UK Law Society launches its Legal Heroes campaign.

They write

Today the Law Society launches its Legal Heroes campaign. To mark this project, Eduardo Reyes invited Gazette contacts to share their own legal heroes with fellow readers

Sayeeda Warsi

Chosen by Lubna Shuja, president of the Law Society

From humble beginnings Baroness Warsi (pictured, below) set up her own legal practice. She subsequently went on to become the first Muslim to serve as a cabinet minister and the youngest member of the House of Lords. She has done much charitable work and has used her positions to campaign for human rights internationally, while also advocating for religious tolerance and stronger communities across the UK. 

Len Sealy

Chosen by professor Pippa Rogerson, master at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge

Len Sealy was an unstuffy New Zealander who taught company law at Cambridge University as a fellow of Caius for almost his entire working life. He was the kindest man with an excellent sense of judgement on all the important things in life: family, scholarship, supporting younger academics and his students. He was also brilliant in a very understated way. He made the most complex areas clear without dumbing down. Even now, when making difficult decisions, I find myself asking ‘What would Len do?’

John Moore

Chosen by Trevor Sterling, senior partner at Moore Barlow, London

I have been privileged to work alongside many excellent lawyers during my career, and my journey from a 17-year-old outdoor clerk in 1984 to becoming the first Black senior partner of a top-100 UK firm in 2021, was undoubtedly inspired by John Moore. Having left school with little in the way of qualifications, my attributes were crafted by John who was my first supervising partner. His forensic consideration of facts, mellifluous turn of phrase and fearless approach to litigation inspired me, but most significantly his raft of humorous legal anecdotes made me feel at ease. John always gave me a sense that I belonged in law irrespective of my social background and race – 38 years later I am still proud to be part of our wonderful legal profession. 

Judge Elizabeth Cooke

Chosen by Tony Roe, partner at Dexter Montague, Reading

I was first inspired by Upper Tribunal Judge Cooke when she was a professor of law at the University of Reading. I went on to work with her when she became a law commissioner and I was on the advisory panel for its work on matrimonial property, needs and agreements. Her knowledge of property law knows no bounds. Judge Cooke was appointed to be a judge of the Upper Tribunal, assigned to the Lands Chamber with effect from 3 June 2019.

Amardeep Gill

Chosen by Bal Atwal, Law Society Council, junior lawyers  

Amardeep Gill is a partner at Trowers & Hamlins and was the managing partner of the Birmingham office when I was a trainee at the firm. Amardeep was one of the first ethnic minority managing partners of an international law firm, which was huge for me and many others. He was a strong role model for the office and continues to make an impact across the firm, region and wider professional services.

Lubna Shuja

I had the pleasure of meeting Lubna when she presented me with one of the first Welsh language Law Society admission certificates in Cardiff. She is an individual who many people from diverse communities can look to as an inspirational figure. She was inaugurated as the 178th, first Asian, first Muslim and seventh female president of the Law Society of England and Wales in its 200-year history. An incredible achievement!


Rupert Nevin

Chosen by Vikki Woodfine, partner at DWF, Manchester

Early in my career it would have been easy to mould myself to be like everybody else at a commercial law firm. Rupert Nevin, senior associate at Rradar, was always full of encouragement that you can still be a fantastic lawyer while being authentic. In fact, he would point out that in the work that we do, which often involves the darkest moments in a client’s life, being a human and not a stereotypical lawyer is exactly what the client needs.

Julia Kirkham

Women solicitor role models were few and far between when I was starting out. At the beginning of my career, when those I worked with were always going to have a huge influence on what I did next, I was fortunate to be mentored by Julia Kirkham, a solicitor at Saunders Roberts in Evesham. She had the patience and willingness to help me learn, gave me guidance when I needed it, and made me feel like my work was valued and appreciated.

Allen Sykes

Chosen by Nicholas Dobson, consultant on local authority, public law and governance

I was decidedly wet behind the ears when I joined Bradford Council’s legal team many years ago. Allen Sykes was director in turbulent political times for the council. Eric Pickles (now The Rt Hon Lord Pickles) controversially led the council on the casting vote of the lord mayor, despite unsuccessful legal challenges. Allen had great acuity, integrity and political awareness, steering safely through ever treacherous waters. Under Allen I grew confidence in managing complex and contentious issues. Sadly, Allen died shortly after reaching well-earned retirement.

Rachel Richardson

Chosen by Laura Uberoi, senior associate at Macfarlanes; Law Society Council, Central London  

Rachel is a role model for how we can effectively incorporate personal values into our everyday work. A brilliant finance lawyer, she was the first head of banking policy at Macfarlanes and is now the firm’s head of ESG – roles which provide crucial support to clients on their ESG journeys. Always a trailblazer, Rachel was also the first in my team to take parental leave, paving the way for others to follow.

