The Leeds market is increasingly taking on an international dimension, and the family law space is no exception. In this sponsored article, originally published online in Yorkshire Post, Lisette Dupré outlines the appeal of Leeds and the international work being done by the Stewarts team.
While booming businesses bring in work for local corporate lawyers, there’s also been plenty of opportunities for the city’s divorce and family experts Stewarts to make use of their skills.
The ‘Golden Triangle’ of Yorkshire (encompassing Harrogate, York and North Leeds) remains one of the most desirable places in the country for the wealthy, and when these families have issues or breakdowns then it makes sense for them to look for legal advice close to home.
Big up north
One of the biggest UK stories of the 2020s so far has been the migration of people from the south. Large numbers of people have decided that London is not the be-all and end-all, and looked to pastures new where they get a lot more for their money and a better quality of life. In the first half of 2022, more than 40,000 properties outside the country’s capital were bought by then-residents of London, 19 per cent more than pre-pandemic levels in the five years previously.
It has put places like Leeds on the map for many industries, and the legal profession is among them. Even pre-pandemic, the number of legal jobs in Leeds grew 20 per cent between 2010 and 2015, four times the growth in the capital.
Is England the best place to get divorced?
The UK has historically been one of the most popular jurisdictions in the world to seek a divorce, if you are an ultra-wealthy couple with assets dotted across the globe. English courts will often order a relatively equal split of the ‘matrimonial pot’, the assets a couple has accumulated during the course of their marriage. Judges in England also have more freedom to order longer-term ‘maintenance’ to be granted by the financially stronger spouse to their financially weaker now-ex partner, who may also keep more of the divided assets than they would in the US, EU or elsewhere.
Leaving the EU has not altered the UK’s popularity as a place in which to seek a good divorce settlement: if anything the courts are over-subscribed and judges are urging applicants to seek alternative dispute resolution. The pandemic has not slowed things down either in England and Wales. Statistics collected by Stewarts revealed a 122 per cent rise in divorce enquiries from July to October 2020, and the number of people seeking divorce-related advice soared by 136 per cent in June 2021, compared to January.
Leeds-ing the way
With the city growing and attracting new professionals, and an upturn in couples seeking to separate, there is more need than ever for expert family lawyers with experience of complex international finances and legal requirements.
The affluence of Leeds and surrounding areas attracts high-net worth couples and families, many of whom have international assets and require the best in expert advice if their relationship hits the rocks.
Lisette Dupré, the latest arrival in the Divorce and Family team in Stewarts’ Leeds office, is one such expert. Having previously worked as a solicitor in London, making partner at family specialist firm Dawson Cornwell, she made the move in 2022 to join the Leeds team at Stewarts.
International legal work sits at the centre of Lisette’s practice, which includes representing clients in divorce proceedings involving assets in multiple jurisdictions and preparing nuptial agreements which may also hold up in different countries. She is also the founder and acting chair of the EU Law Working Group and contributed to papers regarding Brexit including an advisory note on its implications for family law in the event of ‘no deal’.
So what’s the appeal of Leeds in particular? “Yorkshire has so much to offer a young, adventurous family. Couple this with working for the leading family law team dealing with some of the most complex, high value, international work for their global client base, made it an opportunity I did not want to miss,” she says.
Lisette is not the only member of the Leeds team with an international background. Senior associate Ellie Hampson-Jones worked for a Los Angeles-based firm before relocating to the UK and qualifying in London, and has worked on various family law cases with a Transatlantic flavour; associate Rebecca Worsley spent time working in Dubai and in Stewarts’ London team and is currently cross-qualifying in Scotland; and the whole team deals with cases with some international angle.
“I frequently work with family lawyers and professionals across the globe to deliver fast, coherent and strategic advice to my clients. The speed is often crucial when dealing with international families,” Lisette says. “That advice not only includes which jurisdiction might offer my client the best result, but also where an order will be enforced. Brexit has only made this specialist knowledge more important.”
One of the most prestigious accolades in the family law space is a fellowship with the International Academy of Family Lawyers, a global organisation with only a relatively small number of members in the UK. Lisette joined this esteemed group in 2022, becoming only the second Leeds-based lawyer to do so and demonstrating that the best legal talent in England is not solely concentrated in London.
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Divorce and Family pages.
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