‘Sean McNally is a very able practitioner. He instinctively knows where the heart of an issue is. Fantastically economic in his approach, he will always take the necessary and proportionate steps in the best interests of the client.’
‘Deborah Leask is a brilliant solicitor. She has been a leading light in the world of financial remedies for over two decades. She gives fantastic, clear, practical advice and works extremely hard for her clients.’
‘Ian Butterworth has made an excellent start to his career. He is extremely hardworking and meticulous in his preparation. He instils great confidence in his clients with whom he forges excellent relationships.‘
Harrison Clark Rickerbys
With a sizeable family department in the Cheltenham area, Harrison Clark Rickerbys often acts for high-net-worth individuals from around the country and is well known for its divorce and financial remedy work. The wider department was recently bolstered by the arrival of James Grigg from Willans LLP in July 2019, who operates out of the Cardiff and Wye Valley offices but whose practice includes the South West. In Cheltenham, Andrew Morris was promoted to partner in October 2018; he specialises in cross-border matters with complex asset structures.
‘Harrison Clark Rickerbys has a strong matrimonial finance team in Cheltenham/Gloucester.‘
‘They have cornered the market, so they appear in all the big cases and now they have recruited James Grigg they have all the best practitioners in the area. He and Carolyn Green are both extremely sensible and practical, but it is their ability to get on with clients and gain their confidence which sets them apart.‘
Lester Aldridge LLP has a strong reputation for advising on complex financial remedy cases, especially those which involve cross-border elements or require external expertise. Growing areas of work for the team include pre-nuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements and children law work with an international dimension. Rosemary Sharp leads the family team, which is split across the firm's offices in Bournemouth, Southampton and London. She works with Joanne Clarke; both combine experience in matrimonial finance and children law.
Other key lawyers:
‘Lester Aldridge are one of the few ‘go to’ firms for family work on the South Coast. Their professionalism and experience sets them apart.‘
‘Lester Aldridge have a strong financial remedies team based in Bournemouth. They provide an excellent service. As a team they are quite capable of handling cases from the very modest to very high-net-worth cases.‘
‘Rosemary Sharp’s knowledge of the law and feel for the tactics of litigation place her well above her peers at other firms. Joanne Clarke is excellent at dealing with difficult cases and more challenging clients. Her no-nonsense attitude and ability to get to the crux of a case is much appreciated.‘
‘The team work together and are friendly, professional and efficient. They have a lot of empathy with clients and reassure them emotionally and practically by explaining the process. They are happy to bring in outside resources to help with more complex cases such as pension experts and actuaries.‘
Lyons Davidson has standout expertise in matters involving child abduction, international children law, and child and domestic abuse law. The department's caseload often involves complex cross-border work. Team co-head Philippa Morgan is a leading regional specialist in child abduction and cases concerning the 1980 Hague Convention, and has appeared at all judicial levels up to the Supreme Court. Her fellow co-head Iona Phillips is the team's expert on children and domestic abuse law. They are supported by Donna Cummins, who has experience in both private and public children law matters.
Other key lawyers:
‘A real commitment to client care, a comprehensive understanding of the law as it affects their clients, a professional approach with excellent quality of advice given. Always well prepared and always caring about getting the best possible outcome for their clients. Well respected by the judiciary and colleagues alike. The ‘go to’ firm in Bristol.‘
‘The team has strength in depth, which brings comfort to clients and instructed barristers alike. It is also a team with a level of expertise that compares very favourably with firms of greater size.‘
‘I have found the individuals to be expert in what they do and committed to delivering the best service possible to their lay clients. They always deliver fair and well-thought-through advice to clients, even if it is advice that the client may not want to hear. In my experience, the firm attracts and retains high-calibre solicitors and they are to be commended.‘
‘Lyons Davidson has a strong, hardworking team that fight for all of their clients with determination and great skill. None of their clients are ever shortchanged and all receive a high quality of representation and a tenacious, carefully thought-out approach to each case.‘
‘Iona Phillips has a real eye for detail and leaves no stone unturned when representing clients. She is particularly strong on cases with a foreign element and ensuring that her clients are protected and not disadvantaged through issues of language or culture. Donna Cummins is formidable in the representation of her clients’ cases. She is particularly good when representing teenagers.‘
‘The overriding unique feature of the family practice at Lyons Davidson is that they are a team in the true sense of the word. They are a collection of highly motivated and talented family lawyers and there is real strength in depth in their team. They collectively provide high-quality client care whether it be to lay or professional clients. In this regard they are second to none.‘
‘I have worked with Iona Phillips for several years on numerous cases. She is unflappable, highly organised, and fights very hard for her clients whilst being realistic where necessary.‘
The family team at Steele Raymond LLP provides specialist advice to clients from across Dorset and the surrounding counties, as well as a growing number of international clients. Although focusing on complex financial remedy cases and pre and post-nuptial agreements, the team is also adept at Children Act matters and cohabitation disputes. Team head Daniel Sanders regularly acts for high-net-worth clients on cases involving complex corporate structures, trusts and pension schemes. Another key lawyer is associate Lindsay Halliwell, whose experience covers both financial and children law work.
