Family Lawyers

Top 10

Diana Parker


Parker, the 2014 Spear’s Family Lawyer of the Year has spent much of the past twelve months involved in litigation, most recently in Britain’s first billion-pound divorce, managing to keep Chris Hohn’s business out of his divorce settlement. However, the… Read More

Fiona Shackleton

Payne Hicks Beach

Her clients may include royals and celebrities, but Baroness Shackleton has become famous in her own right — though she is too discreet to give interviews. Nicknamed the ‘Steel Magnolia’ because of her glamour and toughness, she has worked on… Read More

Frances Hughes

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

A leading light of British law — and ‘one of the three best family lawyers in the country’, according to her peers — Hughes attracts the biggest cases around — between £100 million and billions. Kind, modest and straight-talking, Hughes… Read More

Helen Ward

Stewarts Law

‘Not merely one of the best, but the best family lawyer in London’, says Lewis Marks QC, of Lady Ward. She has a welldocumented celebrity clientele: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Paloma Picasso, Bernie Ecclestone, Guy Ritchie and the Countess Spencer, though… Read More

Mark Harper

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

Harper does not kowtow: ‘He does not care whose toes he treads on in pursuing his clients’ objectives,’ a peer says of the former Withers partner. It’s not something he disagrees with, saying that despite his own establishment background he’s… Read More

Sam Hall


‘We’re the voice of reason in a world of chaos,’ says Hall. ‘If your lawyer is doing their job you’re meant to get the commercial reality and not always the good news. You’re meant to get the bad news as… Read More

Sandra Davis

Mishcon de Reya

Davis has almost single-handedly grown the family department of Mishcons, which she has headed since 1981, into its current behemoth. She is the lawyer of choice for notable HNWs — ‘I don’t deal with the middle level of income,’ she… Read More

Stephen Foster

Stewarts Law

The personable Foster is happy to share with Spear’s his predictions for his beloved Wales rugby team before taking a fairly seamless segue into law. ‘Family law and litigation are a little bit like rugby in that you need to… Read More

Suzanne Kingston


Probably the lawyer featured in these pages who covers the most diverse areas of family law, Kingston helps clients both with pre-nups and divorces, and also advises cohabitants and unmarried parents. She is a qualified arbitrator, mediator and collaborative lawyer… Read More

Tim Bishop QC

1 Hare Court

Bishop is the easy-going first choice to fellow pre-eminents like Diana Parker and Baroness Shackleton, for whom he acted as junior counsel in McCartney v Mills-McCartney. ‘It was a fantastic experience, both in terms of the legal issues involved and… Read More

William Longrigg

Charles Russell Speechlys

A wellconnected family law veteran, Longrigg joined Charles Russell in 1985 as an articled clerk. Now that he’s become the jet-setting president of the prestigious International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers — a role he clearly relishes — Longrigg specialises in… Read More

Top Recommended

Alex Carruthers

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

Most of us have heard of faking your own death, but never faking your own divorce. That’s what Carruthers had to deal with for a client whose husband claimed to have ended their marriage in a Russian court. ‘It makes… Read More

Ayesha Vardag


Founded by Vardag as a sole practitioner in 2005, Vardags has grown into one of the country’s biggest divorce players. It is known for its confident, forceful approach and counts industrial magnates, sports stars, celebrities and members of international royal… Read More

Camilla Baldwin

Camilla Baldwin

It’s clear that Baldwin doesn’t like to put her feet up. Even when she took some time off to look after her children ten years ago, the founder of the niche law firm sat as an immigration judge. This straight-talking… Read More

Catherine Bedford

Lee & Thompson

Solicitor for high-flying CEOs, investment bankers, sports stars and entertainers, Bedford established Lee & Thompson’s family team from a ‘completely standing start’ seven years ago. Now a top-tier practice, it has built a considerable centre of gravity, drawing in talent… Read More

Charles Howard QC

1 King's Bench Walk

It only takes five minutes of conversation to see why Howard is held in such high regard. The man whose ‘reputation precedes him’, according to a peer, recently went up against ‘the most litigious man in the world’ when representing… Read More

Davina Katz


When Katz left Mishcon de Reya to join Schillings in 2009, she was the youngest head of a family law department in London. She now leads a team of six, focusing on complex international litigation and ‘more unusual work’. For… Read More

