I am interested in my clients as people and I will be honest about what is and is not achievable, whilst always trying to keep my clients focused, with hope, on life after the legal process is over. I believe that many couples can achieve a good divorce or separation that focuses on the whole family’s best interests and that there is an available process which will support them to do this.
I have practised as a Family Lawyer since 1984 and am accredited by Resolution as a specialist lawyer in the areas of Advanced Financial Provision and Private Children Law; I was a member of the Children Panel for 25 years until 2018.
In 2006 I trained as a collaborative family lawyer and I was involved in the first collaborative family case in the North East in 2007. Since then I have regularly worked collaboratively with legal colleagues. I am an active member of the North East Collaborative Group.
In 2010 I trained as a family mediator and am now FMC accredited. In 2013 I became qualified to undertake direct consultation with children in mediation and in 2016 I became a Professional Practice Consultant with supervisory status for mediation. I am increasingly working with my clients in non-court family dispute resolution processes dealing with both children and finance issues.
During the past decade I have become increasingly aware that Court is not a good choice for many families and I have looked harder and harder at other options. What is right for one client is not right for another and here at David Gray I have developed a Couples Information Meeting to help couples make an informed choice about how they wish to resolve their separation issues.
I was a Board member of Relate, Northumberland and Tyneside for full 10-year tenure and I led the North East Collaborative Group. I am a member of the national Resolution Dispute Resolution Committee and am often asked to talk to lawyers about developing dispute resolution practice. I read law at Durham University.
Our family team is ranked top tier in both leading legal directories. In the Legal 500 I am noted for my commitment to mediation and collaborative law and I am described as “excellent” and “innovative in (my) practice.” In the current Legal 500 it says that I am a ‘calm and effective’ dispute resolution specialist, and a ‘flag bearer for collaborative law, approaching cases pragmatically while remaining sensitive to the needs and aspirations of clients’.
I am named as a key individual in leading legal directory Chambers & Partners where I am noted for my mediation and collaborative practice. “Mary Shaw is singled out for her involvement in high-value financial remedy cases. She has expertise in childcare and domestic abuse matters, and is commended for her solution-orientated approach. One client says:
“I was most impressed. She is very good at interpersonal relations, and is also calm and efficient. She is clearly very committed to the collaborative process.”
In July 2017 I won Lawyer of the Year in the Private Family (including mediation) category at the 14th LALY awards in London which was a huge honour.
Clients have been very kind in acknowledging my support and advice. One of my clients wrote
“I just wanted to say how grateful I am to you. You have been a calm and supportive presence during what has been enormously difficult time, and your advice has been invaluable. I am very glad that we went down the collaborative route, and I think that your experience did much to smooth the path for everyone. Thank you.”
Another recommended me on LinkedIn:
“I chose to work with Mary because of her no-nonsense approach – no false promises, no big ego claims – just downright honesty and integrity and delivery of results at the end. Mary is professional, reassuring and has a great sense of humour. I would highly recommend her.”
A mediation client has recently written:
“Many thanks for the sessions we had with you. I found them very helpful and you were very calm and thoughtful throughout the process.”
I work with clients out of the region who choose me for my skillset and approach and because I can provide expert advice at rates lower than firms in the South East.
One such client has recommended me on LinkedIn:
“Mary is a rare breed of Family Lawyer who resists the predictable lengthy, costly and nasty adversarial path to divorce settlement. She prefers to get there through a real understanding of the situation while encouraging dialogue and compromise in everyone’s best interests; a genuine ‘hearts and minds’ approach. Her integrity, honesty and down-to-earth approach are really refreshing. The cost of her time is very reasonable considering her seniority and she is adept in good advice for the optimal route forward. No divorce conclusion could ever be described as ‘good’ when children are involved but it was at least fair. I am very glad to have had Mary’s experience, discipline, calmness, objectivity, sensitivity and encouragement throughout such an unpleasant process. Mary was based in Newcastle while I was in London so, extraordinarily, we never actually met face to face because we never needed to. Nevertheless by the time it was all over she felt like an old friend. I would recommend her support and services to anyone facing separation or divorce and in all matters of Family Law.”