What can I do for you?
I am a solicitor and National Head of Family Law at Mills & Reeve. I am a specialist family lawyer, collaborative practitioner and family arbitrator with over 35 years’ experience dealing mainly with the more complex financial issues (eg, businesses, trusts and pensions) that need to be negotiated when a marriage or other personal relationship sadly comes to an end.
I can also advise sensitively and effectively on arrangements for children (where they live and the arrangements for the time they spend with each parent) and I have expertise in drawing up pre- and post-marital agreements. I have considerable experience in work that involves international issues, which is increasingly important with more families living and working, or having other connections, away from their home country.
My clients come from all walks of life and include entrepreneurs, sports stars and professionals.
Supporting my clients’ aims and objectives
I believe strongly that the best outcome for most couples going through the emotional and financial stress of a divorce is one that is agreed between them, whether this is achieved through mediation, collaborative law or negotiation through solicitors. Sometimes this isn’t possible and the court or a family arbitrator will have to decide, but most of my cases settle well before then. Whichever approach is adopted, my priority is to work with my client to understand his or her objectives and find the best way to achieve them cost-effectively.
What particularly motivates me is being able to help people come through the process of family breakdown confident about their future, financially secure and, most importantly when children are involved, wherever possible continuing to have a good relationship with their children and being able to co-parent effectively. As a full service national firm the family law team is able to call on expertise from our colleagues in other legal disciplines such as corporate, property and private trusts & tax. This is of enormous benefit to our clients.
What do others say?
We are very proud of our family law team at Mills & Reeve. We are ranked in the top tier for family law work in both Chambers UK and Legal 500 directories and have won awards for our advice and service and for our innovation including our Divorce UK iPhone App and YouTube channel.
Working primarily from our Manchester and London offices, I aim to provide outstanding client service and clear legal advice that avoids jargon and gets the job done. Chambers UK (2016) reported one of our clients saying about our family law team in Manchester "The whole service all the way through was impeccable. it was an incredible, no-fuss, no-hassle service from beginning to end and the clarity was unbelievable". Legal 500 described us as "commercial and pragmatic" and offering "an exceptional level of service to clients". The most recent edition of Chambers (2017) reported me as "really going the extra mile in terms of service".
As part of a nationwide network of offices, our team "has the expertise to handle any and all family related matters", and one of our peers from another firm said to Chambers that we "are very knowledgeable and have national presence and strength and depth in numbers".
On a personal level, a client asked for feedback by Chambers told them that I was a lawyer “who has huge experience and technical expertise; a real ability to cut through complex issues and arrive at optimal solutions” and, in the latest edition, a contributor said that I "give robust advice and get the results clients are looking for".
After achieving a settlement in a case involving many millions of pounds one client said in her thank you letter : "Well, wasn't I lucky to have chosen you! I have been wading through a minefield for two years and you have given me the confidence to make decisions and face another day. You met the challenges thrown your way - and you have triumphed every step of the way. I chose you for the collaborative angle and your reputation and I have been very well rewarded. With grateful thanks!"
What else should you know?
I have been a member of Resolution, the leading family law association, for over 25 years. In April 2016 I was elected national Chair of the organisation having previously been Chair in the mid-90s making me the only person ever to have held the top position twice. I contribute regularly to the print and broadcast media and present at training seminars/webinars for lawyers and other professionals here and abroad. I was part of the team that was responsible for training judges on pension sharing when it was first introduced in 2000.
I am a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), a organisation of lawyers recognised by their peers here and abroad as being family law experts with international experience. I am a trained collaborative lawyer being a member of the Manchester collaborative group, Collaborative Law Manchester.
I qualified in 2012 in the first group of family law arbitrators. Arbitration is a valuable addition to the dispute resolution options available to couples, combining speed, choice of arbitrator, flexibility of process and confidentiality and I believe that it will become increasingly attractive as the courts become busier and busier.
I am a regular contributor to Twitter and can be found at @topfamilylawyer.
Through our www.divorce.co.uk website, and our Divorce UK YouTube channel and Divorce UK iPhone app launched in July 2011, our team offers valuable free resources for those going through separation or divorce.
Finally, outside of work I am a member of the Humphrey Chetham Club, which helps fund capital projects for Chethams School of Music, a world-class facility based in Manchester. I am a keen sports watcher and participant and love my music – playing, occasionally writing (I wrote the music that my daughter came down the aisle to when she got married!), listening and concert-going. In an attempt to defy the passing years I started playing football again a couple of years ago and when at school, I was part of a team that bowled the opposition out for nought in 13 balls. It made the Guinness Book of Records for that year, although I haven't played since leaving school - hardly surprising as the only way to go from there would be down! One of my colleagues here said that this was "far more interesting than all of that other boring stuff in your profile" - With friends like that ...!