Dawn Goodman


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

Having a wealth of experience of litigation in most offshore jurisdictions, as well as in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Dawn advises all parties who may be involved in a dispute arising out of lifetime estate planning or on death, whether about trusts, foundations, professional negligence, fraud or succession. Previously a divorce lawyer, she also specialises in advising trustees and beneficiaries caught up in divorce proceedings.

Dawn uses her experience as to what can go wrong to advise trustees and protectors on their duties and how to manage and reduce their risk. Settlors are advised on how to create robust structures.

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 to the most hostile.

Dawn features in Who’s Who Legal’s list of International Private Client Lawyers as one of the ‘most highly regarded practitioners in the world’, described as ‘phenomenal’ according to their sources who praise her ‘responsiveness’.


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





In the matter of the K Trust, Guernsey Judgment 31/2015, Dawn and Emma McCall 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.

In Durham v Lambton & Others [2013] EWHC 3566 (Ch), Dawn was involved in a case which considered whether English proceedings in a succession dispute focusing on the friction between English testamentary freedom and Italian forced heirship (including claw back) rules should be stayed on the basis of forum non conveniens in favour of the Italian Courts.

Acting for the successful beneficiaries in The Matter of the A and B Trusts [2012] JRC 169A, where the Royal Court of Jersey made new law on the scope of the duties of trust protectors and the grounds on which they may be removed from office.

England and Wales, 1980

British Virgin Islands, 2008

‘Probate Disputes and Remedies’, Jordans - 2014

‘International Trust and Divorce Litigation’, Jordans - 2013

‘Authority to trustees to incur costs of litigation’ and ‘Action by Disgruntled Beneficiaries’, Tottel’s Administration of Trusts

Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners

Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists

‘The Balance of Power – powers retained by the settlor (for himself or others)’, STEP IOM - October 2016

‘Protectors: Solution for Everything or Recipe for Disaster’, Transcontinental Trusts Forum 2016, Bermuda - May 2016

‘Nuptialisation of Trusts: Cross border divorce for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals’, IBC Conference - March 2016


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.

At Withers life has rarely been dull: some cases resemble an opera libretto or a Greek tragedy. 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.)

Most of all, 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.

In recent years I have taken on fiduciary appointments, enabling me to see life as a protector, charity trustee or director of a private trust company from a very different (and instructive) angle. 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. Occasionally I still sing.



  • English





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