Family Lawyers

Top 10

CATHERINE BEDFORD

LEE & THOMPSON

Star solicitor to CEOs, investment bankers, sports stars, supermodels and entertainers, Catherine Bedford established Lee & Thompson’s family team from a standing start in 2007. Now a top-tier practice, it’s attracting top talent (and clients) from established firms (Bedford’s own… Read More

SANDRA DAVIS

MISHCON DE REYA LLP

Sandra Davis almost singlehandedly grew the family department of Mishcons, which she has headed since 1981, into its current behemoth. She is the lawyer of choice for notable HNWs (‘I don’t deal with the middle level of income,’ she has… Read More

STEPHEN FOSTER

STEWARTS LAW

‘He really understands people and combines this with an incisive ability to drive through a strategy to obtain the best deal possible,’ a leading QC says of Foster. Strategy is something that underpins the head of Stewarts Law’s divorce long-term… Read More

JAMES FREEMAN

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

There was only one tiny, tiny problem with this plan. It was bollocks,’ maintains Charles Russell Speechly’s straight-talking James Freeman, quoting Captain Blackadder. ‘I think that sums up the current state of the law — certainly in financial provision on… Read More

MARK HARPER

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

The court system, which Harper says is ‘on the point of collapse’ with ‘demoralised’ staff, is further strained by self-representing litigants. ‘They don’t know what to do and have to ask the judge what to do — it leads to… Read More

ELIZABETH HICKS

IRWIN MITCHELL

It’s been ten years since Elizabeth Hicks was brought in to head up Irwin Mitchell’s family division. In that time she’s established herself as a pre-eminent defender of HNW assets, often securing freezing orders from banks and tax havens to… Read More

FRANCES HUGHES

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

Hughes says she’s had a good year as the international litigation work continues to flood in as well as a sudden flurry of celebrities from the acting world and instruction on pre and post nuptial agreements with very big money… Read More

DIANA PARKER

WITHERS

‘There is no one who can match her intellectually or her wideranging experience. Her clients are fortunate to be advised by her,’ said one peer. Although she is also credited for her ‘fearless’ litigation, Parker is as much shield as… Read More

MAGGIE RAE

CLINTONS

Maggie Rae is described as ‘the grande dame of divorce’, and dealt with Diana, Princess of Wales’ divorce, yet she is as grounded as they come. ‘The press is dominated by these big, hugely litigious cases. That’s the impression the… Read More

HELEN WARD

STEWARTS LAW

A ‘tigress who never sleeps’ according to peers, the Spear’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner has had another stellar year dealing with a range of cases including a divorce fourteen years after separation, the repayment of a loan to a father-in-law,… Read More

Top Recommended

KATE ALLEN

DAWSON CORNWELL

‘Vive L’Amour!’, Allen says when recounting a memorable moment with a client. ‘One week before a tactically important and potentially lucrative maintenance pending suit hearing, my client told me she was about to marry her penniless but young former Olympian… Read More

SARAH ANTICONI

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

Sarah Anticoni knows how complex divorce can be. After an entire day mediating a case involving assets in three countries she once told Spear’s: ‘There’s much more shouting and crying than there is in most law, and you’ve still got… Read More

TOBY ATKINSON

STEWARTS LAW

Respected by peers for his client skills, work ethic and good judgment, Toby Atkinson’s work spans the field, with particular expertise in financial claims that arise from family and relationship breakdown, including tackling trusts, disclosure and complex children cases —… Read More

CAMILLA BALDWIN

CAMILLA BALDWIN

Marital agreements have now become ‘far more normal’ post the landmark Radmacher case, Baldwin says. She recalls a post-nup involving the wife of an ‘incredibly wealthy’ Russian. ‘Because she had so much jewellery she wanted to take out of her… Read More

ROGER BAMBER

MILLS & REEVE

Described by one influential peer as ‘one of the most constructive and imaginative family lawyers I have ever met’, the head of the national family law team at Mills & Reeve specialises in complex financial cases, involving businesses, trusts or… Read More

KIM BEATSON

ANTHONY GOLD

The ‘crisp, efficient, measured and expert’ Beatson, as she was described by a client, has been at Anthony Gold since 1996, focusing on financial remedy and children work. She heads the firm’s family department, looking after City professionals and international… Read More

NICHOLAS BENNETT

FARRER & CO

The former barrister at 29 Bedford Row has made a ‘seamless move’ to private practice after a five-year stint the Bar, an external peer says. Praising his combination of ‘technical excellence with commercial sense and acumen’, he is confident of… Read More

ROS BEVER

IRWIN MITCHELL

Last year was a big one for Bever. She represented both Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil at the Supreme Court in landmark cases that redefined the law and its reach into disclosure of assets. Gohil made it clear that she… Read More

