Dawson Cornwell LLP > London, England > Firm Profile

Dawson Cornwell LLP
11 Staple Inn

Private client > Family Tier 1

Dawson Cornwell LLP has a ‘strong and broad team and is able to put the boots on the ground in a case very quickly, deploying a wide array of talents to meet any different issues that are thrown up’. The team has a ‘stellar’ reputation for its children work and is described as ‘leading in the field of international children work’. It also ‘has expertise in all area of family law’. Russell Bywater  heads the matrimonial department while Carolina Marin Pedreño leads the children department. There have been a number of significant additions to the team at a senior level. Amy Rowe  joined from Bindmans LLP and Simon Bruce   recently joined the team from Farrer & Co. Both have a ‘solid background and great reputations’ and should be ‘excellent additions’ to the team. It was also pleased to add Sarah Jane Lenihan  to its ranks from Stowe Family Law LLP who has been described as a ‘legal force of nature’. It remains ‘one of the best boutique family law firms’ in London.

Practice head(s):

Russell Bywater; Carolina Marin Pedreño

Other key lawyers:

Amy Rowe; Simon Bruce; Jessica Reid; Amy Barrow; Forum Shah; Charlotte Conner; Sarah Jane Lenihan; Aysel Akhundova;  Floriane Laruelle; Olivia Longrigg; Kate Brett; Felicia Munde; Anna Shadbolt; Sulema Jahangir; Charlotte Image-Flower; Lina Khanom


‘Dawson Cornwell have a reputation for being leaders in the field of child abduction and rightly so; they have a team of experienced and knowledgeable lawyers who provide a top quality service to clients’.

‘Jessica Reid – an outstanding member of the team! Her ability to genuinely care for her clients and her sense of empathy is what makes her stand out. She has the ability to be measured and give clarity in emotional situations. She is highly professional and knowledgeable. You can feel safe with Jessica knowing that you are being represented by one of the best there is’.

‘Excellent impartial advice that was realistic, not not just what I wanted to hear. Charlotte Conner was supportive, caring and went above and beyond every time’.

‘Russell Bywater rightly deserves his reputation as one of London’s leading family lawyers . Russell stood by me with calm, ethics and good humour. His deep expertise shines through in all aspects: -Strategic and critical thinking skills – Russell plays the long game, almost like he is a chess master, with each move not always being obvious, but building up to a crescendo. He is a master of the technical details’.

‘Carolina Marin Pedreno is a highly dedicated lawyer who was my solicitor for a child abduction issue. She is hardworking, professional, tactical, strategic and aims to resolve matters in a non-confrontational way. Carolina even took my messages while on vacation and her advise was always spot on. Her team is excellent’.

‘Amy Barrow is incredibly diligent and her attention to detail is very, very high. She marshals the issues in the case well and guides the client through the case, focusing the case on where the client’s case is strongest. I rate her very highly’.

‘Forum Shah is a fantastic children’s lawyer. She has vast experience representing children and young people in complex proceedings within the private, public and international arena’.

Key clients

Mr Azarmi-Movafagh

Mrs Nafisa Hasan

Mr G – the Father

SW – the Mother

VM – the Mother

Teenage twin girls

YP – young person aged 18

V – the Mother

Work highlights

  • Represented Mr G in the Supreme Court in a case concerning the complex interplay of asylum legislation within international child abduction matters. By its decision the UKSC affirmed the importance of progressing and determining applications under the 1980 Hague Convention as expeditiously as possible and invited Parliament to pass further legislation to ensure that delays were kept to a minimum where a respondent to, or subject child of, an application under the 1980 H C had made an asylum application. Reported as G v G [2021] UKSC 9
  • Represented Mrs Nafisa Hasan in a case which was highly complex in terms of financial disclosure with difficulty in establishing valuations due to assets being held in different jurisdictions and the need for third party disclosure orders. This reported case will make new law, upon appeal to the Supreme Court, on the issue of whether a Part III application can survive the death of the respondent. Reported as Hasan v Ul-Hasan (Deceased) & Anor (Rev 1) [2021] EWHC 1791 (Fam)
  • Represented Mr Azarmi-Movafagh in a case heard in the Court of Appeal and turned on 2 tricky points: costs awards through the back door and gender bias in awards for economically weaker male spouses. The principled approach taken will protect parties who are forced to incur legal costs they cannot afford, in ensuring their essential needs remain protected. This case was widely commented upon in the national press. Reported as Azarmi-Movafagh v Bassiri-Dezfouli [2021] EWCA Civ 1184

Private client > Court of protection

Dawson Cornwell LLP has an ‘excellent and specialist’ court of protection team that is headed by Jeremy Abraham who has ‘many years of invaluable experience of acting as a panel deputy’. The addition of Amy Rowe to the team from Bindmans LLP ‘brings an incredible amount of experience to this team’.

