Russell has over 30 years' experience in family law and is Dawson Cornwell's most long standing partner; he is Head of the Matrimonial Department. Known for being “an astute litigator” and "a tough negotiator", he is widely recognised as one of London’s leading family lawyers, regularly ranked by Chambers, Chambers HNW, The Legal 500 and Citywealth.
He advises on all areas of family law, especially complex high net worth financial cases, arising out of marital and non-marital breakdown. He has particular expertise in heavy international trust cases and has been involved in some of the leading cases.
Russell is a member of the International Bar Association, a trained mediator and a frequent speaker on family law.
“Russell Bywater rightly deserves his reputation as one of London’s leading family lawyers. Russell stood by me with calm, ethics and good humour. His deep expertise shines through in all aspects: -Strategic and critical thinking skills – Russell plays the long game, almost like he is a chess master, with each move not always being obvious, but building up to a crescendo. He is a master of the technical details.”
Legal 500 2023
Russell Bywater handles financial remedy proceedings, including international matters. "I am so pleased that I chose Russell to handle my case and that he took it on," says a client, adding: "It required clear thinking and action as I was in a very difficult situation and it could have taken years to resolve." Another client says that "Russell stood by me with calm, ethics and good humour. His deep expertise shines through on all aspects."
Chambers HNW 2022
Dawson Cornwell 's longest-standing partner, Russell Bywater has over 30 years' experience in family law. He has worked on high-profile cases such as Villiers v Villiers, a landmark Supreme Court case.
Spear’s Family Law Index 2022
Russell Bywater specialises in marital and non-marital financial remedy work. He takes a no-nonsense approach, with an ability to cut to the chase with both clients and the other side. Russell’s practice profile reflects the international legal centre in which he operates; cases involving just English parties and assets are rare.
The Spear’s 500 2022
Russell Bywater acts on financial proceedings with complex domestic and cross-border trusts, non-marital assets and company structures. He has further expertise in Schedule 1 disputes. He has appeared before courts at all levels, including the Supreme Court.
Chambers UK 2022
“Mr. Russell Bywater: A true force of nature. He really defines what empathy in a professional sense can look like and lives the journey with you every step of the way but always with a solution focused and forward looking ethos. He is fearless. He made me feel like a movie star in the client care he gives. He is like a true chess grandmaster and is thinking several moves ahead as always. He is calm and knows all the moves to play and can contain his clients’ emotions like nobody else.”
Legal 500 2022
Russell Bywater advises wealthy clients on a range of family matters and has particular expertise in cases with complex and international financial issues. A source enthuses: "He is a true force of nature. He is like a true chess grandmaster and is thinking several moves ahead always." This source continues: "He possesses a unique ability to connect with a client incredibly quickly."
Chambers HNW 2021
Russell Bywater has over 30 years’ experience in family law. He has worked on landmark cases such as Villiers v Villiers, a Supreme Court case that some argue gave a green light for “divorce tourism.”
The Spear’s 500 2021
Russell Bywater acts on financial proceedings with complex domestic and cross-border trust and company structures. He has further expertise in Schedule 1 disputes. "He is a strong advocate of his client’s corner."
Chambers UK 2021
Russell“has great judgement combined with a down-to-earth manner. He is canny but charming, a real gem.”
Legal 500 2021
Russell Bywater often advises high net worth clients on cross-border matrimonial finance matters. One source notes the "very high-quality and high-value work" that Bywater attracts.
Chambers HNW 2020
Distinguished Individual - Recommended Family Lawyer
A "pragmatic and savvy family practitioner."
The Spear's 500 2020
Russell Bywater is praised as a "practical and down-to-earth" solicitor who "is tactically aware, and has strong legal analysis." He acts on financial proceedings with complex domestic and cross-border trust and company structures. He has further expertise in Schedule 1 disputes.
Chambers & Partners 2020
"Russell Bywater passionately fights his clients' corner whilst giving reassuring and sensible advice behind the scenes".
Legal 500 2020
"Great insight and professionalism."
Citywealth Leaders List 2020
Russell Bywater is particularly experienced on the international platform and is well known for advising affluent clients on financial proceedings. He is "client-friendly" and "astute as a litigator," commends one source, adding: "He’s good at spotting the nub of the problem and knowing how to deal with it. I think he’s very good at looking after the client during the long process but also looking at the overview."
