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

Editorial

Other

Index of tables

  1. Family: Elsewhere in the West Midlands
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Andrew Caldicott - Harrison Clark Rickerbys
    • Tracy Cross - Band Hatton Button LLP
    • Linda Jones - Brethertons LLP

Rising stars

  1. 1
    • Sarah Jones - Beswicks Legal

Brethertons LLP has a varied practice, with its team advising clients on the apportionment of high-value assets on separation, as well as on complex children issues. It has niche expertise in child abduction cases, international children work, surrogacy and international adoption. It also acts for parents and children in difficult care proceedings, and has considerable experience in domestic violence cases. Linda Jones and Simon Craddock are recommended.

Practice head(s):Linda Jones; Simon Craddock

Key Clients

S (A Child), Re [2018] EWCA Civ 1453

Y (Children) [2018] EWCA Civ 1208

Zajic v Sumislawska [2017]EWFC 88

Work highlights

  • Acting in an international child abduction case where the client had been accused of abducting the child from Ireland.
  • Advising on a case whereby the respondent mother’s appeal from a Circuit Judge’s order that two children should be returned to their home country of Canada pursuant to a Hague Convention application by the ‘left behind’ applicant father.
  • Instructed by the father in this matter.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP’s primary focus is on high-value and complex family matters. Many of its financial cases involve diverse assets, property portfolios, business assets, stock market and other investments, as well as overseas properties and inherited wealth. Practice head Anne Thomson specialises in high-level ancillary relief cases and matters where there are intricate business and farming assets. Thomson also has expertise in pre-nuptial agreements. The team also includes practitioners with experience of handling Children Act matters.

Practice head(s):Anne Thomson

Testimonials

'Attention to detail and always going that extra mile is what sets the team apart'.

'The team had a keen eye for detail and offered sound practical advice'.

'Anne Thomson - her honest and measured approach always made me have full confidence in her advice'.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys, whose practice is spread between the Hereford and Worcester offices, fields a group with a wealth of experience of family law. It recently enhanced its offering by establishing a specialist public law children and domestic violence team, which is led by Mathew Waddington. Department head Andrew Caldicott is active in high net worth financial disputes and complex Children Act matters. Caldicott is also a trained collaborative lawyer.  Anita Hennessey made partner.

Practice head(s):Andrew Caldicott

Other key lawyers:Mathew Waddington; Anita Hennessey

Work highlights

  • Representing an ultra high-net-worth client in a collaborative divorce.
  • Acting for the husband in a complex divorce involving business assets and various property interests.
  • Acting for a wife in respect of a divorce involving complex trust interests with tax issues and multi-jurisdictional assets.
  • Acting for the husband in respect of a divorce and financial matters (business assets and pensions).
  • Acting for the husband in a divorce and children act proceeding s involving serious allegations on both sides.

Higgs & Sons primarily acts for high net worth individuals and owner managers of businesses (particularly those in the manufacturing sector). Philip Barnsley leads the team, which advises on diverse financial issues on relationship breakdown, such as nuptial, cohabitation and separation agreements. It is also knowledgeable about all aspects of Children Act proceedings and other matters include adoption, living arrangements for children and parenting plans. Barnsley has niche expertise in nuptial agreements involving family investment companies, trust structures and business assets.

Practice head(s):Philip Barnsley

Thursfields Solicitors covers the full range of family issues, and generates work from local, national and international clients. Premier League footballers and other high net worth individuals are among the clients who turn to the firm for family law advice. Shane Miller leads the group, whose experience includes complex financial, separation and children cases. It is becoming increasingly active in divorce cases involving family farms and other wealth protection matters. Mercedes King-Jones joined from Wright Hassall LLP.

Practice head(s):Shane Miller

Other key lawyers:Mercedes King-Jones; Pauline O'Rourke

Testimonials

'Thursfields would be one of my 'go-to' firms for family finance work in the Midlands. They have a large number of offices and are very professionally presented'.

'Thursfields has gone from strength to strength in recent years, recruiting very well indeed to assemble a team of family law specialists that would be envy of any firm'.

'A well organised and committed family team delivering good outcomes across the range of family law disciplines'.

