Family: Birmingham in West Midlands
The first-rate family team at Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP focuses on providing matrimonial advice to professionals and business owners. It also represents children and family members in complex care and private law proceedings. In public law/care proceedings it represents all the parties including the Official Solicitor and it has seven lawyers who are on the Law Society’s Children Panel. The group has a growing mediation offering with two mediators who are accredited by the Family Mediation Council. The team has key specialisms in a broad range of matters including surrogacy, human fertilisation and Embryology Act cases as well as other areas such as domestic violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage cases. It also provides adoption advice and help to foster carers. Elizabeth Wyatt and Jas Tamber lead the team along with newly promoted partner Christopher Lloyd-Smith.
‘Anthony Collins provides a first-class service in all areas of family law. The practice is unique in the area and indeed nationally in having such a large team covering all aspects of family law‘.
‘Jas Tamber is absolutely first-rate for public law children work, a top, top lawyer‘.
‘Jas Tamber is very personable and very hardworking – he is annoyingly good!’.
‘Jas Tamber is hugely experienced and an expert practitioner‘.
‘Jas Tamber has a strong reputation for his care work‘.
‘Christopher Lloyd-Smith is doing incredibly well, the firm is a “go to mediation firm” and Chris is a “go to” mediator‘.
‘Liz Wyatt is very experienced and has a fantastic rapport with clients‘.
‘ACS is probably the best solicitors’ firm in the Midlands for children law – the firm takes only the very best and all its lawyers are extremely driven and focused‘.
Irwin Mitchell has a large family law team that continues to attract numerous cases away from London. The team is regularly instructed in High Court matters in excess of £10m and is particularly recommended for its work on wealth protection, with a particular focus on the Asian market as well as clients in the sports arena. Other strengths lie in its children and modern families work. Head of department Clare Wiseman specialises in dealing with international clients, often with a celebrity status. Sarah Balfour has significant experience of assisting clients who have suffered personal injury or clinical negligence injuries with divorce proceedings and pre-nuptial agreements. Zahra Pabani joined the team from Shakespeare Martineau LLP. Pabani has a particular specialism in dealing with the financial aspects on marriage and relationship breakdown for wealthy individuals. Mark Hands has been promoted to the partnership.
‘Irwin Mitchell has an outstanding family team. The lawyers are receptive to change, responsive, thorough, well-informed and personable‘.
‘The family department is a leader in the field in this area. It is able to provide exceptional service to clients in a personal and sensitive way. The team is very well established and it offers fantastic support to each other from root to tip, enabling a top-class service to clients from all members of the team‘.
‘Clare Wiseman is a very capable lawyer and leads a very good team – Zahra Pabani should be a great addition to the team. Sarah Balfour is very efficient and Mark Hands will rise through the ranks quickly‘.
‘I like the fact that Zahra Pabani is direct, no nonsense and a ball of energy. Completely fabulous. You will never leave a conversation with Zahra not knowing where you stand‘.
‘Mark Hands is funny, responsive, extremely thorough as well as having an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law. He writes concise, detailed, clear letters of instruction and makes our life easier as a result‘.
‘The team has a range and depth of experience, and some unique areas of expertise, with great leadership. The partners are all approachable and “hands-on”. Sarah Balfour – sensible, proactive advice‘.
‘Clare Wiseman and Sarah Balfour are extremely competent. Mark Hands is extremely bright – clever beyond his years. He gives realistic advice but is extremely tough. I have seen him go toe to toe with the best in London and win‘.
- Continues to act for the former Indi 500 driver (and current McLaren test driver) Kenny Brack in a case that has gone through the Court of Appeal and up to the Supreme Court.
Lodders Solicitors LLP
Beverley Morris heads the team at Lodders Solicitors LLP and has a particular strength in financial remedy work. Morris works for a wide range of clients from entrepreneurs to professionals, sole proprietors and sportsmen/sportswomen. The team is best known for its high-end financial work and is skilled at advising on issues involving offshore trusts and private limited companies. It excels at advising on pre- and post-nuptial agreements and on asset protection. Other strengths include advising on cases involving farming issues and matters where the tracing of assets is a significant component of the case.
Other key lawyers:
‘One of the finest private client firms in the Midlands. Led by Beverley Morris, it has an excellent team providing clients with an excellent service in financial remedy matters as well as private law proceedings. Beverley Morris is an exceptional practitioner. She really “knows her onions” as illustrated by the results she regularly achieves for her clients‘.
