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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 > Yorkshire and the Humber > Private client > Family: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Family: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Clarion excels in the fields of divorce and financial settlements, both of which are key areas of expertise for practice head Justine Osmotherley, who deals with complex issues involving business interests, trusts, assets, post-separation accruals, inheritance and pensions. The group has also seen a notable increase in instructions involving pre- and post-nuptial agreements and is noted for its expertise in Children Act cases, surrogacy issues and wealth management. Other key practitioners include legal director Jane Ingleby, who specialises in high-net-worth matters and TOLATA cases; and legal director Sarah Buxton, who specialises in family disputes.

Practice head(s):Justine Osmotherley

Other key lawyers:Jane Ingleby; Sarah Buxton

Testimonials

'The diversity of the areas of law at Clarion enable it to approach financial remedy advice as part of a cross-discipline team with an eye to both the commercial and family aspects of each case'.

'A strong family law department; very approachable and with excellent judgement'.

'Justine Osmotherley has a well-deserved reputation for client care and legal knowledge, and Jane Ingleby has a wonderful manner with clients, who appreciate her approach'.

'Justine heads up the team and has the respect of her peers, which enables her to promote effective negotiations and achieve early settlements wherever possible'.

'Jane Ingleby is very caring and will got the extra mile to ensure her clients are looked after'.

Boutique family firm Jones Myers LLP fields separate divorce and financial remedies and children departments; Richard Peaker heads up the divorce and financial remedies team while Kate Banerjee leads the children group. On the divorce side, the team acts for a wide variety of clients on divorces, pensions issues, trust work and pre- and post-nuptial agreements. The children department handles national and international issues and specialises in private residence and contact disputes, care proceedings, adoption work, special guardianships, relocations and education matters; Banerjee also handles Court of Protection work. Andrew Fox is a key name for matters involving offshore jurisdictions and Sarah Dickinson has expertise in multi-jurisdictional divorces.

Practice head(s):Richard Peaker; Kate Banerjee

Other key lawyers:Andrew Fox; Sarah Dickinson

Testimonials

'The firm has an excellent reputation for handling some very sensitive issues such as matrimonial and child protection in a very careful and empathetic manner. The practitioners' experience in their respective fields is very clearly demonstrated in their dealings with other lawyers and it is clear they command the respect of their peers'.

'The team is empathetic, patient, understanding, able to deal with very sensitive issues. Kate Banerjee and Sarah Dickinson are both superb'.

'Kate Banerjee is a force to be reckoned with'.

Lake Legal LTD's specialist family practice advises on all aspects of private family law with a focus on high-net-worth individuals, cases involving business and family assets, cross-jurisdictional issues and third-party interests. The group is also handling an increased volume of pre- and post-nuptial agreements and has an increasing specialism in complex cases involving children. The team also has arbitration and collaborative law capabilities through the experience of 'brilliant' team head Lyn Ayrton, who specialises in advising on financial settlements arising from divorce and other separations. Partner Claire Glaister has a growing reputation in the market as 'a superb practitioner'.

Practice head(s):Lyn Ayrton

Other key lawyers:Claire Glaister

Testimonials

'Lake Legal is one of the stand-out practices in Yorkshire, if not the North East of England. Its lawyers are all of exceptional quality'.

'Lyn Ayrton is well known and respected in the market and has built Lake Legal up to be a great niche practice. Clients always receive excellent, knowledge-based advice which factors in what they need rather than what may seem clear to a lawyer'.

'All members of the team are empathetic, understanding and discreet, making clients feel welcome and put at ease immediately'.

'Lyn Ayrton is brilliant and has a fantastic reputation. She has a great understanding of how to deliver an outcome and is tactically astute but warm and approachable. Claire Glaister is a superb practitioner whose ability far outstrips her experience. She is tactically shrewd and superb with client care'.

'Lyn Ayrton is highly knowledgeable as to the law and a good advocate for her clients, but also a pragmatist and realist who won't encourage her clients to fight a battle doomed to be lost. She really stands out'.

