Dawn Goodman

Partner | London

Dawn is a partner in the trust, estate and inheritance disputes team.

Dawn has a wealth of experience litigating and working proactively with wealth-holding structures across the trust world, Europe, South America, Russia & CIS and the Middle East. She is tri-qualified (England & Wales, BVI and Eire) and acts in and advises on litigation spanning the whole range of trust and succession issues. Once a problem has arisen she advises on methods to defuse contention, risk mitigation and alternative dispute resolution as well as on proceedings if necessary, ranging from consensual or prophylactic litigation to the most hostile of cross-border and multi-jurisdiction cases.

Previously a divorce lawyer, she also advises trustees and beneficiaries caught up in divorce proceedings.

Having represented parties for many years in mediation, Dawn has been accredited as mediator by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).

Garnering her experience as a litigator and fiduciary for a UNHW family, Dawn advises families, family offices and businesses, trustees and other power holders on governance and reduction and management of fiduciary risk. She applies her understanding of conflicts of laws, geopolitical risk, family tensions and succession to wealth and businesses to help clients create or restructure robust trust and succession vehicles with sufficient flexibility to continue through to succeeding generations.

Secretary Melanie Balcan


My overall experience has been that for cases with large inherent or potential risks which may become contentious, Dawn’s team at Withers is a go to source of advice and support.

Phillip Ainslie, Technical and Compliance Director - Dominion (Geneva)

Dawn and her team work tirelessly and demonstrate complete dedication to their client’s interests. Always approachable, giving first rate advice, highly effective and results driven, Dawn’s incisive grasp of facts and law is impressive. A hard act to follow! 

Ingrid & Geoffrey Dale

Dawn is described one of the ‘most highly regarded practitioners in the world’.

Who's Who Legal

Dawn Goodman has ‘a superlative reputation in this market’ and is considered to be ‘peerless in this area of law.’ She is very calm under immense pressure and demanding situations, and she always thinks clearly and analytically. ‘Her robust and effective litigation style is praised and she is a hugely tenacious advocate who will go the extra mile for the client. You know she will give 110% in any case.”

Chambers HNW 2017

Dawn is the personification of a contentious trusts expert and one of the true big hitters in this industry. She has decades of experience handling major private wealth disputes and also has in-depth expertise in offshore matters. Her knowledge of the industry is immense and she is exceptionally focused on her cases.

Chambers HNW 2018, London

She really makes an impression in court when fighting a case. Dawn is a truly fantastic lawyer. She is phenomenal in terms of her intelligence and understanding of the key issues involved.

Chambers HNW 2018, London

Dawn Goodman is a tenacious and able litigator with clear ideas and rapid judgement.

Legal 500 UK, 2018

Dawn is a doyenne of the industry who is tough and very effective at what she does, she is famous. Dawn is regarded highly – she is an excellent lawyer and exceeds on really complex matters.

Chambers Global 2019

Track record





Dawn acted with Sarah Aughwane in the trustee accounting case of Henchley v Thompson [ 2017] EWHC 225 (Ch), advising successful beneficiaries in their claim against the trustee of a family trust for an account dating back over 40 years.

In the New York case of Naxos Art Inc v Zoullas No 16 Civ 7269 (JFK) (S.D.N.Y. Jul 7, 2017), Dawn advised a trust company while Dean Nicyper and Peter Wood acted in the recovery of misappropriated art worth millions of dollars from a custodian.

In the matter of the K Trust, Guernsey Judgment 31/2015, Dawn worked alongside Guernsey advocates and Counsel to advise 11 of 14 adult beneficiaries on an application - the first in Guernsey - seeking removal of a protector whose approach was no longer considered to be in the best interests of the beneficiaries. The Royal Court established the test in Guernsey for removal of protectors and dealt with incidental issues, such as specific indemnities, to which it considered the protector was not entitled in the absence of indemnity provisions in the trust deed.

England and Wales, 1980

British Virgin Islands, 2008

Irish Practicing Certificate, 2019

CEDR accredited mediator, 2020

‘To reserve or not to reserve? What can possibly go wrong – Part II’‘ in Trusts & Trustees, Vol 26, issue 6 - July 2020

‘International Trust and Divorce Litigation’ (3rd Edition) (Co-author and co-editor), Jordans – 2019

‘To reserve or not to reserve? That is the question – Part I’‘ in Trusts & Trustees, Vol 25, No 10 - December 2019

Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)

Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS)

‘The impact of divorce on trustees and beneficiaries’, ThoughtLeaders4 Virtual conference – July 2020

‘Troubleshooting in the Trust World’ – Church House Investment Management – November 2019

‘Trustees and the Family Business’, STEP Essex – October 2019

Me in a minute

I wished to become an opera singer.

The reluctant litigator.

One miserable day longer ago than I care to remember I attended an interview with the Law Society who were to decide whether, as one of the youngest students and in a minority of 10:1 men to women at law school I was a fit and proper person to be admitted to the profession.

Uninspired by the inevitable ‘ Why do you want to become a solicitor?’ I replied that I didn’t: I wished to become an opera singer. Shocked, the interview panel searched for an explanation for my presence there, eventually lighting on my engagement ring and enquiring, ‘ Your fiancé- he is a lawyer?’

‘No. He’s a conductor!’

After this inauspicious start I decided that perhaps it was worth trying and found that I took to the law. Having begun my career in a country practice as a commercial litigator and divorce lawyer (sometimes known as Surrey’s Iron Lady) I was fortunate enough to join Withers and to set up and develop the Contentious Trust and Succession Team, now called the Trust, estate and inheritance disputes team.

At Withers life has rarely been dull: some cases resemble an opera libretto or a Greek tragedy. Withers is all about people: how they live, marry, look after their children, buy property, migrate, create and run businesses, set up charities, interact with each other and need help when that interaction breaks down. The work is intense and demanding but fascinating: complex legal issues often crossing cultures and borders; difficult family or business relationships giving rise to dispute and the rigour of the justice system (or several concurrently in a multi- jurisdiction dispute).

In recent years I have taken on fiduciary appointments, enabling me to see life as a charity trustee or director of a private trust company from those very different and instructive angles. I also advise on risk reduction and mitigation for trustees and other fiduciaries, using my experience of what goes wrong to help avoid it. Stress testing is another example of a poacher turned game keeper: having had a reputation as a trust buster it is not difficult to see the fault lines in a proposed or existing structure and advise on how to strengthen it.

Outside Withers I spend most of my time with my family doing almost anything creative or artistic, particularly renovating ruined properties.

Occasionally, I still sing.



  • English






20 Old Bailey,



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