Meet the Focus Mediation team

Learn about our team of expert lawyer mediators, and how they can help your dispute

 

 

 

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Family team
Civil and commercial team

 

 

Family mediation team

Mary Banham-Hall LLB FMCA

Mary Banham-Hall LLB FMCA

Family Mediator, collaborative family lawyer, and founder of Focus Medation

A solicitor since 1979 and mediator since 1999, Mary has developed a reputation for supporting clients through one of life’s great ordeals: separation and divorce.

Mary is also a highly experienced mediator, based at Focus Mediation’s head office in Milton Keynes, but also sees clients in our offices in Bedford, Northampton and further afield for One Day Mediations. Mary’s practical, solution-based approach ensures a high resolution rate for people working with her.

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 countless divorces in this way.

Emma Bugg FMCA

Emma Bugg FMCA

Family mediator and collaborative family lawyer

Emma has practised family law since 1994 and is based in Hertfordshire, working for Focus as a Family Mediator, she sees clients in Hemel Hempstead and St Albans. Emma is committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes and to helping her clients to see the big picture – that their family assets are more than just bricks and mortar and money, they include future relationships.

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

Sara Stoner FMCA

Family mediator

Sara qualified as a solicitor in 2003, specialising in family law. She trained as a mediator in 2013 and is a Family Mediation Council accredited mediator, (the gold standard of mediators). Sara now specialises in mediation, whilst ensuring she is always uptodate with developments in family law. Sara volunteers with the charity Mediation Herts.

Sara feels passionately that family mediation is often the best method for resolving issues arising from separation. She has repeatedly witnessed the pain and suffering that protracted court proceedings can cause couples and their children.

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. 
Elaine Clarke

Elaine Clarke

Family Mediator

Elaine is a lawyer, working for Focus Mediation as a family mediator. She is based in Bedford . Elaine has been mediating for fifteen years and her practical, friendly approach has helped many couples in the area.

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”.

Adrian Wright

Adrian Wright

External professional practice consultant and visiting senior mediator

Joanna Chawla LLB FMCA

Joanna Chawla LLB FMCA

Family mediator

Joanna is a practising family and commercial mediator. Formerly a litigation lawyer she is committed to the constructive resolution of family and commercial disputes.

A qualified solicitor and barrister and former partner in a West End firm she is based in London and also mediates in Watford. A member of the Family Mediation Association and accredited by the Law Society in family mediation, Joanna is also authorised to consult directly with children. Her dual mediation accreditations enable her to conduct One Day Family mediation for separating couples.

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. 
Nicola Lewis FMCA

Nicola Lewis FMCA

Family mediator

Nicola qualified as a solicitor in 1994. After working for a City Law firm and then the Government Legal Service, Nicola left the law to work full time as a mediator in 2014, having juggled working as a lawyer and a mediator from 2011. Nicola is committed to helping people to communicate during difficult times using her legal background and experience and her mediation skills: Nicola is also a trained Samaritans listener and a communication specialist working in the courts.

“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. 
Jane Leadbeater

Jane Leadbeater

Family Mediator

Jane works at our Milton Keynes and Bedford office as a specialist family mediator. She as a wide range of experience of acting as a solicitor for married or co-habiting clients that are separating, especially on the financial aspects of separation and the arrangements for any children of the relationship. She represented clients through negotiations with their former partner’s solicitors and at court when in practice. So making the switch to mediation is against the background of a wealth of experience and knowledge that is relevant to her work as a mediator. She can give excellent legal information to couples, so they are able to make informed decisions about matters they must resolve.

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.”

Rachel Lander

Rachel Lander

Family mediator

Rachel qualified as a Solicitor in 1995 and since that time has spent her working life immersed in Family Law. She initially trained as a Mediator with Resolution in 2000. The training enthused her greatly and she became passionate about alternative methods of resolving disputes. She subsequently went on to qualify as a Collaborative Lawyer in 2005 and was one of the first lawyers to do so in the North of England, where she was based at the time.

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”. 
Caroline Friend - currently on sabbatical

Caroline Friend - currently on sabbatical

Family mediator and collaborative family lawyer

Caroline Friend has been a full time lawyer-mediator since 2010. Prior to that, she worked in firm of solicitors in Oxford for seven years, where she handled all aspects of separation: divorce, co-parenting, financial settlements. So she has a strong grounding in the law which she keeps refreshed and up to date by attending training courses and seminars throughout the year. This means she will steer you in the right direction: she has a wealth of experience in children cases and can give you new ideas on how to co-parent, and she is mindful of exactly what it is you need to cover in your financial settlement. By coming to mediation with a lawyer-mediator, you get the expertise of two professions for the price of one, in a non-confrontational environment.

