T: 020 7092 3700
DX 404 Chancery Lane

James Schofield

Call 2004

About Me

James was Called to the Bar in July 2004. He has been in full time practice at the Family Bar of England and Wales since April 2008. He works at all level of Court up to the Court of Appeal in the following areas:

  1. Care, placement and adoption proceedings on behalf of parents or children; and appeals;
  2. Family public law cases with an international element, including child placement abroad and adoption with a foreign element;
  3. Private law disputes in relation to child arrangements, including cases raising issues of parental alienation and of non-accidental injury and other allegations of harm against a child; special guardianship; and appeals;
  4. Private law disputes over relocation;
  5. Family law injunctions and enforcement;

James has a strong interest in advising and representing the carers of children with social, developmental or educational needs, especially Asperger’s syndrome and specific learning difficulties. He was an accredited tribunal representative of IPSEA (the Independent Panel for Special Education Advice) from 2004 to 2007.

James is a member of Coram Chambers, a leading family law chambers in the centre of London with a national reputation for excellence in advocacy and client care across all areas of family law.

Before he qualified as a barrister, James was a journalist. He worked as a foreign correspondent reporting from Africa and the Middle East for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He lived in Kenya for four years while covering sub-Saharan Africa (1991 – 1995), where he was injured. Afterwards James spent two years in Jerusalem and Amman covering the Middle East, including Iraq. Following this he spent two years in Beirut reporting from Lebanon and Syria for The Financial Times.

In May 2021 James was admitted to practise as an Australian lawyer by the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia.

Direct Access

James welcomes direct access clients because he believes in providing the best possible service for clients at an affordable cost.

In some cases, it may be possible to resolve your problem without going anywhere near the door of a court. But if the dispute continues, James has the advocacy skills to give direct access clients the best possible chance of securing the outcome they want.

He works very hard for his clients. He prepares properly. He believes in fighting for his client’s case.

Private law disputes

James has extensive experience as an advocate in disputes between parents or family members or other carers over child arrangements. This means that he can advise and represent you in a dispute about:

– where your child or grandchild lives
– when and how much time he or she spends with you or with another relative or carer
– when and what other types of contact, such as phone calls, should take place
– what school your child or grandchild should go to, whether they should have a religious education and other questions about how he or she is being brought up
– any other decision about the child’s upbringing
– parental responsibility
– relocating with the child to a new home in England or Wales
– moving to live overseas
– special guardianship
– changing your child’s or grandchild’s first name or surname
– appeals against a Court decision

He has a strong professional and personal interest in cases that involve children with social, developmental and educational needs, especially Asperger’s syndrome, and children with specific learning difficulties such as dyspraxia. He was an accredited tribunal representative of IPSEA (the Independent Panel for Special Education Advice) from 2004 to 2007.

He has extensive experience of cases where a child has expressed hatred or strong dislike for one of its parents, making access by the rejected parent very difficult or even impossible. Where there are allegations that someone has been responsible for physical, emotional or sexual harm to a child, he can help you to prove or disprove these allegations at Court. Where a Court Order has been ignored, James can help you to enforce it.

Family law injunctions

He can help you to secure or to defend an application for a non-molestation order or occupation order.

Public law proceedings

James can advise and represent you when a Local Authority has become involved with your family, or is threatening to become involved, because it is concerned about your child’s welfare. When this happens, it is vital to obtain good legal advice as soon as you can. James has particular expertise in cases involving:

– care or supervision orders
– placement orders
– secure accommodation orders
– emergency protection orders
– wardship cases
– the Achieving Best Evidence guidelines
– special guardianship
– allegations of neglect
– allegations of serious physical, emotional or sexual harm
– alleged non-accidental injury to a child

These are usually the most complex and most serious proceedings to be heard by the Family Court. James has wide experience of advising and representing families in these cases, especially where the problems are compounded by alcohol or drug misuse or where the parent or carer is very young or vulnerable.

He also has a very good understanding of the issues relating to children with special educational needs, including those on the autistic spectrum and children with specific learning difficulties and those who care for them.

