‘This year has been our busiest ever,’ says Sandra Davis, the distinguished head of Mishcon’s family department. She adds that 2018 has seen her and her team of 19 advise on ‘a number of high profile, high calibre cases’.
When asked about notable recent trends in her line of work, Davis tells Spear’s: ‘We are starting to see a greater increase in the numbers of entrepreneurial women requiring our services.’ Davis adds that there has been ‘continued growth in the requests for pre-nups’ as well as ‘increasing demand for creative solution to maintain family wealth’.
Davis has been practising in the field of HNW family law for nearly four decades, and she’s held in high regard among her peers ‘for her experience and level-headedness’. One peer hails her as a ‘fantastic lawyer who does her utmost for clients’.
She is well versed in dealing with divorces where hundreds of millions of pounds are being disputed. These cases often have international elements, complex tax and trust issues, or substantial business assets and partnerships at play. Also notable is her skilful and sensitive handling of children matters, which range from international relocations to abductions. ‘I make sure that children’s voices are heard,’ she tells Spear’s, highlighting that their welfare is always the prime concern. ‘You can’t do this job if you don’t care,’ she adds.
Proving that her client base is as broad as her legal expertise, Davis tells Spear’s that she acts for high profile celebrity clients ranging from models and footballers to entrepreneurs. Other clients remain strictly under the radar and tend to work in the business and finance arenas.
Davis has an impressive track record and in 2014 achieved the largest English divorce settlement to be awarded at that time – a pleasing £337 million for the wife of a high profile hedge fund manager. She is currently acting on behalf of the wife of Africa’s so-called youngest billionaire in a particularly complex case. The husband’s initial disclosure of assets (worth less than £500,000) was proved incorrect in 2017, when a judge found that he was in fact the sole beneficial owner of the Mara Group, which turns over more than $1 billion. The husband was refused permission to appeal, meaning he must pay the wife’s costs on the indemnity basis.
Davis was the first woman on Mishcon’s management board – a role she has maintained – and, at 33 years and counting, she’s also one of the longest serving partners. Perhaps her most impressive career achievement though was becoming head of the family department upon qualification as a solicitor. In her spare time, Davis is a trustee of Place2Be, a charity providing emotional and therapeutic support to primary and secondary school children. She is also a consultant editor of the Family Law Journal, an academic periodical, and sits on the Times’ Law Panel.
What does she find the most enjoyable about her work? ‘Taking someone at their lowest ebb… charting them through a path to independence [and] ensuring that they understand how they moved from their start post to their destination.’