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. 

Civil and commercial mediation team

Mary Banham-Hall LLB FMCA

Mary Banham-Hall LLB FMCA

Commercial mediator and founder of Focus Mediation

Mary was admitted as a solicitor in 1979 and has developed a strong reputation as a highly experienced mediator. 

Whilst Mary still practices as a solicitor, she is passionate about mediation. She believes mediation is an effective, speedy and problem solving intervention, which is better for resolving most disputes than the law.

Mary trained as a commercial mediator with Henry Brown and her solution-based approach ensures a high resolution rate for her mediations. 
 
Mary is highly practical. She has a sense of proportion and adopts a commercial, business-like approach to solving disputes. Her role as founder and managing director of Focus Mediation has kept her busy since 1999. Focus has grown and developed a regional reputation for mediation, whether family or commercial. Mary’s favourite saying and the Focus slogan – is ‘Solve your problems, don’t fight over them’. 
Jean McDougall

Jean McDougall

Commercial mediator

An Independent Consultant and Mediator Jean specialises in the Human Resources Sector, but also deals with an enormous variety of other commercial and civil disputes. 

Jean has acted as a mediator in local and international recruitment, new business development, personnel management, relocation destination services (including spouse counselling and partner employment services), education, sales and marketing, and training. 

A Fellow of The Institute of Employment Consultants (now known as The Recruitment and Employment Confederation), Jean served three terms as elected Governor and two as Vice-President. She also served three years as elected member of the National Executive Council of Federation of Recruitment and Employment Services – Trade Body. 

 
Jean founded the Human Resource Educational Trust, which offers the internationally recognised Recruitment Practice Diploma. She is also a member of the Institute of Directors. She has over 30 years’ experience in personnel and recruitment, including 20 years in the serviced office sector and 12 years in the relocation industry. Jean’s extensive experience contributes to her high success rate as an accredited ADR mediator.
Julian Evans

Julian Evans

Commercial mediator

Julian has 20 years’ experience in conflict resolution. His previous roles centred on development planning and construction project design and management, from small-scale to strategic, which led him to sit on Corporate Management Teams for big organisations. He now specialises as a mediator working in commercial and civil mediation, family and business hybrid mediations and dealing with a variety of issues including workplace disputes. He also offers executive and psychological coaching. 

Julian also had a voluntary role to facilitate staff-to-management relations for 600 staff and was chief negotiator, mediator and coach for individual and corporate staff issues, which were many and varied. He now helps people from board level in listed multi-nationals through to small businesses and private citizens, using either mediation alone, or his ‘blended’ conflict resolution service for deep or wide-scale issues. 

Martin Banham-Hall

Martin Banham-Hall

Commercial mediator

Martin is an experienced Mediator (accredited by CEDR 2002), undertaking a broad range of commercial Mediations. He has particular interests in disputes concerning real estate, leases, partners and shareholders in small/medium-sized businesses, and contractual issues. He has undertaken Advanced Mediator training in managing high conflict disputes. Martin’s settlement rate in Mediation is very high.

His professional background is as a Solicitor since 1977 and he has been Senior Partner of a mid-sized commercial law firm since 1996. 
 
Those choosing Martin as Mediator have commented that he has the attributes needed to bring conflicted parties to agreement. Advanced negotiating skills, integrity, patience, determination, perceptiveness and sensitivity to the personal dynamics of a dispute are required of any Mediator. Martin adds to these the ability to gauge the most difficult legal, factual and emotive issues in a dispute, and to steer the parties towards those avenues most likely to bear fruit.
Dave Owen

Dave Owen

Commercial mediator

Dave’s background as a chartered surveyor and over 30 years of property development and investment work has given him very wide experience of dealing with potential and actual disputes. He sees mediation as being invaluable in resolving such disputes without incurring horrendous costs, both in management time and money.

As the owner of a property development and investment group, he is all too aware that management time is often diverted from creating value, rather than just dividing it. 

