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The Partners


Philip Elliott

I qualified as a solicitor in 1996 and have specialised in family law ever since. I lead the family law department of Sharmans. I am also a Law Society accredited mediator.
I specialise in dealing with the financial issues arising from divorce and separation including acting for clients of high net worth. Increasingly I am also consulted in respect of pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements. I am also experienced in the law relating to children (including cases with an international element), domestic violence and cohabitee disputes. This experience is recognised by The Law Society which has appointed me to be a member of the advanced tier of the Family Law Accreditation Scheme.

I am a member of Resolution which is a body which encourages individuals to reach agreement through compromise and negotiation, which helps to avoid conflict and also keeps the costs down for clients. I have also been accredited by that organisation as a specialist in the field of dealing with and resolving financial issues.
I am also a qualified collaborative lawyer. This approach builds upon the principles of compromise referred to above in order to achieve a fair solution for all.

I have been a partner since 2006 and am the firm’s Compliance Officer for legal practice.


Ann Pryer

I qualified as a solicitor in 1989, and have worked in private practice since then. I joined Sharman Law in 2007 becoming a partner in 2008.

I specialise in all aspects of Probate, Trusts, Wills and estate planning, as well as Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection work, each year I deal with perhaps 80 – 100 wills. These can be simple and straightforward or can involve complex family arrangements with foreign properties and business interests. I deal with about 50 estates each year. Some are non- taxable, for example where estates pass directly to the surviving spouse, but others can involve complex IHT calculations requiring input from numerous experts to assist in negotiations with HMRC.

I aim to be sensitive and pragmatic when working with my clients, many of whom need advice and support whilst dealing with difficult events in their lives.

I am a member of the Law Society's Private Client Section, giving me access to the latest developments in this area of law.

If you would like some help, please email me and I will let you know if I can assist you.


Jonathan Copper

For many years I predominantly practised family and civil law. I qualified as a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives in 1997 and in 1999 qualified as a solicitor.

I have experience of all types of litigation including housing, commercial, dispute resolution, disputed wills and probate, insolvency and debt recovery.

I have successfully concluded a case in the Supreme Court, which clarifies the law surrounding harassment: Hayes v Willoughby.

I am a member of ACTAPS which is the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists.

My main area of practice now is contentious probate advising upon the validity of wills, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for family and dependants) Act 1975 and disputes in relation to trusts.


Mel Lawrence

I am a solicitor specialising in commercial property transactions. I deal with a variety of commercial property work including landlord & tenant issues (drafting and advising on leases, lease renewals, assignments and sub-letting), business sales and purchases, portfolio management and dilapidation settlements.

I have lived in Bedfordshire for the past 20 years and qualified as a solicitor in 2006. Having undertaken most of my training in residential and commercial property, I specialised in commercial property from the outset. I joined Sharmans in April 2014 and I am based in our Bedford office. I take a practical approach to matters and find that clients appreciate my professional yet friendly approach.


Helen Williams (née Broom)

I studied History at Oxford Brookes University before converting to Law and qualified with Sharmans as a Solicitor in 2008. I became a Partner of the firm in 2020 and the head of our Private Client department in 2023.

My areas of expertise are the administration of Estates, Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration. I also specialise in the preparation of Wills, Estate planning, Tax advice, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection matters.
Over the course of the year I generally take on approximately 160 new cases. Of these around 60 are Estate administration matters. This can involve straightforward non-taxable Estates, with assets passing to a surviving spouse, partner or children to more complex taxable matters, including the negotiation of Agricultural Property Relief and Business Property Relief. The remaining new matters I deal with are made up mainly of the drafting Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney. Both vital for Estate planning and ensuring one’s affairs can be successfully managed. Similar to the work with regard to the administration of Estates, the Wills I prepare can be relatively straightforward but can also involve complex family arrangements, second families, farming and business interests.

I am proud of the fact that much of the work I receive is through client referrals. I can confidently say that all my clients can be assured of a friendly but professional and efficient service.