GILLIAN BISHOP

FAMILY LAW IN PARTNERSHIP

Gillian Bishop says one of the greatest challenges in her field is subduing ‘trigger-happy’ lawyers in the opposition. It is tough to ‘persuade other lawyers that they don’t have to litigate to get a good outcome’. But when push comes… Read More

ZOE BLOOM

KEYSTONE LAW

An artful negotiator who cuts through the jargon and to the heart of her cases, Bloom specialises in complex HNW financial disputes. She is experienced in international divorce with cross-border tax complications, and has niche experience representing high-profile entrepreneurs and… Read More

CHARLOTTE BRADLEY

KINGSLEY NAPLEY

HNWs relocating to London not only need advice on visas, property and tax, but also on post-nuptial agreements, too, says Kingsley Napley’s family head. ‘If your marriage breaks down, you are under the jurisdiction of the English court, which is… Read More

ALEX CARRUTHERS

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

Most of us have heard of faking your own death, but never faking your own divorce. That’s what Carruthers had to deal with for a client whose husband claimed to have ended their marriage in a Russian court. ‘It makes… Read More

DEBBIE CHISM

STEWARTS LAW

‘If I were to tell you who I act for, a bit like James Bond and MI5, I’d have to kill you,’ Chism chuckles. Having worked for a client with ‘the same job as James Bond’ (whose only fear was… Read More

RICHARD COLLINS

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

The internet has enabled people to conduct their own pre-divorce research — a mixed blessing, believes Collins: ‘People will come in and tell you twenty points and three of them are relevant from a legal point of view.’ Without professional… Read More

MIRANDA FISHER

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

‘Her attributes of diligence, intelligence, determination and innovation have made her the go-to solicitor for oligarchs and professional sportsmen,’ one leading QC told Spear’s. This year Fisher has expanded that practice to include the well-known case of a Russian wife… Read More

PAULINE FOWLER

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

Pre- and post-nups remain as important as ever for Fowler, the founding partner of Hughes Fowler Carruthers. A recent client ‘had two prenups, one for US law and one for English law’. This international experience complements her extensive children’s work… Read More

CLAIRE GORDON

FARRER & CO

‘When this is all over would you like to come and be my finance director?’ one client recently asked Gordon. It could well have been one of the number of billionaires she’s worked with over the past year, assisting them… Read More

MICHAEL GOURIET

WITHERS

Gouriet is one of the few lawyers in London with expertise in cohabitation issues (unmarried relationships) and has been campaigning for reform to deliver more protection to such couples. However, he is also highly experienced in big-money divorces, multi-jurisdiction pre-nups… Read More

CHARMAINE HAST

WEDLAKE BELL

‘Amazing,’ Hast says about the year so far, crediting a surge in high-value divorces as more Russian, American, and French clients seek her valuable skills. A veteran of big-money divorce for over 35 years in South Africa and London, Hast… Read More

EMMA HATLEY

STEWARTS LAW

Hatley’s international expertise has seen her take on some of the most complex cases, recently acting for the mother in a children’s case, Re C (2015). It was a landmark, she says, as it dealt with the guidance to be… Read More

ALISON HAYES

LEVISON MELTZER PIGOTT

Hayes described her route into family law as ‘very bland’, saying she fell into it accidentally rather than by any personal design. ‘I probably thought I’d be an entertainment lawyer – but I did a seat in family law during… Read More

MATTHEW HUMPHRIES

STEWARTS LAW

The engaging Humphries, is a charged and energetic young partner at Stewarts Law. He has expertise in the resolution of complex financial issues for HNWs — married and unmarried — and frequently acts in cases involving privately owned companies, venture… Read More

DAVINA KATZ

SCHILLINGS

This year saw Katz acting for Dale Vince in his successful appeal to strike out his ex-wife’s financial claim as an abuse of process. The case was heading to another hearing but Katz was able to negotiate a settlement for… Read More

JANE KEIR

KINGSLEY NAPLEY

It has been ‘a very busy year’ for the fluent French speaker, particularly when it comes to assessing the likely ramifications of the truly seismic Brexit vote for clients with assets and spouses from overseas. ‘We have been really busy… Read More

SUZANNE KINGSTON

WITHERS

The Spear’s 2016 Family Lawyer of the Year and ‘highly capable mentor’ says that although she relishes the teaching she does across the profession, it’s the practice of law which gives her greatest satisfaction. Kingston says litigation is something ‘I… Read More

RENATO LABI

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

A respected family lawyer, Labi started out as an insurance litigator going up against rich and powerful opponents. He certainly hasn’t been shy of upping the ante: ‘Mediation works in some cases but not all. If you have a very… Read More

JEREMY LEVISON

LEVISON MELTZER PIGOTT

A lawyer with a ‘wealth of knowledge and experience that can’t be beaten,’ according to peers, Levison has been representing HNWs in complex financial cases for over 30 years. A co-founder of the firm and the IAFL, market authorities single… Read More

