Matthew Humphries, one of 10 partners in family at Stewarts, reckons there’s a misconception about divorce lawyers.
‘A good ‘divorce lawyer’ is there to assist their clients and achieve a settlement wherever that is possible,’ he tells Spear’s. ‘We are not all determined to litigate every aspect of every case.’ He adds that, with this in mind, ‘the imposition of compulsory attempts at ADR are unnecessary (as well as being ineffective)’.
Humphries orginally qualified as a solicitor in 1998, and joined Stewarts in 2010. He now acts for high net worth and international clients from a wide range of backgrounds, providing advice on all aspects of divorce and family law while maintaining complete discretion. His work usually has an international element – ‘whether that’s offshore trusts or corporations, or, as is often the case, dealing with competing jurisdictions’.
The past 12 months have seen Humphries acting in ‘some very substantial cases’, with the asset pool often in excess of £50 million. He’s also handled some ‘cuttingedge’ matters, including set-aside injunctions and nuptial settlement.
On the whole, his clients may be weighted towards the City, but Humphries explains that he enjoys learning about the variety of his clients’ vocations, experiences and set-ups: ‘You’re dealing with people who are completely absorbed in their individual circumstances,’ he says, ‘at one of the most defining moments of their lives.’
Humphries also regularly advises upon the negotiation of pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. One happy client describes Humphries as a key part of her ‘dream team’ at ‘a horrendous time’ in her life: ‘I cannot rate them highly enough – and I should know, having had to change my legal team halfway through due to loss of confidence.’
Like many of his contemporaries, Humphries is worried that ‘resources, or more precisely the lack of them, in the family court system and supporting services’ is creating ‘delay’ for HNW clients.
Asked what else needs to change in family law, Humphries comments: ‘Enforcement of court orders – in particular a greater arsenal to compel a recalcitrant spouse to comply with court directions, ensuring cases are managed diligently and effectively.’
Engaging and energetic in person, Humphries is also praised by his clients for his ‘human touch, which makes him a very powerful ally at the most crucial of times.’ Outside of work, he has a passion for rugby.