‘The relationship between a family lawyer and their client can be a peculiarly close one,’ says Renato Labi of Hughes Fowler Carruthers.
‘You need to earn your client’s trust, you need to be emotionally engaged without being emotionally involved, and they need to know that you are going to fight their corner.’
Labi is clear on HFC’s objectives: ‘Our reputation is that we’re more prepared to go to court than others,’ he explains. ‘If we need to get a good settlement – perhaps because of bullying or manipulation – then you need to fight hard.’
It might be said that in pursuing a litigation-centric vein in family law, Labi is working contrary to the prevailing trend – but he’s a highly experienced hand in big-ticket financial and children’s relocation cases, and is known for a forensic and assured approach. Prenups, he says, are another growth area.
In one instance, the negotiations between an engaged couple went ‘very badly’, but the result proved to be more of a blessing in disguise: ‘The marriage didn’t take place, and everyone got away pretty lightly,’ he says. However, ‘if the couple are honest with each other, then there’s no reason those agreements can’t be negotiated civilly, put away in a drawer and forgotten about.’
In the past year, Labi (who qualified as a solicitor in 1997 and joined HFC in 2005) has also advised offshore trustees on whether a beneficiary’s trust could be ‘attackable’ via the English court system. Outside of work, Labi’s interests include the arts, politics and music.