As one of the leading matrimonial lawyers in the North of England, Steve Freeman is well known for his straight-talking approach.
Well versed in handling the divorces of wealthy business and professional people, not to mention the many high-profile sports stars and other figures in the public eye Steve has acted for over the years, his no-nonsense style sees him regularly secure high-value settlements.
Cases from London are as common as instructions from the North East, where Steve is head of Sintons’ personal and family department, with geography being no boundary for people wanting the best possible outcome from their challenging situation.
A high proportion of Steve’s instructions come from personal recommendation; such is the reputation for his work.
While his legal knowledge and capability is regularly hailed by legal directories, clients often point to his down-to-earth tactical advice as being the real stand-out feature of instructing him.
In typical matter-of-fact style, Steve – who has been with Sintons since 1991 – says he adopts a simple and consistent approach to each situation, no matter what its unique challenges or complexities.
“Divorce is an unfortunate situation for anyone. While we will always deal with a case with the highest degree of understanding and sensitivity, clients should not see us as shoulders to cry on. We are not counsellors, neither do we judge. We want the best outcome for our clients and we know how to help them get it, simple as that,” he says.
“My approach is that in a divorce situation there are no winners; the more the people involved argue, the more it is going to cost them. It’s in everyone’s interests to reach a deal as soon as we can and we’ll fight hard to get the best one we can.”
Steve’s dogged determination to succeed has been characteristic from an early age, when he decided he wanted to become a lawyer while at school in his native Ashington, Northumberland, a place he clearly regards with great affection.
After graduating from university, he won his training contract (or Articles of Clerkship as it was back then) with Sinton & Co (later to become Sintons) where he has stayed ever since. Rising through the ranks to become a partner within ten years, Steve worked across a range of areas of law before becoming a specialist matrimonial lawyer.
“When I first joined, it was a case of dealing with whatever landed on your desk. So at 10am you could be in court for a matrimonial matter, then by lunchtime you’re doing a will or corporate work,” he says.
“It was a broad professional upbringing, and training contracts are done very differently now, but I look back at that time very fondly. I was privileged to be trained by old school gentlemen and I will always have a special fondness for Andrew Walker, who oversaw my Articles – he is very much missed. [Andrew passed away in 2013, aged only 54.]
“My training has proved to be very useful throughout my whole career – in divorce, there are often issues involving property and businesses to consider, so it is good to have experience in those areas.”
While Sintons as a firm has grown considerably since Steve first joined – with staff numbers more than quadrupling to over 200 during that time and Sintons becoming one of the biggest and best-rated corporate law firms in the North – so too has his dedicated matrimonial team. Associate solicitor Louise Masters and lawyers Jayne Cluff and Julie Gallon support Steve in the department, alongside two other legal assistants.
“The department is exceptionally busy, we have built a strong reputation and we are well respected for our work by our peers,” he says.
“The real Sintons difference is our great people, which is what makes us stand out from the crowd. Thankfully our reputation speaks for itself. We have so much of our work coming through personal recommendation that we know we must be doing something right.”