Community Award Nominees' Profiles
Voting for the three Community Awards is now open. The winners will be announced at this year's ceremony on Wednesday 23 November at the Bloomsbury Big Top, one of the most exclusive event venues in London.
Profiles of the shortlisted nominees for the Family Law Awards voted by the family law community can be found below.
Voting closed at midnight on Sunday 23 October
Clerking Team of the Year
Family Law Chartered Legal Executive or Paralegal of the Year
Donna Hart, Director of Legal Services, The Family Law Company by Hartnell Chanot
Jamie-Lee Morgan, Legal Assistant, Benest Corbett Renouf
Wendy Ramus, Family Law Executive, Dawson Cornwell
Pam Sanghera, Legal Executive, The Family Firm
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.
Gwyn Evans, Barrister, Tanfield Chambers
Gwyn undertakes the full range of family work, with particular emphasis on financial remedies and has been providing lectures and advice on trusts of land/cohabitation disputes for several years. Gwyn also represents estates and other parties in Inheritance Act 1975 litigation. His other family work involves child arrangements disputes, leave to remove applications, injunctions, wardship and financial disputes over child maintenance. Gwyn qualified as a mediator in 2011. Gwyn also accepts instructions for Court of Protection work as well as advising on issues surrounding Capacity/Protected Parties in proceedings in the High and County Courts. Gwyn frequently advises and represents clients in contentious probate disputes.
Why vote for Gwyn
- Gwyn has written extensively on family finance and TOLATA issues for Jordan Publishing and others. His blogs and articles often address complex cases that have recently been handed down and he has a knack of simplifying them and then explaining their wider implications.
- Gwyn has lectured extensively on TOLATA and family finance related issues.
- Gwyn is often the first to publish material relating to complex cases.
- Gwyn has an extensive list of articles and blogs, all of which cannot be highlighted here.
“As a former recipient of this award I can say that Gwyn has a knack for getting relevant copy out there!”
Dr Claire Fenton-Glynn, Academic, Cambridge University
Claire’s research lies in the field of human rights and the protection of children. At the core of this research is the interaction between international and regional human rights instruments and domestic law, and the way in which these frameworks can be used to implement children’s rights. She has published on a wide range of issues and her first book, Children's Rights in Intercountry Adoption, was awarded the Inner Temple Book Prize for New Authors, as well as the Faculty of Law's Yorke Prize. Claire is a fellow of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law. She has also worked with organisations such as United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union, Save the Children, and Avocats Sans Frontieres on issues concerning child protection, human rights, and rule of law. She contributes a quarterly update on European family law in the International Family Law journal and writes a bi-monthly column in Family Law.
Why vote for Claire
- Her research and commentary is about an area of law that is little known but urgently requires wider understanding. This area of law has been hijacked over past few years by increasingly unhelpful debate and is to the detriment of the rule of law and respect for the family court system. Our failure to have proper informed discussions is harmful to the welfare of children.
- Dr Fenton-Glynn has been 'name checked' by a number of judges - most recently in the Supreme Court decision overturning the President's judgment in Re N. There has been wide recognition of the importance of her work.
“Dr Fenton-Glynn provides clear and accessible commentary about an extremely 'hot topic' - the issue of adoption without parental consent. I have been increasingly horrified over the past few years about just how ill-informed and unhelpful the discussion has been about this area; however, it is difficult to discuss sensibly issues of comparative law and practice that for many are shrouded in mystery. Dr Fenton-Glynn assists our understanding of what is happening on the wider European stage; this is immensely valuable work and should be rewarded.”
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 has written in detail about divorce centres and has written comment pieces on family law arbitration. He lobbied The Times to write about the topic, provided background and suggested individuals for comment, also being quoted himself. 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 Women Lawyers Division and Family Section #getseriouswithsocialmedia event.
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 and 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 among family lawyers over it. Personally, and in his role as chair of the 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.
- 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.
Mena Ruparel, Managing Director, Company Law CPD Solutions Ltd
Mena qualified as a solicitor in 1999. Since 2003, she has worked as a freelance speaker for CLT. Mena qualified as an Arbitrator in 2012 and was the first Asian Arbitrator to qualify under the IFLA scheme. She has appeared on the radio discussing arbitration and family law issues generally. Mena has had a number of articles published across various publications.
