Charles Russell gains Conran divorce team

City firm Charles Russell has poached family lawyer Erica Shelton, who advised Lady Caroline Conran in her high-profile u10.5m divorce from restaurateur and designer Sir Terence Conran.

Shelton is quitting as London firm Rooks Rider's head of family law and will take the firm's entire family law team with her. Three assistants – Nicole Hackett, Caroline Clark and Penny Seguss – will move to Charles Russell in due course.

The appointments will boost City firm Charles Russell's already highly rated family and matrimonial law practice as it battles for top spot in the field with Manches and Withers.

“We are delighted to welcome colleagues who enjoy a high standing in the profession,” comments Grant Howell, a partner in the Charles Russell family group and its managing partner elect.

“Erica, Nicole, Caroline and Penny are a very valuable addition and can only enhance our reputation in the marketplace.”

The Conran divorce resulted in a u10.5m settlement for Sir Terence's former wife.

At the time it was believed to be the largest divorce settlement awarded by a British court. A disgruntled Sir Terence referred to Shelton's legal team as the architect behind the huge award.

“She [Lady Conran] asked for u50,000 a year, which I was perfectly happy with. It was only when it got into the hands of bright and manipulative lawyers that the amount was raised dramatically,” Conran said at the time.

The case received widespread coverage mainly because of Sir Terence's dismissal of his former wife's contributions to his business empire. “She cooked a few meals now and again and wrote a few books. I taught her how to cook,” he claimed.

Shelton says: “I was approached by Charles Russell and the team were very keen to join one of the premier matrimonial departments in London. It is a marvellous opportunity to work with colleagues whom we know and respect.”

Jeremy Whiteson, partner at Rooks Rider, says: “We are very sad to see Erica go as she is a valued member of the firm and we wish her well in her future career.

“However we are still very much committed to family work within the practice and plan additional recruitment.”

Whiteson would not speculate on where the firm planned to find a new family department.