Jane McDonagh began her career as a libel lawyer acting for celebrities and newspapers, but then her career path changed. ‘A divorce in my family made me realize how rewarding it could be to support someone through this process and I also loved the intellectual challenge of the case law,’ she explains. Now head of the family law team she built, she has more than 20 of experience under her belt and has noticed a move towards cases involving international assets and interests, part of ‘a general trend towards the globalization of family law’.
Each client’s concerns are different. ‘It varies wildly according to where they are in their relationship,’ says McDonagh. ‘For some people it’s an emotional journey – they’re in mourning and in fear for their children’s future and their financial security. Others take a pragmatic approach – they just want it over and done with efficiently and quickly.’
Her workload tends towards cases with an international element – she has huge experience with questions of jurisdiction or assets in different countries. ‘These cases require specific skills not only in judging the best jurisdiction for a particular case (and that choice can have huge consequences in a divorce) but also in taking on board and understanding the very different cultural approaches which can make a huge difference in how to manage cases and using this knowledge in the proceedings,’ she explains. Cases involving a Middle-Eastern element are her particular specialty, where the interplay between the jurisdictions is particularly complex, but she has experience across many jurisdictions.