Simon Davis

Chosen by Ed Crosse, partner at Simmons & Simmons, London

Simon Davis, former disputes partner at Clifford Chance and past president of the Law Society, is a giant among litigators, but he’d be the last to acknowledge that! For his clients he is committed, diligent and calm – if Simon was ever stressed, you’d be the last to know. When dealing with the ‘oppo’ Simon is courteous, measured but firm. He never expressed ‘surprise’ or ‘disappointment’ by something said: he would just destroy the point with inescapable logic. But the biggest thing I learned from Simon is that to be a good litigator, you don’t have to be aggressive, demanding, or uncompromising – the opposite in fact. Simon has shaped my career (even today). I only hope I can do the same for my team!

Rosalyn Breedy

Chosen by Suzanne Gill, partner at Wedlake Bell, London

Rosalyn (pictured, above) is an incredibly supportive person to work with, generous with her time, and has inspired many of the junior lawyers here at Wedlake Bell. Financial regulation is a highly technical area of work which Rosalyn works through in an organised and calm manner – she has consummate client-handling skills. At a time when the profession is becoming increasingly specialised, her breadth of expertise really stands out. As well as this she has successfully found the energy to act as a board level director for startups and larger companies.

Stephen Pollard

Chosen by Linda Woolley, managing partner at Kingsley Napley, London

As an NQ I did a routine first remand at Horseferry Road mags. I’d left the client in the dock saying ‘see you in half an hour’ and saw him next in the cells. This was after the Crown had no objections to bail! Completely out of my depth, I could not face doing the appeal at the Old Bailey that afternoon. Stephen, a Kingsley Napley partner formerly in the Crown Prosecution Service, rescued me. Stephen was a supportive manager, but he also pushed me outside my comfort zone, which I needed. When I became managing partner he was the person I could confidentially share anything with. He’s a partner at WilmerHale now but we’ve stayed good friends, and I still can.

Michael Scholes

Chosen by Stuart Nolan, chair of the Law Society’s criminal law committee

Michael was the solicitor and principal I was articled to in the 1980s. He was tireless in seeking justice for his clients in whatever avenue he represented in. He taught me to listen carefully, not to jump too quickly to conclusions and to give the facts of a case careful thought. He impressed upon me the importance of the rules of evidence and the centrality of legal principles like the presumption of innocence to the rights of the accused.

Anthony Edwards

Chosen by Jenny Beck KC (Hon), solicitor and director at Beck Fitzgerald, London

Anthony ‘Tony’ Edwards is now retired but he was senior partner of TV Edwards. The firm was originally set up by his uncle and was where I first worked on qualification. Anthony inspired a love of the law, a passion for using it to make the world a little fairer and a blatant refusal to accept the unacceptable. All three are qualities I deeply value and have tried to foster. I was managing partner alongside Anthony as senior partner for many years. Everyone who knows him will know he was unmanageable for all of them!

David Hodson

Chosen by Anthony Newbury, partner at Hall Brown, Manchester

My nomination goes to David Hodson at The International Family Law Group. David Hodson was my mentor. He took me from knowing nothing about family law, to me spending over 30 years practising in the area. It’s his enthusiasm and passion which have stayed with me. David’s a well-known family law writer; he encouraged me to lecture and write articles. If it wasn’t for David, I wouldn’t be writing the Gazette’s family law column. I still recall my first written piece, from 1992, in the Payroll Managers Review. You might as well start at the top!

Nigel Priestley

Chosen by Emma Pearmaine, managing director of Ridley & Hall, Huddersfield

I nominate Nigel Priestley (pictured, below), public law solicitor in Huddersfield. Nigel is a practising solicitor, aged 70, who developed a career supporting children, parents and grandparents in breakdown adoption and kinship care arrangements. He work has taken him around the world, representing clients residing as far away as Africa and Canada. His groundbreaking actions against local authorities securing financial and other support for kinship carers has changed council approach to kinship care across England and Wales, so much so that he was awarded the MBE in 2021 for services to children and families. Nigel gives up his free time to speak at conferences and has advised foreign government and charity organisations. Nigel and his wife themselves adopted, and now as grandparents also provide kinship care. Nigel also holds free legal clinics at his local legal centre. He lives his life in service to the family law community and his local community and beyond.


Gwen Burnett

Chosen by Cris McCurley, partner at Ben Hoare Bell, Newcastle upon Tyne

I owe more than I can say to Gwen Burnett, who I met on my first day of articles. Gwen now sits as a tribunal Judge. When I felt like an imposter in the legal world, she taught me that people like us belong. She also saved my life when I was a newly qualified advocate, dragging me to safety when I stood totally frozen during a dock riot in court. She has been my mentor and I owe her everything.

Roger Bolt

Chosen by Suzanne Trask, partner at Bolt Burdon Kemp, London

Roger Bolt is a legal hero of mine. For managing to seamlessly combine equally serious careers as a solicitor and a rock star. A brilliant lawyer, he fought tenaciously for the disadvantaged, and was one of the first to specialise in personal injury law. Roger and the incredible Lynne Burdon founded our firm, Bolt Burdon Kemp. Roger provided me with opportunities that I will always be thankful for. Having retired from the law, he is now a full-time rock legend.