Work highlights

  • Advising on a pre-nuptial agreement.
  • Advising on divorce proceedings and the resolution of matrimonial finances.
  • Advising on the permanent relocation of children outside the jurisdiction.
  • Advising on the care of grandchildren.
  • Advising on a private law adoption.

Baches Solicitors LLP has a high level of expertise in care proceedings and adoption applications; Jill Darbyshire, who sits as a part-time judge and leads the childcare department, has more than 40 years of experience of child protection. Darbyshire regularly represents children, parents, grandparents and other relatives in complex legal disputes. Lindsey Newell is the head of the matrimonial team.

Practice head(s):Jill Darbyshire; Lindsey Newell

Testimonials

'Baches is a very strong firm. It is well-organised and provides an excellent service for its clients'.

'Is a close team that offers consistency and reliability with a great deal of knowledge and experience. The team is  responsive and gives sound advice and is well respected in the family courts'.

'Lindsey Newell is highly competent, tenacious and approachable. She almost always attends court with her clients and clearly builds a strong rapport with them'.

Matrimonial and family law boutique Mercy Messenger has built up an excellent reputation since its inception in 1983. It is active in all areas of family law, with particular strengths in dealing with family businesses in financial relief cases and providing support on children matters. It also excels in schedule one applications. On the financial relief side, the firm is often sought out in complex, multimillion pound cases where there are issues concerning the division of marital and non-marital assets and wealth accrued pre- and post-separation. Name partner Mercy Messenger has expertise in unravelling complex income structures. Legal executive Harpreet Saund is a specialist in children law matters.

Practice head(s):Mercy Messenger

MFG Solicitors LLP is a well regarded firm in the West Midlands, with it offering specialist advice across its six offices in Worcestershire, Shropshire and central Birmingham. Led by Claire Backler, its team covers all aspects of family law, including divorce (and related complex financial issues) and the dissolution of civil partnerships. It also advises on Schedule 1 Children Act matters, as well as child arrangement orders, pre-nuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements. The group has developed particular expertise in advising famers and land owners, dentists and doctors on various issues, particularly where there is inherited wealth or limited companies trusts.

Practice head(s):Claire Backler

Other key lawyers:Alison Webber

Testimonials

'Claire Backler was always available and willing to give advice, all of which was spot-on '.

'Alison Webber is an excellent lawyer who has good strategic skills and prepares cases well. She has a good eye for detail and good judgment about the merits of a case'.

'Alison Webber is very calm and clearly explains the pros and cons of any actions we may take. She has a clear vision of the road ahead, and navigates around any boulders left by the other side'.

 

Work highlights

  • Acting for the wife in a complex, high net-worth, divorce, involving a multi-national business, offshore bank accounts and a substantial property portfolio based in the United Kingdom.
  • Advising the husband in a divorce matter, involving a considerable  pension and an inherited farm.
  • Recently advised a wife in a case where assets exceeded needs, such that it was argued that the wife’s non-marital assets and unmatched contributions can and should be reflected in an unequal order in her favour.
  • Acted for the respondent husband in divorce proceedings dealing with finances.
  • Recently concluded a case on behalf of the wife, in relation to issued ancillary relief proceedings.

Wright Hassall LLP has niche expertise in acting for parties in the agricultural and rural business sector. It also advises many clients who own businesses or hold senior positions in businesses on diverse matters, such as pre- and post-nuptial agreements and private applications relating to children. Justin Creed, who is a qualified collaborative lawyer, has assisted a significant number of senior executives with the collaborative process. Peter Lowe is also highly regarded. Mercedes King-Jones is now at Thursfields Solicitors.

Practice head(s):Justin Creed; Peter Lowe

Testimonials

'Has a very professional team'.

'Justin Creed is exceptionally smooth and well rounded. As good with clients as he is on the law'.

'Peter Lowe is experienced, focused and dedicated. Probably in the top few percent of specialists in the country, let alone the area'.

Band Hatton Button LLP's Tracy Cross and Peter Martin are experienced advocates, who regularly represent clients at hearings involving children and financial issues. Both practitioners are collaboratively trained. Also notable is that Cross is a Resolution-trained family mediator, who is also qualified to undertake direct child consultation work. The group also regularly handles family cases where companies and family businesses are involved.

