Ex-Simmons Solicitor Who Blew £1m In Divorce Battle Against Fellow City Lawyer Pitches For Family Law Reform Role

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Between them, former Simmons & Simmons associate Anna Kavanagh and her ex-husband, Holman Fenwick Willan partner Giles Kavanagh, spent almost everything they owned on a bitter dispute over the custody of their children – a story reported widely in September.

Yesterday Anna told her side of the story to The Sunday Times (£). It made for fascinating reading…

She explained how she:

1. Now lives in a “modest rented house” because, having lost her £3.2m home, “I can’t get a mortgage”.

2. Has come to doubt her judgement, and even her ability as a lawyer, following the battle. “Obviously it looks like I lack credibility because I’ve allowed myself to go through this whole system, spend a fortune in legal fees and end up with a very poor outcome,” Kavanagh told the paper. “You know…what does that say for my abilities as a lawyer?…Clearly it does raise all sorts of questions.”

3. Found representing herself in court as a litigant-in-person – which she was forced to do after her money ran out – as “awful” and “intimidating” despite being “no wallflower”.

4. Has come to view barristers as “ruthless” and willing to “do anything to undermine you, to make you flustered, to make you lose your temper”.

Traumatised by her hellish experience, Kavanagh wants to see the divorce process changed to feature more counsellors and psychologists, and less lawyers. And who best to lead this revolution than an ex-City lawyer fallen upon hard times?

Currently scratching a living together through part-time legal work, Kavanagh says she hasn’t “exactly had people beating down my door to hire me” since the very public outcome of her divorce. But she reckons others “can only benefit from my awful experience” and is keen to “take a central role in instigating public debate about family court reform and mediation”.



She has definitely lost all credibilty after this case which her ex-husband one. It’s just so tragic and should have been avoided. She should never have made the statements about her credibility and judgement as a lawyer public though. That’s the number one rule for every good lawyer – do not defame yourself.



I meant *won


Ben Rigby

I don’t normally respond to copy covered by my fellow legal journalists, and whilst I have immense respect for Alex, and for Legal Cheek, I know Anna Kavanagh personally, so let me set something straight.

The characterisation placed on her by the judge, and in the Mail, or, perhaps here, isn’t one that I wholly recognise. She is a hard-working employment lawyer who has dedicated herself to clients, often those with little means, for whom she fights fearlessly; she is a loving mother, and a supportive parent to her children; and a loyal friend. Anna’s instincts are liberal, consciencious, supportive, and caring, and she demonstrates that to those who really know her in the law.

She has tried her best to reconcile very difficult personal choices about marital breakdown, and in maintaining a family. It’s right to point out how others, including the courts, have seen this, how both sides have used the system, and to offer views on it, including critical ones, but I just would make one point below.

As she makes clear in the ST feature, her experiences of the divorce courts has come at a very heavy price, financially, emotionally, and legally. Her frankness about that experience, delivered both honestly and sincerely, and how it should be improved doesn’t deserve mockery, it deserves humanity, understanding and a bit of sympathy, even if one disagrees with her views.

She is only too aware of what she has lost. As her friend, so am I.



*fewer lawyers.


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