Family mediation team
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
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 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.
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”.
External professional practice consultant and visiting senior mediator
Joanna Chawla LLB FMCA
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.
Nicola Lewis FMCA
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Nicola Lewis FMCA
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.
- 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
Joanna Chawla FMCA
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 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 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 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.
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.
- 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