RHIANNON LEWIS

DAWSON CORNWELL

With over 30 years’ experience in the industry, the engaging family law partner treats her cases with panache, specialising in keeping them ‘away from contested final hearings’. With clients increasingly concerned about the privacy of divorce proceedings, Lewis believes in… Read More

JULIAN LIPSON

WITHERS

The head of Withers’ family practice group, Julian Lipson specialises in pre-nups and complicated financial cases that often overlap with French and American jurisdictions. This year he has argued for the special contribution rights of a client, who had invented… Read More

SAM LONGWORTH

STEWARTS LAW

One of the UK’s leading partners, Sam Longworth is popular among clients, referrers and peers alike. He is ‘very highly regarded not only for his personal qualities but also his excellence as a lawyer,’ a contemporary says. He started at… Read More

MAGNUS MILL

ALEXIOU FISHER PHILLIPS

Experienced in cases heard from the County Court up to the Court of Appeal, industry commentators call Magnus Mill an excellent solicitor who is ‘very creative at finding solutions’. A skilled collaborative lawyer who covers the family law spectrum, he… Read More

BARBARA REEVES

MISHCON DE REYA LLP

‘Tough and thorough’ are just two of the comments peers provide for Mishcon de Reya, who admire the grit and determination of this ‘sharp and straight-talking’ partner. Industry experts are similarly enthused, dubbing her a ‘real star’. From surrogacy to… Read More

MICHAEL ROWLANDS

KINGSLEY NAPLEY

Rowlands is hailed as an exceptional lawyer, ‘a class operator who always goes the extra mile with clients,’ a peer says. An impressed client echoes this, crediting Rowlands’ ‘patience, great kindness, understanding and communication’ and who, perhaps more importantly, remembers… Read More

ROSIE SCHUMM

WEDLAKE BELL

‘The current court system is paralysed by delays, riddled with uncertainty and generally out of sync with the needs of my HNW clients,’ says Rosie Schumm. ‘They want, and deserve a better solution.’ A family lawyer with ten years’ experience,… Read More

JAMES STEWART

PENNINGTONS MANCHES

A specialist in international family law, the co-head of private wealth (encompassing family, tax and trust departments) at Pennington Manches speaks of the firm’s new ‘sector-orientated approach’ that is in line with the increasing complexity of family law cases. ‘Clients… Read More

CATHERINE THOMAS

VARDAGS

‘We’ve had a series of really great wins and some incredible settlements,’ maintains Catherine Thomas, Vardags’ managing director, about the year thus far. One particular win came ‘on the back of the research that we had put together about the… Read More

SUZANNE TODD

WITHERS

Known as Shere Khan (the tiger in The Jungle Book) to her son’s Scout troop, Todd knows when it’s time to extend or retract her claws to pursue her clients’ interests. Among her peers, she is known for her ‘settlement… Read More

AYESHA VARDAG

VARDAGS

Founded by Vardag as a sole practitioner in 2005, Vardags has grown into one of the country’s biggest divorce players. It is known for its confident, forceful approach and counts industrial magnates, sports stars, celebrities and members of international royal… Read More

NICHOLAS WESTLEY

LEE & THOMPSON

‘The older generation are screwing it up,’ Westley says of some veteran divorce solicitors who ‘massively overcharge.’ ‘They are seemingly more interested in their own reputation, getting their picture in the Evening Standard with their client, walking to court,’ he… Read More

BRADLEY WILLIAMS

FAMILY LAW IN PARTNERSHIP

‘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,’ says Williams. ‘Quite rightly clients now want to be involved in how… Read More

ANNA WORWOOD

PENNINGTONS MANCHES

‘Sometimes the distance involved in relocating a child within the UK is just as significant as relocating to the north of Europe,’ maintains Anna Worwood. The Court of Appeal had a similar view in a recent case, where Worwood represented… Read More

TOBY YERBURGH

COLLYER BRISTOW

The head of family law at Collyer Bristow, Toby Yerburgh’s work spans mediation, litigation and jurisdictions Perhaps because of this he takes a holistic view, advocating problem avoidance as much as problem solving. That ranges from getting a ‘neutral evaluation’… Read More

Rising Stars

DICKON CEADEL

WEDLAKE BELL

‘One might expect big money divorces to always come down to arguments about how the millions are divided, but actually quite often it is the seemingly more minor details that are equally important,’ says Ceadel. Emotive issues such as ‘who… Read More

THOMAS DUGGINS

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

It’s the problem solving aspect of family law that drew Thomas Duggins to the profession. Besides his experience in complex financial claims in divorce and cohabitation disputes, he has built a niche around same-sex cases. He represented a JP Morgan… Read More