Practice head(s):Tracy Cross

Other key lawyers:Peter Martin; Sunil Sidhu

Testimonials

'The team is very well organised and is always professional'.

'The team is down to earth but professional. They all work so hard at their jobs. They have a high standard of ethics'.

'Tracy Cross is remarkable, her knowledge and experience is second to none. Her ability to make you feel at ease and the way in which she explains and relays information is done in such a way that it was easy to understand'.

Work highlights

  • Advising the wife in the divorce from her husband of over 25 years.
  • Acting for the husband on financial matters during a divorce.
  • Acted on a complex children’s case where the client father finally obtained residence of two children one of whom was born during the proceedings.
  • Acting for the husband to a 40  year marriage in financial matters pursuant to divorce.
  • Advising on a  collaborative family case where Tracy Cross has been acting for the husband.

Beswicks Legal covers all areas of family law, including divorce and financial settlements. Its team acts for high net worth individuals and sports professionals in complex cases. where there are businesses, pensions and trusts issues. It also has experience of matters with an agricultural component. Private children work is another mainstay of the practice, including cases with a cross-border element. The team also drafts separation, cohabitation and pre-and post-nuptial agreements. Solicitor Sarah Jones heads up the practice. Fiona Craig has retired.

Practice head(s):Sarah Jones

Testimonials

'A very personal and professional practice that values you as a person not just a client. The team tailors its service to your individual circumstance offering a high quality service that helps tremendously in such stressful times'.

'The team is professional from the first moment you use the firm, the team always has time for you and has great attention to detail. You always feel the team will go the extra mile to help'.

'Sarah Jones has been excellent from the moment I spoke to her, very knowledgeable and incredibly professional'.

Work highlights

  • Acted for the wife in relation to divorce and financial matters .
  • Acting for the husband in relation to an application for financial relief.
  • Acting for the husband in relation to an application for variation of spousal maintenance.
  • Acting for the mother in relation to an application for a Declaration of Parentage and Child Arrangement Order.
  • Acting for the husband in the preparation of a complex pre-nuptial agreement.

Duncan Watts LLP is an established specialist matrimonial and family law firm, which handles the full array of matters, such as advising on pre-nuptial and separation agreements, among others. Partners Martin Croom and Joanne Connor are Resolution-accredited specialists in private children, high net-worth financial remedy and financial provision matters. They are also both Resolution-trained mediators and collaborative lawyers.

Practice head(s):Joanne Connor; Martin Croom

Work highlights

  • Acted for the wife in heavily contested financial remedy proceedings within divorce before the Central Family Court in London.
  • Advised the husband in a contentious divorce also involving financial remedy and children act proceedings.
  • Advised on Children Act proceedings with   guardian appointment.
  • Advised the former husband on divorce, financial proceedings (involving partnership and four properties), injunction proceedings (including under the Partnership Act), children act proceedings and enforcement.
  • Advised the husband on financial proceedings on divorce.

Lanyon Bowdler's well-respected team is experienced in financial remedy matters involving trusts and multijurisdictional assets, as well as farming cases. Elsewhere, internal and external relocation cases under the Children Act are another driver of work, as are cases involving significant welfare issues. Sue Hodgson leads the group.

Practice head(s):Sue Hodgson

Testimonials

'With Colin Spanner I very much felt that he was working hard to get the best outcome for me but he understood that it was a family matter and so wasn't aggressive or abrasive with the other side'.

'Colin Spanner was really helpful and supportive'.

Key Clients

Father of toddler, seeking contact after 3 years

Parents of respondent husband in financial relief proceedings

Wife who had fled domestic abuse (emotional and financial abuse, coercive control), seeking a divorce

Respondent Mother in Children Act Proceedings

Husband who received a lump sum on divorce when the wife contended he should have nothing.

Work highlights

  • Successfully obtained a contact order for a father with mental health issues following army service.
  • Representing the intervenors in financial remedy proceedings.
  • Represented the petitioner who had fears of domestic violence .
  • Represented the respondent mother in an application by the father (a litigant in person) for a child arrangements “live with” order.
  • Represented the husband in a divorce and successfully achieved a financial order exceeding the expectation of the client.