Douglas Alexiou

Alexiou Fisher Philipps

‘I like the discipline of having deadlines, the buzz of going to court to see counsel or a client. I enjoy the contact — I like helping people. And I like family law — it’s interesting!’ exclaims Alexiou on what… Read More

Emma Hatley

Stewarts Law

Having been ‘brought up on’ international work during her training at Withers, Hatley enjoys the cross-jurisdictional challenge. ‘It does make it more complicated,’ she says, ‘because often you’re having to reconcile the application of foreign law and limitations to the… Read More

Fiona Wilson

Child & Child

Wilson is a people-loving pragmatist who believes in listening to her clients and making sure they understand that she is ‘a hundred per cent’ behind them whilst at the same time maintaining a good working relationship with her opposite number… Read More

Gillian Bishop

Family Law in Partnership

It’s been another busy year for Bishop, who speaks to Spear’s between leaving court and departing for an eightweek sabbatical, saying she can’t wait to do nothing for a while. As a collaborative law specialist she’s happy to be out… Read More

James Freeman

Charles Russell Speechly

Freeman is perhaps a little sharper around the edges than many lawyers mentioned in these pages. ‘If you’re looking for the qualities of the perfect family lawyer, I think one to look for is probably somebody who would, deep down,… Read More

Jane Keir

Kingsley Napley

Keir, a qualified collaborative lawyer, says this field has yet to reach maturity. ‘Things can be very much “in vogue” for a couple of years,’ she says. ‘Here we are in 2015 and it’s actually quite hard to find people… Read More

Jeremy Posnansky, QC

Farrer & Co

Former silk Posnansky describes the past twelve months as a ‘blur’, following a rush of litigation and jurisdiction disputes. He laments, perhaps unsurprisingly, the slow take-up of arbitration, saying that although clients don’t pay a judge as they would an… Read More

Julian Lipson


Lipson, the head of family law at Withers since 2008, is praised by his peers for his efficiency and commonsense, with rivals calling him ‘an old head on relatively young shoulders’, ‘a star performer’ and a lawyer who ‘perfectly combines… Read More

Kim Beatson

Anthony Gold

The ‘crisp, efficient, measured and expert’ Beatson, as she was described by a client, has been at Anthony Gold since 1996, focusing on financial remedy and children work. She heads the firm’s family department, looking after City professionals and international… Read More

Lewis Marks QC

Queen Elizabeth Building

For someone described as ‘the star silk at the family bar and now universally recognised as head and shoulders above anyone else’, Marks is disconcertingly modest: ‘I’m not much of a lawyer if truth be told. The law is not… Read More

Maggie Rae


Rae is quite an exception: her rivals love her. One previously told us that she is a ‘grande dame of divorce without the ego and the drama enjoyed by her contemporaries’, while another adds that she is ‘technically superb’. The… Read More

Melissa Lesson

Mishcon de Reya

Unusually for a family lawyer, Lesson spent two years at the bar before joining Mishcon de Reya in 2000. She specialises in separation, divorce, trusts and jurisdictional disputes, including complex, multi-jurisdictional cases involving significant assets. These often also include private… Read More

Michael Gouriet


Gouriet is one of the few lawyers in London with expertise in cohabitation issues and has campaigned for greater protection for these couples. Equally, he has experience with multijurisdiction pre-nups, big-money divorces, and emotionally hard child relocation cases. A qualified… Read More

Miranda Fisher

Charles Russell Speechlys

Fisher may already have had a stream of international sports stars and high-value Russian clients beating a path to her door — the latter not appearing ‘to sleep or take holidays’, she says — but it was her performance in… Read More

Patrick Chamberlayne QC

29 Bedford Row

Chamberlayne is happy to spend time with Spear’s discussing recent changes in family law. He works on financial remedy cases for UHNW clients, mainly international ones. ‘It is very rare now that I would do a case in which at… Read More

Pauline Fowler

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

Pre- and postnups remain as important as ever for Fowler, the founding partner of Hughes Fowler Carruthers. A recent client ‘had two prenups, one for US law and one for English law’. This international experience complements her extensive children’s work… Read More

Renato Labi

Hughes Fowler Carruthers

Unlike many featured in these pages, Labi isn’t downplaying litigation as a means to an end, and emphasises that he’ll often need to go to court at a moment’s notice to deal with emergencies involving children or the freezing of… Read More