Since 2010, she has been an associate lecturer at the University of the West of England where she teaches the family law elective on the LPC and the PSC. With a certificate in Executive Coaching from the Academy of Executive Coaches, Mena takes on one-to-one coaching with law students, paralegals and solicitors of all levels.
In 2014, Mena was appointed a committee member to the Law Society's family law committee.
In April 2015, Mena took on a new role with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives as a reviewer.
Why vote for Mena
- Mena established a new training company in 2014, www.lawcpdsolutions.co.uk, and through that company offers free webinars at least six times a year. The webinars can then be accessed after the event on her YouTube channel. Her recent webinars include a three-part series with Resolution accredited specialist Mark Penston entitled, ‘How to draft the perfect letter to a pension expert’ and ‘Things you wanted to know about pensions and didn’t want to ask Part 1 and Part 2.’
- Mena also writes for numerous publications, recently featured on the Family Law website series about her career, ‘A day in the life’. She has written for the Family Law website about Arbitration Statistics following a survey undertaken by her about the financial arbitration scheme and perceived issues about using the scheme. In August 2015, she wrote an article in Solicitors Journal about returning to practice. Mena delivers a unique course to those returning to family law practice after a career break. She also contributed to the ‘expert guide’ to family practice published by Wilmington.
- Mena is the Chief assessor of the Law Society family accreditation and advanced accreditation panels and the Chief examiner of the CILEx level 6 exam. She is a great supporter of alternative pathways to a legal career and has a webinar on YouTube about the new paralegal route to qualification that has been watched over 500 times. She is a supporter of young talent and mentors three young family solicitors and one paralegal.
- Mena is very active on social media and recently published a guest blog with LinkedIn expert Emily Miller about the ethics of social media. This blog excerpts her book on Ethics for solicitors, which will be published later this year. Mena has also authored the current CILEx Family Law in Practice (level 6) manual. Mena was published in March 2015 in the Family Law journal regarding her commentary on the Prest v Prest enforcement issues.
“Mena is an intellectual. Her understanding, application and delivery of family law is second to none. She engages her audience with ease and impresses as a first-rate knowledgeable advocate. Her extensive skill set complements biz owners given her profound understanding of SRA. Alongside her publications seminars and innovative webinars Mena was the first Asian qualifying as an Arbitrator. She runs her own training business and undertakes consultancy work across the UK. Rarely have I come across a lawyer with such intellect, first-class delivery yet with a keen eye on the changing market of family law.”
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.
1 Crown Office Row, Brighton Annex
Led by Senior Clerk, David Bingham, five clerks support the Brighton Annex of 1 Crown Office Row, which has been based in the city for 40 years.
Why vote for 1 Crown Office Row
- Offer a professional, friendly service. They are an approachable, skilled and always helpful clerking team.
- Excellent and timely communicators, responding rapidly to all enquiries. There is no need to constantly chase issues.
- Client focussed, adaptable and responsive with a willingness to be flexible and desire to satisfy expectations.
- Knowledgeable in the areas of law that the chambers cover and are proactive in arranging CPD and related matters.
"The clerking team at 1 COR Brighton are a pleasure to work with. They are a friendly and professional team always willing to go the extra mile to ensure their customers' needs are met. The team are well led by the senior clerks, who are looking at ways to improve their service. Their availability and approach to effective communication and finding solutions provide a real confidence in the excellent level of service they provide."
Recently changing their name from 36 Bedford Row, The 36 Group are based in London. The family practice is supported by a clerking team of four.
Why vote for the 36 Family
- Popularity. The family clerking team - Danny, Rowan, Ashley and Daisy - is immensely popular with solicitors. They receive so many compliments - virtually daily - about the quality of the clerks. Top-flight solicitors who have always used the top sets frequently comment on how much better the clerks are than those of any competitors.
- Friendliness. Perhaps part of what makes them so popular is their constantly cheerful and positive attitude. On the worst days in the office, no client would ever find any of the clerks anything other than charming, friendly and polite. At the many marketing and semi-social events taking place, the clerks each represent a huge asset to the team. Each of them is entirely at home chatting to even the most daunting professional client.
