Family Lawyers

Family Law Top Five Barristers

MICHAEL GLASER

FOURTEEN

Being a top matrimonial barrister comes down to ‘judgement, humility and not forgetting it’s your client’s case,’ says Michael Glaser, a silk in the making who is modest and friendly despite his formidable reputation. ‘It’s also about understanding that things… Read More

DEBORAH EATON QC

1 KING’S BENCH WALK

‘There’s no better counsel for HNW private children law matters – a brilliant strategist,’ says one colleague of Deborah Eaton’s. ‘When we walk away from cases, the family have to carry on. I look at what I can preserve and… Read More

LEWIS MARKS QC

QEB

One of the greats of the family bar, Lewis Marks deals predominantly with cases surrounding the valuation and liquidation of assets in divorce proceedings. It’s an area which has been in constant flux since White v White (2000), the landmark… Read More

LUCY STONE QC

QEB

Lucy Stone is a big-money heavyweight with ‘extraordinary judgement’, a peer promises. The former head of chambers specialises in cross-border battles in jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, the US and the Isle of Man. The silk is optimistic about the… Read More

ALEX VERDAN QC

4PB

Peers attest that the bar’s ‘go-to children silk’ is quick to put clients at ease with his ‘down-to-earth and diplomatic’ approach. Alex Verdan’s ‘powerful and eloquent’ advocacy skills have also won him praise from a celebrity client base: he achieved… Read More

Top Ten Family Lawyers

CATHERINE BEDFORD

HARBOTTLE & LEWIS

A first-choice solicitor for high-flying CEOs, investment bankers, sports stars and entertainers, Catherine Bedford made her name by building Lee & Thompson’s family practice from the ground up, more than a decade ago. In a major move, she this year… Read More

SANDRA DAVIS

MISHCON DE REYA

A veteran of family law’s top set for more than a quarter of a century, Sandra Davis is described by one peer as a ‘fantastic lawyer who does her utmost for clients’. She took over as head of Mishcon de… Read More

STEPHEN FOSTER

STEWARTS

Stephen Foster, head of family law at Stewarts, is content after a decade of success, having handpicked what many consider to be the most robust high-asset divorce team in London. ‘We are now over 40 strong, with nine highly thought-of… Read More

EMMA HATLEY

STEWARTS

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… Read More

FRANCES HUGHES

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

A solicitor of 36 years’ standing, founding partner Frances Hughes has had a ‘fantastically busy’ 12 months, including the leviathan six-month-long case Estrada v Juffali, in which her socialite client was awarded ‘the highest calibration of reasonable need’ by an… Read More

WILLIAM LONGRIGG

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

The likeable William Longrigg, family partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, was crowned Spear’s Family Lawyer of the Year in 2016 and is a multilingual lawyer specialising in multijurisdictional cases, often in Europe, the US, Hong Kong and Australia. He was… Read More

WILLIAM MASSEY

FARRER & CO

‘His clients love him,’ says one colleague of William Massey’s. Another describes Farrer’s gently spoken head of family as ‘a complete star’. It’s certainly been a very good year for Massey, whose recent successes include Goddard-Watts v Goddard-Watts, a financial… Read More

DIANA PARKER

WITHERS

A mainstay of family law’s top tier for more than two decades, the former Withers chairman and Spear’s Family Lawyer of the Year Award winner is described by one pre-eminent peer as ‘three steps ahead of everyone else’. As such,… Read More

BARONESS SHACKLETON

PAYNE HICKS BEACH

Fiona Shackleton is regarded as one of the best family lawyers of her generation, but one peer is prepared to go further, calling her ‘one of the leading family lawyers of all time’. Indeed she has become a celebrity in… Read More

LADY HELEN WARD

STEWARTS

‘Not merely one of the best, but the best family lawyer in London’, according to legendary QC Lewis Marks. Lady Helen Ward, and longtime rival Fiona Shackleton, ‘are the two most important divorce lawyers of their generation,’ according to a… Read More

