Position

Partner

Index

Family Lawyers

Legal

Location

London

Advice type

Divorces

High-profile cases

Legal - Complex family matters

Client Types

Celebrities

HNW

Royalty

UHNW

Sector Focus

Legal Advisory Services

Customer Type

Solicitor

Fiona Shackleton

Spear’s Review

Baroness Fiona Shackleton of Belgravia, partner at Payne Hicks Beach, is Britain’s most feared and revered divorce lawyer. It’s not just Spear’s saying this, but her peers in the profession as well. Some industry observers have described her as ‘the greatest family lawyer of all time.’ 

Her client book is unlike any other in the profession and includes Paul McCartney, Stephen Hawking, the Aga Khan, Liam Gallagher, Norman Foster and Princess Haya bint Hussein of Jordan. She was famously chosen by King Charles to represent him in his divorce from Diana. In an unusual turn of events, Diana even sent Shackleton a bouquet of flowers as a token of gratitude for conducting the proceedings without acrimony.

More recently, she was involved in the landmark case of Potanin v Potanina, where she represented one of Russia’s richest men Vladimir Potanin, and successfully blocked a multi-billion-pound case being brought against him by his ex-wife into English courts. Shackleton has also been hired to represent Earl Spencer in his third divorce. 

It’s not just her winning combination of inner grit and exterior polish that has earned her the nickname of ‘the Steel Magnolia’, but also her wardrobe of structured power-suits, brightly coloured dresses and designer accessories. ‘She’s smart,’ said one lawyer. ‘That’s just managing the media. She knows [some] readers are not interested in the boring legal stuff but interested in what the lawyer who divorced Prince Charles is wearing.’ 

Despite the glamour, Shackleton is driven by a greater purpose. ‘I like sticking up for people, making sure they’re not taken advantage of,’ she once said. ‘It helps to have a rod of steel in your back and lots of charm.’

Another family lawyer, when asked about Baroness Shackleton’s role in the industry, remarked: ‘The famous tennis player Peter Fleming once said of John McEnroe: “The best doubles pair is John McEnroe and anyone.” I think about that quote in relation to Fiona Shackleton often because the magnitude of her practice and the plaudits that she gets would instantly make any firm she is with a success.’

Rank: Top Flight

Top Flight 2024, Family Lawyers

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