Dawson Cornwell is one of the UK’s leading specialist family law firms, described in the words of The Legal 500 as a “firm of exceptionally dedicated, experienced and knowledgeable solicitors with an unparalleled case load of high-profile and complex international family law cases” and by sources as “without question… the leaders in the field“.

The firm: Dawson Cornwell combines its highly regarded expertise in all aspects of family law with an unrivalled reputation in the field of international children law. The firm is unusual in that it has developed two specialist departments: the matrimonial department and the international children department, which work together as “a strong team of talented lawyers who are tactical, experienced and pragmatic”, providing its clients with a bespoke service.

The matrimonial partners are Russell Bywater who “has great judgement combined with a down-to-earth manner”, the “sensible and highly experienced” mediator Jeremy Abraham, the “very supportive” Charlotte Conner, Jessica Reid who “is an excellent choice: measured, responsive, great on paper and in person”, Sarah Jane Lenihan  who “really cares about her clients and achieving the best possible outcomes for them”, Simon Bruce “who continues to provide an effortlessly first class service” and Anna Shadbolt who “provides clear, insightful and very valuable advice.” The matrimonial department also includes consultants: the “super bright” Kate Allen and Rhiannon Lewis who is “excellent and extremely knowledgeable”. The international children department is headed by the “absolutely superb” dual-qualified partner Carolina Marín Pedreño who “has  strong experience at the highest level of international cases.  Her tactical judgment is excellent, and her international links and knowledge are impressive”, Amy Rowe who is “one of the standout children lawyers of her generation”, Sulema Jahangir who stands out for her “knowledge and experience in very sensitive matters” and Hilka Hollmann who is “an impressive advocate who deals with some of the most complex cases for children”.

The vast majority of the firm’s cases are international. The firm’s lawyers have extensive experience dealing with jurisdiction and other international issues. “They have every language under the sun covered”, including Azerbaijani, Bengali, Catalan, Creole, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Urdu. They are trailblazers in the field of cross-border children work, to which their unparalleled and ongoing record of reported cases is testament.

Dawson Cornwell has a reputation for taking on the trickiest international cases, and as a firm who “handle the heavyweight, complex and cross-jurisdictional cases well”. “They are known for their tenacity and fighting a client’s cause”. The firm has thus been instrumental in developing entirely new areas of law, including failure to maintain applications for spouses who are stranded abroad and Schedule I applications following sperm donation cases.

The firm prides itself on its partner-led approach, with strategic thinking and deft negotiation. While fee-earners assist partners to ensure that all work is undertaken cost-effectively, clients are always able to speak directly to, and deal directly with, the partner in charge of their case. Each partner has, deliberately, a different speciality so that they are able to offer collaborative law and mediation through to a high level of experience in jurisdictional work and complex litigation and trusts. At the same time the firm is known for being united in resolution rather than litigation and proportionality in respect of costs.

Sources say about the firm, “An excellent team that has a good mix of experienced heads at the top of the tree and a lot of young, keen and clever junior lawyers coming through”.

Types of work undertaken: The firm advises clients in the UK and internationally on all areas of family law, including prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, separation, divorce, dissolution of civil partnerships, international forum disputes, complex financial investigations, high-net-worth financial settlements, child maintenance, enforcing foreign orders, EU regulation cases and pensions.

Its award-winning specialist international children department undertakes international custody disputes, child abduction, adoption, relocation, leave to remove, stranded spouses, forced marriage, honour-based violence, EU regulation recognition and enforcement, and complex international care cases.

The “very calm and thoughtful” Jeremy Abraham is a member of the Office of the Public Guardian’s panel and brings to his Court of Protection work his expertise as a family lawyer and his background in civil and probate litigation, as well as, importantly, his skill as a mediator.  He runs a growing Court of Protection practice and is instructed in cases where there is a complex high value estate including international and cross border matters.

The firm also has a highly regarded reputation in international surrogacy, assisted reproduction law and same-sex parenting cases and has represented several high-profile commissioning parents in this field. This work is undertaken by partners Carolina Marín Pedreño, Amy Rowe and Hilka Hollmann.

