Firm Profile > Barcan+Kirby LLP > Bristol, England

Barcan+Kirby LLP

Family Tier 3

Barcan+Kirby LLP has a strong track record in family law and a deep bench of specialists spread across six offices in and around Bristol. Its family finance team is adept at dealing with all aspects of divorce and separation. The practice's children law offering is similarly strong, with expertise in public child care proceedings, as well as private law matters such as child abduction cases. Jim Gridley and Chris Miller jointly head up the team.

Practice head(s):


Barcan+Kirby have a strong family team who are responsive and also provide a clear and transparent fee structure to clients. They can cover a wide rage of family issues and work cohesively as a firm. I view Barcan+Kirby as reliable and a safe pair of hands.

They are knowledgeable and compassionate. They are inclusive and provide a consistent level of service to those of modest and not-so-modest means. I think they are all very approachable and provide competent reassurance to clients in times of need.

Jim Gridley is a partner who stands out in terms of the service he is able to provide for clients, and the trust he is able to generate as a result. He makes himself available to clients outside of normal office hours, and rarely leaves them waiting for a response. As a consequence, he enjoys a high satisfaction rate from his clients.

Hanni Pennelegion is robust, sensible and realistic. She is great with clients and clients trust her because of her directness.

Tom Powles provides sensible advice with no drama. Clients are always aware of all possible outcomes as well as the likely outcome. Very user-friendly.

Calm and sensible advice delivered in a practical and user-friendly way.

Clinical negligence and personal injury: claimant

The clinical negligence department at claimant-focused Barcan+Kirby LLP is instructed in cases involving a wide variety of medical injuries, including cerebral palsy, maximum severity birth injuries, head and spinal injuries, amputations and spinal accidents, as well as representations at inquest. The group is led by Richard Harries, who has expertise in delayed cancer diagnoses, brain injuries, and GP, surgical and A&E negligence cases. Consultant, founding partner and former practice head Richard Barcan handles high-value and complex cases. Claire Hurrell specialises in cases arising from negligent obstetric care, while Helen Franklin, promoted to senior associate in March 2019, is developing strong experience in amputation and compartment syndrome claims, as well as claims involving delay in diagnosing and treating cancer. On the personal injury side, the firm assists clients with claims arising from fatal injuries, brain and spinal injuries, amputations and workplace accidents. The group also has experience in road traffic accident and Animal Act cases. The team includes Samantha Castle, who has a particular focus on cycling accident claims.

Practice head(s):


Personal attention, plus attention to detail, plus great fighters for their clients.’

Friendly, highly competent and a very positive experience of lawyers. Expert handling of a wide and diverse range of claims. Tactically on the ball.’

Helen Franklin is super smart and has absolute dedication to a case. To be honest, I’m not sure solicitors get any better. The kind of solicitor you would want if your mum got injured.’

From the start, Richard Barcan left no stone unturned. I always felt reassured and he would tell me exactly how things were going and keep me abreast of everything. Coming to the end of the case before settlement, he was always there with me when seeing our barrister. The outcome was exceptional and he fought with negotiations right until the bitter end. I cannot recommend or thank him enough.’

Approachable to clients but hard-nosed in negotiations. Genuine specialism and experience.’

The care, and compassion was above all levels.

The firm’s size is one that allows it to have strength in depth, but it is by no means too big for them to offer a tailored client service.’

Barcan+Kirby is one of the largest mid-sized law firms in Bristol, with a long-established reputation for providing legal advice to individuals and businesses across the city and South Gloucestershire. In addition, the medical negligence and personal injury departments act for clients on a national basis. Formed in April 2015 via the merger of Barcan Woodward and Kirby Sheppard, the firm now employs in excess of 180 people and has strengthened and broadened its depth of services. The Corporate and Commercial team, formed in 2017, has grown from one solicitor to four with additional support staff to assist the growth. The firm also launched a Notary Public Service in 2018.

The Partners are advocates for flexible working and proud of the high percentage of women in senior or managerial positions in comparison to other law firms. This was reflected in Barcan+Kirby winning both the Business Award for Gender at the Bristol Diversity Awards 2019 and Legal award at the Bristol Life Awards 2019.

Barcan+Kirby is committed to the development of staff and provides comprehensive and supportive training. Their Associates Academy was established to support ambitious staff to develop the skills required to become leaders of the business. In addition, they have invested in new premises on North Street, Bedminster and Gloucester Road, Bishopston with an extension to the Thornbury office to provide a better working environment for staff.

The firm’s core values drive their culture. They combine a fresh, modern approach with traditional values. Their vision is to build on reputation for excellence, strive to build long- term relationships with clients, and retain their position as a major force in the South West legal sector.

Their HR team won the National People in Law Awards HR Team of the Year 2020 in recognition of their communication skills and HR initiatives, being described as ‘throwing down the gauntlet’ to the larger city firms.