What James can do for you

– If you are the parent of a child or other family member, he can help you to understand the perspectives that are brought to bear upon decisions to initiate proceedings in the first place and to help you make the right choices and to take the right steps.
– He is able to represent you in the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the County Courts and family proceedings courts.
– He can help and advise you in writing or in conference and negotiate on your behalf, which may mean that you can achieve your aims without having to take your case to court.
– He can negotiate on your behalf.
– He can prepare the formal written documents you may need.
– If your case requires a psychologist, psychiatrist or other expert, such as an expert on some aspect of the law in another country, he can advise you on the choice of a suitable expert and help you to prepare a letter of instruction.
– If you are considering an appeal, he can advise you on the procedure for lodging an appeal and draft the grounds of appeal.
– In relation to family law injunctions, he can assist you with an application for a non-molestation or occupation order.
– Where there are allegations that someone has been responsible for physical, emotional or sexual harm to a child, he can help you to prove or disprove these allegations at Court.
– If you are considering an appeal, he can advise you on the procedure for lodging an appeal and draft the grounds of appeal.

Practice Areas

Direct Access


BA Hons (Oxon)
MA (Oxon)
CPE/ Graduate Diploma in Law (2000 – 2002) “Commended”
Bar Vocational Course (2002-2004) “Very Competent”



Professional Memberships

Anglo-Australasian Lawyers Society
Family Law Bar Association


1995 Logie Award (Australian television award) for most outstanding achievement in television news (Rwandan genocide).
1994 Walkley award (Australian journalism award) for best application of the radio medium to journalism (Somalia).
1994 Walkley award for best coverage of a current story (Sudan).
Runner-up for the 1995 Golden Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism, Australia’s highest award for journalism.
He was also Highly Commended for a report from a scene of conflict on the West Bank (1997).

“After two and half years of ongoing disputes concerning the arrangements for my children I felt that the problem was irresolvable and I was extremely stressed and despondent. I had also paid a considerable sum of money on solicitors’ fees which had had no impact on my wife’s intransigence.
I approached James as a direct access client, my wife having made an application to the court alleging emotional and mental abuse on my part towards my children.

I met James in conference and he immediately grasped the fundamentals of the situation and was able to direct me in my response by preparing a position statement for me and suggesting how the matter should be addressed in front of the Judge.

At the subsequent hearing James was able to negotiate an agreement with my wife which no one had been able to achieve before. The allegations were dismissed by the Judge due to James’ advocacy and an order agreed which was far better than I had hoped for.

James has now given to my children through his skill as a negotiator and advocate a shared care arrangement that both of them had wanted and which will most certainly work in their best interest.

Without James’ calm, intelligent and determined approach my children would still be caught up in a battle between my wife and I and restricted as to the amount and quality of time they now spend with me.

I cannot recommend James highly enough to those caught up in long protracted disputes.” – Mr C (2016)

“Thank you for all of your help. You were absolutely brilliant today and it’s all down to you that we got the result we wanted. I’ll be forever grateful.” – Ms S, the Respondent in a case about whether her children should divide their time between their separated parents or live with one of their parents and spend time with the other.

“I would strongly recommend James to anyone finding themselves in the Family Court with complex Child arrangement cases, including leave to remove applications. His calmness and reassurance in a time of distress was most important to me and the outcome for our children’s well-being could not have been better.” (2018)

Mr AE, in a case which turned on whether the mother should be allowed to take the children to live with her abroad. The Court refused the application for leave to remove and directed that the children should live with each of their parents.


“Silent over Africa: stories of war and genocide” HarperCollins Australia 1996.
“Shaping the Second Enlightenment” (Editor)


Articles from Lebanon and Syria for The Financial Times, 1998 to 2000.
Israel and the Palestinians: Future Imperfect (chapter), International Security Review 2000, published by the Royal United Services for Defence Studies (RUSI).
Articles on Africa, the Middle East and the “war on terror” for Consilio, an on-line magazine for law students studying with Semple Pigott Rochez (Legal Education) Ltd, 2000 to 2002.
Article on the trial of four Osama Bin Laden associates in New York on charges related to the bombing of two United States embassies in Africa, The Legal Executive Journal, 2001.
Remembering the Genocide, The Legal Executive Journal, May 2004.
Autism and the criminal justice system, The Legal Executive, December 2005

Broadcast interviews

In October 2012, BBC “Witness” programme “Black Hawk Down”.


In the case of Re: S (A Child) [2017] EWCA Civ 249 (24 February 2017), an appeal brought by the mother of a young child following the making of a care order and an order authorising the child to be placed for adoption, Lord Justice McFarlane, giving the Judgment of the Court, stated that James had “conspicuously” represented the mother’s interests “both at trial and at appeal with great care, skill and insight.”

Chambers Awards

Chambers UK Bar
Leading Set 2020

The Legal 500
Leading Set 2020

Family Law Awards
Shortlisted 2019 Awards

family law awards