Firm / Organisation

Dawson Cornwell

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Managing Partner: Stephen Harker
Number of partners: 13
Number of associates: 9
Number of assistants: 11
Number of other fee-earners: 5 

Managing Partner:
Stephen Harker
Children’s Issues: Carolina Marín Pedreño
Family Law: Kate Allen

Dawson Cornwell is a leading specialist family law firm, described, in the words of Chambers and Partners, as “a leader in the field, not just nationally but internationally.” The firm combines its highly regarded expertise in all aspects of family law with an unrivalled reputation in the field of international children law. The firm is unusual in that it has developed two specialist departments: the matrimonial department and the international children department, which work together with ‘clear communication between everyone.’ The matrimonial partners are the ‘incredibly clever, quick thinking’ Russell Bywater, the ‘intelligent, incisive and intuitive’ Kate Allen, Catherine Thomas who has ‘remarkable intellect and formidable legal prowess’, the ‘sensible and highly experienced’ mediator Jeremy Abraham, the ‘very supportive’ Charlotte Conner, Lisette Dupré who has ‘real passion and enthusiasm’, and the ‘technically and strategically astute’ Jessica Reid. The matrimonial department also includes consultant Rhiannon Lewis, who is ‘excellent and extremely knowledgeable’. The international children department is headed by the “absolutely superb” dual-qualified partner Carolina Marín Pedreño, who is “very experienced in international cases at the highest level”, alongside the “very empathetic, calm and organised” public law specialist partner, Zoë Fleetwood, Colin Rogerson, who is “the go-to lawyer for surrogacy” and very experienced associates.

The vast majority of the firm’s cases are international. The firm’s lawyers have extensive experience dealing with jurisdiction and other international issues. ‘They have every language under the sun covered’, including Azeri, Bengali, Catalan, Creole, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Urdu. They are trailblazers in the field of cross-border children work, to which their unparalleled and ongoing record of reported cases is testament.

The firm also has a highly regarded reputation in international surrogacy, assisted reproduction law and samesex parenting cases and has represented several high-profile commissioning parents in this field.

The firm prides itself on its partner led approach, with strategic thinking and deft negotiation. Whilst fee earners assist partners to ensure that all work is undertaken cost effectively, clients are always able to speak directly to, and deal directly with, the partner in charge of their case. Each partner deliberately has a different speciality so that they are able to offer collaborative law and mediation through to a high level of experience in jurisdictional work and complex litigation and trusts. At the same time, the firm is known for being united in resolution rather than litigation and proportionality in respect of costs.

Sources say that the firm has ‘an excellent team that has a good mix of experienced heads at the top of the tree and a lot of young, keen and clever junior lawyers coming through’.

Types of work undertaken: The firm advises clients in the UK and internationally on all areas of family law, including prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, separation, divorce, dissolution of civil partnerships, international forum disputes, complex financial investigations, high-net-worth financial settlements, child maintenance, enforcing foreign orders, EU regulation cases and pensions.

Its award-winning specialist international children department undertakes international custody disputes, child abduction, adoption, relocation, leave to remove, stranded spouses, forced marriage, honour-based violence, EU regulation recognition and enforcement, and complex international care cases.