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 a range of HNW and UHNW work, usually with international focus. She also specialises in complex children’s work, doing ‘more than many central London practitioners’, she says, including niche areas like international adoption and surrogacy. Clients range from international entrepreneurs and City professionals to people with significant inherited wealth, people working in the arts or media and ‘ordinary people facing extraordinary problems’. A prominent mediator since 1993, Fowler was drawn to family law because of the blend of human interest and strategy that the practice affords. ‘I like the fact it’s so wide ranging in its scope — you frequently have to delve into other areas of law. This year has seen me take advice from trusts lawyers, commercial lawyers, tax specialists, human rights lawyers and psychiatrists, to name but a few.’ She notes a greater appetite to enter into pre- and post-nuptial contracts as a means of avoiding litigation. She is emphatic that the legal process needs reform. ‘The court system is in a terrible state. The law on financial matters needs more clarity — it’s very hard for clients to be told “it depends” all the time,’ she says.