Chambers HNW 2019
"He fights passionately for his clients and often protects the underdog. Russell has helped secure a substantial award for one client in difficult circumstances."
Citywealth Leaders List 2019
Russell Bywater has impressive experience in complex financial disputes arising from relationship breakdowns, with notable expertise in cases involving offshore trust assets."Russell fights his client's corner very hard and is very passionate about his cases," and is "a very savvy and tough negotiator," according to sources.
Chambers & Partners 2019
Russell Bywater “passionately fights his clients’ corner”.
Legal 500 2018-2019
Russell Bywater has loads of experience. “He's clever and will pursue points that need pursuing," says an interviewee. He advises wealthy clients on financial proceedings and has expertise in cases with an international dimension. "He gives very to-the-point and pragmatic advice on the likely structure of a settlement," reports a source, who adds that he has "a good grasp of the technical and financial details."
Chambers HNW 2018
Russell Bywater regularly acts for high net worth individuals in finance matters arising from relationship breakdowns, fielding extensive strength in cases involving international trust elements. Clients describe him as a "great listener" who "has a fantastic way of looking at situations".
Chambers & Partners 2018
" I have worked with Russell throughout my professional career and think that Dawson Cornwell are one of very few family law firms that can boast true expertise in international disputes. Russell is at the forefront of the financial team, and attracts high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients from around the globe. He fights passionately for his clients and is often protects the underdog. Russell has helped secure a substantial award for one client in difficult circumstances."
Citywealth Leaders List 2017
Russell Bywater handles complex breakdowns of relationships, including child maintenance and financial remedy matters. Sources say: "He is incredibly clever, quick-thinking, and very down-to-earth with clients. He builds an excellent rapport with them."
Chambers & Partners 2017
"I have worked with Russell throughout my professional career and think that Dawson Cornwell are one of very few family law firms that can boast true expertise in international disputes. Russell is at the forefront of the financial team, and attracts high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients from around the globe. He fights passionately for his clients and is often protects the underdog. Russell has helped secure a substantial award for one client in difficult circumstances."
Citywealth Leaders List 2016
Russell Bywater practices across a range of matters including financial disputes involving cross-border complexities and trusts. He is described as “a very pragmatic and savvy family practitioner” who “has a heart of gold but will fight when he needs to.
Chambers & Partners 2016
handles complex, cross-border financial enforcement cases. Sources admire his dedication to his clients’ interests.
Chambers & Partners 2015
Citywealth Leaders List 2015
noted for his advice to clients in high-value divorce proceedings. Clients say he is “very quick thinking smart and thoughtful, and does not waste time”.
Chambers & Partners 2014
Citywealth Leaders List 2014
commended as “a big personality who consistently wins his fight”. He recently successfully represented an English client in a case arising out of her divorce from her Italian husband, which involved competing proceedings in England and Italy.
Chambers & Partners 2013
Citywealth Leaders List 2013
Russell Bywater “says what he means and is very down to earth”. Recently, he has represented clients in a number of complex international cases involving the recovery of foreign assets.
Chambers & Partners 2012
The well-regarded Russell Bywater successfully acted for the wife in C v. S, a case involving habitual residence issues.
Legal 500 2012
Russell Bywater is a highly able matrimonial finance practitioner who is “grounded and reasoned in his responses”.
Chambers & Partners 2011
“Young, enthusiastic and hard working” Russell Bywater frequently deals with international cases, as well as those involving unmarried couples.
Chambers & Partners 2010
He is “effective in the art of being laid back and, at the same time, is able to disarm the opposition” say clients.
Chambers & Partners 2008/2009
Russell Bywater combines matrimonial finance with private law child work and is noted for his inter-personal skills. Clients report that he is “brilliant at getting facts sensitively”.
Chambers & Partners 2007/2008
Russell Bywater was endorsed by interviewees; he has built up a specialist international practice in cross-jurisdictional divorce and, in the past 12 months has conducted cases relating to parties in Iran, France, Switzerland, the USA, India and Egypt.
Chambers & Partners 2006/2007
“A creative thinker who relies on plain common sense over showy but worthless theatricals”
Chambers & Partners 2005/2006
Chambers HNW 2020
Chambers UK 2021
The Spear's 500 2020
The Legal 500 2021