Top Recommended Family Lawyers

SUSAN APTHORP

SEARS TOOTH

Susan Apthorp is Ray Tooth’s right-hand woman, and ‘an outstanding family law solicitor’ in her own right. Over the last nine years they have expanded Sears Tooth and clocked up an incredible number of reported cases. There is no doubt… Read More

TOBY ATKINSON

STEWARTS

A respected and well-liked solicitor noted for his ability to trace complex assets and conduct forensic investigations into offshore corporate structures, Toby Atkinson sees a system in crisis. ‘Our courts are grossly underfunded, and with the withdrawal of legal aid… Read More

CAMILLA BALDWIN

CAMILLA BALDWIN

Camilla Baldwin is energetic and no-nonsense. Even when she took ‘time off’ to have children, the founder of the eponymous law firm sat as an immigration judge. It is that drive, coupled with her vast experience and polished judgement, which… Read More

NICHOLAS BENNETT

FARRER & CO

Nicholas Bennett moved from the bar to Farrer six years ago and is ‘on the way to being one of their main partners in the coming years’, says an industry observer, who praises his ‘thoughtful and measured approach and enormous… Read More

GILLIAN BISHOP

FAMILY LAW IN PARTNERSHIP

One of FLiP’s three founding family lawyers and the sole one at the firm today, Gillian Bishop has been a family lawyer for over 35 years. Clients include City professionals, CEOs and celebrities, and, crucially, ‘people with money or their… Read More

ZOË BLOOM

KEYSTONE LAW

An eminent negotiator who cuts through the jargon and to the heart of her cases, Zoë Bloom specialises in complex HNW financial disputes. Experienced in international divorce with crossborder tax complications, she also has niche experience representing high-profile entrepreneurs and… Read More

CHARLOTTE BRADLEY

KINGSLEY NAPLEY

Charlotte Bradley emphasises the humanity essential to the family lawyer and aims to stay pragmatic. ‘It’s important that you remain calm and objective,’ she explains, ‘but you have to have empathy for them [the client], otherwise you wouldn’t be a… Read More

LINZI BULL

PENNINGTONS MANCHES

Linzi Bull’s clients, for whom she is a trusted port of call, often have a high profile in the media or business. Bull has seen an increase in prenups and postnups: ‘When I started doing them, it was for the… Read More

ALEX CARRUTHERS

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

Most of us have heard of faking your own death, but not faking your own divorce. Alex Carruthers has, at least in the case of one client: a wife whose husband claimed to have ended their marriage in a Russian… Read More

DEBBIE CHISM

STEWARTS

When Debbie Chism last spoke to Spear’s she told us that she had a client who resembled James Bond. ‘I’m now working for people who would hire James Bond,’ she laughs. The hard-working family law veteran of 25 years has… Read More

MIRANDA FISHER

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

Recently appointed the head of Charles Russell Speechlys’ Middle East family division, Miranda Fisher has been busy racking up air miles to the likes of Qatar and Bahrain. The sums crossing her desk are vast, as one might expect from… Read More

JAMES FREEMAN

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

‘ When a case is terribly interesting for a lawyer it’s a curse, because it’s usually horrific for everyone else involved,’ says James Freeman, who has had another busy year pursuing his specialism of complex cases on behalf of HNWs…. Read More

CLAIRE GORDON

FARRER & CO

Family lawyers have to be both intellectually and emotionally astute,’ says Farrer & Co’s Claire Gordon, whom one peer describes as ‘a reassuring, trusted presence who grasps complex issues quickly ’. She started at Farrer as a trainee almost 20… Read More

MICHAEL GOURIET

WITHERS

Most family lawyers really ought to be able to resolve things through negotiation,’ says Michael Gouriet. He is speaking in relation to a major settlement in a £1 billion Middle Eastern case, one notable piece of work in a banner… Read More