‘Beverley Morris continues to enjoy a well-deserved excellent reputation‘.
‘Beverley Morris is superb, gets incredible work and works so, so hard for her clients. She is totally committed to her clients. Handles her cases with great skill and dexterity‘.
‘Lodders Solicitors remains a significant family law practice‘.
‘The lawyers’ knowledge of the law, attention to detail, empathy and diligence is exemplary. Beverley Morris is a consummate professional – she is empathetic and has a great understanding of the law‘.
‘Dedicated client-focused service combined with legal expertise to a very high standard. Vivienne Middleton is outstanding in terms of client relations and holistic advice addressing all aspects of the clients’ needs – the ones they know about and the ones they don’t‘.
‘Vivienne Middleton is a key member of the team – knowledgeable and excellent‘.
- Beverley Morris continues to represent Graham Mills in his pursuit to vary a joint lives spousal maintenance order.
- Beverley Morris is representing a husband in financial remedy proceedings involving trust assets, a complex income structure and property in the UK and Spain.
- Beverley Morris continues to represent Nneka Ogbedo in proceedings against Moses Taiga, a Nigerian businessman – the parties have been engaged in court proceedings on and off since 2003 and Beverley has represented Nneka throughout.
Mills & Reeve LLP has a superb family and children team that has experience of dealing with all aspects of family law issues. The practice is adept at handling high-value and complex litigation and also comprises various collaborative lawyers, mediators, arbitrators and a parental co-ordinator. Other areas of expertise under the leadership of the highly recommended Marc Saunderson include advising on cases where there are international pension funds or complex business and trust structures. The firm has also been strengthening its offering in other specialist areas such as fertility and surrogacy law and has developed a dedicated practice advising unmarried couples. In conjunction with its private client colleagues, it has substantial expertise in advising and setting up family investment companies and family constitutions.
Other key lawyers:
‘Mills & Reeve continues to have an excellent reputation in the family law arena‘.
‘Marc Saunderson is remarkably insightful, knowledgeable, gets to the nub of the issue quickly, demystifies the process for his clients and genuinely tries to find the right solution for his clients‘.
‘Marc Saunderson is well-renowned.’
‘Katherine Kennedy is incredibly experienced and builds a fantastic rapport with clients‘.
- Acting for a husband in financial remedy proceedings in a case involving significant company assets and multiple trust structures.
- Acting for a wife in divorce and financial remedy proceedings where the case spans multiple jurisdicitions.
- Acting for a wife in divorce and financial remedy proceedings where there are farming assets.
- Acting for a wife in divorce and financial remedy proceedings where there are inherited assets and family trusts.
- Acting for a wife in divorce and financial remedy proceedings where there are extensive business assets and inter-company loans.
Benussi & Co Limited typically acts in cases involving net assets of between £3m-£30m and has extensive experience of cases involving substantially higher assets. Diane Benussi has a formidable reputation for her work on UHNW financial issues that arise on relationship breakdown. Helen Jane Arnold also specialises in UHNW cases where there are business structures, trusts or a variation of post-nuptial settlements. In addition Arnold is a trained mediator and a collaborative lawyer. Helen Benussi is another key member of the team. Denise McKenna specialises in international family law matters and those cases with complex business interests.
‘The team is extremely knowledgeable and has a high class reputation which is well deserved. Its communications are always clear and concise and the lawyers respond quickly to all reasonable requests‘.
‘Benussi & Co is unquestionably one of the city’s leading specialist family law practices. The collective experience of the team is very extensive. It deals regularly with high-value claims of considerable legal and factual complexity. The team provides an exceptionally attentive service ‘.
‘Helen Jane Arnold is excellent. Calm, focused, knowledgeable and wise‘.
‘Helen Jane Arnold is vastly experienced and she is always cool, calm and collected, and a reassuring presence in any court or conference room. Denise McKenna’s background in commercial litigation affords her valuable insight into cases involving business assets‘.
‘The team is reliable and offers first-class advice and guidance. The lawyers act with the clients’ best interests. Denise McKenna is a caring individual who takes time to fully understand her clients’ circumstances and develops a fantastic working relationship with them‘.
‘Denise McKenna was the most knowledgeable, compassionate and supportive lawyer I could of asked for. Denise handled my divorce with the highest level of duty of care, she was practical and objective but 100% focused on my divorce and held me close when I was at my lowest‘.