'Clients have 100% confidence in Lyn Ayrton and trust her immediately. She is calm, kind and incredibly knowledgeable'.

Mills & Reeve LLP stands out for its knowledge of complex financial arrangements, with the team's expertise encompassing multi-jurisdictional disputes, trust structures, inherited wealth, pensions and marital agreements. Philip Way leads the practice and heads up the firm's Leeds office; he is also an expert on the pensions aspects of divorce. Clients also praise senior associate Claudia Gilham, who has growing expertise in cohabitation cases and private children matters; and principal associate Ellie Foster, who handles financial arrangements and pensions issues.

Practice head(s):Philip Way

Other key lawyers:Ellie Foster; Claudia Gilham

Testimonials

'Mills & Reeve is easily one of the leading firms in the region for family work and fields a team of experts who clearly know what they are doing'.

'Philip Way is undoubtedly a leading individual in the field'.

'Ellie Foster is incredibly thorough and professional in her approach'.

'Claudia Gilham is a fantastic family solicitor who gives commercial and practical advice and is professional and approachable. She is really building a name for herself in the region'.

With a focus on finance and divorce work, Stewarts Law LLP's Leeds practice leverages the strength of the firm's London team to assist with national and international mandates, while also attracting work as a result of its well-established regional reputation. The practice exclusively handles high-value disputes and is experienced in matters involving international jurisdictional elements or corporate structures. The 'pragmatic and insightful' Adrian Clossick heads up the department and is a trained collaborative lawyer; senior associate Ed Heaton and associate Jenny Bowden support Clossick on high-value matters.

Practice head(s):Adrian Clossick

Other key lawyers:Ed Heaton; Jenny Bowden

Testimonials

'The team at Stewarts excels at the highest level of the market regionally and nationally'.

'Adrian Clossick is always very constructive, pragmatic and insightful'.

Berwins' family law department handles the full spectrum of issues, ranging from divorce and separation matters to children work and injunctions. The team fields collaboratively trained lawyers and has a financial specialism. Senior associate Danielle Day was recently promoted to head of the group, which also includes managing director Sarah Smith, who specialises in divorce work, nuptial agreements and children law; and Stephen Root, who has expertise in collaborative law, trusts and farming assets.

Practice head(s):Danielle Day

Other key lawyers:Sarah Smith; Stephen Root

Blacks Solicitors LLP solely handles privately funded matters and regularly deals with international high-value financial cases, alongside Children Act and TOLATA expertise. The team also works closely with the firm's wills and probate, commercial property, corporate and property litigation groups. Department head Ann Robinson is experienced in divorce settlements and property disputes involving cohabitees. Other key practitioners include Paul Lancaster, who acts for high-profile sportspeople and high-net-worth individuals on complex financial settlements.

Practice head(s):Ann Robinson

Other key lawyers:Paul Lancaster

Testimonials

'The straightforward team at Blacks is clear and explanatory with its advice with no legal mumbo-jumbo. It handles high-end work in a very pragmatic way, which is always focused on the client, without cutting corners'.

'Blacks is empathetic, honest and truly professional with the client at the forefront of all considerations. The group is efficient, helpful and responsive - clients couldn't ask for a better, faster or more effective service'.

'Ann Robinson provides a brilliant service and handles unexpected situations effectively, quickly and with kindness and calmness. She gets the job in hand done without causing unnecessary costs'.

'Paul Lancaster is absolutely superb and gains the client's absolute trust and belief. He works really hard for his clients and is aware of the issues and their perspective and he manages expectations well'.

Harrogate Family Law specialises in high-net-worth financial proceedings following divorce, separation and the dissolution of civil partnerships, as well as mandates involving businesses, trusts, pensions and international issues. The practice also handles financial and property claims involving unmarried partners and nuptial agreements. Team members also have individual areas of expertise; 'exceptionally knowledgeable' group head Andrew Meehan regularly handles cases with hidden assets and Carol Jessop has a notable reputation in financial disputes between cohabitees.

