‘It’s the breadth of the work in the Family Division that attracts – as well as the pleasure derived from being part of a process where, over time, a clearly defined picture emerges from what was once opacity,’ says Philip McGuirk, who co-heads the family team at Payne Hicks Beach, along with Rebecca Cockroft.
Prior to joining the firm in 2000, McGuirk practiced as a partner with James & Sarch of Gray’s Inn, where he qualified in 1985, and where his practice evolved into that of a family lawyer and general litigator.
‘In recent years, I have developed a busy practice in pre and postnuptial agreements,’ he tells Spear’s. ‘I am regularly instructed in complex, multi -dimensional financial remedy work, often with an international element.’
This range of expertise has led to the knowledgeable and level-headed lawyer acquiring a very varied client base, including entrepreneurs, City professionals and those with private wealth (UK non-dom and resident), while he has a strong reputation for complicated big-money cases.
Although McGuirk notes recent difficulties arising due to ‘a generally under-funded family justice system’, he has still seen an increase in pre and postnuptial agreements, and cohabitation contracts, as well as a rise in forum shopping work.
So what does McGuirk believe makes for a good family lawyer? ‘The difference between the good and the great is charisma,’ he replies. ‘And that cannot be taught. One can spend 30 years at the coalface and yet still not acquire it. The truly great practitioners all have it – usually, in spades.’