‘Benussi is well known as a specialist/boutique firm. It has an excellent reputation throughout the Midlands and attracts high-net-worth clients. Denise McKenna is a thoughtful and diligent lawyer who takes a practical approach‘.
Clarke Willmott LLP is recommended for its work on complex financial remedy matters with particular expertise in dealing with family businesses. It advises on unmarried family disputes and all aspects of financial settlements on divorce, as well as divorce and separation planning by way of pre- and post-nuptial agreements. The team is also increasingly respected for its strength in complex private law children matters that involve elements of parental alienation and complex relocation issues. Rayner Grice oversees the team that advises clients from a variety of backgrounds including sports personalities, family businesses as well as local professionals, academics and homemakers. Associate Caroline Young is also well-regarded.
Other key lawyers:
‘It is a firm with a growing reputation for excellence in the Midlands area. Using the Stella Artois strapline Clarke Willmott is “reassuringly expensive” but at the same time great value for money for the level of work it puts into each case/client’.
‘Rayner Grice is an exceptional individual. She is a good listener, compassionate and very professional. She is attentive to details, thoughtful and not pushy at the same time’.
‘Rayner Grice is very sensible and easy to work with‘.
‘Caroline Young thinks outside the box, goes over and beyond for her clients – she is going places’.
‘Rayner Grice and Caroline Young continue to go from strength to strength in my opinion. For a regional firm of its size, it undertakes work of quality and value. They both know when to fight a case but also know when to accept offers that are on the table! They are very client focused and fundamentally always prepared to go that extra mile to get the best possible outcome for their clients‘.
Duncan Lewis Solicitors has a number of key specialisms such as representing clients who are facing emergency situations, whether that be safeguarding of children or domestic abuse. In addition it advises on matrimonial and separation issues with significant expertise in special guardianship orders and adoption in the UK and overseas. Other strengths lie in assisting those with significant vulnerabilities particularly those with mental health difficulties or victims of some form of abuse. It is also known for its involvement in culturally complex cases, often with international elements in both Hague and non-Hague countries. Heads of team are Krina Parmar, who advises on all aspects of public law children matters and is a member of the Law Society Children’s Panel, and Richard Gray, who also specialises in public law childcare matters. Gray has been an accredited member of the Law Society Children's Panel since 2011.
‘My experience of this practice group is complete commitment to representing its client’s best interest. This is done with considerable tenacity and a willingness to tackle complex and challenging cases. The team is always prepared to go the extra mile in order to secure the best possible result for the client‘.
‘Harriet Phillips is very committed to her clients. She has gone above and beyond what would normally be expected of a solicitor to support a very difficult client, but Harriet has spent many minutes calming the client down and allowing the client to vent frustrations, but in the end will give the client professional, robust and sensible advice’.
‘Harriet Phillips gives pragmatic advice, provides good support to counsel on complex matters and works tirelessly to get the best results possible‘.
‘The team is dedicated to its clients, committed to getting the best results possible and is easy to deal with. Adam Bloodworth is extremely efficient, committed and fights hard for his clients‘.
‘Anita Bains is an exceptional case worker. She is able to manage thousands of pages of case papers and distills the client’s instructions into intelligent and persuasive arguments. She has the skills to work with clients with complex needs, gaining their confidence and presenting their case in the best possible way. She is robust when dealing with opponents in correspondence or at court‘.
‘Henna Sajid is not afraid to challenge decisions and is always available to discuss the way forward. She has her client’s complete trust which is well deserved‘.
- Instructed to assist a mother to vary a child arrangements order and to apply for a specific issue order to allow her to take the children to Lebanon, a non-Hague Convention country, on holiday.
- Representing a first respondent mother in care proceedings, following the unfortunate death of a child, who the mother had a special guardianship order for – the mother is seeking the return of all three children in her care.
- Represented an applicant in an application for a non-molestation order.
- Representing a father in ongoing care proceedings.
- Representing a client who is a victim of female genital mutilation, has witnessed a murder, and has been a victim of rape and severe domestic violence including GBH.
Harrison Clark Rickerbys
Harrison Clark Rickerbys has a number of stand-out individuals including Kevin Harris-James, who is recognised for his work on complex financial disputes as they arise on divorces regionally, nationally and internationally. Another prominent name is Andrew Breakwell who has substantial experience in complex family law matters for wealthy clients. Breakwell is skilled at advising on nuptial documents to protect assets and there is frequently an international dimension to his work. Breakwell is also a known name for his work at resolving issues through arbitration, mediation and as needs be through litigation. Victoria Fellows works on a range of high-value financial matters but also runs her own caseload which frequently includes difficult Children Act issues.