Aileen McDonald

Aileen McDonald

Commercial mediator

Aileen is a practising mediator and psychotherapist, with over twenty years’ experience as a corporate/commercial lawyer in private practice and industry and was formerly Company Secretary of British American Tobacco plc.

Aileen’s work as a psychotherapist, together with her strong commercial skills, make her ideally suited to facilitating the resolution of disputes between individuals and corporations. 

Mark Crane

Mark Crane

Commercial mediator

As a Civil and Commercial Mediator, Mark is a mature, pragmatic and capable professional with a Quantity Surveying background. Mark’s career has taken him across a varied and wide range of industry sectors. On route he has gained solid ADR experience having dealt with a wide range of issues and disputes.

When not acting as a Mediator or an Adjudicator, Mark’s day to day activity involves the settlement of contentious matters before the need for formal dispute resolution proceedings and/ or litigation. 
 
Areas of Expertise include:- 
 
• IT Contracts 
• Construction and Engineering 
• Marine 
• Rail Infrastructure 
• Defective Works 
• Facilities Management 
• Service Contracts 
• Framework Agreements 
• Property Leases / Landlord and Tenant 
• Boundary and Party Wall Disputes / Easements and Rights of Way 
• Professional Negligence 
• Insurance 
• Unpaid Invoices 
• Transport and Logistics 
Recent feedback for Mark includes: 
 
“…Mark’s ability to grasp the underlying issues very quickly was a real benefit to achieving a rapid settlement…” 
“…Marks relaxed style immediately put the participant’s as ease…” 
“…His no nonsense, straight forward approach was like a breath of fresh air…” 
Lawrence Harrison

Lawrence Harrison

Commercial mediator

Lawrence was formerly a partner in a leading London media law firm and co- founded and managed another. He has more than 20 years experience of finding solutions for clients in a broad range of situations and has been widely praised for his calm, efficient and very commercial approach. A good listener with a sympathetic and patient manner, Lawrence is passionate about mediation which he believes is better than litigation for resolving most disputes.

Lawrence read Law at UCL and Queens’ College, Cambridge. After a brief period at the bar he joined the Simkins Partnership specialising in the music and theatre industries, becoming a partner in 1992. In 1998 he left to found the specialist entertainment and media firm Harrison Curtis which merged with Russell-Cooke in 2005. 
 
Lawrence now divides his time between his work as a mediator and providing legal and commercial advice to a wide range of clients in the entertainment, media and creative industries. He is also a part time lecturer in law at the University of Westminster. 
Nicola Lewis FMCA

Nicola Lewis FMCA

Commercial mediator

Nicola’s background as a litigator and an employment law specialist has given her an insight into both the world of commercial litigation and dispute resolution in the workplace.

Latterly, in her legal career, Nicola also worked in the field of employment law rights in the workplace and then in European and WTO law.

“At the heart of a lot of the work I did, were disputes, many of which could have been better resolved via mediation or other ADR processes at a fraction of the time and cost, not to mention the stress involved in a court/tribunal action.”

This realisation led Nicola to qualifying as a CMC accredited mediator in 2011.

 
Nicola is experienced across a range of civil and commercial areas including:
  • Workplace and employment
  • Commercial/contractual disputes (supply of goods and services)
  • Residential property/Landlord and Tenant disputes
  • Family finance disputes
  • Inheritance disputes
  • Professional Negligence
  • Building disputes
  • Costs 
Nicola is also an experienced FMC accredited family mediator and works extensively in this area resolving both separation-related conflict and conflict between family members, including sibling disputes and intergenerational conflict. 
Nicola says: 
“I am totally committed to mediation – working hard with clients to help them draw up agreements which work for them without the waste of money, time and energy which court action involves.” 
“I bring with me a depth and breadth of experience in the field of conflict resolution working full time as an all issues mediator, supported by my legal background and my communication skills based on the principles of non-violent communication.” 
 
Some comments from clients: 
“Experienced, calm, professional, respectful, inspired confidence, held the space, understood the issues very quickly. She provided an invaluable service as X was able to speak, in a place of safety, and a difficult issue was resolved.” 
 
“You were very anchoring, clear and compassionate…. so glad you found your way to us and us to you.” 
 
“I think our mediation sessions made a tremendous difference and have enabled us to see more clearly.” 
 
“Brilliant mediator, very supportive.” 
 
“Extremely professional, kind and supportive, very patient to hear all of the issues involved within the mediation, I was so impressed.” 
 