Martin Nossel

Chosen by Karen Dovaston, solicitor, arbitrator, Dovaston Law, Southend-on-Sea

My legal hero is Martin Nossel, the solicitor who trained me as an articled clerk. Martin taught me the business of being a solicitor. We were a small legal aid firm but we had a brilliant library because Martin’s view was that if you did not know about something, buy the book and learn it. I shared a corner of his office for the first year and learnt tons. Most of all, I learnt how to speak to clients; to be forthright and empathetic.

Hans-Jürgen Hellwig

Chosen by Jonathan Goldsmith, Law Society Council, EU and International

Hans-Jürgen Hellwig, a German rechtsanwalt from Frankfurt, is now retired. He was president of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) in 2004, when I was secretary general, and a long-term partner at Hengeler Mueller. During his heyday, he was well-known for contributing his views on a wide range of topics at international legal gatherings. I nominate him because he thought a lot about legal professional matters, with logic and in depth, and that is a rare quality.

David Parry

Chosen by Mark Evans, Law Society Council, Cheshire and North Wales  

David, now retired, has been enormously supportive throughout my career and an inspiration. He taught me the importance of getting to know your clients, to be approachable and the skill of putting people at ease. His love and devotion to his family and others was clearly evident. Outside of work he has been heavily involved with local causes close to his heart – the Wrexham Maelor Hospital Shooting Star Cancer Support Charity and a charity for children and young people with disabilities. An unsung hero.

Roger North

Chosen by Max Winthrop, the Law Society employment law committee

I can remember quite clearly how the works of one particular lawyer inspired me to take up the law. At the time I was a music student, helping out at an early music festival in York. I’d been mulling over passages from Roger North On Music. Roger North had been a successful KC during the reigns of Charles II and James II, and attorney general to Mary of Modena. When he ended up on the wrong side of history he retired to write and to devote time to his musical and architecture studies. I wanted to understand the musical language of the seventeenth century: to get into the mindset of someone like North I decide I too would have to be a lawyer.

Greg Foxsmith

Chosen by Sandra Paul, partner, Kingsley Napley, London

Greg was my former training principal who demonstrated that ‘lawyer’ is a verb not a noun – it’s about what you do not what you are. He taught me that representation is about building relationships and finding solutions; that in order to do that I need to know and be able to use the law, roll my sleeves up and be bold. Finally, that my role doesn’t end in the courtroom but enables me to influence other spaces, just as he continues to do. I am lucky enough to have lots of legal heroes but, hands down, he’s my favourite – thank you Greg (repeat to fade)…

Peter Scott

Chosen by Laura Devine, managing partner at Laura Devine Immigration, London and New York

Peter has been hugely influential on my career. While the managing partner at Eversheds, he permitted me to have a joint venture as an immigration consultant. He endorsed me building the immigration department, appreciating that I did not aspire to become a partner. Since establishing my own law firm 20 years ago, Peter has been a tremendous asset to the firm and me, being a sounding board, mentor, trainer and adviser, always providing wise counsel.

Paul Singh

Chosen by Asifa Rehman, Minster Law, York

I’ve known Paul (pictured, below) associate at Minster Law, for nearly 15 years. He has not only been a colleague but also a brilliant mentor and a supportive friend. Without exception he always takes time to listen to my dilemmas, he dissects the issues and provides me with solutions while improving my knowledge. He is incredibly generous with his time and his legal knowledge. Paul is so well respected within the field of employment due to his professionalism and expertise. He is a true inspiration to me and our team. I’m proud to work along with Paul and to consider him a dear personal friend.

Ayesha Vardag

Chosen by Eve Dullabh, director of education, Law Training Centre, Canterbury

I’ve always admired Ayesha Vardag. Her ability to climb the legal ladder, maintain her feminine nature and unique character, while also raising five children, pioneering a change in the law, and owning one of the UK’s most prestigious law firms, is testament to the fact that doing it your way is the best way. Her unflinching confidence in her ability and ‘quirkiness’ is something that I think all women in the law aspire to.

Reginald Hine

Chosen by David Pickup, a partner at Pickup & Scott Solicitors, Aylesbury

My legal hero is Reginald Hine, a solicitor and local historian from Hitchin in Hertfordshire. He wrote many books, the best of which is Confessions of an Uncommon Attorney (1946), a very entertaining account of rural solicitors’ practice. It led to a defamation suit as he was very rude about a client. Hine preferred history to the law, sadly got into trouble with the Law Society and he probably killed himself to avoid disgrace. His scholarship is an inspiration to anyone interested in the history of our profession.

Linda Kirk

Chosen by Rachel Adamson, director at Adkirk Law, Preston

My fellow director Linda embodies the meaning of solicitor. She is honest to her core. When we met I found in her the integrity I hoped I would find in every member of the profession. I have never had a moment’s doubt with Linda that she would be true to her word. If I could be compared to Linda’s honesty and integrity then I would be happy that I had achieved my ambition as a solicitor.


Read more about the Law Society’s Legal Heroes campaign and nominate your Legal Hero here.