MARK HARPER

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

‘ I’ve had clients sobbing hysterically when I said, “You have to file for divorce right now,”’ says family law heavyweight Mark Harper. He focuses on divorce, particularly international cases and those involving trusts, and pre-nuptial and pre-civil partnership agreements…. Read More

ELIZABETH HICKS

IRWIN MITCHELL

‘ Liz is a real star and will move heaven and earth for her clients,’ says one of Elizabeth Hicks’s colleagues. ‘What I bring is a mix of empathy and practicality,’ says Hicks, who was shortlisted for Spear’s Family Lawyer… Read More

SARAH HUTCHINSON

FARRER & CO

‘As a parent, I have a huge amount of respect for any other parent. You have to think about what is the best outcome for the entire family,’ says Sarah Hutchinson, who is known for both high-end divorce work and… Read More

DAVINA KATZ

SCHILLINGS

When Davina Katz left Mishcon de Reya to join Schillings in 2009, she was by far the youngest head of a family law department in London. Credited by peers for her ‘utmost professionalism and excellence’, she’s become a star solicitor… Read More

JANE KEIR

KINGSLEY NAPLEY

A high-calibre practitioner with an enviable client base, Jane Keir became Kingsley Napley’s senior partner in May 2013 after 23 years at the firm. Unlike most senior partners, she’s hardly winding down, instead splitting her executive and legal roles 50/50… Read More

SUZANNE KINGSTON

WITHERS

Suzanne Kingston is passionate about keeping clients out of court when possible, so much so that she’s known as ‘the Queen of ADR’ (alternative dispute resolution). It was Kingston, in fact, who introduced family law arbitration training to England and… Read More

RENATO LABI

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

Renato Labi is a true litigator, described by peers as ‘tenacious’. Formerly of DLA and Bates, Wells & Braithwaite, Labi has wide experience in dealing with financial disputes within divorce proceedings and following cohabitation, and in complex private law children’s… Read More

KATHARINE LANDELLS

WITHERS

‘I’m a geek,’ says Katharine Landells. ‘I love the technical aspect of my job and the human aspect of the job and how they come together.’ This love of detail, together with an ability to empathise with her clients, has… Read More

MELISSA LESSON

MISHCON DE REYA

Melissa Lesson spent two years at the bar before joining Mishcon de Reya in 2000. Four years later, she worked with Sandra Davis on reported case Minwalla v Minwalla, in which they successfully challenged the husband’s motives for holding assets… Read More

JULIAN LIPSON

WITHERS

Withers’ former head of family law has seen ‘a lot of bad-tempered litigation’ in the past year with an unprecedentedly high percentage of cases having gone to final hearings. Julian Lipson wonders if this is due to economic turbulence following… Read More

DAVID LISTER

MISHCON DE REYA

‘There are two extremes in this work,’ says David Lister. ‘One is to do a clean, negotiated settlement —the utopia — and the other is when you have someone sticking two fingers up at the court and their partner. Then… Read More

MAGNUS MILL

ALEXIOU FISHER PHILIPPS

A family lawyer with two decades’ experience, Magnus Mill acts for HNWs, specialising in ‘all’ private family law matters — including pre- and post-nuptial agreements, divorce, financial remedy, offshore financial structures and children’s law — very frequently of an international… Read More

PAUL NEWTON

CLINTONS

‘No nonsense, no pretension — Paul is the absolute “what you see is what you get” family lawyer. And what you get is an intelligent and excellent practitioner,’ a fellow solicitor says of Paul Newton. Since qualifying in 2003, he… Read More

CAROLINE PARK

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

Five years at Freshfields mastering the nuances of corporate tax isn’t the standard route to a career in family law. But Caroline Park has broken the mould in her route to the top. ‘My time at Freshfields equipped me for… Read More

MAGGIE RAE

CLINTONS

Maggie Rae, ‘the grande dame of divorce’, is a favourite among high-profile HNWs, perhaps because she’s in favour of ‘civilised remedies that keep people’s lives private’. Her modus operandi is to avoid court and go to mediation and arbitration whenever… Read More