Other key lawyers:
‘The family team at Steele Raymond have a breadth and depth of knowledge, skill and expertise, making them able to provide advice on all kinds of family dispute, whether children or finance related. This, together with their pragmatic yet friendly approach, makes them unmatched by local rivals.‘
‘Lindsay Halliwell is excellent. She is diligent, professional and gets results.‘
‘Steele Raymond were exceptionally helpful and knowledgeable; I very much appreciated their help and advice at a difficult time, and they were both professional and supportive throughout.‘
‘Daniel Sanders’ knowledge, legal expertise, availability and patience were outstanding and greatly appreciated, and his drive and determination were key to reaching a successful conclusion in the matter.‘
‘Lindsay Halliwell has very good attention to detail and always goes the extra mile for her clients.‘
‘They are consistently faultless with an outstanding reputation in the Dorset area.‘
‘Dan Sanders is able to reassure clients with his calm and measured approach, while delivering robust and sensible advice. Lindsay Halliwell is one of the hardest working practitioners in the area. She has an attention to detail which is second to none.‘
The Family Law Practice
Bristol-based The Family Law Practice offers standout expertise in handling matrimonial finance matters for high-net-worth individuals, often involving complex commercial interests, trust assets, offshore portfolios and pension schemes. The firm's expertise also includes cohabitation cases involving TOLATA claims and Children Act claims, and private law children matters, such as removal from the jurisdiction and allegations of domestic violence. Ashley Palminteri, who leads the practice, was recently appointed as a deputy district judge. Other notable names in the practice are Sharon Mahmood and Elizabeth Bruce.
‘Ashley Palminteri is very fair and forthright and gets his cases sorted with a view to pragmatic and uncontentious solutions to cases. He has an experienced team that helps him.‘
‘They are a tight-knit outfit who provide a very good service and attract some excellent work.‘
‘Ashley Palminteri is well known and thought of throughout the city.’
‘They have a strong presence in Bristol and the surrounding area, and a good mix of individuals who place the needs of clients at the forefront in discussions and negotiations. They are always looking to work collaboratively to find the best practical solution for clients.‘
‘Ashley Palminteri is exceptional; he assess the issues quickly and promotes good communication by telephoning or meeting to address the issues. Sharon Mahmood will fight her client’s corner in a calm and dignified way, ensuring that it is practical and sensible to do so.‘
‘Sharon Mahmood and Liz Bruce are both very knowledgeable and sensible in their approach.‘
VWV undertakes the full spectrum of national and international matters relating to family breakdown for professional and high-net-worth clients based in Bristol, with particular strengths in divorce settlements, unmarried family disputes and separation planning. Practice head Samantha Hickman continues to oversee a growing team. She acts for a wide range of clients, including business owners, entrepreneurs and senior executives; she also has experience advising healthcare professionals. Her areas of expertise cover matrimonial and cohabitation disputes, including matters involving child support or relocation.
‘Samantha Hickman is building an excellent team in Bristol. She has a no-nonsense approach to her cases and achieves great results.’
‘They are approachable and effective and seem to give their clients confidence and reassurance that they are in a safe pair of hands.‘
‘Samantha Hickman is great – very pragmatic and sorts things out. Excellent firm with a very strong private client practice.‘
‘Samantha Hickman is an excellent lawyer: she has legal expertise but is also a great tactical strategist. She has a very friendly and reassuring manner with clients and is an incredibly hard worker.‘
Barcan+Kirby LLP has a strong track record in family law and a deep bench of specialists spread across six offices in and around Bristol. Its family finance team is adept at dealing with all aspects of divorce and separation. The practice's children law offering is similarly strong, with expertise in public child care proceedings, as well as private law matters such as child abduction cases. Jim Gridley and Chris Miller jointly head up the team.
