Citywealth speaks to Kate Stovold, member of Citywealth's Leaders List (click here to check Kate Stovold's Leaders List profile and visit our Citywealth Leaders List LinkedIn page) and Partner at Levison Meltzer Pigott who specialises in the resolution of private family law matters, with a focus on financial claims arising on divorce or separation.
Tell Citywealth’s readers about your role.
I am a Partner at Levison Meltzer Pigott, a boutique family law practice located in St Paul’s. I specialise in the resolution of private family law matters, with a focus on financial claims arising on divorce or separation, acting for private individuals including professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs, and high net worth individuals. I also negotiate and draft pre- and post-nuptial agreements.
Complementing my specialist knowledge of financial litigation, I also advise parents about the care of and financial provision for children. I act for parents who are seeking to move to another part of the country or abroad with the children of the family.
I understand the need to consider alternative forms of dispute resolution and am thrilled to be starting my mediation training this month.
Internally, I take the lead with LMP’s marketing and business development initiatives and enjoy working with my fellow partners and junior lawyers alike in promoting the firm in the marketplace.
What are you working on at the moment?
I love the variety in my work. Most of all, I love that my work affords me opportunities to meet and work with different people, whether clients, barristers, experts or other lawyers. That keeps it interesting.
Variety for now includes:
- advising wife on her financial claims on divorce, including in relation to a multi-million pound family business;
- advising wife on a set aside claim where there are issues of material non-disclosure and duress;
- negotiating a pre-nuptial agreement for future husband where funds for the new family home in Chelsea are being provided solely by one party;
- various child law matters, including a case of child abduction following the child’s wrongful retention in the UK after a holiday.
What is the biggest challenge you and your firm are currently facing in the private family law sector?
To be successful, any business needs to evolve: to recognise the changes in the marketplace and the demands of the client. The pandemic forced that change with a previously paper dominant industry shifting to a paperless model overnight in March 2020. In my view, that change, that brings with it new efficiencies, sees clients looking for increased value for money, even with an eye to fixed fees. LMP has a good reputation for delivering a quality, boutique service without breaking the bank. The affordability of legal services, particularly in today’s economic climate, is a challenge, and I think that firms will need to continue to evolve to win business from clients who will, inevitably, shop around.
Are your clients behaving differently in the present era?
Operating at the top of the game, as the team at LMP always strives to do, we work with clients who expect excellence on all fronts. Those demands are met by a commitment to client care delivered, in part, by making ourselves available to clients on their schedule and in the way that best suits them. Long gone are the days of travelling to and from Chambers for a Conference or making a ‘milk with one’ before a meeting in the Boardroom.
There is a growing demand from clients to tackle their case outside the standard 9am-5pm working day, and remotely. The introduction of flexi-hours at LMP allows us to meet those demands and maintain the positive solicitor-client relationships for which we are known. Getting the job done, and well, is a given. Increasingly, the ‘how you do it’ is just as important.
What does it mean to you to be a member of Citywealth’s Leaders List?
Inclusion in the list is, of course, a privilege, alongside being shortlisted in two categories at the forthcoming Future Leaders Awards. However, and without sounding too clichéd, accolades such as this create a responsibility, and rightly so. When I was a trainee and then a young lawyer, there were others that inspired me, from whom I stole good working patterns and techniques or who motivated me to always do and be better. I hope that, alongside my peers in the Leaders List, I can share in that same way. We have a duty of care to all those in the profession, and those who will shape the future of our legal landscape most of all.
What are the most important skills and personal qualities for a lawyer who takes care of child-related matters?
An ability to listen. I think that’s the case no matter your specialism. Clients need to know that whilst they are paying you for your advice, you are always analysing their situation with a close eye to their objectives. That requires careful attention to detail and an ability to hear, digest and carefully distil all that is said. When dealing with child arrangements, that need is amplified.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given?
“A problem shared is a problem halved.”
Learning is a fluid and continuous journey. We never have all the answers and as a Partner I continue to learn each and every day and enjoy the collaborative nature of my work. Family law is discretionary meaning that no one answer is the right one, and whilst some cases scream a sensible answer at you, others are more complex or nuanced. Talking things through often cements your view, but also requires you to look at a problem from all angles and ask some difficult questions. My clients will say that I often ask them to play devil’s advocate. From a tactical perspective, it is a helpful trick, particularly ahead of a hearing.
And so ask good questions, pose hypotheticals and outcomes. No question is ever a silly question. No problem is insurmountable.
Click here to check Kate Stovold's Leaders List profile and visit our Citywealth Leaders List LinkedIn page.