JULIAN RIBET

LEVISON MELTZER PIGOTT

Praise abounds for Julian Ribet. One QC dubs him ‘an extremely able, top-rank practitioner’, while another refers to the LMP partner as ‘impressive, diligent and practical’. The experienced family lawyer, mediator and arbitrator’s clients include HNWs, City and sports professionals… Read More

ROSIE SCHUMM

FORSTERS

‘ Rosie Schumm used to be a rising star in the family law world, but now her star has risen,’ says one peer, and Spear’s agrees. ‘She has a well-deserved reputation for being charming with clients and fellow lawyers alike.’… Read More

ERICA SHELTON

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

‘A solid, old-school lawyer,’ one family head of a competitor firm tells Spear’s in commending Erica Shelton. The partner is known for ‘litigating effectively when required with patience and pragmatism’ — and she certainly gets results. She won £10.5 million… Read More

JAMES STEWART

PENNINGTONS MANCHES

Described by market authorities as ‘very impressive’ and ‘warm and engaging’ with ‘astonishing skills in international financial matters’, co-head of Penningtons Manches’ private wealth team James Stewart has had a ‘phenomenally’ busy year rich with some of London’s most complex,… Read More

CATHERINE THOMAS

VARDAGS

A solicitor sought out by UHNWs with complex divorce cases, Vardags managing director Catherine Thomas has had a ‘busy and exciting’ 2017: ‘We’ve had a series of really great wins and some incredible settlements,’ she says. Her star has risen… Read More

SUZANNE TODD

WITHERS

Trained by Diana Parker and Gill Doran, Suzanne Todd has risen through the ranks to be the head of Withers’ UK family team. She’s an impressive presence at the front of the firm’s matrimonial offering. Asked about her client list,… Read More

RAYMOND TOOTH

SEARS TOOTH

Raymond Tooth is a celebrity in his own right, whose hard-fought battles for the great and the good — and sometimes the not so good — have earned him the nickname ‘Jaws’. If Spear’s had been inclined to wonder whether… Read More

JOE VAITILINGAM

VAITILINGAM KAY

‘You get Magic Circle-quality service, you get our brains, but without the ginormous price tag of our competitors,’ Joe Vaitilingam tells Spear’s when asked to detail his firm’s offering. Vaitilingam Kay may be a new kid on the block, but… Read More

NICHOLAS WESTLEY

HARBOTTLE & LEWIS

‘The fall in the value of the pound has thrown up some interesting issues,’ says Nicholas Westley. One of his cases involved a UK-US couple who separated two years ago, splitting their British property equally, resulting in £3-4 million for… Read More

BRADLEY WILLIAMS

FAMILY LAW IN PARTNERSHIP

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… Read More

ANNA WORWOOD

PENNINGTONS MANCHES

When one looks at her last year, it’s no surprise that peers consider Anna Worwood one of the brightest family lawyers in London. A leading authority on relocation, she has worked on a slew of reported cases, including Re C… Read More

Recommended Family Lawyers

KATE ALLEN

DAWSON CORNWELL

A ‘good, solid and sensible’ family lawyer according to market sources, Kate Allen is respected for her thriving collaborative law practice and strong negotiating skills. The family courts system she works with is anything but good, solid and sensible: ‘It… Read More

THOMAS AMLOT

ALEXIOU FISHER PHILIPPS

‘I think if I found myself divorcing, Tom is the London solicitor I would choose. [He is] absolutely first class,’ says a leading QC of Tom Amlot, family lawyer and partner at AFP. Amlot joined AFP in June 2011, having… Read More

SARAH ANTICONI

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

Sarah Anticoni of Charles Russell Speechlys knows how complex divorce can be. She once told Spear’s: ‘Tackling the splitting of money and parenting apart is a tall order. Expect high emotions — but only from the clients.’ When feelings run… 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