‘Barcan+Kirby have a strong family team who are responsive and also provide a clear and transparent fee structure to clients. They can cover a wide rage of family issues and work cohesively as a firm. I view Barcan+Kirby as reliable and a safe pair of hands.‘
‘They are knowledgeable and compassionate. They are inclusive and provide a consistent level of service to those of modest and not-so-modest means. I think they are all very approachable and provide competent reassurance to clients in times of need.‘
‘Jim Gridley is a partner who stands out in terms of the service he is able to provide for clients, and the trust he is able to generate as a result. He makes himself available to clients outside of normal office hours, and rarely leaves them waiting for a response. As a consequence, he enjoys a high satisfaction rate from his clients.‘
‘Hanni Pennelegion is robust, sensible and realistic. She is great with clients and clients trust her because of her directness.‘
‘Tom Powles provides sensible advice with no drama. Clients are always aware of all possible outcomes as well as the likely outcome. Very user-friendly.‘
‘Calm and sensible advice delivered in a practical and user-friendly way.‘
Operating out of offices in both Devon and Cornwall, the family team at Foot Anstey undertakes a broad spectrum of family law work, with expertise in areas including divorce, children disputes and financial remedy work. The department is fully embedded in the firm's private wealth practice, headed up by Jessica Pitt from the Exeter office.
‘Jill Bruce is extremely competent and has a good handle on divorce finances, including where pensions are involved. She is an absolute pleasure to work with, always calm and constructive in her approach and can handle the most difficult of clients to keep a case on track.‘
‘Jess Pitt is very sensible and pragmatic. She doesn’t look for a fight just for the sake of it. She will always take a measured approach which can help negotiations.‘
‘A high-powered firm with a highly experienced team.‘
‘Nigel Gosden is a forceful and determined solicitor.‘
‘They are all very sensible lawyers and you know you will be able to sort something out if they are acting for the spouse.‘
Bristol-based Gregg Latchams LLP has a strong reputation for handling high-value and complex divorce cases, especially those involving complex assets, property or pensions. The highly experienced James Myatt is adept at dealing with the court process in divorce cases, while also lending expertise in pre and post-nuptial agreements and children law matters.
‘James Myatt is very well known in Bristol and fights his client’s corner hard. He is never afraid to go to court and proves to be a tough and expert opponent.‘
‘A tremendous firm with great strength in depth. They are well known in Bristol and have a longstanding reputation.‘
‘James Myatt has been practising in the city for decades. He is a good judge of a case and can often see an angle others don’t. Jen Pollock, Jennifer Hargreaves and Sarah Marshall are a superb team: approachable and hardworking. They mean that this is a firm with a solid future.‘
‘James Myatt is an experienced and caring family lawyer who is well regarded for his ability to get deals done.‘
‘James Myatt has a supreme grounding of case law and the family procedure rules. He is excellent with clients and supports them throughout their case. The team is underpinned by a number of excellent solicitors who are developing their own reputation.‘
‘James Myatt is knowledgeable and his strategy and case management is second to none. Jen Pollock is immoveable. She will push for her clients the whole way.‘
Nash & Co
Plymouth-based Nash & Co offers the full range of services in family law, from matrimonial finance to public and private children law. The family law team also has a niche specialism in domestic violence cases, for which it is particularly well known. Helen Bull, who specialises in public children law, and Eleanor Barber, whose expertise includes domestic violence cases, jointly lead the practice.
Other key lawyers:
‘The individuals we worked with always explained the details of our case in easy-to-understand language and answered all our questions in a friendly and reassuring manner. We always felt we were kept well informed and even when the case faced delays or further details, we were kept in the loop and fully aware of our progress.‘
Porter Dodson LLP
Porter Dodson LLP has a strong regional presence in Dorset and Somerset, offering the full range of services in family law. The team advises clients including high-net-worth individuals and landowners on relationship breakdown matters, and also has a strong offering in children law. Richard Baker heads up the sizeable team from the Dorchester office.
