I qualified as a Solicitor in 1991 and joined Smith Partnership in 1999, having spent 10 years working for local authorities. I have over 28 years of experience in practising almost exclusively children's law.
I set up the Childcare Law department in 2002, and was made a Partner in 2006. In the same year I qualified as a Solicitor Advocate (Civil) and in 2013 I became the Client Care Partner at our head office. My team and I specialise in all areas of childcare law, but in particular public children's law where the state, through the guise of the local authority, has intervened in private family life due to allegations of child abuse or neglect. I conduct all my own advocacy, including against nationally-renowned silks and leading junior counsel, predominantly in the County and High Court. I am regularly instructed by CAFCASS, children and parents in the most legally- and factually-complex child abuse cases involving child deaths, serious head injuries, other serious non-accidental injuries and allegations involving serious sexual abuse. A number of the cases I have been involved in have been reported, including:
- M v Derbyshire County Council and others  EWHC 3734 (Fam)
- Re Z (A Child - Care Proceedings - Separate Representation)  EWFC B57
- Re O (Fact Finding Hearing - Parents Refusing to Participate)  EWFC 48,  All ER (D) 91 (Jul)
I have also been instructed by CAFCASS in cases involving disputes between parents as to childhood immunisation — such as Re B (A Child - Immunisation)  EWFC 56, 168 NLJ 7808,  All ER (D) 11 (Sep) — as well as contested surrogacy cases, disputes regarding children from same-sex relationships, and for leave to remove from the jurisdiction.
I have lectured for many years on the subject of public childcare law on CPD-accredited courses around the country, and have delivered papers in a number of national conferences. I have also taught childcare law on the Social Work Masters at the University of Leicester.
I was formerly a member of the Family Justice Council in Derby and a former chair of its Expert and Disclosure Subcommittees for a number of years.