Community Award Nominees' Profiles

Voting for the 3 Community Awards is now closed. The winners will be announced at this year's ceremony on the Thursday 8 October at the Grand Connaught Rooms, LONDON WC2B 5DA. The evening will begin at 5:30pm after the Family Law Conference.

Profiles of the shortlisted nominees for the Family Law Awards voted by the family law community can be found below. 

Family Law Commentator of the Year 

David Burrows, Consultant, Heaney Watson
Emma Nash, Solicitor, Spring Law
Tony Roe, Principal, Tony Roe Solicitors
Rhys Taylor, Barrister, Thirty Park Place Chambers and 36 Bedford Row

Family Law Chartered Legal Executive or Paralegal of the Year

Ruth Langford, Legal Adviser, Wikivorce
Leesa Longden-Thurgood, Senior Chartered Legal Executive, Churchers Bolitho Way
Sarah Miller, Associate Legal Executive, Tozers Solicitors LLP
Wendy Ramus, Family Law Executive, Dawson Cornwell

Clerking Team of the Year

Coram Chambers
1 Hare Court
Thirty Park Place Chambers
St Ives Chambers

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Family Law Commentator of the Year - Profile of Shortlisted Nominees

Award Criteria: An award for the commentator who the family law community consider to have provided the most useful commentary to help them in their practice. The commentary could have been contained in any format including books, journal articles, videos or blogs.

David Burrows, Consultant, Heaney Watson 

David Burrows is a solicitor advocate, law writer and trainer. A contributor to The Family Court Practice from its start, he writes extensively on family law, especially procedure, practice and evidence. He is a consultant with Heaney Watson, Liverpool.

Why vote for David

  • David has continued to provide insightful commentary on his blog dbfamilylaw as well as extensively via Family Law on a wide range of family law topics, highlighting areas ripe for reform, from legal aid to rules on evidence for vulnerable witnesses.
  • For years David has given guidance with his clear prose in written texts including the Red Book which remains the back bone go-to reference point for lawyers and judges alike.
  • David talks and trains extensively on many areas of family law - giving hundreds of lawyers a better understanding on a wealth of family law topics.
  • David’s judicial review application of R v Joanna Michelle Heath v Sec State for the Home Office was instrumental in spearheading the necessary scrapping of the previous Child Sex Abuse Inquiry and its replacement with a statutory, judge-lead enquiry.

Read a day in David's life here which includes: What keeps him motivated and what he would do to reform the justice system.

Emma Nash, Solicitor, Spring Law 

Emma joined Spring Law as a trainee in 2009 and qualified into the family department in 2011. Emma provides clients with advice and support in relation to a comprehensive range of family law issues including child maintenance, financial provision on divorce, and financial claims by cohabiting couples. With a broad private client background, Emma advises on matters ancillary to her family law practice, including drafting wills and lasting powers of attorney. She has a special interest in surrogacy arrangements and alternative families. Emma is a member of Resolution and writes a blog which encourages debate on important family law issues. She has also had various articles published and regularly comments in the press including television appearances for Sky News.

Why vote for Emma

  • Emma's monthly blog emmasfamilylawblog.blogspot.co.uk offers far more than a summary of recent decisions. Emma does her homework: she analyses media misinformation, common misunderstandings about the law and hot topics.
  • Emma's presence on Twitter is effective, tweeting links to her own resources and those of others, but abstaining from the hub bub of here's a new judgment tweets.
  • Emma's writing is easy to read, and accessible to both lay clients and other lawyers. She has written excellent summaries on compensation claims (matrimonial), surrogacy, shared care and piercing the corporate veil, in each case contextualising recent developments in the law effectively.
  • Emma has appeared on London Live, Sky and the Daily Mail. The commentary she provides is eye-catching and thought-provoking.
  • Her multi-media marketing strategy stands out as an exemplary way to connect with clients.