‘The team are incredibly efficient, knowledgeable and professional and that is very reassuring in what can be the challenging times of needing legal support. The team have always been very approachable and quick to respond to queries and questions and I have used them on many occasions for their services in matrimonial affairs, wills and home conveyancing.‘
‘The team have outstanding legal knowledge, humour and tenacity; provide unbiased, fair and always accessible advice; and keep me involved and up to date with processes, enabling me to contact them ad hoc for advice. Richard Baker has been exceptional in tricky divorce proceedings.‘
‘Porter Dodson have an excellent family team who all have great expertise and vast experience. They offer a superb service to clients from the first meeting to final resolution and are rightfully highly regarded by practitioners and judiciary alike. As a large firm in the South West with a number of offices, all partners and fee earners can deal with any level of case from modest assets up to multimillion-pound cases, often with an overseas element or involving complex corporate structures. The family team gel together well and offer a broad mix of practitioners headed (very well) by Richard Baker.‘
‘Richard Baker as head of team is an absolute star. He is incredibly bright, hardworking and a great tactician, and puts everyone (including the opposition) at ease. He is also incredibly efficient, as are the other members of the team, which provides excellent value for money for clients. He can deal with clients from a broad range of backgrounds equally well and all with good humour.’
‘Julia Perrins is a specialist financial remedy practitioner who is a very tough litigator with over thirty years’ experience and is well used to dealing with high-value cases.’
‘Cathryn Smith is a no-nonsense, tough practitioner who fights hard for her clients and seeks to resolve cases as swiftly and economically as possible for them; she is a very astute lawyer who comes up with practical and pragmatic solutions for clients.‘
‘Strong, good knowledge, reliable.‘
Sharp Family Law LTD
Sharp Family Law LTD is well known in Bristol and Bath for its capabilities and experience in family law. One of the firm's focuses is on collaborative law and family mediation. The highly experienced Richard Sharp leads the practice from the Bath office. In recent developments, Sharon Giles left the team in September 2019 to head up the family practice at Willans LLP, while Clare Webb departed for Clarke Willmott LLP in April 2020.
Other key lawyers:
‘Richard Sharp is a very experienced and competent family lawyer. He deals with matters collaboratively where possible, adopting a sensible and pragmatic approach. He is very approachable and has a good supportive manner with clients.‘
‘Sharp Family Law are a great boutique law firm based in Bath/Bristol. They have a specialisation in family law, and that means that they are able to deliver a high-level product to their clients at a reasonable price.‘
‘The firm has a key focus on collaborative law and most of their lawyers are collaboratively trained. It follows that even in cases which are not under the collaborative umbrella, they have a sensible approach to cases. This amicable approach makes it more cost effective for all parties, and means that cases can be resolved.‘
‘Victoria Barnett has the incredible skill of making her clients feel comfortable and supported. She is a caring lawyer, who is dedicated to helping her clients as well as willing and able to come up with sensible and creative settlements.‘
Stone King LLP's Bath-based family law team is experienced in litigation as well as alternative dispute resolution, and its range of expertise covers financial, cohabitation and children cases. Practice head Tracey Smith specialises in complex matrimonial finance cases. The firm merged in December 2019 with fellow Bath firm Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors to form one of the largest family teams in the region.
‘Meg Moss is a consummate professional. Her strengths include utilising her detailed legal knowledge to ensure a fair resolution to challenging cases whilst always being mindful of clients’ legal costs. She is approachable, thorough, pleasant, empathetic, reliable, responsive, very efficient and works with her clients’ best interests foremost in mind. She gives honest appraisals and outlines clearly the options available for any given situation.’
‘I was greatly relieved by the efficient and informed level of advice I received. Salient information was conveyed quickly and clearly. I was given an overview of my case and the strengths and weaknesses of my legal position, which was justified with relevant experience and information. When I raised issues, these were responded to without undue delay. On any occasion where my solicitor was not available, I felt her personal assistant was genuinely well informed of the details of my case and capable of dealing with or referring ongoing matters as required.’
‘I would like to commend Meg Moss for the consistently exceptional service that she provided me. Her advice was informed by a wealth of experience, and was detailed, accurate and succinct. She brought a keen intellect, a great sense of humour and real personal warmth to her interactions with me. She demonstrated an understanding of my personal situation, which I valued immensely. On a personal and professional level, she is absolutely the solicitor you want in your corner during any matrimonial or custodial dispute.’
