SKO > Edinburgh, Scotland > Firm Profile

18 George Street

Private client > Family Tier 1

Highlighted as ‘a class apart in Scotland in terms of quality of advice for sophisticated clients’, boutique family law firm SKO has a long-standing reputation for handling large international and intra-UK financial cases and is overseen by the highly rated Rachael Kelsey. The group has demonstrable strength across financial provision, child law and ADR matters, with a growing caseload of non-traditional family law work including image-based sexual abuse claims and allegations of extra-marital relationships. Robert Gilmour is the key name for surrogacy issues, whilst Alison Edmondson‘s practice focuses on financial issues arising from separation. Others of note include Susan Oswald, who specialises in child law, particularly international adoption. At the senior associate level, Claire Christie advises on financial provisions. Senior associate John West is now with the Scottish Government.

Practice head(s):

Rachael Kelsey


‘The SKO team, led by Racheal Kelsey are there for you throughout, always with an eye on the big picture but with an attention to detail and a pro-active approach.’

‘From immediately putting you at ease, their ongoing responsiveness, understanding of the law and ability to provide support, they were outstanding.’

‘Objective and pragmatic throughout.’

‘Rachael Kelsey is able to provide practical, no-nonsense advice which benefits from her extensive experience over many years. She is both insightful and able to extend way beyond providing just a pure legal perspective.’

‘I had complete confidence in all aspects of Rachael Kelsey’s advice and handling of matters and she was also able to empathise and provide outstanding support through a challenging period in my personal life.’

‘SKO come with an excellent reputation in family law, hence my reason for engaging them. By far, they are the best legal firm I have had contact with, both in terms of their high standard of knowledge, but also their efficiency and approachability.’

‘I had the benefit of being guided through a difficult time by Susan Oswald. From the first time I met Susan, she was professional but kind, putting me at ease and empathising with the pressure involved in my own personal situation.’

‘I was so impressed with my initial enquiry that went through a very thorough online assessment. The senior partner, Rachael Kelsey contacted me immediately despite being quite late in the day. She was thoroughly reassuring and also put me in touch with an overseas lawyer as there was some question over jurisdiction. I could not recommend them highly enough.’

Work highlights

  • Acted as Edinburgh agents for the successful party in reported HNW financial provision on divorce case in the Court of Session.
  • Reported Child Relocation, Residence and Specific Issue order (choice of school).
  • Advised thirteen different English and Welsh Local Authorities on the recognition and enforcement in Scotland of orders from the English courts.

SKO Family Law Specialists has unrivalled expertise and experience in a number of areas of family law practice, delivering first-class legal advice with discretion, accessibility, sensitivity and pragmatism. Top ranked in both The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners for many years, SKO have two of the three named lawyers in Chambers and Partners HNW 2020 Guide and they are the only Scottish family lawyers in Spears HNW Family Law Index. This year they were one of The Times Best Law Firms and the only family lawyer to be profiled in The Times Scottish Lawyer of the week was from SKO.

The firm has more lawyers accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as specialists in the disciplines of family law, child law and family mediation than any other firm in Scotland and an unrivalled network of contacts in the UK and abroad. SKO’s clients tend to have unusual elements in their case and/or seek bespoke, personal and partner-led advice.

The firm: SKO was established in Edinburgh in 2008 and is now the largest niche family law practice in Scotland. The Scottish base of the firm is in Edinburgh, although work is undertaken for clients UK-wide.

The practice has had a presence in London since 2013. Name partner Rachael Kelsey now divides her time between London and Edinburgh, seeing clients who are London/Channel Islands or continental Europe-based and advising on cases where there are jurisdictional elements and Scottish connections. The practice advises solely on Scots law and works regularly with many of the significant English family teams when comprehensive intra-UK advice is required. The practice has extensive and close connections with firms internationally and routinely works with advisers overseas.

The firm has a preference for an independent, multi-disciplinary team approach, which allows it to work with other specialists – family lawyers in other jurisdictions; tax, family office, reputation management, corporate, immigration, property or employment lawyers and accountants, wealth management advisors and trustees. The firm specialises in pulling together highly effective teams which best serve the unique needs of the client, offering strategic and comprehensive problem-solving that complements other legal and financial advice and that works effectively in the context of complicated personal and financial circumstances. They often act as lead advisor in multi-jurisdictional matters.

The nature of the practice is broadly a third financial provision (married/partnered/cohabiting individuals); a third child law (often more unusual child work including child abduction, surrogacy/HFEA advisory work, adoption and relocation) and a third ‘other’, including DR (the practice has three family arbitrators, four mediators and three collaboratively trained lawyers), corporate advisory work for charities, local authorities and government bodies, film and TV production companies and reputation management for individuals.

The firm has developed through lateral hire and organic growth and now comprises four directors, six other solicitors (ranging from newly to eleven years qualified), three non-qualified fee-earners and two other support staff. The practice anticipates further growth in jurisdictional and reputation management work and corporate advisory work.

Types of work undertaken: SKO is an acknowledged expert in Scots family law and continues to be in the first tier in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. The firm practices exclusively Scots family law, with experience in areas from cohabitation to marriage to divorce; civil partnership to dissolution; financial provision and financial claims; residence and contact issues; adoption, parental responsibilities and rights; surrogacy and ART to parentage; gender-recognition and equal treatment; relocation and abduction; mediation, collaboration and arbitration; forced marriage and faith-based issues; inter-generational gifting and family law elements of tax and succession planning; pre-nups and post-nups; pre-cips, post-cips and cohabitation contracts; parentage and child support; corporate advisory work acting for pension trustees and film and TV production companies and reputation management and privacy.

The firm understands that good legal advice cannot be delivered in a vacuum and endeavours to work with its clients’ other legal, financial and tax advisors; to solve problems and think strategically; and give clients options and advice so that they can take the decisions that affect their lives and those of their family. The firm’s lawyers are accessible, sensitive, discreet and pragmatic; lawyers who are advocates for the firm’s clients – persuasive, tenacious and effective. That amalgam of abilities and qualities is what SKO is known for and what sets the firm apart.

Other offices: London

Family Law, Jurisdictional Issues and Reputation Management Rachael Kelsey
Child Law and Family Law Susan Oswald
Family law, Tax,Trust and Corporate issues, Pre-nups and Family Contracts Alison Edmondson
Family law, Surrogacy and Cohabitation Robert Gilmour
Family Law, Jurisdictional Issues and Reputation Management John West
Family Law and Child Law Claire Christie
Alison Edmondson photo Alison EdmondsonDirector of SKO Family Law Specialists – SKO. Accredited by the Law…
Robert Gilmour photo Robert GilmourDirector of SKO Family Law Specialists. Accredited by the Law Society of…
Rachael Kelsey photo Rachael KelseyFounding director of SKO Family Law Specialists. Accredited by the Law Society…
Susan Oswald photo Susan OswaldFounding director of SKO Family Law Specialists. Accredited by Law Society of…
Number of UK partners : 4
Number of other UK fee-earners : 9
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