Principal areas of work

The clinical negligence and personal injury departments are recognised both regionally and nationally for the quality of their work and the support they provide to claimants. The clinical negligence team has a wealth of experience across a range of injury types, including cerebral palsy, delayed or misdiagnosis, maximum severity birth injuries, amputations and fatal injuries. The personal injury team has particular experience in dealing with catastrophic injury cases, including claims arising from brain, back and spinal injuries, as well as road traffic accidents.

The family department is one of the largest in Bristol and has expertise spanning separation and divorce, matrimonial finances, child arrangements, care proceedings, domestic abuse and child abduction. Every member of the dedicated matrimonial finance team is a Resolution-accredited specialist and most solicitors across the department hold at least one Law Society panel membership. The team recently developed its own Domestic Abuse Department (DAD), with the head, Georgia Holmes, winning Highly Commended for Lawyer of the Year for her work in this area at the Modern Law Awards 2020.

The Wills, Trust and Probate team provide comprehensive Wills, estate planning and probate services to clients across the South West. Their strong reputation for providing exceptional service is demonstrated by the fact that over 70% of business comes via referrals from existing clients. Many of the team are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) or Solicitors for the Elderly, and several hold the STEP Advanced Certificate in advising vulnerable clients. In 2019, the team won Solicitor Firm of the Year (South) at The British Wills and Probate Awards. The department have recently adapted their Will writing process to accommodate the needs of those wanting to make a Will during lockdown, including the launch of their online Wills service.

The highly experienced residential conveyancing department are specialists in all aspects of the buying and selling process. As well as dealing with straightforward domestic property transactions, they provide advice on re-mortgaging, buy-to-let investments, leasehold flats, new builds and shared ownership homes. Much of the team’s business comes via client recommendations or repeat business. The department are members of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, reflecting the high standards of service.

The Dispute Resolution department are praised for the professional and diligent service they provide. They are skilled in all forms of dispute work including commercial and contract disputes, property litigation and debt recovery. The expert team offer alternative services such as mediation and direct negotiation.

The Employment team provide advice for both employees and employers on a range of employment-related issues, including HR support, redundancy, disciplinary issues and contract advice. They also provide support for discrimination at work and wrongful, unfair or constructive dismissal.

The Commercial Property department work with a variety of businesses providing practical and clear advice on areas including sales and purchases of land, retail and industrial units as well as leases, financing and regulatory compliance work. The team’s experience spans a range of sectors including new build property, restaurants, leisure, retail and construction.

The Corporate and Commercial team have grown from the ground up over the last three years and have developed a credible reputation, priding themselves on links with the local business community as well as advising national businesses including nursery childcare providers. The team encompass a strong mix of skills and experience and have a familiarity with a broad range of industries.

Department Name Email Telephone
Senior partners Anna Wilson
Senior partners Jim Gridley
Managing partner Bill Willcocks
Residential conveyancing Stephen Parker
Children Tom Powles
Divorce and ancillaries Jim Gridley
Personal injury and medical negligence Richard Harries
Litigation Bill Willcocks
Wills, trusts and probate Amanda Firth
Commercial Property Alex Castiglione
Corporate and Commercial Georgina Bryant
Employment James Bell
Photo Name Position Profile
Ms Myfanwy Buckeridge  photo Ms Myfanwy Buckeridge Senior Associate
Mrs Samantha Castle  photo Mrs Samantha Castle Partner
Ms Clare Cox  photo Ms Clare Cox Associate
Ms Fiona Dabell  photo Ms Fiona Dabell Associate
Ms Helen Franklin  photo Ms Helen Franklin Senior Associate
Ms Kirsten Hale  photo Ms Kirsten Hale Partner
Mr Richard Harries  photo Mr Richard Harries Partner, Head of Medical Negligence and Personal Injury
Ms Georgia Holmes  photo Ms Georgia Holmes Associate
Mr Gareth Hughes  photo Mr Gareth Hughes Associate
Ms Claire Hurrell  photo Ms Claire Hurrell Partner
Ms Kim Joseph  photo Ms Kim Joseph Associate
Ms Jayshree Nathwani  photo Ms Jayshree Nathwani Senior Associate
Ms Hanni Pennelegion  photo Ms Hanni Pennelegion Partner
Mr Tom Powles  photo Mr Tom Powles Partner
Mr Adrian Stone  photo Mr Adrian Stone Senior Associate, Manager of the Personal Injury & Medical Negligence department. 
Ms Alison Whiles  photo Ms Alison Whiles Senior Associate
Number of UK partners : 17
Number of other UK fee-earners : 70
The Law Society of England & Wales
Law Society Children Panel

At Barcan+Kirby, 85% of staff are female and three quarters of business support managers are also women. They are proud that over 50% of staff work flexibly or part-time across six locations. In 2018, the firm announced they had achieved a gender-balanced partnership (53%) with the announcement of three female partners. In recognition of their work on inclusivity and diversity in the workplace, they were awarded the Business Award for Gender at the Bristol Diversity Awards.

