Williams joined FLIP in 1999 as a paralegal, happily making his way up the ranks to director and shareholder. ‘I’m a one-firm-man,’ he says. ‘It’s a very collegiate place to work. We all get on very well. We have a very broad international client base, so the work varies from week to week.’
A solicitor, mediator and an arbitrator, Williams has carved out a niche specialising in complex financial remedy applications, applications regarding the property of non-married couples and private children law issues, and his clients are often international HNWs and include professionals, business owners and executives, and their spouses or partners.
He notes a rise not just in pre nups, post nups, but also in pre-cohabitation agreements as people are gradually becoming more conscious of their legal and financial rights on the breakdown of a relationship. Clients, irrespective of their financial means or circumstances, are also becoming more cost conscious, preferring fixed fee type arrangements.
Family lawyers have to adapt all the time. ‘Gone are the days when super-rich people would come in and instruct lawyers on a huge retainer, and let the lawyers run the case how they want to,’ Williams explains. ‘Quite rightly clients now want to be involved in how their case is managed.’
Williams chose family law because he was attracted by the discretion involved in the decision making. ‘As a lawyer you have a more opportunity to influence the outcome because of the discretion the judge has because family law, unlike many other types of law, isn’t binary,’ he explains. As a result, a good family lawyer needs to be highly strategic and tactical. ‘In my practice, I’m always trying to think two or three steps ahead. That’s the most important trait to have in a discretionary jurisdiction.’
His most memorable case was acting for the father of a child in the BVI whose mother was applying to remove the child permanently to New Zealand and successfully preventing the removal of the child.
The German speaker of Swiss-British nationality says being a fluid communicator ‘certainly opens doors’. Clients are certainly satisfied. One praises his ‘very responsive and extremely professional’ approach while another praises his ‘patience, diligence, clarity of mind and capacity for sheer hard work. Peers are equally impressed, with one commenting: ‘He is willing to take a case however far it needs to go and doesn’t lose his nerve when a judicial decision is the only option left. It’s unusual to find someone who embraces alternative outcomes and collaborative law on the one hand, but who has the skills and attitude required to follow the litigation route when needed.’