SKO > Edinburgh, Scotland > Firm Profile

18 George Street

Private client > Family Tier 1

Operating 'at the apex of Scottish family law’, family boutique SKO displays ‘particular expertise in international and cross-border cases’. In particular, founding director Rachael Kelsey, 'a force of nature within family law', is widely considered a heavyweight in intra-UK financial cases. Robert Gilmour, meanwhile, has earned a national reputation acting in cohabitant claims and surrogacy issues, Alison Edmondson shines in pre- and post-nuptial agreement set-asides, while Susan Oswald stands out for her work acting for English local authorities in public child law cases. Financial provision-focused associate Claire Christie and 'extremely bright' senior associate John West, who has an impressive track record in pensions law and European Union and Hague Convention family law issues, are additional practitioners of note.


‘John West displayed empathy and care, and gave me his full attention. He was able to adapt his service to my specific needs and to find the ideal result I was looking for despite it being unusual.’

‘The team at SKO gave me confidence from the start that they understood what I was going through and they knew exactly what we needed to do in order to get me the most favourable outcome in a challenging situation.’

‘Rachael Kelsey is a superstar and I just don’t know how she does everything she does in the hours there are. She is so engaging, very pragmatic and no-nonsense, yet also sensitive and responsive as her clients and the circumstances require.’

‘This firm is at the apex of Scottish family law. It has particular expertise in international and cross-border cases. It is also noticeably attractive to LGBT+ clients. 

‘Rachael Kelsey is the doyenne of Scots family law. She has enviable international connections. Susan Oswald is an expert in cross-border children’s cases. John West is the cream of his generation of family lawyers Robert Gilmour is the premier Scottish expert on surrogacy.’

‘They are a leading niche family practice and under the leadership of Rachael Kelsey know not everything you need to know about Scottish family law but have a wealth of experience in cross-jurisdictional disputes.’

‘Robert Gilmour can do his own advocacy too, so he can see a case from start to finish, giving continuity not offered by many others. The leading expert in Scotland on assisted reproduction.’

‘Susan Oswald is a leading lawyer for complex child cases, including with an international element.’

Key clients

Salford City Council

Gateshead Borough Council

Work highlights

  • Provided Scottish advice in the first case on the Maintenance Regulation intra-UK to go to the Supreme Court.
  • Advised Salford City Council on a successful petition to the Nobile Officium in case concerning welfare of vulnerable child in local authority care.
  • Advised Gateshead Borough Council on orders successfully sought under the Evidence (Proceedings and Other Jurisdictions) Act 1975.

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

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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