“Thank you so much for your amazing help with the mediation yesterday. I will never forget your kindness, caring heart, and genuine warmth. I have so much respect for you and the incredibly rewarding work that you do. I shall honestly recommend you to everyone. You have no idea how much you have helped me. You have lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and helped me so much.” 
 
I have mediated in a broad range of conflicts and am committed to interest-based processes which do not require winners and losers and which cost less (in both human and financial terms) than embarking on the litigation route. 
Joanna Chawla FMCA

Joanna Chawla FMCA

Commercial mediator

Joanna worked for 10 years as a litigator. Practising as both a solicitor and a barrister she became a fervent supporter of mediation offering a quick, cost effective and workable solution for parties in conflict.

Away from the rigid, and costly framework of litigation, mediation allows clients to work collaboratively to unlock deadlock; and her friendly, hard working and intelligent approach helps parties to find a workable solution, quickly and cost effectively away from Court. 

Simon Aronsohn

Simon Aronsohn

Commercial mediator

Simon has been an accredited mediator since 2000. He has mediated or co-mediated more than 50 disputes including medical negligence matters, landlord and tenant issues, contractual and insurance disputes. He is a senior consultant to InterResolve and in 2012 completed an LLM in International Dispute Resolution at Queen Mary University of London.

Formerly a solicitor, Simon’s background includes nine years running his own firm, S Aronsohn & Co (solicitors) as a general practitioner, dealing with a wide variety of legal issues. He was also a Director of The Anglo- Group of companies, focused on work with the Former Soviet Union and a Director of Law Firm Ltd, which runs a bilingual website in English and Russian, advising Russian speakers on immigration matters. Simon has a working knowledge of Russian, French and German. 

Gill Rouse

Gill Rouse

Commercial mediator

Gill has extensive people management experience and particular skills in facilitation. She is able to quickly identify the key issues, using her calm, professional approach to questioning and listening, developed over many years in HR. Gill has a straightforward, open and honest approach, which allows her to build trust with the parties whilst maintaining her independence.

Gill has over 20 years’ experience in HR, Coaching and Change Management with blue chip companies, including 4 years’ work overseas. Formerly an HR Manager for 8 years with BT, the HR Development Director for AT&T-Unisource in The Netherlands and a Principal Consultant in the Change Management Practice at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Gill has run her own HR and Change Management consultancy, People & Change, for over 9 years. 

Jonathan Lux

Jonathan Lux

Commercial mediator

Jonathan Lux has over 33 years’ experience behind him as a solicitor and partner at leading international commercial law firm Ince & Co, and 15 as a Mediator in commercial law; he acts as a Mediator and Arbitrator. He is well placed to take on Mediation and Arbitration cases that require a highly skilled and personal approach. Jonathan has the ability to grasp the key issues of a case quickly.

His vast experience and the range of Mediation and Arbitration cases that he has been involved with, have given him the tact and robustness that leads to a satisfactory conclusion, enabling all parties to cost-effectively put the case behind them and get on with their business. His wise guidance, flexible approach and excellent communications skills as a team player make him the right choice for contentious or straightforward mediation cases. 
 
He has lectured widely and written numerous articles on the subject of mediation, and is co-author of ADR and Commercial Disputes. Jonathan was awarded Global Shipping & Maritime Lawyer of the Year for both 2010 and 2011 by Who’s Who Legal. In December 2011 he featured in Lloyd’s List of Top Ten Legal Personalities and was a finalist for the Lloyd’s List global Shipping & Maritime Lawyer of the Year award 2012. 
 
Jonathan has received regular appointments as Mediator and Arbitrator both in relation to maritime disputes and international commercial law disputes more widely. He is a fluent French and German speaker making him much in demand for national and international mediations. 
MacDonald Mopho

MacDonald Mopho

Commercial mediator

He has an extensive and impressive professional legal background and became a CEDR accredited mediator in 2001. He was trained by and has worked alongside the late David Richbell and several other established mediators. MacDonald runs an independent consultancy and has held and serves on various advisory boards and panels including the CAB. His specialist areas include Contract and Construction disputes.

Professional Qualifications:
  • Member (MCIArb) Reg. 023117
  • The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators March 2006
  • Member, Mediation Steering Group for Global Professional Standards 2007-2008
  • CEDR Accredited Mediator
  • The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, CEDR January 2001