Aaron & Partners LLP primarily acts for high net worth individuals on issues arising from relationship breakdown. Its roster of clients includes business owners, professionals, sportsmen, land owners, beneficiaries of trusts and wealthy retirees. Richard Barge and recently promoted partner Sandy Edwards jointly lead the team, which specialises in advising on pre- and post-nuptial agreements, as well as separation agreements. A significant portion of the firm's family work has an international dimension.

Practice head(s):Richard Barge; Sandy Edwards

Alsters Kelley LLP undertakes family law work on both a privately funded and legal aid basis. Its legal aid franchise covers both private and public law family law, and the firm is particularly noted for its large care practice, which is headed up by associate solicitor Catherine Stephens. The department is led by director Erica Kemp, who is a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer. Kemp is adept at dealing with complex financial matters following the breakdown of a relationship.

Practice head(s):Erica Kemp

Other key lawyers:Catherine Stephens

Testimonials

'The practice is so approachable and available.  The individuals I come into contact with are dedicated and hard working and try to do their best for clients'.

'I found that I received excellent legal advice from Erica Kemp and her associate, as well as compassion and understanding at a difficult time. Organised, efficient, kind and approachable'.

'Erica Kemp is very professional, knowledgeable and treats people with kindness and respect when they are facing a very difficult time'.

At George Green LLP, Mark Vandaele handles all aspects of relationship breakdown for married couples, civil partners, cohabitees and those with children. Vandaele's experience includes company disputes arising within divorce proceedings, and he regularly advises clients with businesses valued in excess of £5m. He is also active in private law Children Act work, including cases where a guardian needs to be appointed.

Practice head(s):Mark Vandaele

Testimonials

'Mark Vandaele is a dedicated and tough children solicitor always fighting for what his client wants. He is enthusiastic and full of energy for his clients which is always a comfort for the client'.

'Mark Vandaele has been supportive and always given truthful advice although it might not have been what I wanted to hear. Everything he said happened'.

'Mark Vandaele has huge knowledge and experience but is brilliant at passing that knowledge and experience on to clients in terms that are easily digestible'.

The family law team at Pickerings Solicitors is led jointly by Susan Davies (who leads on divorce and finance matters) and Richard Westley (who heads the children team). The group handles all aspects of divorce and separation, including high net worth matrimonial cases where businesses and pensions are involved. Davies also has a considerable collaborative practice. The children team handles a wide range of private and public law matters.

Practice head(s):Susan Davies: Richard Westley

Other key lawyers:Joanna Craddock

Testimonials

'Richard Westley, whose tireless work ethic and attention to detail is impressive. Also of note is Joanna Craddock, whose devoted client care and patience is remarkable'.

Work highlights

  • In an international case the team successfully acted for the adopters of two children.
  • Successfully resolved a hostile children contact dispute following divorce.
  • Drew up a deed of separation which provided the client with reassurance and peace of mind following an unexpected separation.
  • Successfully negotiated a settlement in relation to property disputes where the firm's client had contributed a significantly larger deposit to the purchase of the property.
  • Advised on and drew up a pre-nuptial agreement to protect family wealth including land, property and businesses.

Woolley & Co, Solicitors is known for handling contested divorces, as well as other complex issues, such as leave to remove and prohibited steps orders. The firm is also increasingly sought out to advise on pre-nuptial and living together agreements, and also TOLATA/cohabitation disputes. Clients include high net worth individuals, business owners and company directors, farmers/farming families and British expats. Richard England, Rebecca Franklin and Alison Ratchford are the key contacts.

Other key lawyers:Richard England; Rebecca Franklin; Alison Ratchford

Testimonials

'Rebecca Franklin - bright, engaging and pragmatic'.

'Richard England is very professional and also speaks normal language which is a huge advantage'.

Work highlights

  • Acted in multi-million-pound finance dispute.
  • Acting in a complex financial case involving a substantial property portfolio and business interests.
  • Acted in a complex Children Act case with issues over relocation out of jurisdiction.
  • Acted for a London client in a pension dispute.
  • Defended father against unfounded allegations to secure regular access to his children.

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