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Dawson Cornwell is one of the UK’s leading specialist family law firms, described in the words of The Legal 500 as “a powerful firm” 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 the “incredibly clever, quick thinking” Russell Bywater, the “excellent and extremely knowledgeable” Rhiannon Lewis, the “intelligent, incisive and intuitive Kate Allen, the “sensible and highly experienced” mediator Jeremy Abraham and “very supportive” Charlotte Conner. The matrimonial department also includes senior associates, Lisette Dupré who has “real passion and enthusiasm”, the “technically and strategically astute” Jessica Reid and “first rate communicator” Izzy Walsh. The international children department is headed by the “doyenne of international family law”, Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE QC (Hon), who is recognised as having “near legendary status and an encyclopaedic knowledge of children law”. Anne-Marie is supported by the “absolutely superb” dual-qualified partner Carolina Marín Pedreño, who is “very experienced in international cases at the highest level”, and the “very empathetic, calm and organised” public law specialist partner, Zoë Fleetwood. The children department also consists of senior associate Colin Rogerson, who is “the go-to lawyer for surrogacy” and very experienced associates, such as “rising star of children law” James Netto.

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 Arabic, Azeri, Bengali, Catalan, Creole, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, 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 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.  Partners Jeremy and Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE, QC (Hon) run a growing Court of Protection practice and are 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 Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE, QC (Hon) and solicitor advocate Colin Rogerson who have “developed a fantastic reputation” in the area of surrogacy.

In addition to its litigation practice, the firm actively promotes alternative dispute resolution, with active collaborative law partner (Kate Allen), highly experienced mediator (Jeremy Abraham) and Resolution trained mediator (Jessica Reid). 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”.

  • Number of UK partners: 10
  • Number of other UK fee-earners: 27
  • Breakdown of work %
  • Family: 80
  • Property: 5
  • Private client: 10
  • Litigation and miscellaneous: 5

  • Languages
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Greek
  • Arabic
  • Bengali
  • Dutch
  • Hindi
  • Italian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Punjabi
  • Russian
  • Turkish
  • Gujarati
  • Urdu
  • Catalan

Above material supplied by Dawson Cornwell.

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