We have six members of the team who may work on your matter. Regardless of who works on your matter, they will be supervised by one of the Partners, namely Neil Donald, Sarah Cousins or Emma Halpin.
After graduating with a Law Degree from Reading University in 1983 Neil started his career in Legal Book Publishing on The Strand, London. In 1987 he decided to change careers and started as a Legal Executive with Alan Bradley in Stevenage specialising in Family Law. In 1989 Neil was asked to work for Balderston Warren in Letchworth in their Family Department and for the next five years he undertook a very heavy Family Law caseload before moving to Whitehead Devereux in Hitchin in 1992 to head up their Family Section. While at Whitehead Devereux, Neil qualified as a solicitor in 1993. In 1998 he moved to Ross Williams to become a Partner and head its Family Department.
Neil’s main area of work includes Matrimonial and Family dealing with all aspects of relationship breakdown including Divorce, Children Matters including Residence, Contact, Parental Responsibility, and Care Disputes, and financial issues arising from breakdown of relationship/divorce. He also undertakes some conveyancing work usually linked to his matrimonial work to provide continuity for his clients. A little general Civil Litigation is undertaken when the need arises.
Neil has a wide range of clients from the very wealthy to those on low income. He has been involved with some large money financial dispute cases and although most contentious matters are dealt with in the local County Court or Family Proceedings Court he has experience in both the High Court and Court of Appeal.
Neil is very much a fan of ‘why use 50 words when 5 will do’. He believes that reducing complicated matters to a much more simple and understandable format helps a client through what can initially seem like a daunting process. His major dislike is bureaucracy and delay.
Sarah undertook her training contract at a small firm in North London and was thrown in at the deep end from the outset and packed off to Court on her second day. It was definitely a case of ‘sink or swim’ and thankfully she is a good swimmer. Sarah qualified as a Solicitor in August 1998 and moved to Ross Williams in September 1999. Sarah was made a partner in July 2001.
Sarah has significant experience in family work including divorce, cohabitee disputes, finances, children, pre nuptial agreements, injunctions and inheritance act proceedings. Sarah is a trained accredited collaborative lawyer. She is also a member of Resolution and the regional committee of Collaborative family lawyers, known as Hertfordshire Family Lawyers.
Sarah recognises and understands that separation and divorce can be traumatic events in a person’s life, with ramifications for the whole family. She is committed to working with clients to facilitate the best outcomes for them and their family members, enabling them to make decisions for the future and move forward.
Sarah also undertakes all aspects of Wills and Probate including the administration of estates, Inheritance Tax planning, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Public Guardianship work, contentious probate Inheritance Act claims. Sarah adopts a sensitive and practical approach to what can often be a very delicate situation. She finds that there is a nice crossover between her areas of practice.
Graham has practised law in South Bedfordshire since 1999, dealing with a wide variety of cases and legal areas. He has chosen to specialise in family law since 2003. Graham qualified as a solicitor in 2004, and joined GCA in December 2005.
Graham read Economics at the University of Keele, graduating in 1997 with Dual BA(Hons). He then went on to read the Postgraduate Diploma in law at the College of Law in London, followed by postgraduate studies at the University of Hertfordshire.
Graham is keen to provide his clients with advice that is realistic, and mindful of their concerns. He is an experienced negotiator and consequently many matters do not require the intervention of the court.
Graham is on the Law Society Children Panel and a Resolution and Domestic Abuse Specialist.
Family law is constantly being updated and affects people from all walks of life. Graham is an experienced provider of advice in connection with divorce, especially in relation to the practical results of divorce, be they financial, housing, children, pensions and/or maintenance. He can provide advice on the different options available and helps clients decide which would be best suited to their and their family’s needs. He drafts pre-marital and cohabitation agreements to help those people who wish to avoid such problems in the future. He assists families where social services have become involved including care proceedings. He also deals with Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorny and Court Apointed Deputy matters.
Graham is experienced in liaising with the police and local courts to ensure that all vulnerable people that seek his assistance are protected. The form of protection will vary according to the situation, but could entail a violent member of the family being removed from the home and safeguards put in place to ensure the continued safety of that person and or children. In other situations it may be that a person requires protection from a complete stranger, or is frustrated at the lack of action taken by the police. After receiving Graham’s advice, the choice of which action to take will be yours.
After graduating with a Law Degree from Queen Mary and Westfield College (part of the University of London) in 1995, Emma undertook the required Legal Practice Course at the College of Law in London. Whilst studying Emma assisted at the Tower Hamlets Law Centre and undertook work experience for various law firms. Emma started her legal career as a trainee solicitor with Ross Williams in 1996. The sole practitioner at that time, Mr John Williams, was suitably impressed with Emma during the two year training period that, when she qualified as a solicitor in 1998, he offered her partnership status.
Emma’s work falls into three main categories:-
- Commercial law – from the grant of a lease (whether acting for Landlord or Tenant) and the sale and purchase of freehold or leasehold properties (sometimes with overage provisions, planning or options) to other property agreements/ documents and shareholder/partnership agreements and advising companies, individuals and partnerships on their terms of business, debts, matters relating to their staff and any other legal matters that arise during the course of their business.
- Employment law – from drafting contracts and procedures for employers and acting for them when proceedings are initiated by a current or former employee to acting for clients on the review of a new employment contract or advising/ acting in relation to claims against a current or former employer, including unfair dismissal, discrimination, redundancy, unpaid wages and claims for flexible working. Emma deals regularly with settlement agreements.
- Domestic property law – including house sales and purchases (freehold and leasehold properties), deeds of grant of easements, releases of restrictive covenants and extensions of leases.
Emma’s clients range from individuals who have been dismissed and are seeking work to highly profitable companies. Emma regularly acts for one client in securing multi-million pound loans over property and companies here and abroad. She likes problem solving and finding a logical solution, wherever possible, for every client. Emma is hard working and very committed to her clients, regularly working unsociable hours, wherever required.
Tatiana Di Donato
After graduating from the University of Hertfordshire and completing the Legal Practice Course, Tatiana undertook her training contract at Ross Williams Solicitors – GCA Solicitors’ associated practice. Tatiana had been known to Ross Williams since 2006 having undertaken work experience with them during her summer and Easter breaks. Tatiana spent much of her training contract at GCA Solicitors and remained with us once she qualified in the summer of 2011.
Tatiana’s main area of work is family work including;
- Children Matters including Residence, Contact, Parental Responsibility and Care Proceedings;
- Financial Matters including issues arising from the breakdown of relationship/divorce and pre marital agreements; and
- Injunction Proceedings.
Tatiana also deals with Residential Conveyancing work, Wills and Probate including the Administration of Estates, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court Appointed Deputy Matters.
Tatiana is always keen to provide her clients with realistic advice and works hard to achieve the best possible outcome for her clients. Tatiana is very client focused and committed to providing them with the best possible service. She is very much of the view that she should treat her clients how she should expect to be treated.
GCA Solicitors has the expertise, knowledge and depth of experience to help you achieve the outcome you seek. Whether it is for family matters such as divorce or separation, domestic violence, children, wills trusts, commercial law and conveyancing we have the expertise to get a satisfactory resolution. REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT