Sarah has joined the team at Hawkins Family Law – a firm described as “exemplary” by the Legal 500 (2015) in May 2018 - as an Assistant Solicitor. Sarah’s route to Family Law is a slightly unusual one in that, for many years, she specialised in business disputes as a commercial litigator before becoming a family solicitor.
Sarah spent several years with Blake Lapthorn (Oxford) before moving to Shoosmiths (Milton Keynes) in 2013. Her career in commercial litigation has been broad and varied, encompassing areas such as pensions, insolvency, property and asset finance. Sarah has experience in representing clients at all levels of the court system, from the county courts before both District and Circuit Judges right up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. She is also an accomplished advocate and presentational speaker.
Whilst Sarah is adept at representing her clients in court, she always explores alternative ways of resolving matters before proceedings are issued. Ideally, Sarah prefers to look to more collaborative and inventive ways of resolving differences. This includes exploring options such as collaborative law, round table meetings, arbitration and mediation with her clients rather then simply issuing proceedings. She believes that finding a solution by agreement outside of court brings many benefits - a family often finds it easier to rebuild post separation if litigation has been avoided. Sarah is an active member of the Resolution, an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals in England and Wales who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters.
Sarah began a period of retraining in May 2017 having decided to become a family lawyer as a result of experiencing divorce herself. Sarah is passionate about helping clients work towards their goals as quickly and cost effectively as possible. She does, however, fully appreciate that legal advice cannot be given in a vacuum, particularly in this area of law, and is always eager to refer clients to the Independent Counselling Consultant, Emma Chamberlain (who is also based at Hawkins Family Law).
Sarah’s wealth of experience in the commercial and corporate arena means that she has a particular understanding of the issues involving family businesses, senior executives and pension related issues.
Hawkins Family Law is ‘an excellent family firm which goes the extra mile for its clients’, and the team is praised for its ‘well-honed communication skills and insightful advice’. Key areas of focus include high-value financial matters and divorce cases, and the recent arrival of Stacey St Clair has brought significant cross-border, international relocation and child abduction expertise to the group. Practice head Jo Hawkins is ‘an immensely good judge of character’ and ‘litigates firmly but fairly’. The other key figure is Loraine Davenport, who focuses on high net-worth ancillary relief.
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What the team is known for Boutique family law firm that punches above its weight in terms of high-value and complex matrimonial finance instructions relating to business assets, pensions and substantial property portfolios. Also represents clients in the negotiation of wealth protection agreements and private law childcare arrangements. Fields a team trained in collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution. Strengths “This is a boutique family law firm that goes the extra mile for their clients,” an interviewee affirms. The team is also praised for its meticulous approach, with clients saying: “They really fight for you. They are very thorough; there are no slip-ups”.
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