‘Kevin Harris-James is a living legend amongst the financial remedy circuit and is nationally renowned for his tireless efforts on behalf of his clients. He is the “go-to” solicitor for this type of work‘.
‘Kevin Harris-James is highly driven, very ambitious, completely committed to his clients.’
‘The senior team has a wealth of experience. Andrew Breakwell has a wealth of knowledge in large money cases. Kevin Harris-James is ambitious and dynamic‘.
‘The team is approachable and listens to the client, advancing the case fearlessly. Kevin Harris-James is dedicated to each and every one of his clients and this shines through in his work for them. He is sought after with many of his new clients coming off the back of recommendations from existing/previous clients. He manages expectations well and advances the case to its fullest‘.
‘A highly commercial, highly experienced and user-friendly team of lawyers and associates who are sought after by clients nationwide. They provide excellent value for money and their client care skills are second to none. They are the only team I will recommend because you simply cannot go wrong with them‘.
‘Kevin Harris-James is the driving force behind the firm’s growth and success in the private client market‘.
‘Kevin Harris-James cares deeply for his client and is extremely good in a fight. He together with the very bright Andrew Breakwell undertake large finance cases. Victoria Fellows is popular with her clients and is a safe pair of hands‘.
‘A substantial and experienced team – stand-out partners are Kevin Harris-James and Victoria Fellows‘.
- Successfully defeated wife’s claim for £520m (£63.5m was awarded).
Head of department at Shakespeare Martineau LLP is the highly respected Mary Kaye. Kaye is a Children Law panel solicitor and deals with complex children matters. She also conducts a lot of her own advocacy. Helen Bowns deals with all aspects of financial remedy cases involving farms, overseas assets, complex partnership disputes as well as cases where there are complicated business structures. Key clients include wealthy families and often high-profile footballers, business professionals and CEOs. Zahra Pabani and Fiona Farrell have left the team to join Irwin Mitchell.
Other key lawyers:
‘I found the team very helpful and approachable. Someone was always available at the end of a phone to answer any questions I had. I was always kept updated with my case and everything was explained to me clearly‘.
‘Mary Kaye is outstanding‘.
‘Helen Bowns is incredibly experienced and builds a fantastic rapport with clients‘.
‘Helen Bowns is the star of the firm and the region‘.
The family team at Shoosmiths LLP remains best known for addressing complex financial issues on marriage and relationship breakdown. It is also skilled at handling complex children’s matters. Clients include wealthy families with inherited wealth, business owners and entrepreneurs as well as sports and TV personalities. Milton-Keynes based Caroline Watson heads the team as Neil Hobden has moved to Aaron & Partners LLP. Locally Adam Maguire and Hannah Nicholls are well-regarded. Other key strengths of the team include working in harness with its Court of Protection and clinical negligence teams to prepare cohabitation and pre-nuptial agreements for people who have capacity but who are unable to manage the large amounts of compensation they have received.
‘Adam Maguire is very talented – he will go far‘.
‘Adam Maguire is incredibly measured with clients, oozes settlement skills and is superb on mediation’.
‘Adam Maguire is very able and competent. He kept me informed of progress in a timely manner, and never overstated my chances of a successful outcome, although I was confident that he was doing everything possible on my behalf‘.
‘Adam Maguire is clearly a highly intelligent young man and showed a maturity beyond his years. On every level his work was impressive, highly skilled and very conscientiously prepared‘.
‘Adam Maguire gave clear, practical and strategic advice that was laid out in such a way that I knew exactly where we were in the process and the next steps which were required‘.
‘There was a clear drive to understand the legal issues raised with an ability to communicate options simply and in a quick fashion. It was obvious Adam Maguire listened to every word I was telling him’.
Sydney Mitchell LLP has a strong collaborative practice with three fully qualified collaborative lawyers across its three offices. Mauro Vinti is a family law panel member and Teresa Mannion is a children’s law panel member. Karen Moores is another prominent member of the team that advises on the full array of family law issues from divorce and civil partnerships to child arrangements, protective injunctions and pre- and post-nuptial agreements. It is also well-regarded for its work on financial remedy matters as well as TOLATA and cohabitee arrangements.