Read a day in Emma's life here which includes: What keeps her motivated and what she would do to reform the justice system.

Tony Roe, Principal, Tony Roe Solicitors 

Tony Roe is the principal divorce and family law solicitor of the practice, a collaborative lawyer and a family law arbitrator. He is a regular contributor to local and national media, and has written for The Times and Financial Times on a number of occasions. Tony submitted a series of Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice, following the President’s Rapsidara v Colladon judgment, where he indicated that there would be fewer than 20 courts where divorces could be processed. Tony’s research broke the news that Bury St Edmunds would be the single divorce centre for London & the South East.

Tony has written in detail about divorce centres in August’s Family Law. Tony has written comment pieces on family law arbitration for the June edition of Family Law and the Law Society Gazette. He lobbied The Times to write about the topic, provided background and suggested individuals for comment, also being quoted himself: http://bit.ly/1Kfr4E7. Tony is a keen user of social media and has written and spoken about its use in family law, including at the Law Society’s The Women Lawyers’ Division and Family Section #getseriouswithsocialmedia event. His subsequent piece on the topic, see http://bit.ly/1ICpjQY, was tweeted about by the Law Society Gazette & other Law Society channels.

Why vote for Tony

  • Tony submitted a series of Freedom of Information request to the MoJ, following the Rapsidara v Colladon judgment, in which the President indicated that there would be fewer than 20 courts where divorces could be processed. Tony sought the number and identity of courts likely to be processing divorces in England and Wales and his research broke the news that Bury St Edmunds would be the single divorce centre for London & the South East. It also queried the impact that the new centres would have on cases involving international forum races.
  • Tony has written widely, and spoken, on the subject of family law arbitration, is passionate about it and feels that there is a lot of misunderstanding amongst family lawyers over it. Personally and in his role as chair Forum of Family Law Marketing Sub-Committee he has done everything possible to publicise it, including writing a Comment piece for the June edition of Family Law and The Law Society Gazette. He lobbied The Times to write about family law arbitration, provided background and suggested individuals for comment, also being quoted himself: http://bit.ly/1Kfr4E7.
  • Tony is a keen user of social media and has written and spoken about its use in family law. He was invited to speak at the Law Society’s Women Lawyers Division and Family Section #getseriouswithsocialmedia event as the Society-described social media expert and a ‘superuser’ – @tonyroedivorce and @RoeArbitration.
  • His articles and commentary on family law have appeared in various other publications: eg Resolution’s Review, S v S and family law arbitration, The Times letters, Solicitors Journal, LexisNexis, Family Law Week. His book reviews for The Gazette provide an objective take on which publications may benefit one’s practice. He has also written and spoken about law firm management in the context of running a niche family law practice for the Law Society’s Small Firms Division and Law Management Section.

Read a day in Tony's life here which includes: What keeps him motivated and what he would do to reform the justice system.

Rhys Taylor, Barrister, Thirty Park Place Chambers and 36 Bedford Row

Rhys Taylor is a barrister of 20 years’ call, who practises predominantly in the area of family money and related civil law areas of work. He is regularly instructed in knotty TOLATA cases involving disputes over the ownership of land, constructive trusts, proprietary estoppel and related partnership disputes. He describes himself as something of a mongrel cross between a family and chancery lawyer. Rhys is a family arbitrator and collaborative lawyer.

Rhys has written extensively (on free to access platforms) concerning the interaction between civil and family law issues, some of which can be found referenced on Rhys’s Jordans profile page and on the twitter hashtag #civillawforfamilylawyers. Rhys also edits the TOLATA procedural table and leading cases for the electronic version of At A Glance, @eGlance. Rhys co-edits the website www.FamilyArbitrator.com and hosts the family finance related LinkedIn discussion group CleanBreak.