Stowe Family Law LLP
Rapidly expanding in the South West, boutique firm Stowe Family Law LLP is adept at handling high-net-worth financial cases, often involving cross-border aspects, businesses and trusts, as well as children law matters. Jemma Slavin heads up the team from Bristol, while Louise Chipchase joined from Whatley Weston & Fox to open the firm's Cheltenham office in July 2019.
‘Excellent, hardworking team. They have a unique working method of partnering with a divorce coach/therapist to provide holistic support to clients as they go through the litigation process.‘
‘Jemma Slavin is always on the other end of the phone, smart and bold in her decision making. Joanna Newton is very experienced with wisdom beyond her years. Rachel Fisher is efficient, sensible and well connected.‘
‘Jemma and the team at Stowe work with each client individually to achieve the best outcome for the client. They work in a holistic way with other professionals and provide support opportunities beyond the purely legal through referrals and workshops and seminars with coaches and other partners.‘
‘Approachable, empathetic, supportive, innovative and not afraid to be strong when needed.’
‘All of my dealings with Stowe Family Law have been extremely positive. Based on my experiences, the firm’s greatest strength is how well prepared its lawyers are ahead of court hearings, both in financial remedies and private children proceedings. They also appear to care deeply about the outcomes they seek on behalf of their clients while remaining professional and courteous in their dealings.‘
‘Rachel Fisher is always extremely well prepared and she offers her clients sensible and considered advice. Rachel is always focused on getting the client the best possible outcome.’
‘Jemma Slavin is a passionate advocate of her clients’ causes and knows each case extremely well. Jemma is alive to what the client needs from the legal proceedings and does all she can to help them achieve it.’
‘Joanna Newton is always extremely well prepared and aware of the issues which are likely to impact on her client’s goals. Joanna cares a great deal about achieving the right outcome for her clients.’
‘This team goes from strength to strength – they have made some really good hires in the last 12 months and are building a really dynamic and highly capable team.‘
‘Jemma Slavin is an all-round brilliant lawyer – she is excellent with clients and well liked by local solicitors as an opponent, not because she is an easy opponent but because she always takes a proportionate and cost-effective approach to cases. Rachel Fisher is a friendly but formidable lawyer who is extremely good for her years of PQE. Joanna Newton is a brilliant addition to the firm – a truly high-class act.‘
Thrings LLP delivers specialist family law advice to clients in the agriculture and landed estates sector, benefiting from the wider firm's expertise in this area. The family team is also often sought out for its expertise in advising business owners, entrepreneurs, police officers and armed forces personnel. Fiona Kellow and Matthew Kellow jointly head up the practice from Swindon; both combine expertise in children law and high-value matrimonial finance cases.
Other key lawyers:
‘Their knowledge and expertise was second to none; they were upfront and forthcoming with every aspect of what I would expect and would have to deal with, and also to the point with costs I would have to incur during this legal process.‘
Tozers Solicitors LLP
The family law practice at Tozers Solicitors LLP acts for clients across Devon and the surrounding area, with experience in matrimonial finance, divorce and children law matters. In particular, the team is skilled in handling cases involving complex assets. Mark Williams, an expert in representing parents and guardians in care cases, was made up to partner in June 2019. Tracy Lambert heads up the team from Exeter.
‘Always obtainable and understanding.‘
‘Straightforward, accurate and cost-sensitive advice on complex matrimonial matters.‘
‘Caroline Ryan is first class. I enjoy working with her. She is no nonsense, gives clients accurate expectations and you can rely on the accuracy and value of the work she has done.‘
‘A very professional, friendly, approachable practice. Nothing is too much trouble. It is a family environment as opposed to money-driven.‘
‘Lucy Lamb knows the law extremely well. She is very friendly and I would highly recommend her.‘
‘Tracy Lambert provides an excellent service.’
Trethowans LLP remains a strong regional presence in Dorset and Wiltshire, providing the full range of services in family law, with a focus on a collaborative approach. Andrew Mercer heads up the team from the Salisbury office, while other key names include Emma Wilders-Pratt in Winchester and Kimberley Davies in the Poole and Bournemouth offices. In December 2019, Juliet Mayhew left the firm to start her own company.
Willans LLP's practice was bolstered in September 2019 by the arrival of Sharon Giles from Sharp Family Law LTD to head up the team following the departure of James Grigg to Harrison Clark Rickerbys in May 2019. Giles brings a wealth of experience in the field, which spans matrimonial finance, children law, co-habitation agreements and pre-nuptial agreements.