Other key lawyers:
‘Sydney Mitchell can easily rival the biggest of national law firms. During the year or so I interacted with Karen Moores and her family law team, the quality and service they extended to me was nothing short of fantastic‘.
‘Karen Moores is excellent. She is efficient, industrious and robust. She has sound judgement and a good manner with clients. Mauro Vinti is also highly recommended for his ability to navigate difficult cases calmly and effectively‘.
‘Karen Moores is an outstanding professional who brings high levels of emotional intelligence and outstanding technical expertise to her work. Karen was consistently professional, readily available and provided an excellent client service experience’.
‘I felt Karen Moores was absolutely working to “fight my corner”, sincerely had my best interests at heart, explained everything clearly, and provided me with the necessary peace of mind during a very difficult period‘.
‘Karen Moores is a truly respected and feared opponent who simply never gives up‘.
‘Extremely efficient, does not overcharge, always prepared to negotiate; all documents and bundles well prepared and counsel are briefed on time.‘
‘I really appreciate Mauro Vinti’s quiet assurance and wise counsel and his friendly, calm manner’.
- Advised its client on the resolution of divorce and financial remedy proceedings through the collaborative process.
- Acting for a successful London professional in respect of divorce, financial remedy and Children’s Act applications.
- Acting for a father with significant mental health issues in securing unsupervised contact with his children.
The Wilkes Partnership has a significant number of clients who are professionals or spouses of professionals as well as owners or their spouses of owner-managed businesses. Aaron Keene heads the team. Keene is on the Family Law Panel as well as being a collaborative lawyer, advising on both financial and children matters for married couples and cohabitees. Chris Allen-Jones is another important contact – he has particular expertise in the financial consequences of relationship breakdown and advises on the future arrangements for the care of the children. Associate Sian Kenkre is also well-regarded – she is a registered collaborative lawyer and member of Resolution. As well as advising on financial settlements and other aspects of family law she has also carved out niche expertise in working with families on surrogacy issues.
‘Aaron Keene is extremely knowledgeable, his friendly manner was a great help to me and significantly reduced my anxiety through a very difficult time‘.
‘Aaron Keene and Chris Allen-Jones are the stand-out lawyers. Both are very accessible, very client-driven, and have exceptionally good manners with the client, and deliver great service‘.
‘Aaron Keene is a well respected and sensible lawyer known for his work with the local courts and as a collaborative practitioner‘.
‘I have felt incredibly comfortable working with Aaron who has at times taken into consideration the unique factors of my situation to provide sound advice. I can’t recommend him enough‘.
‘A very competent team. Sian Kenkre is a clever, popular and kind lawyer. She provides realistic advice to her clients and really looks after them’.
‘Sian Kenkre is a very calm, understated but incredibly talented and tactical lawyer. Chris Allen-Jones gives the impression of being laid back and relaxed but he at all times has every issue in the case under his belt and ready for argument. He is fearless in correspondence and negotiation and will always instil the greatest confidence in his clients that he is there for them‘.
‘Chris Allen-Jones is a technically excellent lawyer and always fights his client’s corner. He has a very robust approach, which makes him a great litigator. He is incredibly well known and well connected in the marketplace‘.
‘The firm is a key player for family law in the Birmingham marketplace. It is a full-service firm, so can offer its clients holistic advice in-house‘.
Weightmans LLP has a national reach with Manchester-based Emma Collins at the helm. In Birmingham Fiona O’Sullivan has particular expertise in pensions but covers the full array of family law matters on relationship breakdown whether the couples are married or unmarried. Tania Derrett-Smith is a principal associate who advises on the financial consequences of relationship breakdown with a particular expertise in cases involving family businesses. The group has strength in pre- and post-nuptial agreements as well as onshore and offshore trusts and children work. There is frequently an international dimension to its work. The practice is also praised for its work in collaborative law and mediation – many of its team members are Resolution accredited.
‘The firm handles a large number of high-value and complex divorces and the Birmingham work is undertaken by one of the best matrimonial finance teams in the West Midlands. The team will always go the extra mile for their clients and manage their cases with a completely client-focused approach.’
‘Fiona O’Sullivan is as able and experienced a divorce lawyer as you will find in the West Midlands. She has an unbeatable eye for detail. One of the best. Tania Derrett-Smith is in the premier league when it comes to financial remedy associates in the West Midlands. Manages an exceptionally high-quality caseload with a combination of top-class legal knowledge, outstanding client care skills and charm.’