- Professionalism. A line is expertly drawn between friendliness and over-familiarity. The attitude and manner adopted towards solicitors, lay clients, court staff and judges’ clerks is always wholly professional.
- Enterprising. Nothing is too much; nothing is impossible; nothing is overlooked. Rowan’s IT skills are legendary - he is even regularly approached by solicitors for help with their systems!
“Since the masterstroke of recruiting practice manager Danny Chapman from 1GC just 3 years ago, the team is now over 40 barristers strong; Silks are up from one to four (two home-grown and a very high-profile new recruit from 1 Hare Court); the team revenue has doubled. This is all managed without any extra clerking support. The four of them support each other (and their stable of demanding barristers) with enduring good-humour and a real fondness and with never, ever so much as a harsh word. I have never had a clerking team even half as good - really!”
37 Park Square
37 Park Square was founded in Leeds in the 1930s and has established an excellent reputation throughout the north of England and beyond for a responsive and professional approach to the provision of legal services. The family practice is supported by a small clerking team.
Why vote for 37 Park Square
- Consistently provides a high-quality service for family clients and will go over and above what would be expected in terms of making appropriate counsel available.
- Demonstrates high levels of teamwork with the same high-quality, consistent service not just with the family clerks.
- The team clearly work together and communicate across all disciplines to ensure the family clients are consistently served by family counsel.
- In complex family cases the team will pull out all the stops to make senior counsel and silks available at short notice.
“Donna Gaughan leads the family team. She has worked at chambers for 25 years and her attitude and approach to client care is exemplary. She will go the extra mile to serve clients. The positive, professional approach adopted by Donna is mirrored in the team headed by Leigh Royall. As they are a small team they communicate well and any clerk is able to deal with a family query competently and efficiently. As a large firm we use a number of chambers and this team stands out from others teams in the Yorkshire area.”
St Philips Chambers
St Philips is a multi-disciplinary set of barristers with offices in Birmingham, Leeds and London.
Why vote for St Philips Chambers
- The clerking team at St Philips Chambers, led by Mr Mark Mansell, deliver an impeccable service. Mark Mansell is the senior family clerk and stands out in terms of providing a first-class service. His level of service delivery and attention to detail provides an invaluable service to the Higgs & SonsfFamily team. With over 30 years’ clerking experience, the team at St Philips is responsible for the management of more than 50 barristers. Mark makes a valuable contribution to the local community, for example in terms of his professional memberships.
- Both Mark Mansell and fellow clerk Ian Charlton ensure that service levels are consistently maintained and all clerks within the team are always extremely helpful, flexible, and are immediate to assist. Recently, they have been bolstered by the arrival of Anthony Burgess from No 5 Chambers, who is an excellent addition to an already strong clerking team. The clerks at St Philips Chambers are extremely organised and are willing to work hard to ensure our requirements are met.
- St Philips is acknowledged as one of the most innovative chambers in the UK. Ian Charlton is a member of the National Pilot Scheme Committee for Public Funding. Ian has also given training to a number of firms nationally on best practice on implementing new pilot schemes that the Legal Aid Agency roll out. Mark Mansell sits on the BLS Family Law Committee, is an active member of the Birmingham Family Group and has recently given a talk to over 100 law students at the Birmingham College of Law on Life as a Barrister’s Clerk.
“Our Family team regularly call upon St Philips Chambers in respect of urgent and less urgent matters regarding financial cases or arrangements for children. The immediacy of response from Mark and his team is always second to none and a vital factor in terms of determining the right choice of advocate and a successful outcome for our clients. As one of the largest sets of Barrister chambers in the region, St Philips is able to offer a breadth and depth of service and a level of expertise which is unrivalled in the West Midlands market place.”
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.
Donna Hart, Director of Legal Services, The Family Law Company
Donna is a Chartered Legal Executive, Director of Legal Services and an owner of The Family Law Company. She is also the team teader for the Exeter divorce and finance team. Donna acts for business owners, members of the Armed Forces and public sector employees and specialises in divorce and the financial consequences of marriage and civil partnership breakdown, dealing with a number of complex cases. Donna also prepares pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements, along with separation agreements. Donna is a trustee for the Citizens Advice Bureau and has set up a number of local clinics. She also works with local schools in the area mentoring students who wish to follow a career a law.
