Stevens & Bolton is arguably the premier law firm in Surrey – and Nicola Harries, head of family, is one of its leading lights. ‘The last 12 months have been very busy, with a marked increase in litigation,’ she says – and indeed, when Spear’s tries to get hold of her she is ensconced in court for days at a time.
Harries has a varied caseload – ‘ranging from prenups for partners at Magic Circle firms’
to cases with ‘assets of circa £80 million’. She also recently helped recover an 11-week-old baby retained by her father without consent. But it’s the court system, and its shortcomings, which particularly worries her.
‘The courts are on their knees,’ she says. ‘We are using private options more and more. This is fine for our clients, but it is potentially leading to a two-tier system.’
Her career highlights? ‘Calming down a client before she gave evidence in the High Court and encouraging her not to drink too much of the pre-mixed G&T that was masquerading as Evian,’ says the good-humoured solicitor.
Harries also recently acted for a husband in relation to acrimonious divorce and financial remedy proceedings. This was an intricate matter involving three different corporate vehicles, inherited assets and funds in bank accounts all around the world, as well as complex taxation issues and unusual pension arrangements.