All staff are required to complete mandatory diversity and equality training on an annual basis. Through their Associates Academy, senior members with a responsibility for recruitment are given training on subjects such as unconscious bias. The Academy also gives senior staff members training on a wide variety of subjects from managing stress to mental health awareness and nutrition. As part of one of the Academy projects, the Firm has now set up an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. They also connect regularly with The Law Society and Universities to promote the opportunities available for all in the legal sector.

Towards the end of 2018, the firm arranged external training with a well-being service for 12 members of staff to become Mental Health First Aiders. Part of their responsibility is to develop an understanding of common mental health issues and provide staff with the support or signposting they may need. The First Aiders are part of a committee meeting quarterly to ensure the initiative is embedded within their culture. They have introduced an Employee Assistance Programme, set up walking groups, created a Mental Health and Well-being policy and are working towards a ‘Time to Change’ employee pledge with the charity Mind to further support work in this area.

In May 2019, the committee, with the support of HR and Marketing, embraced Mental Health Awareness Week by introducing activities including running clubs and provision of healthy breakfasts. During 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic, the committee has continued to meet via video call to continue support for all staff during this difficult time. The Firm has also set up new methods of online communication to ensure staff either working from home, furloughed or in the office have the opportunity to communicate with their peers and keep updated.

They have completed a firm-wide staff survey and introduced suggestion boxes in each office, which are monitored on a quarterly basis. These conduits for staff feedback have inspired new initiatives such as increased maternity leave for premature babies, time off to give blood and the provision of the flu jab for all staff. Looking forward the Firm is organising a Firm wide survey for 2020 with the theme of ‘coming back better’ allowing all staff to feedback on their experiences during lockdown with the aim of long term improvements to the Firm, its processes and ways of working.

As well as supporting staff, they are rewarded through Values awards where staff nominate their deserving colleagues on a quarterly basis.

In 2020 Our HR department won HR Team of the Year at the People in Law Awards 2020.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Clinical Negligence client
TESTIMONIAL: Meticulous and clear advice and case strategy in a fatal clinical negligence case of high complexity. The firm combines the excellence and sophistication of a national specialist department with the face to face contact and support needed by clients in this field.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Family client
TESTIMONIAL: Thank you for being so understanding, efficient and supportive. It made a huge difference knowing I had your knowledge and support at hand at a very difficult time.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Clinical Negligence client
TESTIMONIAL: We are over the moon with our solicitor. We believe that she went over and beyond what we thought would happen. We can’t say thank you enough. We always had contact, messages passed on, and always had fast replies. We would highly recommend the firm to anyone. Outstanding solicitor.

COMPANY/FIRM: Personal Injury client
TESTIMONIAL: Samantha Castle handled my cycling accident claim with professionalism and efficiency. She was friendly and approachable, and clearly knew what she was talking about. She explained the process to me and communicated with me at each stage of the case.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Family client
TESTIMONIAL: Professional, Supportive service. Divorce is tough and emotional and I was fortunate to follow recommendation and receive the support of Chris Miller at Barcan and Kirby. I felt listened to, understood and clear about the process. Jargon was made accessible in everyday terms and costs were available in advance and did not change. Communication was excellent and Chris was approachable and happy to answer queries by phone and email. Time scales were also accurate. I would highly recommend both Chris and Barcan and Kirby to anyone who may need them in the future.

CLIENT: Anonymous
COMPANY/FIRM: Personal Injury client
TESTIMONIAL: While some may say you were just doing your job, I have so appreciated the way in which you always made us feel that our case was your top priority and nothing was too much trouble. You also maintained uttered professionalism with treating us as people who were also concerned about us as individuals.

COMPANY/FIRM: Personal Injury client
TESTIMONIAL: Samantha handled my cycling accident claim with professionalism and efficiency. She was friendly and approachable, and clearly knew what she was talking about. She explained the process to me and communicated with me at each stage of the case.

COMPANY/FIRM: Estate Disputes client
TESTIMONIAL: Mark Scanlon is the standout Associate at Barcan+Kirby. Mark’s ability to see through the most complex arguments presented by the opposite side and to disseminate information quickly but without legal jargon for me was an absolute godsend. He is, at all times, mindful of costs. He was sensitive to my grief and over the three years that this has taken, I have found Mark not just a terrific lawyer, but a man who makes his client feel fully supported every single step of the way.

CLIENT: Mr M Owens
COMPANY/FIRM: Nursery Childcare Provider
TESTIMONIAL: From start to finish of what turned out to be a longer than expected transaction due to issues outside of all of our control, the whole team reassured us that everything was in the safest possible hands and it really was. The professionalism, understanding of our industry and genuine passion to make sure we were supported and kept informed throughout the process was evident throughout the whole time it took and even during the hard times of the company of the sale we were kept going by the fantastic team looking after us.

COMPANY/FIRM: Employment Law client
TESTIMONIAL: Excellent service, communication and integrity shown throughout the entire process; my dealings with both the wider business and partner who oversaw my case did not disappoint at ANY stage.