The northern lights

Family and matrimonial law is an area on which the local regional Bar is often consulted. Although many family and matrimonial lawyers have been building up specialist expertise in this area of practice themselves, including qualifying as solicitor advocates, they still tend to use counsel for the more complex matters or where “pure advocacy” is needed.

Many solicitors cite the expense of using counsel as one reason why they have built up experience in childcare matters. One Manchester solicitor commented that they often tend to use other Manchester solicitors as agents rather than instruct counsel. Another reason for the increase in specialist practice is the wealth of cases resulting from the Children Act 1989.

But when counsel are needed, there are a number that stand out. As a leader, Lindsey Kushner QC at 28 St John Street, Manchester, is singled out by a number of solicitors for her “empathy with clients, the advocacy, and experience – and she is brilliant”. At the same set, fellow silk Charles Bloom QC is recommended as being “good technically”.

A number of other leaders are seen as having the ability to deal well with both the issues and the clients. They have the appropriate experience, knowledge and ability in advocacy as well as approachability and, as one leading practitioner comments, “are happy to talk things through on the telephone as well as being good in conference”. They include Philip Raynor QC at 40 King Street Chambers in Manchester “who is very down to earth with clients”, and Jill Black QC, a recent silk, “which speaks for itself”, at 32 Park Square, Leeds.

Also in the North, David Harris QC at Peel House Chambers in Liverpool is often instructed in family and matrimonial cases.

Further south in Birmingham, Estella Hindley QC at 5 Fountain Court is noted for her experience in this area and a leading light in the South West is Mark Evans QC, “the leading family law silk in the region” at All Saints chambers in Bristol.

One solicitor in the region says “there is a perfectly good regional Bar and there is no particular need to go to London except on the very rare occasions where the client insists”.

And in Wales, Ian Murphy QC at 9 Park Place Cardiff is also singled out for mention.

The Family Law Bar Association

Membership of the Family Law Bar Association is open to anyone who can fill in a standing order for £10. The current chairman is Elizabeth Lawson QC at Cloisters, the treasurer is Peter Duckworth at 29 Bedford Row, and the secretary is David Bodey QC at Queen Elizabeth Building.

Forthcoming Events

Leeds: ancillary relief day seminar, 21 September

London: ancillary relief day conference, 5 October

Regional representatives

Newcastle upon Tyne:

Sally Bradley and Christine Harmer, 31/33 Broad Chare Leeds:

Sally Cahill, 39 Park Square; Kate Buckingham, 32 Park Square; Peter Hunt, 25 Park Square

Liverpool and Preston:

David Harris QC and Maureen Roddy, 3rd Floor, Peel House; Barbara Watson, 15 Winckley Square


Charles Bloom QC and Bernard Wallwork, 28 St John Street; Lesley Newton, Young Street Chambers

East Midlands:

Heather Swindells, 24 The Ropewalk; Mark Rogers, St Mary's Chambers

North Wales and Chester: Michael Farmer QC, Sedan House; Cathy O'Leary, 40 King Street

South Wales:

Malcolm Bishop QC and Jane Crowley, 30 Park Place


Estella Hindley QC, 5 Fountain Court; Rosalind Bush, 1 Fountain Court

East Anglia:

Lindsay Davies, Fenners Chambers


Christopher Sharp and Nicholas Marston, St John's Chambers; Stephen Wildblood, Albion Chambers

Devon and Cornwall:

David Tyzack, 33 Southernhay East; Heather Burwin, King's Bench Chambers


Jonathan Swift, College Chambers; Roberta Holland, 17 Carlton Crescent; Timothy Coombes, Lorne Park Chambers

Kent & Sussex:

Claire Jakens, Westgate Chambers; Suzanne Coates, 1 King's Bench Walk