Other key lawyers:
‘Sharon Giles is very sensible and knowledgeable. Common sense prevails.‘
‘Jonathan Eager is a very sound, sensible, practical lawyer with excellent judgement.’
‘The qualities I have most valued in Sharon Giles are her professionalism, efficiency, calmness, and her mediatory and reconciliatory approach to achieve an amicable and equitable outcome.‘
‘Jonathan Eager is highly experienced. He is good with clients and quickly identifies the key issues.’
Blanchards Bailey LLP has a particularly strong client base in rural Dorset. The family team is the first port of call for army personnel in the region for its expertise in matters involving army pensions. Following the departure of Clare Cherry to Williams Thompson, associate Laura Martin heads up the department from Blandford Forum.
Other key lawyers:
‘They always give 100% to try and resolve matters in a very professional way. The team was amazing.‘
‘Blanchards Bailey LLP offer a personable, friendly yet professional service. Their advice is honest and comes from the head but closely backed by the heart. In the family practice this is really important as they are dealing with real family situations. The team can seek advice from other departments within Blanchards Bailey to clarify matters and this helps to speed the process up.‘
‘Laura is hardworking and conscientious. She really cares about her clients and is an excellent lawyer as well as an efficient and capable mediator who is dedicated to finding solutions that work for her individual clients.‘
BPE Solicitors LLP
BPE Solicitors LLP in Cheltenham advises clients on all aspects of family law, including meditation, private children law and divorce. Helen Cankett heads up the team, and specialises in divorce and separation, as well as private law Children Act applications, including internal relocations.
‘Helen Cankett is a model professional. She is switched on, attentive and sharp. Her views are well balanced and she delivers advice in a clear fashion. She is profoundly efficient. However, it is her all-round ability and professionalism that makes her stand out.‘
‘Excellent and speedy customer service.‘
‘Helen Cankett is an excellent, well-informed and considered adviser. She provides clear, executable advice, considers matters strategically yet fast and efficiently, and has a wealth of experience. She balances the steady hand of an experienced lawyer with the compassion of a counsellor. She managed to make me feel like I was her only client.‘
‘A very good, client-focused team. Good at getting back to the client and keeping the client informed. Practical and thorough knowledge of family law.‘
‘Helen Cankett is extremely sensible and gives sound, practical advice. I have worked with her often and always found her interaction with her clients hugely impressive.‘
‘The practice is focused on high-quality but personal advice.‘
‘Gemma Jones has the rare ability to put individuals at ease whilst giving them top-quality advice.‘
- Acting for the husband in financial remedy proceedings.
- Advising a wife regarding her financial claims after a long marriage with three children, during which her family gifted her approximately £2m, which enabled the purchase of the family matrimonial home.
- Advising claimant in a TOLATA claim against property held in his former partner’s sole name in which he argues it was agreed he would have a share.
GA Solicitors is well known in the Cornwall area for its family law offering. Its two family teams cover between them private law matters, such as financial disputes in divorce, and public law matters, dealing with offences such as domestic violence. The experienced Michelle Grove heads up the team from Plymouth.
Other key lawyers:
‘I would say that my case was not the easiest or most straightforward case anyone would like to take on. Gloria Dyer did just that and persevered with my case for its entirety. There were also other members of staff willing to put in the time and effort to get to grips with my case in Gloria’s absence.’
‘Gloria Dyer is outstanding in her field. She stands out for her willingness to give advice and guidance where it is needed, her determination to leave no stone unturned in her preparation, and her complete belief that what she does is the right thing, which means belief is instilled in the client she is representing. This does not just go for Gloria but all the people who work for her or alongside her.’
‘The family team are exceptional at GA. They show absolute understanding, empathy and respect for clients.’
‘A good practice which has particular strength in its children law team.’
Goughs Solicitors acts for clients from local communities across Wiltshire; its family team offers expertise in areas including matrimonial finance (especially with a farming or business element), private children law cases, and trusts of land and cohabitee disputes. Matthew Drew in the Corsham office leads the practice.
‘Goughs is a strong team that has strength and depth in its family law department. They are known for achieving good client outcomes and their good client care.‘
‘In particular I rate Eleanor Wood, who is known for both Children Act and financial remedy disputes. Very down to earth, excellent relationship with clients and gives good, pragmatic advice.‘
‘Goughs provide an excellent service specific to communities across a whole region. They have local offices but access to a wide range of lawyers. They are good value for money.‘
‘Tom Boyce is a fine solicitor who runs the firm’s family finance team with great care. He is good with clients and a knowledgeable lawyer.’