Practice head(s):Andrew Meehan

Other key lawyers:Carol Jessop

Testimonials

'Harrogate Family Law is a small boutique firm providing a very high level of service in matrimonial cases. It punches significantly above its weight in terms of size, principally because of the expertise of Andrew Meehan. The team works harmoniously and extremely effectively'.

'Harrogate Family Law is a dynamic family law practice with a good reputation in Yorkshire and beyond. The small and dedicated team genuinely cares about its clients and the issues affecting them. It pays huge attention to detail, offers high-quality advice and an enormous amount of support'.

'Andrew Meehan is exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced and particularly ardoit at ensuring the commerciality of outcomes. His advice is holistic 360 degree advice and is usually spot on'.

In Irwin Mitchell's Leeds office, Katie McCann now heads up the family practice following the departure of Teresa Davidson. McCann, who relocated from the firm's Manchester office, specialises in matrimonial work for high-net-worth individuals and has niche expertise in reputation management matters and wealth protection work. The team also handles pre- and post-marriage financial planning and asset protection, trust and tax arrangements, Court of Protection matters, cohabitation cases and international child abduction issues. Senior associate David Lister is the key contact for children work, while solicitor Scott Halliday has expertise in LGBTQ+ family law.

Practice head(s):Katie McCann

Other key lawyers:David Lister

Testimonials

'The team at Irwin Mitchell has really developed this year with the addition of Katie McCann. It is really working well together now and has some dynamic ambitious people on board'.

'Irwin Mitchell's Leeds team offers a personal approach to family law, which a client might not otherwise expect to find in a large firm. It is committed to its clients and cases and has a desire to help and find a solution. It is able to deal with even the most challenging of cases and constantly gives rock solid advice'.

'Katie McCann brings a huge amount of experience to the team and is keen to develop it into new areas - she is a real asset. David Lister punches above his weight in terms of the work he is taking on at this stage in his career. His clients love him; he makes them feel very much looked after and at the same time is always pragmatic and realistic'.

'David Lister is a rising star, both in the region and nationally. He genuinely cares about his clients, loves his job and aspires to do everything he can to achieve a good result'.

'David Lister is born to do this job. He excels at everything he does and goes well beyond the extra mile for his client. He is a real people's lawyer who will go far'.

Raworths' client base focuses on high-net-worth individuals and SME owners or directors with complex personal business and agricultural issues, often with national and international assets. The group handles the full spectrum of matters including marital and cohabitation agreements, separations, divorces, emergencies and new relationships, and also excels as alternative dispute resolution practitioners, fielding multiple collaborative lawyers and mediators. The 'exceptional' Carmelita Ardren heads up the department, Zoe Robinson is an experienced mediator and senior associate Joanna Lofthouse focuses on clients in the agricultural sector.

Practice head(s):Carmelita Ardren

Other key lawyers:Zoe Robinson; Joanna Lofthouse

Testimonials

'The team at Raworths is professional and compassionate and guides clients well, making them feel like they are not alone'.

'What makes Raworths unique is its single office in Harrogate, where it has been for over a century. This means it has an unparalleled depth of local knowledge giving it a unique insight into its clients' needs'.

'The team is easy to communicate with and has diverse experience and approach to helping clients achieve their goals. It isn't a 'one strategy fits all' practice and it takes the time to talk to clients and seek out the best solutions for their needs'.

With a substantial network across Yorkshire, specialist firm Stowe Family Law LLP handles challenging matrimonial matters with complex assets including trusts and businesses, often with an international element. The group can also draw on a team of in-house forensic accountants. David Millburn leads the Harrogate practice, Rachel Roberts is head of the Leeds team, Sarah Barr-Young is leader of the Ilkley group, and Neil Dring heads up the Wetherby department. Senior partner Julian Hawkhead is noted for his financial remedy expertise, Angela Sussens has experience with pre-nuptial agreements, and newly promoted partner Debbie Heald also handles cohabitation and children issues.

