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THREE major players in the family law arena have quit their practices to form a multidisciplinary matrimonial service offering legal advice, mediation and counselling.
Brecher & Co's Gillian Bishop, David Hodson, of Frere Cholmeley Bischoff, and The Simkins Partnership's Sara Robinson - all heads of family law departments - have set up niche firm, Hodson Bishop Robinson.
The three, who all hold key positions in the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA), have also launched a revolutionary subsidiary organisation, The Family Law Consortium, which includes accredited mediators Dominic Raeside and Ruth Smallacombe. Raeside and Smallacombe will work with Bishop and Robinson to provide counselling for clients.
Bishop said a new form of legal practice was necessary to meet the needs of clients in the face of fundamental divorce law reform due out in autumn.
"Because of the obvious directions that the law was going in with the White Paper and the Green Paper and the Lord Chancellor's views on mediation, we wanted to do something that was more focused on clients and less focused on commercial practices," said Bishop.
"Mediation certainly seems to be the way of the future, judging by the White Paper, and it's something which we're committed to as a means of alternative dispute resolution if that's suitable for the couple.
"If clients want mediation then we can now supply that for them. It's as near as you can get to one-stop-shopping."
She said the firm, which will also handle some tax, trust and general litigation work, would hope to cut costs for clients and negotiate settlements without litigation.
Each of the partners have been involved in high-profile cases, many involving cross-border work and large settlements.
"We want to provide the same quality legal advice for our clients at a more competitive price than we were able to in our existing firms," she said.