Top Ten Family Lawyers
People come in and it’s miserable and mostly things get better. It’s the opposite of being an oncologist,’ says Frances Hughes, partner and co-founder of boutique firm Hughes Fowler Carruthers who has been practising family law for 37 years.
Specialising in divorce and complex cases involving children, Hughes has a calm and gentle manner. She also happens to have a reputation for being a prolific litigator and ‘a fighter’ in court – and that’s no bad thing, she says: ‘Anyone who has a reputation for litigating will always have got it from settling cases early because that gets you 100 cases. We’re all very good negotiators.’ Hughes is also a senior mediator – ‘for those for whom it works, it works very well’ – but cautions that when money is involved, women tend to lose out in the process. ‘All the research shows that women in cases of money do badly out of it,’ she says. ‘You are negotiating your own settlement.’ If Hughes had her way, there would be more clarity in the law, especially in the area of prenups. ‘Some fettering of judicial discretion would be good thing,’ she says, ‘because as each year goes by, there’s another case about a prenup that sends them one way, and then another.’ When she isn’t practising law, Hughes chairs an orchestra, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and can often be found playing her viola.