Richard Collins

Charles Russell Speechlys

Collins reflects on how lawyers should not be dulled by exposure to their clients’ misery — in similar fashion to dentists and undertakers. ‘I think you have to remind yourself, very frequently, that people are going through a traumatic episode… Read More

Richard Parry

Farrer & Co

‘This is my fifth decade at Farrer’s — so I’m into the end game,’ jokes Parry, quick to point out that he’s not your average family lawyer — and not just because he’s the senior partner of one of London’s… Read More

Roger Bamber

Mills & Reeve

The head of the national family law team at Mills & Reeve specialises in complex financial cases involving businesses, trusts or pensions. Bamber was recently involved in the mediation of an international family dispute and in a large multi-jurisdiction trust… Read More

Ros Bever

Irwin Mitchell

Based in Manchester with Irwin Mitchell’s ‘fast-moving’ family team, Bever isn’t deterred or prevented from acting in big London cases. She says she simply spends a lot of time on Skype — and on the train — to and from… Read More

Shona Alexander


‘Never underestimate the power of laughing — and smiling,’ says Alexander when asked to describe how she maintains her zest for family law. A particularly personable and level-headed expert in HNW financial cases, the head of the Forsters family team… Read More

Simon Bruce

Farrer & Co

Bruce has had one of his best years yet with the Family Law Commission, of which he is president, picking up a major award from an international legal body. Elsewhere he’s continued his work with charities Reunite and Children and… Read More

Simon Pigott

Levison Meltzer Pigott

Pigott co-founded Levison Meltzer Pigott in 1998 and is among London’s best-known mediators. But he is also comfortable in the courtroom — at the moment he is representing a father in an international children relocation case, while also acting for… Read More

Suzanne J Todd


Todd understands when it’s time to extend or retract her claws to pursue her clients’ interests. Her peers praise her for her ‘contagious energy and ruthless efficiency’. A trained mediator and collaborative lawyer, Todd worked on S v P, which… Read More

Teertha Gupta QC

4 Paper Buildings

With 24 years’ experience and too many important cases to mention, according to his peers, Gupta specialises in complex children’s cases — including international relocation issues and crossborder parental abduction — and representing adults amid allegations of forced marriage or… Read More

Toby Yerburgh

Collyer Bristow

Yerburgh, the head of family law at Collyer Bristow, enjoys the sheer variety of the work he does across mediation, litigation and jurisdictions. Perhaps because of this, he takes a holistic view, advocating problem-avoidance as much as problem-solving. That approach… Read More

William Massey

Farrer & Co

Credited by his peers for being ‘gentlemanly’, a ‘pleasure to work with’ and ‘a good lawyer to have on the other side’, Massey advocates constructive dialogue at all times. ‘Often, it’s not the complicated asset structures or complex tax and… Read More

Rising Stars

Adele Pledger


When Spear’s asks if the cuts in the court system and the effect they have had on dispute resolution have demoralised or disillusioned Pledger, her answer is revealing: ‘I think it’s actually quite refreshing in a way,’ she says. ‘In… Read More

Brett Frankle


Frankle knows first-hand that divorce rarely affects just two people. He recently acted for the sister of a man getting divorced, protecting a cherished family heirloom from being given to the wife by proving, despite the lack of paperwork, that… Read More

Lara Phillips

Simons Muirhead & Burton

Phillips practises all areas of family law, but prefers to specialise in financial matters concerning complex divorce and separation proceedings. She qualified in 2007, becoming the youngest ever partner at niche practice Ross & Craig, before joining the ‘dynamic, modern… Read More

Mark Irving

Lee & Thompson

Irving specialises in complex financial divorces involving international law and offshore trusts — but he is also ready to fight disputes over family dogs if clients need, as happened recently. Thanks to the firm’s well-respected reputation management department, he often… Read More

Matthew Humphries

Stewarts Law

Humphries, an energetic and engaging young partner at Stewarts Law, has expertise in the resolution of complex financial issues for HNWs — married and unmarried — and frequently acts in cases involving privately owned companies, venture capital firms and hedge… Read More

Sarah Hutchinson

Farrer & Co

For Hutchinson, law was almost a vocation. ‘I knew from a young age that I wanted a career in the law, having had my first “work experience” at Eversheds in Leeds at the age of twelve,’ she says. After graduating… Read More