The past year has seen the launch of The Divorce Surgery on to the London market, to much acclaim.
‘Since the turn of the year, we’ve been inundated with enquiries from high net worth couples who have been quick to recognise the major benefits of impartial, joint expert legal advice on relationship breakdown,’ says Harry Gates, who has been practising as a barrister from 4 Paper Buildings since 2001.
Specialising in the financial consequences of relationship breakdown and children private law disputes, Gates co-founded The Divorce Surgery so ‘couples can access independent expert legal advice from one lawyer, together.’ It is the first firm of its kind in the UK, recognised as a game-changer by The Lawyer and Legal Week awards, and named in the Financial Times FT50 list of Europe’s most innovative law firms.
The benefits of this innovative model are many. For one, couples are encouraged to focus on realistic outcomes at a much earlier stage in the process than they otherwise would. Also, because the couple is not instructing a set of lawyers each, the process is less adversarial. ‘The advice given always comes from an impartial barrister, selected by us according to your situation,’ explains Gates.
‘The barrister will advise what a court would be likely to do in your circumstances. This way, you each get the same advice, which you also hear together.’ Since settlements are often reached more quickly, the firm holds that their model makes divorce more cost-effective. ‘We offer a fixed-fee service, which reflects an ever increasing client dissatisfaction with the old open -ended, hourly rate model,’ Gates explains. Peers have come out in support of this new model, with one saying, ‘The Divorce Surgery’s innovative approach is a bold and much needed step in the family law market. This service allows separating couples to get bespoke, joint advice at a sensible cost, without having to make sacrifices on the quality of that advice.’
As well as the launch of the business, a highlight of the past year for Gates was being invited as an industry leader to contribute to the government’s no-fault divorce consultation. He has also met up with MPs from across the political spectrum to explore the greatest possible uptake of the ‘One Couple, One Lawyer’ model. When not in the office, Gates can usually be found ‘at home in the Wiltshire countryside, refereeing disputes between my children.’