Why vote for Donna
- In 2015, Donna was promoted to team leader, director and shareholder. She leads by example and has turned her team around in terms of performance. All members of the team are meeting targets. Donna is now managing other teams in the firm to improve their performance. She runs a Wellbeing Group offering support to colleagues. As a sufferer from Crohns disease, an ailment exacerbated by stress, Donna is conscious of the need for support. The Wellbeing Group discusses issues like fatigue and time management, and Donna organises courses for the group, including laughter yoga and an emotional intelligence workshop.
- Donna is a trustee at the Exeter Citizens Advice Bureau, helping CAB improve its operations and policies. She works with volunteers to increase efficiency, such as instigating processes to decide if people can be helped over the phone or need face-to-face appointments. As many users of CAB have issues related to family problems, Donna utilises her family law skills to offer practical help. CAB is delighted to have an injection of young blood into the organisation. In her new role, Donna met CAB Patron Princess Anne. TFLC has since instigated free legal clinics at CAB offices in the region.
- Donna was state educated. Donna chose not to follow the traditional route of going to university for personal reasons, following instead the CILEx route into law. She believes young people should never be told they cannot have a career in law, and uses her own background to show them that they can. She is an inspiration to young people and, as a volunteer with Inspiring the Future, visits schools and careers fairs to motivate students outside of private education to consider a career in law. Donna shows interested students around the TFLC offices to give them an insight.
- Donna set up the Devon branch of CILEx in 2009, was Secretary for 3 years and Chair from 2012 to 2015. She teaches family law to CILEx students through Wessex Law Academy and volunteers as a mentor for CILEx, enabling those who are stressed or unhappy to contact her for support. Donna pushes herself to develop new skills, such as learning sign language. She achieved Level 1 and is keen to work with the deaf community as she feels that deafness is very isolating. She hopes that she might encourage deaf children to consider law as a career opportunity.
"Following the painful breakup of my forced marriage of 27 years, I contacted The Family Law Company because they specialise in this area. I nominated Donna Hart to represent me. It has been the most arduous and morally hurtful thing I have ever experienced, contemplating giving up on times. Donna is a true professional, leaving no stone upturned to achieve the correct outcome. The Family Law Company kept me informed every step of the way through my divorce. I have every confidence in them and would use them again. I would definitely use Donna Hart as my lawyer again.”
Jamie-Lee Morgan, Legal Assistant/Paralegal, Benest Corbett Renouf
Jamie-Lee assists in all areas of family law but has a particular interest in matters relating to children. Jamie-Lee is currently studying for her law degree, having previously successfully completed her paralegal studies. She is also a student member of the Association of Lawyers for Children and Resolution. Jamie-Lee joined the predecessor firm Hanson Renouf, in April 2011.
Why vote for Jamie-Lee
- Jamie-Lee Morgan is committed to family law. In particular, she is dedicated to her work in children law. She has studied for all of her qualifications while playing a vital role, working full time, in the family department as a legal assistant at Benest Corbett Renouf. Jamie-Lee has completed a Certificate in Family Law and Practice with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), an Advanced Level Diploma in Matrimonial, Civil Partnership and Family Proceedings Law and is currently working towards her LLB with Nottingham Trent University via distance learning.
- Jamie-Lee has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in English and Jersey family law matters in relation to divorce, nullity, separation, financial settlements, civil partnerships and dissolution, children issues including residence, contact, parental responsibility and child abduction and relocation. Jamie-Lee’s CILEx qualification enables her to assist on English law matters. Head of family law and partner, advocate Barbara Corbett, appreciates Jamie-Lee’s value to the team stating that she has “shown a particular aptitude for client care, which is so important in family law when emotions may be running high”.
- Jamie-Lee’s commitment is clear to anyone who has had the pleasure of working with her and is illustrated by the number of professional bodies she is a member of. These include: Chartered Institute of Legal Executives; Association of Lawyers for Children; Resolution; and the Jersey Family Law Association. She is also involved in organising the annual firm conferences in respect of Financial Remedies and Child Law (in conjunction with the Association of Lawyers for Children and IAFL).