Why vote for Rhys

      • Rhys Taylor has written many articles and blogs concerning the financial aspects of family law; most notably the interaction between family law and civil law.
      • His articles on TOLATA, proprietary estoppel, equitable accounting, family arbitration, the professional negligence risks of drafting pre-nuptial agreements and the interface between criminal confiscation orders and financial remedy orders are indispensable.
      • His draft template for a TOLATA order is particularly useful. Rhys has published these on free to access platforms.
      • Many of his articles and blogs can be found on the Twitter hashtag #civillawforfamilylawyers.

Read a day in Rhys’ life here which includes: What keeps him motived and what he would do to reform the justice system.

Family Law Chartered Legal Executive or Paralegal of the Year - Profile of Shortlisted Nominees

Award Criteria: An individual who the family law community recognise as having demonstrated excellence in their role.

Ruth Langford, Legal Adviser, Wikivorce

Ruth is a qualified Paralegal specialising in family law in both England/Wales and Scotland, with a particular interest in the law as it applies to children. She is co-author of The Family Law A to Z, a reference book for litigants and students.

Ruth is the Wikivorce Community Manager which involves looking after all the members, heading up a team of volunteers and writing content for the site, and is also one of a small team of advisers who provide advice and support to members of the public who call the Wikivorce helpline. Wikivorce is a well-respected volunteer run social enterprise with a mission is to help people who are going through a breakup. Each year the enterprise provides free advice and support to over 50,000 people - which means they help people in 1 out of every 3 divorces in the UK. Wikivorce is the largest online divorce support community in the world with over 126,000 registered members.

Why vote for Ruth

      • Multi-skilled Qualified Paralegal; elected Fellow of the Institute of Paralegals; specialising in family law in both England/Wales and Scotland, with a particular interest in the law as it applies to children.
      • She has written a number of comprehensive guides on family law matters that cover both jurisdictions.
      • Her Scots guides on child arrangements, financial provision and the divorce process are among the most viewed on Wikivorce.
      • She has created a unique Parenting Agreement, and a pre-mediation/discussion Parenting Plan - both are aimed at keeping parents out of court and to give them the tools to make amicable, child-focused arrangements.

Read a day in Ruth's life here which includes: What keeps her motivated and what she would do to reform the justice system.

Leesa Longden-Thurgood, Senior Chartered Legal Executive, Churchers Bolitho Way Solicitors

Leesa joined Churchers Bolitho Way in 1998 and qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2000. She has 20 years’ experience in family law and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist. Leesa establishes a good rapport with her clients, with her expertise encompassing Pre-nuptual Agreements, Divorce and Separation Agreements, Co-habiting Agreements, Injunctions, Contact and Residence, Financial Provision, Dissolution of Civil Partnerships.

Why vote for Leesa 

      • Leesa has been a matrimonial lawyer for 20 years and has been with Churchers Bolitho Way (since 1998). Leesa has always dealt with a varied caseload from Legal Help divorce to high net worth financial settlements.
      • In 2011 Leesa was accredited as a Resolution Specialist in Advanced Financial Provision I and II.  Leesa was promoted to Senior Chartered Legal Executive in 2014.
      • Leesa regularly attends seminars to improve her skills.  Leesa was deputy SQM representative a role which included meeting the auditor and giving staff training.
      • Many clients recommend her to friends. Leesa regularly writes articles for the local press.

Read a day in Leesa's life here which includes: What keeps her motivated and what she would do to reform the justice system.

Sarah Miller, Associate Legal Executive, Tozers Solicitors LLP

Sarah is an Associate Legal Executive at Tozers Solicitors LLP and is an invaluable member of the family team who uses her down to earth and personable approach to put clients at ease when dealing with the difficult and challenging issues faced following a relationship breakdown. Sarah has been instrumental in setting up Tozers Solicitors Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART).