In addition to its litigation practice, the firm actively promotes alternative dispute resolution, with collaborative lawyers, Kate Allen and Simon Bruce, highly experienced mediator, Jeremy Abraham and Resolution trained mediators Jessica Reid and Amy Rowe. The firm is described as “an outstanding supporter of mediation” and is known for having “a strong practice handling mediated and collaborative solutions to family matters”.

Property/Managing partner Stephen Harkerstephen.harker@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Matrimonial Russell Bywaterrussell.bywater@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Matrimonial Rhiannon Lewisrhiannon.lewis@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Matrimonial Kate Allenkate.allen@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Matrimonial Jeremy Abrahamjeremy.abraham@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Matrimonial Charlotte Connercharlotte.conner@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Matrimonial Jessica Reidjessica.reid@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Matrimonial Sarah Jane Lenihansarahjane.lenihan@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Matrimonial Simon Brucesimon.bruce@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Matrimonial Anna Shadboltanna.shadbolt@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
International children Carolina Marin Pedrenocarolinamarin.pedreno@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
International children Amy Roweamy.rowe@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
International children Sulema Jahangirsulema.jahangir@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
International children Hilka Hollmannhilka.hollmann@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Surrogacy, assisted reproduction and same-sex parenting Carolina Marin Pedrenocarolinamarin.pedreno@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Surrogacy, assisted reproduction and same-sex parenting Amy Roweamy.rowe@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Surrogacy, assisted reproduction and same-sex parenting Hilka Hollmannhilka.hollmann@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Collaborative law Kate Allenkate.allen@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Collaborative law Simon Brucesimon.bruce@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Mediation Jeremy Abrahamjeremy.abraham@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Mediation Jessica Reidjessica.reid@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Mediation Amy Roweamy.rowe@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Court of Protection Jeremy Abrahamjeremy.abraham@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Public law children Hilka Hollmannhilka.hollmann@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Public law children Charlotte Image-Flowercharlotte.image-flower@dawsoncornwell.com0207 242 2556
Number of UK partners : 12
Number of other UK fee-earners : 29

Dawson Cornwell are committed to promoting equality and diversity both in relation to our staff and job applicants and in relation to our policies, practices and procedures. This applies to our professional dealings with clients and others.

We recognise that a firm which is inclusive and diverse attracts the most talented individuals, who are valued for their ability and performance.

We treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect, regardless of race, sex, pregnancy and maternity, marriage or civil partnership, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age or gender reassignment.

Wherever possible, we take steps to promote equal opportunity in relation to access to the legal services that we provide, in order to ensure that, subject to funding constraints, our services are accessible to all clients. We are committed to meeting the diverse needs of our clients.

We consider all employees to be equal and create a working environment which is free from unlawful discrimination. This applies equally to voluntary positions and anyone undertaking work experience with us.

Awards & Recognitions

We are signatories to The Law Society’s Diversity & Inclusion Charter and we have a Silver Charter Mark. We have also been awarded a Diversity Aware Charter Mark. We have been committed to equality and diversity in both our work and in the workplace for many years as demonstrated by the nominations and awards referred to below.

We were shortlisted for Company of the Year – Female Leadership (Boutique) at the Citywealth Powerwomen Awards in March 2022. The Powerwomen Awards is now in its tenth year and was designed in consultation with the London School of Economics to champion women in the wealth sector and highlights the female leaders of today and tomorrow.

We have been shortlisted for Best Employer – Career Progression at the Citywealth Future Leaders Awards 2022. The Future Leader Awards is a programme to champion young professionals and highlight the leaders under forty of today and tomorrow. The philosophy of the contest is to support future leaders who excel at work but who also make an important contribution to society.


Kate Allen was shortlisted for the award for Diversity/Gender Positive Role Model of the Year in the Citywealth Magic Circle Awards 2020.

We won the Silver Award for Company of the Year – Female Leadership (Boutique) at the Citywealth Powerwomen Awards in March 2020. The Citywealth awards programme champions women in the wealth sector and highlights the female leaders of today and tomorrow, spotlighting individuals and companies who support caregiving responsibilities, female leadership and celebrate diversity.

We were shortlisted as Best Employer – Career Progression LGBT+/inclusion for the Citywealth Future Leaders Awards 2019. The criteria for the award is to demonstrate evidence of leadership and development of LGBT+ and diversity individuals within the organisation, including investment in qualifications.

Sulema Jahangir was named an Unsung Hero by Newsweek Pakistan in 2019.

Shabina Begum was recognised as one of the Top 100 figures on the British Bangladeshi Power and Inspiration List in both 2014 and 2017.