‘Goughs offer a first-rate service to the local community and provide significant value for money.‘
‘Richard Bebb is a very calm individual who immediately puts clients at ease. Despite appearing very relaxed he is excellent at identifying the key issues in a case and setting out to resolve them in the best way possible to achieve the best outcome for the client, whether that is by negotiation or litigation. He has many, many years of experience and has a great knowledge of the local courts and is well respected by peers and judiciary alike. He is very highly regarded for complex financial remedy claims.’
‘Matthew Drew is a very good and knowledgable family law practitioner who undertakes a wide range of family law cases, specialising in financial remedy cases.‘
Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors offers deep expertise in family law, including divorce and marital finance matters as well as children law, to clients across Devon and Somerset. Name partner Ian Walker leads the practice from the firm's office in Exeter; in September 2020 the team was boosted by the arrival of new child law head Sarah Hindle, who formerly worked at Bindmans LLP in London.
‘Ian Walker is an innovative thinker and well respected.‘
‘Kim Stradling is absolutely top notch. Not only a good lawyer but second to none for client care.‘
‘I have always found Ian Walker to be honest and straightforward in his dealings with me. I believe these core values are very dear to Ian and have influenced the way in which he has set up and developed his practice.‘
‘I have worked with Kim Stradling, who is extremely impressive in her organisation and her extensive knowledge. Kim provides pragmatic and sound advice to her clients, but furthermore delivers this in a sensitive but strong manner. She is supportive of her clients but realistic. Kim is well respected on circuit, but more importantly the judiciary trust her and look to her for her assistance, particularly on the organisational front.’
‘Ian Walker has a strong knowledge base. He delivers sound and pragmatic advice, whilst being supportive towards the client.‘
‘Professional but approachable, ability to build rapport with clients, sense of humour, dedication and passion for the work, ability to think creatively.‘
‘Ian Walker is a highly respected, experienced and massively capable solicitor and mediator who has added value at every firm that he has worked with. He has the skills and ability to develop specialist teams. He has also been progressive in developing other processes to resolve disputes such as mediation, arbitration and even medi-arb. He has an eye for detail that is second to none.‘
‘This is a high-quality practice of established practitioners.’
‘Kim Stradling has extensive knowledge and experience combined with an eye for the crux of the case.‘
‘Sarah Hindle is very committed and knowledgeable and a joy to work with.’
‘Sarah Hindle is a first-class lawyer and a dedicated professional.Her clients are lucky to have her.’
‘Sarah Hindle always goes the extra mile for clients. I always enjoy the collaborative approach she takes and she also has excellent judgement.’
Devon County Council
Kitsons LLP has a strong client base across Devon and Cornwall. The family team's work includes divorce, cohabitation agreements, collaborative law and domestic violence cases. The highly experienced Tony Hunt heads up the team from Plymouth and specialises in financial proceedings on divorce and cohabitation disputes.
‘Tony Hunt is the partner I have dealt with and he has been absolutely excellent throughout a prolonged and at times tortuous process. His advice has always been pragmatic and reassuring.‘
‘The team is very attentive, very easy to speak to and contact, and always very courteous and reassuring.‘
‘They made me feel at ease in a highly emotionally charged situation.‘
‘Tony Hunt was great. I would not have got through my case without his calm and ‘to the point’ advice. He explained everything in layman’s terms, and was never condescending or confusing. He never let me feel alone, and always kept me calm. Tony’s strengths are his experience, and his kind, caring, honest, friendly and calm attitude. He contacted me back whenever I emailed him, even at weekends or evenings, making me feel like I was always the most important client.‘
Mogers Drewett LLP primarily acts for clients in the Bath and Somerset area, and is known for its expertise in financial disputes after divorce or separation, especially those involving complex assets. Other areas of strength include wealth protection agreements and children law matters. Rebecca Silcock heads up the team from the Bath office.
‘Simon Walker is a down-to-earth and pragmatic solicitor. He has an excellent manner with his clients and can communicate effectively.‘
Woolley & Co, Solicitors
With offices in Bristol, Wells, Truro and Bournemouth, Woolley & Co, Solicitors has a strong presence in the South West, and offers specialist advice on divorce, separation, financial settlements and children law.