Fiona Shackleton, who joined Payne Hicks Beach as a partner in 2001, is a phenomenon – ‘probably the greatest family lawyer of all time’, according to one observer. This may sound like a huge endorsement, but for once the hype is justified.
Described by commentators as ‘a master strategist’ who has ‘great skill in putting clients at ease,’ and ‘very good at seeing the big picture’, she’s known for her kindness (she remembers the birthdays of everyone in the firm) and Spear’s can report that she’s also an excellent lunch companion. Though she doesn’t drink herself, she fills up your glass for you, and even offers a parting gift of chocolates, before dashing off to receive the freedom of the City.
‘I’ve never known someone who can light up a room like Fiona can,’ enthuses fellow partner Dominic Crossley. Indeed, there’s a sense of razzmatazz about her which is full of harmless good fun – Spear’s notes a lizard brooch on her shoulder during their lunch – and makes her a natural fit for her numerous celebrity cases.
Clients include the Duke of Sussex and Duke of Cambridge, as well as Prince Charles and Paul McCartney. Lately, Shackleton – who also sits in the House of Lords as the Baroness of Belgravia, having been made a life peer in 2010 – has been active on her Shackleton Relationships Project.
Drawing on knowledge garnered from her 40 years in the profession, and operating in concert with her alma mater of Exeter University, this is a 10-point plan that seeks to educate couples in what to think about before entering into marriage.