Patrons and Trustees
Our Founding Patrons are:
The Rt Hon. Sir Henry Brooke,
Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE QC,
The Rt Hon. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
Chairman of Law for Life's Trustees:
Michael Smyth CBE
Amanda Finlay CBE
Robin Knowles CBE QC
Biographical details below:
The Rt Hon. Sir Henry Brooke
The Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Brooke became a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1996 and Vice-President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in 2003. He was the judge in charge of the modernisation of the English law courts from 2001 to 2004 and introduced the awareness of ethnic minority issues into English judicial training. He retired from judicial office on 30th September 2006.
Sir Henry Brooke was chairman of the Law Commission from 1993 to 1995 and was President of the Society for Computers & Law for nine years. In 2000, he became chair of the Trustees of BAILII (the free access legal website).
Sir Henry Brooke was elected chairman of the Civil Mediation Council in 2007 and writes and lectures extensively on current developments in civil and commercial mediation. He was a member of the Public Legal Education and Support Task Force and was chair of Plenet’s Steering Group since it was established in 2008.
Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE QC
Professor Dame Hazel Genn is a leading authority on civil justice whose work has had a major influence on policy-makers around the world. She is currently Dean of the Faculty of Laws, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at University College London.
She has held full-time research posts at Oxford University Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and the Cambridge Institute of Criminology. She served on the Committee on Standards in Public Life and in 2009 was appointed to the Secretary of State's Advisory Panel on Judicial Diversity. In 2005, she was awarded the US Law and Society International Prize for distinguished scholarship and she holds Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Keele, Edinburgh, Leicester, and Kingston.
Hazel was chair of the Public Legal Education and Support (PLEAS) task force and was chair of the Advisory Panel for research on Family Advice and Information for the Legal Services Commission.
She served for eight years as deputy chair and then chair of the Economic and Social Research Council's Research Grants Board and in 2008 she was elected Honorary Master of the Bench of Gray's Inn.
Hazel Genn is a leading authority on civil justice and has published widely in the field including Meeting Legal Needs? (1981), Understanding Civil Justice (1997) and Tribunals for Diverse Users (2006). She is author of companion volumes Paths to Justice: What People Do and Think About Going to Law (1999), and, with Alan Paterson, Paths to Justice Scotland: What Scottish People Do and Think About going to Law (2001), which report the findings of two major national surveys into public use of and attitudes to the legal system.
She was one of the team leading the Nuffield Foundation's Inquiry on Empirical Legal Research and is one of the authors of the final report Law in the Real World: Improving our Understanding of How Law Works, published in November 2006. In November/December 2008 she delivered the 2008 Hamlyn Lectures on civil justice.
The Rt Hon Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
The Rt. Hon. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury was appointed as Master of the Rolls in 2009 and then became President of the Supreme Court in October 2012.
He was called to the Bar in 1974 and was made a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 1987. He became a Bencher for Lincolns Inn in 1993. His first judicial appointment was as a Recorder from 1990 until 1996 when he was appointed a High Court judge in the Chancery Division and was then the Supervisory Chancery Judge for the Midland, Wales and Chester and Western Circuits 2000 - 2004.
In January 2004 he was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal and led an investigation for the Bar Council into widening access to the barrister profession. In 2007 he was made a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and created a life peer as Baron Neuberger of Abbotsbury in the county of Dorset.
Michael Smyth CBE
Michael Smyth was for more than twenty years a partner in the firm Clifford Chance. He has extensive experience of commercial litigation and dispute avoidance including media litigation and public law with more than twenty-five years' experience litigating before domestic and international tribunals, including the European Court of Human Rights, and is cited as a leading practitioner in a number of fields, including public affairs, administrative law, commercial litigation and defamation.
Until his retirement in 2010 Michael headed up Clifford Chance's pro bono efforts as well as leading the firm's Public Policy Practice and CSR activities.
Michael writes and lectures regularly and is highly recommended in industry surveys for his administrative law, public policy and defamation expertise and is cited in International Commercial Litigation survey of top practitioners. He is author of Business and the Human Rights Act (2000) and is Consulting Editor of UK Human Rights Reports and Chairman of Public Concern at Work, the whistleblowing charity, and the Social Welfare Law Coalition. He is Vice Chairman of the International Bar Association's CSR committee. Michael was made a Commander of the British Empire in 2009 in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to legal pro bono work.
Royal Belfast Academical Institution
Clare College, Cambridge (MA Law)
Admitted as a solicitor in England & Wales 1982
Partner since 1990
Consultant since 2010
Visiting Fellow of the University of Essex
Amanda Finlay CBE
Amanda Finlay recently retired from the Ministry of Justice. She is a Council Member of Justice, a member of Lord Bach's Public Legal Education Strategy Group, a public governor of Oxleas NHS Mental Health Foundation Trust and a member of the Civil Justice Council.
Amanda was until recently the MOJ Director responsible for legal services reform and for legal aid strategy. She led the arrangements to set up the Legal Services Board, headed the Fundamental Review of Legal Aid, chaired the Working Group which recommended reforms to the conduct of public law children cases, and negotiated a settlement of civil legal aid issues with the Law Society following their successful Court of Appeal judgement.
