‘I always ask clients: “if you had a magic wand, what would you like to achieve?”, says Sandra Davis, who has headed the family department at Mishcon de Reya for over 30 years.
Davis is the lawyer of choice for many notable HNWs (often international) and has acted for such high-profile clients as Princess Diana, Jerry Hall and Tamara Mellon.
Whilst she is keen to promote resolution, she also likes to push boundaries. Davis is a frequent broadcaster and speaker on family law issues, and is on The Times Law Panel. Davis is also on the board of A Place To Be – a charity funding counsellors in primary schools. She is concerned that the current divorce process still encourages litigation by pitting parents against each other to the detriment of their offspring. If she had a magic wand, she’d use it to help make sure children’s wishes are heard earlier in the proceedings, to avoid polarisation and possible alienation further down the line, as the stage at which their views are currently solicited is ‘far from ideal’.
‘Children prefer to see their parents having a civilised relationship,’ she says. ‘Once one parent has started making negative comments about the other, things can become toxic very quickly.
‘Some colleagues in other firms won’t touch children work,’ she adds.
‘But I firmly believe it’s an incredibly important part of what we do.’ She says resolving issues to do with children can also help to resolve other issues. ‘If you promote a co-parenting relationship between spouses, we’re going to get more communication – that can lead to quicker, less painful settlement.’