Fourteen lawyers from our Divorce and Family team are listed in the latest edition of the Spear’s Family Law Index, including 13 partners in London and Leeds. This is more than in any previous year; once again, Stewarts has more individuals listed than any other firm.
Head of Department Stephen Foster, Debbie Chism, Emma Hatley and Helen Ward retain their rankings in the Top Flight. This year Sophie Chapman, Richard Hogwood and Sam Longworth join Adrian Clossick and Carly Kinch in the Top Recommended section, while Toby Atkinson, Lisette Dupré, Matthew Humphries, Lucy Stewart-Gould and Ellie Hampson-Jones are Recommended by Spear’s.
The introduction to the guide notes that “going through a divorce can be one of the most unpleasant, difficult situations in one’s life. For high-net-worth (HNW) individuals with more than £1 million in investable assets, this process can come with added complexities. The best family lawyers combine legal knowhow with an emotional understanding of a client’s situation, getting the best results for them while minimising the stressful aspects of the process.
“Spear’s publishes annual rankings of the top private client advisers and service providers to HNWs. These are drawn up on the basis of peer nominations, client feedback, telephone and face-to-face interviews, data supplied by firms, as well as information gathered by the Spear’s editorial and research teams.”
Top Flight Family Lawyers
Stephen Foster is credited with founding the team that is acknowledged as “one of the strongest in London”, leading to the description of Stewarts by one private client lawyer as “the Slaughter and May of family law”. Spear’s notes many of Stephen’s cases “have an international dimension including Europe, the US and the Middle-East”, and that he “is very adept at dealing sensitively with all aspects of children’s matters.”
Former Spear’s Award winner Debbie Chism “is known not only for winning fierce court battles, but also for devising creative out-of-court methods to settle complex disputes.” The guide references her recent landmark success in IR v OR , “achieving an award for the wife of over £70m (exceeding the husband’s offer by more than £20m).”
Emma Hatley is a previous Spear’s Family Lawyer of the Year winner and is highlighted in 2023 for her work on “several of the most complex cases pending in the High Court (often with multiple parties disputing across jurisdictions), examining invariably difficult and contentious issues in the family division.”
Spear’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner Helen Ward “attracts clients with the highest profiles and has fought for the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Paloma Picasso, Guy Ritchie and the Countess Spencer.”
Top Recommended Family Lawyers
Rising to the Top Recommended section this year after debuting in Spear’s guide in 2022, Sophie Chapman “brings a constructive approach to all aspects of family law.” The guide says “she is particularly experienced in dealing with clients with inherited wealth and diverse portfolios covering different asset classes.”
Richard Hogwood “gets tangible results, both financially and personally, for his clients.” Spear’s notes that Richard “has clients of all backgrounds and from all around the world, including France, the US, the UAE, and Sweden.”
Also joining the Top Recommended ranks, Sam Longworth “is a leading lawyer in international, complex and high-value divorce and family law cases.” He says to Spear’s: “My goal is to put clients in a position to make fully informed decisions as to their next steps – and do so from the very first meeting.”
Adrian Clossick is Head of the Leeds Divorce and Family team and “a firm believer that being an excellent technical lawyer is simply not enough. The real skill is in being able to take that… and convert it into pragmatic commercial advice that clients can understand.” His work on complex financial cases is highlighted.
Recognised as having a “diverse HNW client base”, Carly Kinch “shot up from paralegal to partner within the space of 12 years” at Stewarts. The Spear’s guide says she has a “diverse HNW client base, previously advising a well-known telecoms pioneer, a family with assets valued at over $3 billion and the wife of a billionaire diamond merchant.”
Recommended Family Lawyers
Lisette Dupré joined Stewarts’ Divorce and Family team in 2022 and is now also listed in the Spear’s rankings. Based in the Leeds office, she is “a highly competent and knowledgeable specialist on cross-border and multi-jurisdictional cases” with “extensive experience in all aspects of private family law”.
“Popular with peers across the profession”, Toby Atkinson is Recommended in the guide and described as a specialist in matters involving “inherited wealth and family businesses”. In the reported case of JC v PC  he “acted for the successful father in proceedings to determine the habitual residence of his children following their wrongful retention abroad by the mother.”
Matthew Humphries has acted on “’cutting-edge’ matters, including set-aside injunctions and nuptial settlements.” Spear’s notes that Matthew recognises “the emotional hardship often faced by clients going through difficult divorces,” and delivers “robust advice” to help achieve the best result.
Lucy Stewart-Gould’s profile says her “aim is to cut through the complexity and to focus, not on every issue, but on the fights that matter to achieve the best possible outcomes for clients.” Her work for individuals in the public eye “adds a layer of complexity to an already stressful situation. Ultimately, these clients need someone savvy, discreet and effective – which is what we do at Stewarts.”
Senior Associate Ellie-Hampson Jones “has a particular interest in cases with an Anglo-US dimension, having spent time working in Los Angeles for a prestigious family law firm before qualifying as a solicitor in UK.” Sources praise “her client-focused demeanour and ability to put the client and their needs at the heart of everything she does.”
The full list of lawyers within the Family Law Index can be accessed on the Spear’s website.
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Divorce and Family pages.
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