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An ‘excellent’ negotiator with a ‘phenomenal’ grasp of the facts, according to peers, Emma Hatley is one of the most sought-after family solicitors in London. Her experience allows her to offer advice across the full board of family law, but she has developed a particular specialism in complex big-money cases during the course of her career — frequently of a cross-border nature, often involving intricate corporate and trust structures. She sees the courts’ approach to the division of assets changing markedly: ‘I believe that we are moving towards the end of maintenance orders during the joint lives of the parties, to orders for a defined period of years, and towards stricter demarcation lines between non-marital and marital wealth, and pre- and post-marital wealth,’ she says. ‘The decided cases appear to be addressing those points as well as the appropriate way to value a trading or investment business that falls within the marital pot and outside it.’ While she relishes ‘finding a creative solution to the issues to be resolved which result in agreement’, she fights and strives beyond the law, too: particularly ‘defending my wardrobe from the ravages of my teenage daughters, exploring far-flung places and experiencing different cultures, skiing and pilates’. One client (a fellow lawyer) credits Hatley as ‘the leading light of her generation — she knocks spots off the rest.’

Emma Hatley