Practice head(s):David Milburn; Rachel Roberts; Sarah Barr-Young; Neil Dring

Other key lawyers:Julian Hawkhead; Angela Sussens; Debbie Heald

Testimonials

'Stowe Family Law has an excellent reputation across Yorkshire and is highly regarded by clients and peers alike'.

'Rachel Roberts is excellent. She is efficient, effective and pragmatic with her advice'.

Langleys Solicitors LLP's department fields separate family and child law teams, which collectively handle the full range of family law issues. The family group specialises in divorce-related finance work, issues in the agricultural sector, trust work, cross-border matters and collaborative law. The child law team focuses on public law proceedings and is noted for its expertise in legal aid children work, publicly funded international cases and domestic abuse cases. Group co-heads Mark Day and William Kaye focus on the finance side, while Sheelagh Coles is the key contact for children work.

Practice head(s):Mark Day; William Kaye

Other key lawyers:Sheelagh Coles

Testimonials

'The team at Langleys works well together and is very professional, competent and knowledgeable about the individual cases. Its support is excellent'.

'Mark Day is a highly respected practitioner with an immense local standing. He has sound judgment and good knowledge'.

'Clients can't speak highly enough of William Kaye's care and dedication. His support and expertise are outstanding and he always acts in a professional, calming and caring manner'.

'Sheelagh Coles is helpful, efficient, knowledgeable and reliable'.

At LCF Law, the practice is led by Rachel Spencer Robb, who specialises in matrimonial finance matters and also has expertise in wealth preservation and property issues; she is also an accredited mediator and collaborative lawyer. The wider team is experienced in family arrangements and asset ownership, unmarried couple issues and international matters. Associate solicitor Harjit Rait is the key name in the firm's Bradford office and acts for high-net-worth clients in divorce and family finance work including asset protection issues.

Practice head(s):Rachel Spencer Robb

Other key lawyers:Harjit Rait

Testimonials

'LCF Law fields a professional team of individuals who truly care about the clients and their needs'.

Lupton Fawcett handles privately funded matters and collaborative law work for high-net-worth clients. The group advises on the full spectrum of issues arising from family breakdowns with expertise in pre- and post-nuptial agreements, finance work relating to relationship breakdowns, tax issues, pensions work and trust matters alongside Children Act proceedings. Department head Chris Burns and Peter Foskett focus on financial remedy cases. Former Blacks Solicitors LLP associate Andrew Smith joined the firm as a partner in mid-2019.

Practice head(s):Chris Burns

Other key lawyers:Peter Foskett

Testimonials

'The team at Lupton Fawcett is exceptionally well led, adopting a professional yet highly family-centred approach. It actively promotes non-court-based solutions and collaborative approaches where possible, whilst still being realistic about when court is the only solution to move a situation forwards'.

'The practice is a quality, forward-thinking, medium-sized regional practice, which is very proficient and has great strength in depth'.

'The team is very committed to getting the very best outcome for its clients and has impressive legal knowledge'.

'Chris Burns is an experienced dedicated family lawyer who practices a range of family and children work. He is an excellent practitioner and fights hard for his clients'.

 

McCormicks fields specialists in finance, domestic abuse and children law matters, and prides itself on the early settlement of cases by its effective negotiators. Newly promoted partner and group head Stephen Hopwood is highly regarded in the region and associate Carol Hancock is an expert in children and domestic abuse cases.

Practice head(s):Stephen Hopwood

Other key lawyers:Carol Hancock

Testimonials

'The team at McCormicks has a wide range and depth of expertise in family law. It is both committed and thorough in the approach it takes to each and every case'.

'Carol Hancock has a particular strength and sensitivity in representing victims of domestic abuse, which is reinforced by the work she undertakes with domestic abuse agencies in the local area'.

