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Legal 500: Competence, coffee and Cassie the dog make Benussi & Co first choice

The Legal 500 describes Benussi & Co as a 'standout family law firm' which is particularly well-known for its work in complex cases

It's not just a freshly-brewed cafetière of coffee that greets visitors to Benussi & Co's welcoming reception at its offices in Birmingham's Colmore Business District.

There is soothing classical music playing in the background, a selection of the day's papers - and Cassie, the Benussi & Co dog.

It's not surprising, therefore, the latest edition of Legal 500 singles out the firm's "personal and attentive client care" because it starts right from the point a client picks up the phone, sends an email - or calls in at the office.

"Professional knowledge, experience and a pragmatic approach are the most important aspects of our work - but we recognise that matrimonial and family issues are synonymous with stress," says the firm's founder Diane Benussi.

"We're here to protect our clients' interests but before we can do that we need to put them at ease.

"A cafetière of coffee has long been a feature - but Cassie, a friendly Spanish Water Dog and a frequent visitor to our office, is a relatively new and much welcomed addition to our team."

The Legal 500 describes Benussi & Co as a "standout family law firm" which is particularly well-known for its work in ultra-high-net-worth and complex cases.

"Our work often involves family trusts, complex and cross-border business structures, pre- nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, inherited wealth, pensions and disputes concerning children," says Diane.

"We know emotions can run high which can be an obstacle to settlement.

"Our commitment is to minimise the financial and emotional strain - guiding, supporting and advising clients.

"However, despite the complexity of our work, we have a straightforward approach:l istening precedes advice, advice precedes action - and action is considered and strategic."

That, and the firm's combined 120 years of experience, may well be why its solicitors and partners often provide solutions to long-running and seemingly intractable disputes.

It is also probably why the firm's clients range from politicians, media and sports personalities to entrepreneurs, industrialists, professionals - and a blend of new and old money.

Says Helen Jane Arnold, Benussi & Co's legal director (described in Legal 500 as being "sensible, experienced and pragmatic"): "Professional experience counts for a lot but we look to narrow the issues in a dispute, encourage a constructive approach, generate viable options for settlement - and strive for a dignified outcome."

She acknowledges this is not always easy, particularly in situations where there is substantial wealth (sometimes in multiple jurisdictions), family businesses and partnerships - or disputes concerning children, surrogacy and pre-and post-nuptial agreements.

She added: "Understanding and experience are vital. It's rare for us to encounter a scenario that we have not encountered before - but no matter the complexity, our objective remains the same - to look after our clients' interests and achieve a successful outcome."

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