‘ I am a naturally curious person, which is why family law suited me. I also love problem solving,’ says Kim Beatson. Head of family law at the London firm, she works with a broad range of clients, covering the… Read More

ROS BEVER

IRWIN MITCHELL

2016 was a big one for Ros 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. Bever’s client Gohil made it clear… Read More

RICHARD COLLINS

CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS

The internet has enabled people to conduct their own pre-divorce research: a mixed blessing, believes Richard Collins. ‘People will come in and tell you 20 points and three of them are relevant from a legal point of view,’ he says…. Read More

JANE CRAIG

PENNINGTONS MANCHES

A seasoned solicitor with 35 years’ experience, Penningtons Manches’ family law head Jane Craig is respected for her prowess in high-value divorce and separation cases. She also specialises in resolving complex disputes over children’s arrangements and high-value Schedule 1 financial… Read More

PAULINE FOWLER

HUGHES FOWLER CARRUTHERS

Pauline Fowler began specialising in family law in 1985 and, after 16 years at BWB, co-founded HFC with Frances Hughes and Alex Carruthers in 2001, rapidly establishing the practice as ‘the go-to niche family law practice in London’. Fowler does… Read More

MARK FREEDMAN

OSBORNES LAW

Osbornes’ managing partner Mark Freedman is clear why HNWs should choose his firm: ‘A first class service from a team of lawyers who are ranked as a leading family department in London, and who hold external accreditations of excellence.’ Freedman recently… Read More

TEERTHA GUPTA

4PB

Teertha Gupta specialises in complex cases involving children, including international relocation, cross border parental abduction, and surrogacy. He’s extended his caseload into adult representation for those accused of forced marriage or spousal abandonment. Gupta took silk six years ago, and… Read More

SARA HANNELL

ALEXIOU FISHER PHILIPPS

An experienced and respected lawyer with an international clientele, Sara Hannell knows Brexit’s impact. ‘International families are feeling less settled and less welcome in the UK,’ she says. ‘Some Middle Eastern clients have become less willing to base themselves in… Read More

CHARMAINE HAST

WEDLAKE BELL

A veteran of big-money divorce for over 35 years in South Africa and London, Charmaine Hast is highly regarded among peers. A QC calls her ‘an outstanding practitioner, hard as nails when it counts, soft as a feather when needed’,… Read More

ALISON HAYES

LEVISON MELTZER PIGOTT

Alison Hayes describes 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… Read More

DAVID HODSON

THE INTERNATIONAL FAMILY LAW GROUP LLP

An experienced lawyer, mediator and arbitrator, IFLG’s joint founding partner David Hodson is proud of his firm’s first decade. ‘We were the world’s first practice looking after the interests of international families and their children, combining lawyers, mediators and arbitrators…. Read More

MATTHEW HUMPHRIES

STEWARTS

An energetic and engaging young partner rising quickly through the ranks of family law, Matthew Humphries is an expert in resolving complex financial claims on family breakdown. He specialises in representing HNWs and their spouses, frequently in cases involving intricate… Read More

DEBORAH JEFF

SEDDONS

‘ I love the insight into people’s lives, how and why they have ended up needing my help and then strategising a way out of it for them. It’s constantly challenging and plays to my creative side while still applying… 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 going to bat for divorcing HNWs for over 40 years. A co-founder of the firm and the International Academy of Family… Read More

RHIANNON LEWIS

DAWSON CORNWELL

A family law veteran with over 36 years’ experience, Rhiannon Lewis specialises in separation, divorce, financial claims and settlements, frequently of an international nature. Probed for the latest trends, she points to the ‘inconsistency in family law tribunals — especially… Read More

SAM LONGWORTH

STEWARTS

An integral member of Stewarts’ top-set family team for the past ten years, partner Sam Longworth is proud of its ‘longstanding place as the standout firm for high value, international, complex divorce work in London’. 2017 has been especially busy,… Read More

