Sheila was admitted as a solicitor in 1993. Having commenced her legal career with Clifford Chance, London, Sheila subsequently practiced as a litigation solicitor with Thomas Eggar (now merged with Irwin Mitchell). At Thomas Eggar she specialized in high net worth and high-profile disputes including Court of Appeal cases and those that attracted press interest. At Thomas Eggar she headed up the family law team and was part of the commercial litigation department’s management team. In 2003 Sheila joined MacDonald Oates LLP, Hampshire as a partner. She qualified as a family mediator in 2007 with Resolution and as a civil & commercial mediator with ADRg in 2008.
Sheila is a CEDR accredited civil & commercial mediator and a registered mediator with the Civil Mediation Council. In addition to providing civil & commercial mediation services to address a broad range of civil, commercial and trust and probate disputes, Sheila also offers the one-day civil & commercial model of mediation to resolve family disputes working with Family Mediation Council mediators to do so where appropriate.
Sheila is passionate about creating positive dispute resolution outcomes for clients and limiting the time, cost and emotional impact of conflict. Inspired by the benefits of mediation for clients and its efficacy in resolving disputes swiftly and effectively, Sheila left legal practice in 2009 to concentrate on the provision of mediation services in the civil & commercial, workplace and family sectors. She established The Mediation Specialists in 2010 with a team of dedicated civil & commercial, workplace and family specialists. Sheila is director of The Mediation Specialists.
Sheila has sat on the former Family Justice Council Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee which advised the Ministry of Justice on the introduction of pre-action mediation information and assessment meetings which then became law in England and Wales in 2014. She has conducted interviews with Radio 4’s The Today Programme, Sky and ITV, Radio 2 and 5 live on legal developments concerning mediation and is on the UK Ministry of Justice register of experts.
Fascinated by developments in neuroscience and how these can enhance dispute resolution outcomes, Sheila has spent time researching the neuroscience of conflict and is in the process of writing a book on the subject. She is also studying to become a psychologist with a view to introducing the benefits of this discipline into mediation training to further enhance the professional management of conflict.
Sheila is an industry trainer and mentor and is a Resolution trained professional practice consultant for family mediators. She conducts training through The Mediation Specialists for professionals in law, mediation and organizational management across the private and public sectors wishing to enhance their conflict management skills and their understanding of the dynamics of conflict. She has also conducted training for professionals as a registered Law Society professional development provider. Sheila trained as an Institute of Leadership and Management “Action Learning Facilitator” and in this role works with small groups within companies, organizations and professions on an ongoing basis over a series of months to enhance professional development, problem solving and conflict management skills.
Sheila publishes articles from time to time for the legal and mediation press. Her most recent article, ‘How to Successfully Manage Entrenched Conflict in Mediation’ was published in the Corporate Mediation Journal in 2020. https://www.elevenjournals.com/tijdschrift/cmj/2020/2/CMJ_2542-4602_2020_004_002_002.
Sheila has also contributed to a leading UK family mediation training manual ‘Family Mediation. Appropriate Dispute Resolution in a new family justice system’ 2nd ed. Lisa Parkinson -published by Family Law.