The Partners & Staff

Kerry Joels

Partner – Family Law

Kerry is head of the Family Law Department. She qualified in 1985 as a solicitor, joined JWS in 1993 and became a partner in January 1997. Kerry specialises in all aspects of general Family Law including Divorce, Contact and Residence of children and Cohabitation and Civil Partnerships. 

Gareth Alty

Partner – Commercial and Domestic Property

Gareth is head of the Property Department. He qualified as a solicitor in 1989, joined JWS in 1999 and became a partner in January 2000. His experience includes commercial property, domestic property, business sales and purchases, leases and tenancy agreements. 

Bernadette Summers

Managing Partner

Berni joined JWS in 1995 with a management background, she qualified in business and legal accounts in 1997 and became a partner in April 2012. She manages and runs all administrative departments of JWS including Accounts, ICT, HR, Marketing and Compliance, allowing her other partners to concentrate on their various aspects of the law so as to provide a more efficient service to their clients. Berni also heads the Wills and Probate Department. 

Mark Drasdo

Partner – Wills, Probate and Trusts

Mark qualified as a solicitor in 1992 and joined JWS in September 2013 and became a partner in January 2017. He has been a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners since 2002 and has many years of experience dealing with Wills, Estate Administration, Powers of Attorney, Trusts and Court of Protection work. 

Jeremy Briars

Solicitor – Commercial Property and Company

Jeremy qualified as a solicitor in 1976 and joined JWS in July 2012 having been in practice, for a number of years in the West Midlands. He has extensive experience of all types of commercial property including sales, acquisitions, leasing, property developments and funding as well as residential conveyancing. He also undertakes general commercial and corporate work including business sales and purchases, distribution and franchise agreements. 

Kenneth Skinner


Kenneth qualified as a solicitor in 2001 and worked as a property lawyer until 2009. Kenneth then worked outside of the law until joining John Welch and Stammers in April 2015. He has extensive experience in all aspects of residential sales, purchases and mortgages. 

Claire Bennell


Claire joined JWS in 2002 and worked as a secretary in the Property Department until July 2006 when she began her training to become a Chartered Legal Executive. Her caseload includes residential sales and purchases and remortgages. 

Russell Jinks

Solicitor – Civil Litigation/Employment

Russell qualified as a solicitor in 1981 and practiced in South London (including running his own legal practice) until moving to Oxfordshire in 2001.  Russell joined JWS in 2011 and handles all types of civil disputes including commercial or contractual disputes, property or landlord and tenant disputes, contentious probate. Russell also deals with all areas of employment law and regularly uses alternative dispute resolution such as mediation as a cost effective alternative to court proceedings. 

Hayley Smith (nee Kirk)

Solicitor – Wills and Probate

Hayley, who has lived locally for many years is the latest member to join JWS having joined us in March 2014. Hayley qualified as a solicitor in January 2012 and joined JWS in March 2014. Hayley is experienced in Wills, Estate administration, Powers of Attorney, Trusts and all associated private client matters. 

Poppy Drasdo

Jack Russell – office dog and stress reliever

Poppy belongs to Mark and started coming into the office when Mark had some building work done at home. This was supposed to be on a temporary basis but when the work was finished Poppy sulked if she was left at home and the office missed her so she now comes in on a daily basis and has become a member of the JWS team.