- Jamie-Lee has also been involved in running free family information sessions during the evening as part of the firm’s pro bono work, working closely with CAB clients. The sessions enable individuals to seek confidential legal information regarding family law matters. These out-of-hours appointments demonstrate her dedication to family law as well as her drive to further her knowledge and experience. Jamie-Lee dedicated numerous hours to pro bono work during 2015, including work carried out within the Jersey Legal Aid System.
“Jamie was a delight to deal with and always acted in a professional and a sensitive manner. When Jamie would speak to me, she took the painful sting out of the issue and talked me through what was happening. No rock was ever left unturned and she always dealt with emails very quickly. Jamie and the team were absolutely brilliant and their time was worth every penny.”
- In the matter of B  JRC 023,  JRC 188
- In the matter of Edward (Family) JRC056B 
- In the matter of Hollie and Joshua (Care Proceedings) JRC222 
- In the matter of Callum, Isabel and Harvey (Care order) JRC044 
- In the matter of Libby (Care Proceedings) JRC079A 
Wendy Ramus, Paralegal, Dawson Cornwell
After leaving university, where she read French and Spanish, Wendy joined the Child Abduction Unit as a caseworker and then as a guardian at the Official Solicitors Office. Subsequently she became a policy adviser on child abduction and international legislation relating to children at the Lord Chancellors Department. In September 2001, Wendy joined Dawson Cornwell’s Children Department. Wendy deals with private and public law children matters, child abduction, forced marriage and abandoned spouse cases. 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 is a member of the Association of Lawyers for Children.
Why vote for Wendy
- Wendy is a paralegal with 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.
- Wendy’s commitment to her clients is exemplary. She frequently visits vulnerable women in police protection in far-flung locations across the UK. Her professionalism and dogged persistence have been instrumental in the protection of the most vulnerable and most destitute, the reuniting of previously separated mothers and their children, and the repatriation of victims and children from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, the Yemen and the Sudan. Her cases frequently attract media attention, and she remains professional, determined and level-headed throughout, notwithstanding the most complex and emotionally-affecting nature of her cases.
- She provides an exceptional level of empathy and support for her vulnerable clients who are often distressed and disposed mothers from South Asian countries. She has supported numerous young people through the difficult process of obtaining Forced Marriage Protection Orders, and she has been able to ensure that they can continue with their protection even in the face of family and emotional pressure to withdraw. Wendy has shown time and time again her ability to deal with her clients' feelings of guilt and shame with sensitivity and empathy, but always in their best interests.
Pam Sanghera, Legal Executive, The Family Firm
Pam specialises in international child abduction, wardship and inherent jurisdiction matters. She works closely with charities who support parents separated from their children as a result of their removal from the country. She is a listed lawyer for ReUnite International and many of her cases involve her working closely with the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit, Ministry of Justice. Pam has been published by the Birmingham Law Society and CILEx with regards to this particular subject. Pam also continues to be a strong supporter of actions that support victims of domestic abuse and violence and seeks to engage with other agencies in an effort to meet the needs of clients who experience domestic abuse.
Why vote for Pam
- One of the most passionate people in the legal profession, she doesn't take no for an answer and goes over and beyond what is required of her.
- Pure dedication to helping victims of domestic violence and reuniting abducted children with their parents. She has run free advice surgeries at local domestic violence refuges and support groups. She has also assisted West Midlands Police in presentation training.
- She is recognised in the West Midlands for delivering an outstanding service to her community and clients. She writes articles for upcoming professionals in the industry, gives free advice and conducts a free case per year regarding child abduction. Pam has been interviewed on a number of occasions by the BBC, ITV and SKY news in relation to family law matters in respect of wrongful removal of children and relocation matters.
- Pam is a great motivator and while one of the youngest legal executives in the country, her route into the legal industry is fascinating, whereby today, she has years of experience in family law.
"I am aware that not only clients, but also professionals including judges have been extremely complimentary of Pam and her approach to her work. Not only does she have pure dedication towards her job, but even mundane tasks such as admin jobs etc. are carried out to perfection. She is meticulous to say the least. Clients have thanked her for reuniting them with their children. They have thanked her for the hours put into their cases which were carried out in her own personal time, hours of work."
Cases with media publications include Micalleff (2013), Lawrence (2014) and Re M (a Child) (2013).