Why vote for Sarah

      • Sarah Miller specialises in domestic violence (DV) cases and she works closely with the local DV service SPLITZ. In 2014 she established DART (Domestic Abuse Response Team) operating from Tozers Newton Abbot office. This service provides free no obligation legal surgeries and a prioritised service for those needing the protection of injunctive relief and is an example of Sarah’s exceptional commitment to her legal aid clients. Sarah has received glowing testimonials from not only numerous clients but also from many domestic violence and abuse support workers for her specialist work in this area.
      • Sarah’s support of the workers and volunteers at SPLITZ and other domestic abuse support services is remarkable as she shows a genuine passion for working in this field of law and many of them have provided testimonials. Her clients speak very highly of her and the feedback from her clients show that she demonstrates excellence, compassion and understanding in this difficult area of work.

Read a day in Sarah's life here which includes: What keeps her motivated and what she would do to reform the justice system.

Wendy Ramus, Family Law Executive, Dawson Cornwell 

After leaving university, where she read French and Spanish, Wendy joined the Child Abduction Unit as a care officer and then as a caseworker for the Official Solicitors Office. Subsequently she became a policy adviser on child abduction and international legislation relating to children at the Lord Chancellor's Department. In September 2001, Wendy joined Dawson Cornwell’s Children Department. She works as a legal assistant for both partners in the department, dealing with private and public law children matters and matrimonial child abduction. In December 2012 Wendy was nominated by the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (IKWRO) for one of its annual true honour awards as a result of her work in the field of Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage. Wendy speaks basic Spanish and French.

Why vote for Wendy

      • Wendy has a unique specialism in international child cases, representing victims of HBV, forced marriage, and stranded spouses. Before joining Dawson Cornwell, she was a senior Case Worker at the Official Solicitor’s Department and Child Abduction Policy Office. Since her shift into practice in September 2001, she has built on the skills previously acquired, and now holds an enviable caseload, protecting vulnerable women, young adults and teenagers. Unlike many other paralegals, Wendy remains at the very forefront of international family law, and is highly respected by the judiciary, counsel, and her clients alike.

Read a day in Wendy's life here which includes: What keeps her motivated and what she would do to reform the justice system.

Clerking Team of the Year - Profile of Shortlisted Nominees

Award Criteria: The barristers' clerking team that has demonstrated that it has provided an outstanding quality of legal service in the family law field and also displayed high levels of teamwork.

Coram Chambers

Coram is a leading family law chambers providing representation and advice to clients in London and across England and Wales. Their members act in leading and landmark cases, and continue to be at the forefront of practice in key areas of family law, including public and private law children cases, family finance, adoption, Court of Protection and international children work. Their experienced clerking and administration team are renowned for their dedication, attention to detail and reliability and ensure that professional and lay clients receive an efficient, friendly and bespoke service.

1 Hare Court

1 Hare Court is known as the leading set for family law. In 2012 they were named “Family Law Set of the Year” for the third time in six years by Chambers & Partners, and their members have been and are involved in almost all of the leading cases including Radmacher v Granatino, Agbaje v Agbaje and Petrodel v Prest. They have 41 current members, of whom 13 are in silk.  All of 1 Hare Court’s members are expert in financial remedies work on divorce or civil partnership dissolution, many represent clients in cohabitation disputes and all undertake private law children cases. Alongside their advisory and litigation practices, they have an Arbitatrion, Mediation and Evaluation group offering alternatives to a court-bound outcome.

Thirty Park Place Chambers

Thirty Park Place is a multi-disciplinary chambers highly ranked in the major legal directories; offering expert legal advice and representation at all levels of call and across a wide range of practice areas. With over 67 barristers, primarily based in Cardiff, including 7 QCs assisted by a strong clerking and administration team, they provide a professional and progressive approach to their clients' requirements.

St Ives Chambers

St Ives is proud of its reputation for excellence in all areas of advocacy and advisory work which continues to grow locally and nationally. The clerks at St Ives have a wealth of experience that ensures an excellent personal service to all their clients. Clerks are always available to give an open, friendly and efficient service to professional and lay clients.