Zoe Bloom wins the admiration of her peers, one of whom says that she would instruct the ‘formidably tenacious’ lawyer herself if she were going through a divorce. Bloom is also valued for her ‘pithy and straight-talking’ personality.
Susan Apthorp is both Ray Tooth’s right-hand woman and ‘an outstanding family law solicitor’ in her own right. When Spear’s meets the pair, they brim with bonhomie and finish each other’s sentences. However, there’s no doubt that Apthorp has attained an unique eminence in family law out of her own hard work and abilities: ‘She has a depth and breadth of experience not available elsewhere in London — her track record speaks for itself,’ one QC enthuses.
A mainstay of family law’s top tier for more than two decades, the former Withers chairman and Spear’s Family Lawyer of the Year Award winner is described by one pre-eminent peer as ‘three steps ahead of everyone else — counsel included’.
‘Frances is a fighter,’ says a contemporary. It’s a word used often about Hughes, but in her meeting with Spear’s her calm and gentle manner is different from what one would have expected, given her reputation for fierce litigation prowess.
The head of family law at Stewarts Law has returned refreshed from a sabbatical to New Zealand, and when Spear’s meets him he looks content after a decade of unmatched success at the top of family law.