Jane Craig, a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), heads the 40-strong family team at leading UK law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper, acting in some of the key cases in England and Wales.
Specialising in high-value financial disputes, often those involving trusts, inherited wealth, complex remuneration structures and international issues, she has played a leading role in the development and practice of family law for more than 30 years. Craig was the first private law solicitor member of the Family Justice Council (FJC), which advises the government on family law issues, and co-authored the FJC’s Everybody’s Business report on contact and domestic violence, as well as the organisation’s Sorting out Finances on Divorce guide. A passionate campaigner for law reform for co-habitants since her time as chair of Resolution, the leading family lawyers’ organisation, she is also editor and co-author of its Guide to Good Practice in Cohabitation Cases.
Craig is also ranked very highly in the legal directories. As one commentator says: ‘What’s impressive about Jane in particular is that she’s like the gloved hand and the iron fist – she’s just so calming and reassuring for clients… There’s not a single thing she isn’t totally on top of in cases or the law. She has a nice subtlety of approach.’
Craig became a family lawyer because ‘it’s all about people and problem-solving. I find real satisfaction not just in achieving a good outcome in terms of the settlement but also in helping clients to cope with the most painful experience they may ever have.’ Her career began in Middlesbrough, ‘in a very different practice to Penningtons Manches Cooper’. The career she has now, however, really started when she joined Manches on 1 April 1988 ‘because that is when I began to act for HNW clients and develop international family law expertise,’ she tells Spear’s. ‘The cases I deal with now typically involve large sums of money, landed estates, family businesses or international issues – or sometimes all of these.’
She’s learned during her prolific career that people have a strong internal sense of justice, but that the law does not always align with their view. ‘When a court decides how to divide up the assets on divorce, conduct during marriage is irrelevant, save in extreme circumstances,’ Craig tells Spear’s. ‘People often find that hard to understand. If an overseas couple divorce here, there can be consternation when the realisation dawns that our discretionary system, particularly the availability of spousal maintenance – sometimes lifelong – will produce a very different outcome from that in their home country.’