Firm Profile > SKO > Edinburgh, Scotland

18 George Street

Family Tier 1

SKO is a boutique practice focused firmly on family law. Founding director Rachael Kelsey, the former chair of the Family Law Association, has considerable experience in intra-UK financial cases, where she has successfully argued for Scottish jurisdiction to apply. The firm acts in high-conflict divorce cases, often on behalf of high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals, with an extremely strong track record of achieving favourable outcomes for its clients. Within divorce proceedings, the firm has acted on pre- and post-nuptial agreement set-asides, with Alison Edmondson centering her practice on such issues. Robert Gilmour is well-regarded for his knowledge of surrogacy matters, while child residency and contact is another strength; the team has been retained to advise on cases with both intra-UK and international dimensions. Associate John West has expertise on pensions law as it affects family matters, and EU and Hague Convention family law, while associate Claire Christie has strong credentials with regards to financial provision.


‘One of Scotland’s few dedicated, specialist matrimonial and family law experts.’

‘They have an unrivalled breadth and depth of knowledge. Their lawyers are consistently responsive, empathetic and demonstrate a deep understanding of the law.’

‘By far the best family team in Scotland, but they are more than that. Rachael Kelsey’s encyclopaedic knowledge of international law means that the work they do is for clients around the world. They are not just stuffy lawyers though, they are human beings who try to deal with cases in as cooperative and dignified a way as possible, while always doing the best for their client. They are a pleasure to work with.’

‘The foremost family law firm in Scotland. What makes it exceptional is that covers the full range of private client family law with a significant focus on international work. The team’s approachable and cooperative approach is immediately apparent. They clearly like and trust each other and this is of incomparable value to the clients. ‘

‘Robert Gilmour has a very sensitive but practical and analytical approach to clients’

‘Rachael Kelsey is a market leader. She has a profile in the area of family law beyond the confines of Scotland. She undertakes a significant volume of high profile, complex and cross-border/international cases. Clients are reliant on her advice and appreciate her down to earth approach.’

‘Alison Edmondson is meticulous in her approach. She is very empathetic whilst also giving clients firm advice.’

‘John West has an excellent understanding of cross-border issues.’

‘Rachael Kelsey is simply outstanding. She is so dedicated to her clients as well as the wider family law world. She works incredibly hard and is very good at looking at the bigger picture. She is an absolute pleasure to work with.’

‘John West is a very bright lawyer whose attention to detail is exceptional.’

‘Robert Gilmour is renowned for his technical knowledge. He has been particularly helpful in relation to surrogacy matters where he appears to be a leading expert on Scots Law.  ‘

‘Rachael Kelsey has a way of understanding people and communicating with them even when they are stuck in the emotion of the situation which gets through. This is a rare skill with a lawyer who is also technical exceptional, not just on her own narrow field but on just about anything there is to know. ‘

‘Rachael Kelsey is the doyenne of Scots family law and has an international profile unmatched by any other Scottish solicitor from her involvement in International Academy of Family Lawyers.’

‘Susan Oswald has a niche practice in cross-border litigation particularly involving English local authorities.’

‘John West is the rising star of Scots family law. He is regularly asked to speak on the subject internationally.’

Key clients

Salford City Council

Gateshead Borough Council

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 practises 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

Department Name Email Telephone
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
Photo Name Position Profile
 Alison Edmondson  photo Alison Edmondson Director of SKO Family Law Specialists – SKO. Accredited by the Law…
 Robert Gilmour  photo Robert Gilmour Director of SKO Family Law Specialists. Accredited by the Law Society of…
 Rachael Kelsey photo Rachael Kelsey Founding director of SKO Family Law Specialists. Accredited by the Law Society…
 Susan Oswald  photo Susan Oswald Founding director of SKO Family Law Specialists. Accredited by Law Society of…
Number of UK partners : 4
Number of other UK fee-earners : 9
Swiss German