During her time as Director responsible for family and administrative justice, Amanda introduced customer focused changes for children and families experiencing relationship breakdown, instituted a review of delay in Children Act cases and took forward the programme of work to establish the Unified Tribunal Service. She worked jointly with the Home Office, the judiciary and lawyers to speed up asylum appeals and decisions.
Amanda led the work on the Human Rights Act in the Lord Chancellor's Department, working with human rights lawyers to ensure that the scheme of the Act was workable in the courts and leading ten all day "walkthroughs" to test out compatibility with judges, lawyers and human rights experts in courts from the magistrates up to the Court of Appeal. She was Secretary to Lord Woolf's Inquiry "Access to Justice", working with the judiciary, lawyers, academics and lay people to devise improvements to the civil justice system.
Earlier in her career she was engaged in work to open up legal services to more competition, including work with the Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct on rights of audience applications from solicitors and employed lawyers, and the establishment of the Legal Services Ombudsman. Amanda was secretary to the Legal Aid Advisory Committee; worked with Richard White and Cyril Glasser (founder members of the Legal Action Group) on their report on unmet need for legal services in the 1970s and was engaged in the work to set up the Crown Court and the Court Service following the Courts Act 1971.
Robin Knowles CBE QC
Robin was called to the Bar in 1982 and practises at the Commercial and Chancery Bars. His particular specialisations are in financial law, contract law, company law (including insolvency), the law of professional negligence, and insurance law. He is regularly instructed in cases where there is a reputational aspect as well as a financial one. As well as appearing in the Commercial Court, the Chancery Division and the appellate courts, and overseas, he has represented parties at over 36 mediations.
From 2005 to 2007 Robin was Chairman of the Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR), the professional association of the Commercial Bar of England & Wales.
Robin was closely involved in work to re-cast the Commercial Court Guide with the advent of the Woolf Reforms. More recently he has served on the Aikens working party on “supercases” and commercial court procedure generally.
Robin sits part-time as a Deputy High Court Judge, and as a Recorder in the Crown Court. He is authorised to sit in the Chancery Division and in the Queen’s Bench Division. In the Crown Court he is authorised to hear cases involving serious sexual offences.
Robin also has a long-standing commitment to legal pro bono work, and to the coordination of that work. He was awarded the CBE for services to pro bono legal services in the 2006 New Years Honours List. Among other pro bono roles and in addition to his commitment to LawWorks, he is the Chairman of the Bar Pro Bono Unit, a member of the Advisory Council of Advocates for International Development, and a member of the Attorney General’s National Pro Bono Coordinating Committee (and of its International Committee).
Robin chairs two legal advice projects serving the diverse community in the East End of London. He also chaired the cross-sector working party on the establishment of the Access to Justice Foundation.
Robin is a member of the Bar Council’s General Management Committee. He is a Bencher of Middle Temple, and also a member of Gray’s Inn. Outside the law, Robin is the Chairman of Trustees of Richard House Children’s Hospice, which was London’s first hospice for children who are unlikely to live into adulthood.
Leonora is Programme Director of Financial Learning at NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education). Previously she was an Associate at Financial Services Authority.
Anne is the director of strategy and development at the Citizenship Foundation.
Anne has over 20 years experience in the voluntary sector. She started her career as a youth and community worker in Plymouth and then trained as a social and community worker. Her youth work also took her overseas where she worked with number of community schools and organisations linked to youth work. In 1970 she set up the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme in Gibraltar and in 1983 the first young offenders mentoring team with the Gibraltar government. Anne also trained as a remedial teacher in Gibraltar while working for the government education department.
In 1973 Anne had her own community programme on BBC South West which lasted for three years, and for the British Forces Overseas Radio Station in Gibraltar from 1983 for four years.
From 1990 to 2005 Anne worked for Help the Aged as a senior manager on community development, intergenerational programmes, fundraising and marketing, international programmes as well as policy and advocacy. During this time Anne also trained as a trainer for staff development. In 2005 she moved across to the Royal Masonic Benevolent Society as director of fundraising and marketing.
Anne also volunteers with a local community mentoring scheme to support young parents and homeless young men.
John Seargeant is a researcher/evaluator, policy analyst, trainer, and project manager, with a special interest in the development of high quality research and evaluation and in advice and legal services development overall.
As a Senior Fellow at Policy Studies Institute John contributed to several national studies on the development of the Community Legal Service in England and Wales. As a consultant he has undertaken research commissions, project evaluations and development plans for third sector organisations including Advice Service Alliance, Shelter, Mind, Age Concern/HtA, and CAB. He has also written widely on service development and quality issues in the legal and advice sectors. Over the last five years he has been working to support the development of Public Legal Education and was Secretary to the PLEAS Task Force.
John began his career as a CAB adviser and Manager, before moving to national Citizens’ Advice to edit and write guidance materials for advisers. John later moved on to senior management positions in charitable organisations, including Age Concern, and was research and policy director for a national regeneration network. In the early 1990s he consolidated his research experience with an MSc in Research Methods at the University of Surrey.
Kathleen joined the Board of Trustees at Law for Life in October 2012 as Treasurer. She has worked for a charity, Lasa, the London Advice Services Alliance for over 26 years and is now their director of finance and resources. Kathleen previously worked for the British Council and Camden Council for Voluntary Action.
Updated October 2012
Law for Life: the Foundation for Public Legal Education is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales no. 07695486. Charity no. 1143589. Registered office: 33 Corsham Street, London N1 6DR.