Work highlights

  • Acting for an applicant in a trusts of land case.
  • Representing a husband in a divorce involving several investment properties.
  • Acting for a mother in Children Act proceedings relating to the schooling of the child.
  • Acting for a husband in matrimonial proceedings with multi-jurisdictional issues.
  • Representing a mother in Children Act proceedings involving controlling and coersive behaviour.

Ramsdens fields separate family and care teams led by Helen Thewlis and Joanne Coen respectively. Coen specialises in child law, particularly representing children, parents and other relatives in care proceedings, and is a collaborative lawyer; and Thewlis handles relationship finances including cases involving complex, high-value assets.

Practice head(s):Joanne Coen; Helen Thewlis

Testimonials

'The team has strength in depth. The solicitors are always extremely well prepared and passionate about their work'.

'Helen Thewlis is exceptionally talented and wonderful at her job, giving clear and fair advice, to clients'.

'They are organised, helpful and very supportive. They are very well informed and the service they provide is excellent I have no hesitation in instructing them'.

Ridley & Hall focuses on financial issues in divorce proceedings alongside its domestic abuse and care expertise. Expanding on its Huddersfield base, the firm recently opened a Leeds office, staffed by family and matrimonial managing director Emma Pearmaine and Melanie Hartley; Pearmaine handles financial relief, private children and domestic violence matters, while Hartley represents clients both locally and nationally. In Huddersfield, Vicky Medd is an experienced mediator and Nigel Priestley specialises in community care and adoption mandates.

Practice head(s):Emma Pearmaine; James Cook; Vicky Medd; Melanie Hartley

Testimonials

'Ridley & Hall fields an extremely strong team with real strength in representing the interests of adopters and foster carers. It is much better than other firms regionally in its ability to identify and pursue remedies in judicial review and human rights claims'.

'Emma Pearmaine is very professional and an excellent opponent. She gets to the point and manages her clients' expectations well. She is clear in her written exchanges and makes a lot of sense'.

'James Cook is a calm and unflappable lawyer who combines a sound tactical sense with an ability to establish a rapport and trust with a range of clients'.

Work highlights

  • Representing Irish-based adoptive parents following an adoption disruption in which the child was placed back in the care of Poole Council.

Consilia Legal excels in financial remedy cases and Children Act mandates with notable expertise in matters which have capacity considerations. The group is also noted for its alternative dispute resolution work fielding multiple mediators. Laura Clapton heads up the team and, as well as being a mediator, is a qualified direct child consultant. Associate solicitor Sarah Manning focuses on complex Children Act proceedings, particularly cases involving the local authorities or Cafcass.

Practice head(s):Laura Clapton

Other key lawyers:Sarah Manning

Testimonials

'Consilia Legal's knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, consideration for its clients, each other and the referring solicitors is exemplary'.

'Consilia is committed to client service - it has a very modern outlook and approach which is very impressive'.

'The practice is young and energetic and is absolutely making its way in Leeds with practitioners of considerable expertise. The team members are friendly, professional, straightforward and always to hand'.

Emsleys Solicitors Limited's family department is divided into three separate units, handling financial remedies, divorce and children work respectively. Gabbie Clasper heads up the financial remedies and divorce teams, which acts for mid- and high-net-worth individuals in cases which often have an international element; the team also handles intervenor issues, TOLATA applications and emergency freezing orders. Clients also praise Judith McAra, who is a collaborative lawyer and mediator; and Laura Mackfall, who leads the children unit and manages the legal aid team.

Practice head(s):Gabbie Clasper

Other key lawyers:Judith McAra; Laura Mackfall

Testimonials

'The friendly and efficient team at Emsleys Solicitors provides a personal service with excellent communication skills, prompt responses and an approachable manner'.

'The team is friendly, knowledgeable, professional and strives for the best outcome. It always thinks outside the box and applies plans to achieve the client's goals'.

'Gabbie Clasper is exceptional in her field. She is grounded and a down to earth person, which encourages honesty and openness from her clients'.

