A hard head and a warm heart

What law practitioners are looking for in a family or matrimonial law barrister is the ability to really cut through to the issue as well as the ability to communicate with the clients. They should be able to create a feeling of confidence and come up with a solution without necessarily having to rely on written advice.

One leading practitioner in this area also contends that counsel’s abilities have to be broader because the work involves “so many of the aspects of the commercial Bar, having to have a grasp on the financial aspects of ancillary relief while still having a good bedside manner with clients who are having to disclose many personal aspects of their lives”.

These twin abilities are to be found in the following barristers, both silks and juniors, who have been named by leading practitioners in this field. Although the list is not exhaustive, it is based on the subjective recommendations of top family and matrimonial practitioners.

The leading sets which are mentioned most frequently are, in no particular order: Queen Elizabeth Building, headed by Ian Karsten QC; 1 Mitre Court Buildings, headed by Paul Focke QC; King’s Bench Walk, headed by James Townend QC; and 29 Bedford Row Chambers, headed by Evan Stone QC.

Depending on the case and client involved, the leaders who are named the most often and who are considered the creme de la creme for family and matrimonial matters are: Florence Baron QC, who is “a real star, brilliant and absolutely outstanding for ancillary relief” and Paul Coleridge QC, who is “an all-rounder, extremely good and knows his stuff”, both at Queen Elizabeth Building; and Bruce Blair QC, who is singled out for children work at Mitre Court – some consider him the “top leader”; while Barry Singleton QC at King’s Bench Walk is described as “tough but has a good bedside manner”, and is said to be “the leading ancillary relief barrister”.

The King’s Bench Walk chambers head Paul Focke QC is also recommended.

At Mitre Court Jeremy Posnansky QC is described as being “very meticulous on money matters and child matters, and also very approachable”, Michael Horowitz QC, Judith Hughes, Mark Everall, and the “very knowledgeable” new silk Martin Pointer QC are all singled out for mention.

At Queen Elizabeth Building, the silks who are highly rated along with are set head Ian Karsten QC, are David Bodey QC and Lord Meston QC. And at King’s Bench Walk, the set head James Townend QC, Rodger Hayward Smith QC, Camden Pratt QC and Judith Parker QC also rate favourable mentions.

At Bedford Row Chambers, Tim Scott QC is the “main port of call”; the set is also cited because “the counsel there are so consistently helpful”.

Other counsel highly recommended is Allan Levy QC at 17 Bedford Row for child work. Another set known in this area is One Garden Court, where the chambers’ joint head silks Alison Ball QC and Eleanor Platt QC are recommended.

Another chambers’ head who has impressed, particularly in relation to child abduction cases, is Patricia Scotland QC at 1 Gray’s Inn Square.

James Munby QC at 1 New Square is described as “a really good advocate” and Gordon Murdoch QC at 4 Paper Buildings is used “primarily for ancillary relief matters but is also good in children matters”. Robert Seabrook QC at 1 Crown Office Row is also mentioned