Rachael Oakes > Freeths LLP > Oxford, England > Lawyer Profile

Freeths LLP

Work Department

Family law department.


Partner, Joint National Head of the Family Wealth Team and the Firms Platinum Client Services.

A top UK specialist divorce lawyer, appointed Deputy District Judge (part-time), accredited mediator and collaborative professional dealing with all areas of family work to include divorce, civil partnership proceedings, all issues relating to cohabiting couples and children.

Rachael is recognised as a leading expert in resolving the financial issues arising from relationship breakdown for clients based both in the UK and abroad – especially for representing people with a public profile and high value, complex cases which will often involve international assets, companies, trusts, tax, pensions and other jurisdictions. She also specialises in the preparation of pre and post marital agreements and cases involving children both within the UK and internationally, including relocation to another country. Rachael also leads and manages the Freeths Platinum Client Service.

Rachael provides a discreet and professional service for high profile clients who want to avoid media attention and keep their personal affairs private. Rachael has many years’ experience of running and achieving successful outcomes in court cases where an amicable resolution hasn’t been possible.

Recent case examples: highest value schedule 1 case involving an unmarried couple in the UK as at 2014; many cases involving assets worth over £100m to include trusts, businesses, pensions, and foreign jurisdictions; Pre-marital and post-marital agreements. Using mediation, lawyer led negotiation and collaborative practice to keep cases out of court. Acting for people with a public profile. Specialist areas of expertise; acting for business owners and directors; supporting wives where ongoing financial support is essential; international cases involving offshore and foreign assets including pensions. Expert representation in farming cases and landed estates; wealth preservation with pre and post-nuptial settlements; Deeds of Separation; cohabitation claims and complex children cases. Rachael also works out of Freeths’ London office.


Trained, solicitor and partner at Bower & Bailey, qualified 1996. Partner at Mowbray Woodwards. Partner Henmans 2006 who merged with Freeths in 2013.


Resolution (also a member of national training team); International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). As an active member in both local and national collaborative and mediation committees Rachael works with the national sub-committee of Resolution to promote and market dispute resolution options across the UK and Europe. FMC and FMA as an accredited mediator who is also qualified to meet with children.


London University (1993 LLB); Legal Practice Course (1994 (distinction)); Collaborative training (2002); Accredited family law specialist (2004); Mediation training (2011); MIAMS training (2011); Accredited mediator status acquired (2016); Qualified to consult with children (2018).

Lawyer Rankings

South East > Private client > Family: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40

(Leading individuals)

Rachael OakesFreeths LLP

Freeths LLP‘s ‘superior‘ family practice in Oxford advises on complex high-value financial cases, involving farming issues, businesses, trusts and pensions. Newly appointed Deputy District Judge, Rachael Oakes leads the team in Oxford and has particular expertise in dealing with high net worth situations involving international assets. Claire Colbert acts as a consultant, specialising in mediation to resolve financial matters for children arrangements following separation. Gemma Nicholls-Webber and Tom Burgess are also recommended; with the latter as part of the team developing a unique IVF/surrogacy specialism in the Oxford area. Joanne Thomas is ‘excellent’ and has an interest in property disputes arising under TOLATA between unmarried couples on separation.

South East > Private client > Personal tax, trusts and probate: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40

The Oxford team at Freeths LLP handles the full range of private client matters. Rachael Oakes and Nigel Roots jointly head the practice; Roots specialises in managing and acting as a trustee of intergenerational wealth structures for private individuals, with a particular emphasis on complex trust reorganisation. Jane Maitland advises high net worth individuals, members of the aristocracy, company directors and farmers on estate planning whilst Sarah Foster deals with multi-party and cross-jurisdictional disputes. Lisa Mark-Bell and Daniel Boyle are also recommended, advising on landed estates and acting for facilities in creating lifetime trust arrangements respectively.

Yorkshire and the Humber > Private client > Family: Leeds, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire

At Freeths LLP, the national family practice is led from Oxford by Rachael Oakes; the key name in Leeds is managing associate Mark Heppinstall, who joined the firm in 2019 after earlier stints at Stowe Family Law LLP  and Irwin Mitchell. He advises on contested divorce and financial remedy proceedings and children disputes, handling a range of high value matters, working alongside associate Nicola Heslop, and is praised for his ‘excellent bedside manner with clients‘.