Harrowells Solicitors, which is increasingly active in matters involving international assets, has expertise in complex separation issues, finance work and children law. Lucy Phipps leads the department and is experienced in handling children disputes and also assists with divorce, finance, marital agreements and emergency injunctions. Amy Foweather, who joined from Stowe Family Law LLP, is also a key name to note; she advises on family, children and adoption law.

Practice head(s):Lucy Phipps

Other key lawyers:Amy Foweather

Testimonials

'Harrowells is a key name in the York area thanks to a professional team with compassionate practitioners'.

Newly established firm North Family Law , which was founded in 2017 by former Stewarts Law LLP partner Simon Preston, is a family boutique focusing on high-value and complex financial settlements arising from relationship breakdowns, particularly those involving complex corporate structures, trusts, inherited and dynastic wealth issues, offshore assets and foreign jurisdictions.

Practice head(s):Simon Preston

Testimonials

'North Family Law is unique in allowing clients to access the weight of Simon Preston's experience in high-net-worth matters at an affordable rate. Simon has been at the forefront of the regional family law market for many years, and he enables that expertise to be available to all, while still remaining focused on high-quality work'.

'Simon Preston brings a high level of technical expertise to his role. He is one of the best technical lawyers of his generation yet combines it with an approachable and laid-back manner that sets clients at ease'.

'Simon Preston has impressive judgement, quality and a calm, measured approach - he is completely unflappable'.

Paradigm Family Law LLP primarily focuses on finance and divorce work with local, national and international elements. The group also has notable expertise in contested divorces, civil partnership cases and Children Act work and matters involving hidden assets, offshore trusts, complex business structures, pensions issues and inheritance. Firm co-founders Frank Arndt and James Thornton are the key contacts; Arndt has expertise in matters with offshore elements and Thornton focuses on divorces.

Practice head(s):James Thornton; Frank Arndt

Testimonials

'Paradigm Family Law is a great York-based firm and has built up a reputation thanks to its fixed-fee structure'.

Simpson Millar LLP's practice has recently shifted its focus away from legal aid work and is moving towards assisting with more high-value matters. The team primarily handles divorce-related work under the leadership of Alison Jane Auty, who also specialises in financial remedy cases, financial order enforcements and private children law cases; Patricia Cannon is also an expert in public law care and private law children work. Clare Linden and Deborah Hardy joined Ridley & Hall and Emma Hopkins Jones moved to Rollits LLP.

Practice head(s):Alison Jane Auty

Other key lawyers:Patricia Cannon

Testimonials

'Patricia Cannon has a really good courtroom manner. She is sensible and pragmatic but always fights her client's corner'.

With notable practitioners in Wakefield, Bradford, Leeds and York, Switalskis Solicitors' family and child care law team is one of the largest in the region and handles the full spectrum of family law issues, including Children Act work and care issues, divorce and relationship breakdowns, financial matters, domestic violence work and forced marriages, with particular experience handling matters complicated by serious allegations of abuse. Razia Jogi and Clare Peckett jointly lead the department; Jogi specialises in issues concerning children, domestic violence, forced marriage and 'honour' violence, and Peckett handles cases relating to unmarried couples. Ranjit Uppal and Lisa Phillips are also key names for children work.

Practice head(s):Clare Peckett; Razia Jogi

Other key lawyers:Ranjit Uppal; Lisa Phillips

Testimonials

'Switalskis is a key name in the market for care and children work, and has really made a name for itself in the local region'.

At Ward Hadaway, Andrea Dyer is the key contact in the firm's Leeds office and specialises in high-value divorce and financial issues, particularly with a business or international element; she also handles financial settlements, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation disputes and children issues. The group, which works closely with the firm's Newcastle office, also acts in care proceedings and provides advice to clients in the education sector.

Practice head(s):Andrea Dyer

Testimonials

'Andrea Dyer has a reputation for strong judgement and a total commitment to her clients'.

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