Sam Longworth
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Sam Longworth joined Stewarts in 2007, back when the boutique firm was a relatively unknown challenger brand. And it proved to be an inspired decision. As Longworth tells Spear’s: ‘I now have clients from all across the wealth sectors, from sports and media, to wealthy families (onshore and offshore), professional services, and high flyers in the City.’

Furthermore, his eclectic caseload is multi-jurisdictional, covering ‘most geographical regions, with a focus on North and South America, the Middle East and Switzerland’.

One of 10 partners in family at the litigation-only firm, Longworth has had ‘an exceptional year.’ Highlights included an important victory in the Court of Appeal case Kelly v Pyres [2018] EWCA Civ 1368. This was a forum-shopping case involving an offshore couple focusing on the legal establishment of domicile for the purposes of divorce. He also received multiple referrals and scored major settlements on behalf of clients.

Meanwhile, a recent instruction on a case with assets of circa several billions ‘is keeping six barristers and a large team at Stewarts very busy!’

One of the UK’s leading partners, Longworth is popular among clients, referrers and peers alike, with one describing him as ‘highly regarded not only for his personal qualities but also his excellence as a lawyer’, while another praises the ‘assertive, charismatic’ lawyer who is ‘calming’ when needed, and is ‘never one to shy away from a challenging client, or opponent, or a complex case.’

So what legal trends is Longworth seeing? ‘A common thread among the ‘plug and play’ generation of the wealthy is their disinterest in the ‘one-stop shop,’ he replies.

‘HNWs have a huge choice, and want to be able to access a variety of advisers’. As a result, he believes that family lawyers have to expand their ‘little black book’. ‘Your clients still pick up the phone to you when they need someone,’ he adds.

And even a firm as successful as Stewarts must be mindful of the political weathervane. ‘Brexit is on everyone’s minds,’ admits Longworth, ‘but whether this will eventually lead to positive change, negative change, or no change at all for family law in this country remains to be seen.’

A more tangible worry relates to pricing and funding models, he argues: ‘We are, presently, limited in the type of funding models that can be employed, and the judiciary have a keen eye on the escalating costs within high value family disputes.’

Even so, Longworth also discerns opportunities. Arbitration, for example, ‘could reinvigorate the sector, and allow for the further development of expertise in the field.’

Sam Longworth
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