Family Mediation Team
Mary Banham-Hall LLB FMCA Family Mediator Collaborative Family Lawyer
Mary is a member of the Family Mediators’ Association and also of Resolution, so she is committed to a constructive and less adversarial approach to resolving family disputes. Mary’s Resolution accreditation in Advanced Financial Provision (substantial or complex cases and pensions) equips her to handle the most difficult cases - often helping clients save tens of thousands of pounds in tax, as well as protecting valuable final salary pensions. Mary was one of the first 100 Collaborative Lawyers in the country and has resolved many divorces in this way.
Jane Leadbeater Family Mediator
Following gaining a First Class degree in Law at Birkbeck College, University of London, she qualified as a solicitor and specialised in Family Law, achieving the Resolution specialist accreditation in advanced financial provision and private children law. No slouch academically, Jane still saw that whilst important, the Law only takes you so far – and many family disputes are much better resolved in mediation. “In mediation emotional and practical factors and issues that really matter to people can be taken into account and they can work out what to do for themselves with help from me as a mediator, not as an advocate. It’s better for families, faster and more cost effective.” says Jane.
“Whilst some cases are best dealt with through negotiations through solicitors and may need court proceedings , it is far less than currently take this route. People should swap to mediation and out of litigation far more than they do – it can save them thousands and get it all sorted fast. Although mediation can be challenging, it has the potential to improve communication and relationships. This not only greatly benefits any children of the relationship, but also enables the focus to be on the important decisions that need to be made on relationship breakdown, instead of on arguing. People can be much more in charge of their lives and their future.”
Adrian Wright External Professional Practice Consultant and visiting Senior Mediator
Elaine Clarke FMCA Family Mediator
A member of Resolution and the Family Mediators Association, Elaine is committed to helping her clients find their own path through the difficulties of separation and divorce. She says “I believe with the help of a mediator, separating couples can make their own arrangements for separating, rather than battling through the courts. This is usually much better for them and their families, as well as being quicker and costing less, both financially and emotionally”.
Caroline Friend FMCA Family Mediator Collaborative Family Lawyer
Caroline switched from being a solicitor to full-time mediation because she believes in encouraging people to settle their differences rather than fight about them. So often, disagreements arise through misunderstandings or lack of information about the other person, and this can be cleared up quickly and effectively in a supported conversation. Her calm, balanced approach has led to some extraordinary results in difficult cases.
MA Oxon, UK College of Mediators.
Rachel Lander Family Mediator
Rachel continued to practise as a Family Solicitor, embracing Mediation and Collaborative Law when she could. After 20 years working mainly in Legal 500 commercial law firms and subsequently a top tier niche family practice, (where she remains a Consultant Solicitor), Rachel joined Focus Mediation in 2016, having made the decision to pursue Mediation wholeheartedly and to make it the mainstay of her work. She is a member of Resolution and is currently compiling a portfolio for accreditation with the Family Mediation Council. She works closely with Mary and her other colleagues at Focus. Rachel mediates primarily in Milton Keynes and Northampton.
Rachel believes that Mediation requires hard work and commitment from all involved and is not therefore the soft option that some people portray. However, she states that “the rewards for perseverance are plenty, not least a swifter and less costly alternative to court. Mediation is forward looking with the couple retaining control of the final decision. They have a far greater chance of a civilised relationship in the future, imperative when there are children involved (of whatever age!). Whilst Mediation can mean having to confront uncomfortable emotions at times, it can help enormously with the journey through to the next chapter in life and overall help to enable that transition to be a more positive experience. Mediation is about so much more than legalities; it is about people”.
Joanna Chawla LLB FMCA Family Mediator
With a wealth of experience in family mediation Joanna works with parents and children in a non-adversarial, collaborative way to help them find solutions that are affordable for them and their family, solutions that are fair and that will work.
Separating is one of the most stressful experiences anyone ever has to face. Mediation offers couples a space in which to focus on the issues they face and explore their options, as they separate out their former lives together, until they feel able to make decisions they can be confident will work for them and their family, because they have made them together.
Emma Bugg FMCA Family Mediator Collaborative Family Lawyer
Emma is a member of the College of Mediators and is qualified to Directly Consult with Children (DCC) and also as a Professional Practice Consultant (PPC). Emma is also Accredited by the Family Mediation Council.
As a family mediator, Emma helps separating couples to resolve issues in a way that suits their family and avoid the emotional and financial cost of going to court.
Sara Stoner FMCA Family Mediator
Communication at this time is often strained or has completely broken down. Couples may feel that there is no viable alternative to court proceedings. However, Sara feels that spending thousands of pounds litigating and delegating decisions about finances and child arrangements to a Judge, leaves people feeling powerless and afraid. The adversarial nature of litigation increases and magnifies discord and when the court case concludes, parents are expected to forget any hurt inflicted during the process, put their differences to ones side and amicably co-parent their children together.
Sara says mediation requires significant commitment and hard work from clients. However, the rewards are well worth the effort. Mediated proposals are practical, fit for purpose, tailor made for each client's needs and often creative and forward thinking. Clients often leave mediation with improved communication. Children benefit enormously, as their parents can then co-parent amicably and effectively.
Sara is professional, friendly and empathetic. She remains calm under pressure. Her family law and mediation experience helps to ensure that she is a very safe pair of hands. Sara guides clients through the mediation process, so they can each move forward and make practical provisions for a positive future.
Sara works from our Potters Bar and Broxbourne offices.
Nicola Lewis FMCA Family Mediator
"People often ask me why I stopped working as a lawyer." Nicola says. "From what I saw and experienced in that role, I would say that the law is always there as a backstop, where people cannot find outcomes that work for everyone. But there is a gap between the end of a relationship and taking someone to court, where people struggle to talk to each other. There can be hurt, pain, a lack of recognition for one or other person, a myriad of misunderstandings and miscommunication. People dig in. Things get worse between them and this can have a bad effect on people caught in the cross-fire: family members, friends, children. This is where mediation comes in. With the help of a skilled communication specialist, we can help you to have those conversations so that your needs are met and costs, time and energy is saved on all sides. Things are sorted and you can move on with your life.I decided to work in that space, to help people get a resolution without having to do battle with each other and minimising the damage caused to those around them."
Nicola works hard to focus on what you all need to move on. Where children are involved she works hard to keep the child in the centre of the work we do, ensuring that their feelings and needs are taken into account when deciding how your futures apart will be. Nicola also has a specialist qualification to carry out child inclusive mediation. This is very useful to parents who are separating where there is a need for the child’s voice to be heard.
Nicola works part-time as a communication specialist assisting children and vulnerable adults to communicate with the legal professionals in the family and criminal courts. She spends a lot of time talking with and assessing children's communication ensuring they can say what they need to say in court and checking that their thoughts do not get lost or misinterpreted simply because they are young and may not easily be able to put into words, everything that they are thinking and feeling.
Nicola is one of our Focus dual qualified mediators and she is qualified to carry out both commercial mediations and family mediations. Nicola offers Focus's bespoke one-day mediation option where a concluded outcome can be reached in a day. She is also a leader in the MedArb process, another dispute resolution alternative to court that works well in certain situations. You can discuss all the options with Nicola when you meet.
As a communication specialist, Nicola is well placed to help people to have the conversations they need, to in order to sort out arrangements for the children and financial issues.