JANE MCDONAGH

SIMONS MUIRHEAD & BURTON

Jane McDonagh started off as a libel lawyer acting for celebrities and newspapers, but when she helped her own mother through her divorce, her career path changed. ‘It made me realise how rewarding it could be to support someone through… Read More

SIMON MCKIRGAN

VARDAGS

A ‘first class family lawyer with excellent client and case management skills’, according to at least one happy client, Vardags’ senior director Simon McKirgan works on the firm’s divorce cases involving the greatest assets. Experienced across a wide range of… Read More

SUSAN PHILIPPS

ALEXIOU FISHER PHILIPPS

A ‘phenomenally bright, tactically astute family law solicitor with remarkable intuition’, according to market authorities, AFP’s co-founding partner Susan Philipps is an experienced lawyer who acts across the full breadth of family and matrimonial matters (they also describe her as… Read More

BARBARA REEVES

MISHCON DE REYA

‘Tough and thorough’, peers admire the grit and determination of Mishcon de Reya’s ‘sharp and straight-talking’ partner. From surrogacy to same sex-partnerships, Reeves advises on all aspects of private family law, with a particular interest in cases involving legal legal… Read More

JULIA STANCZYK

MILES PRESTON & CO

Senior partner Julia Stanczyk has been with Miles Preston & Co since it opened its doors in 1994, having previously been in partnership with the other two founding partners at a Westminster firm. There was never a doubt in her… Read More

AYESHA VARDAG

VARDAGS

Founded by Ayesha Vardag in 2005 (‘initially from the spare room of my Islington home’), Vardags has grown into one of the country’s most prolific law firms. It is known for its confident, forceful approach and counts industrial magnates, sports… Read More

TOBY YERBURGH

COLLYER BRISTOW

Head of family law at Collyer Bristow, Toby Yerburgh, concentrates on international, high value and complex domestic divorce litigation including jurisdiction disputes, pre- and post-nuptial contracts and disputes regarding children. Over the last 12 months, he has seen an increase… Read More

Family Law Rising Stars

ED FLOYD

PENNINGTONS MANCHES

Lauded by leading silks as ‘head and shoulders’ above peers, Ed Floyd’s star is rising fast. Recent work includes a ‘complex, big-money’ case due a 15-day High Court hearing in November. He was also recently lead senior associate in the… Read More

LUCY GOULD

STEWARTS

An undisputed rising star of family law, according to reverential rivals, Lucy Gould is respected by senior solicitors and barristers alike. A specialist in complex matrimonial finance disputes who joined Stewarts in 2014, she is particularly experienced in multi-jurisdictional disputes… Read More

AMY KISSER

QEB

QEB’s rising star Amy Kisser is rated as ‘ferociously bright’ with an ability to ‘hold her own against any silk’ by peers. The engaging Oxford graduate is the new go-to junior barrister for complex financial cases, ‘with an ability to… Read More

KATIE LONGMATE

ALEXIOU FISHER PHILIPPS

A family lawyer with more than a decade’s experience, Katie Longmate focuses on financial disputes arising on divorce and separation, frequently of an international nature. She also frequently prepares and advises on pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and agreements for couples… Read More

LISA PEPPER

OSBORNES LAW

A respected family lawyer and accredited mediator who first made her mark in the groundbreaking 2007 case of MB v KB, Lisa Pepper acts on financial cases and disagreements over child-related contact and living arrangements. She moved from Mishcon de… Read More

LUNED REES WILLIAMS

CAMILLA BALDWIN

Since joining in January, Luned Rees Williams has become an important figure at Camilla Baldwin. She was plunged ‘straight in at the deep end’, conducting a case in the High Court with the formidable Fiona Shackleton on the other side,… Read More

LAURA WINTERBOTTOM

WITHERS

‘Laura is renowned for clearheaded thinking and efficiency. She is a deal-cutter and strives diligently to achieve a pragmatic and commercial resolution,’ says a colleague of Laura Winterbottom’s. Her practice spans the range of family law issues affecting HNWs, with… Read More