Family Law in Partnership is an award-winning team of specialist family lawyers, mediators, arbitrators and family consultants

James Pirrie


James is a director at Family Law in Partnership. He specialises in complex financial issues and non-adversarial and cost effective approaches to divorce and separation including mediation, arbitration and collaborative law. He helps clients take control of the issues that affect them, clarifying priorities, exploring all the options and identifying the best way forward.

“It’s about helping clients to make wise choices: identifying and pursuing the options now that will continue to make sense three months, three years or even thirty years down the road. This involves giving clients the time they need when they need it and ensuring we have the technical knowledge, the resources and the contacts that will help clients to manage the challenges well and within a budget they can afford.”

The leading legal directories Chambers UK and The Legal 500 UK have listed James as a top ranked, leading individual in the field of family law for many years, with The Legal 500 UK also naming him a leading mediator. “James Pirrie is another ace at the boutique firm”, he is “a trail blazer in dispute resolution and thinking outside the box. He really understands family dynamics”, “he is ahead of the times with his initiative…a renowned litigator…at the forefront of dispute resolution” and “hugely knowledgeable”. Chambers UK 2017 notes that James is “absolutely exceptional, a real conciliator but incredibly robust when he needs to be.” Chambers HNW 2016 names James as a leading family lawyer – “he is praised by sources for his “academic and practical” approach. A specialist in complex financial issues, he is notable for assisting clients through collaborative law and ADR, and is frequently involved in Child Support Act cases“…”the cleverest family lawyer I’ve ever come across“”. Naming James as a prominent figure in the family and matrimonial field in the Citywealth Leaders Lists 2016 and 2015, Citywealth describes James as “smart and very able”. James was named winner of Resolution’s John Cornwell Award 2014 which recognises lawyers who have gone above and beyond the norm in their work to support separating families.

What James’s clients say:

  • “James helped to make what could have been an unbearably destructive process almost a positive experience”
  • “I had total confidence in James”
  • “You were absolutely brilliant James”
  • “Professional but understanding – I always felt like James cared about the needs of my family”
  • I was happy even before the (arbitration) award, knowing that everything had been looked at properly”
  • “Having James on your team is a godsend”
  • “I was very lucky to find James Pirrie who made a stressful situation calming and made me feel positive about my future again”
  • “…without your guidance and patience we would not have received this ending. I recall wanting to give up as I was so overwhelmed and exhausted and you guys kept me strong and going. So the thank you and well done is deserved by both of you (James Pirrie and Charlotte Symes)!”
  • Thanks again for all of your help and advice on this matter and for working quickly the whole time. Working with you made the whole thing as pleasant as it could be
  • “Thank you – for being so supportive, responsive and plain damn humane!”

James is recognised throughout the country for his leadership in alternative dispute resolution. He was one of the first family lawyers to train as a family arbitrator in financial issues, one of the first to train in children issues and he is a member of FamilyArbitrator. The Huffington Post interviewed James for an article on the merits of arbitration. Read the article here together with James’s analysis of the new children arbitration scheme. James is very well known for his expertise in the law relating to child support with a commentator noting that James is “undoubtedly this country’s expert on child support“.

James is a Law Society accredited mediator, having qualified in 1989, and is also qualified in the commercial model of mediation and direct child consultation. He was instrumental to introducing collaborative law to Europe and was the first non-American director of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. James’s initiatives also led to the introduction of the “Parenting after Parting” programme which seeks to bring the children involved in a divorce or separation centre-stage. Of course, some cases require Court involvement and James has a strong track record of helping clients achieve successful outcomes in the Court system.

Representative matters:

  • Advised the wife on the ground-breaking case of McFarlane v McFarlane which went to the House of Lords and which established the now common approach to dealing with uncertain income by percentage, banding and applying a cap.
  • Acted on numerous arbitrations, including S v S [2014], the first judicial announcement on the nature and effect of financial arbitration orders.
  • Acted as a mediator in a wide range of disputes from substantial financial issues between city couples to the equally challenging high-needs & scant-resources cases and was identified as an acknowledged expert by Mostyn J in his judgment TW v TM [2015] when recommending mediation in a never-married finance case.
  • Acted on various CSA (now CMS) cases involving applications to the Upper Tribunal.

James has undertaken the financial planners’ training (up to FPC and G10) and has written for and delivered lectures to the legal and accountancy professions on a range of financial/ matrimonial issues. He writes and lectures on conflict resolution, negotiation, child support, financial provision for children (Schedule 1 cases), enforcement, emergency procedures and financial remedies. James is accredited in finance and cohabitation cases by Resolution and sets the child financial accreditation paper. As a specialist in child maintenance, James appeared before the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee to talk about the practical impact of the introduction of the new Child Maintenance Scheme.

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