Yesterday evening, after work, several Wainwright & Cummins employees attended the Law and Justice Fair at the University of Law, London Bloomsbury campus, to talk with current students and prospective applicants to the firm.
The Law and Justice Fair is specifically aimed at bringing together firms with a focus on social justice and legal aid, and law students with an interest in practising in those areas. It is a great opportunity for students to find out more about the firms and practice areas they are considering, and to learn about the routes into the profession. As a firm we find it valuable because we get to meet the next generation of legal aid lawyers!
The Fair had a great turnout and we were busy throughout the evening talking to many prospective work experience students who are interested in coming to the office and learning more about what we do. We had enquiries about every area of law in which the firm practices and it was great to see so much enthusiasm. I personally particularly enjoyed telling students about my area of practice, prison law, which is fairly niche and which many students had never heard of as a specific area of practice – and I think my enthusiasm for prison law was clear!
We very much look forward to hosting some of the students who approached us at the fair asking for work experience, and maybe finding the future stars of legal aid law!
If you are looking for work experience with Wainwright & Cummins please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, enclosing your CV, a covering letter explaining your interest in the firm and specifying the areas of law you are interested in gaining work experience in, and providing some alternative dates during which you are available to come to the firm.
Clea Topolski, barrister at Wainwright & Cummins, succeeded today before the Court of Appeal on an appeal against sentence.
Our client, Ms B, pleaded guilty late last year to arson, being reckless to whether life is endangered. In October 2014 she was given a custodial sentence of 64 months. She was subsequently granted leave to appeal against sentence by the Single Judge.
Ms Topolski appeared before the Court of Appeal and argued that the starting point used by the learned Judge in sentencing Ms B was excessively high. This is a difficult area of sentencing as there are no official guidelines, only case law. Each case turns on its own facts and so it can be challenging to find clear authority for the sentencing of individual offenders. However Ms Topolski successfully applied the case of R v Myrie  EWCA Crim 3188 (no relation to Wainwright & Cummins’ Solicitor Advocate, Curtis Myrie!) and convinced the court that the sentencing Judge used too high of a starting point when sentencing Ms B.
Ms B’s sentence was varied from 64 months to 42 months; with remand time and time served on her sentence thus far, Ms B can expect to be released in eight months’ time. Without Ms Topolski and the efforts of the Criminal Law Department here at Wainwright & Cummins, Ms B would not be released for a further 19 months.
Mr Rod Jones of Wainwright & Cummins on Friday 6th March represented Helen Jones at her sentencing hearing at Preston Crown Court. Ms Jones, an ex-police officer, was sentenced for misconduct in public office after using her then status as a police officer to obtain CCTV footage of footballer Steven Gerrard.
This has been a complex and difficult case, not least because it has received substantial media exposure due to the connection to Mr Gerrard.
Ms Jones was given a custodial sentence of 22 months. This is an uncertain area of sentencing in which there is little existing guidance, and we are closely examining the merits of a possible appeal.
Wainwright & Cummins Solicitor Advocate Curtis Myrie praised by Court of Appeal
Today we were proud and delighted by comments made in the Court of Appeal praising the advocacy skill and persuasive ability of our very own Curtis Myrie, Solicitor Advocate.
Mr Myrie appeared before three Judges of the Court of Appeal this morning at the Royal Courts of Justice, to request leave to appeal the sentence of a longstanding client, Mr H. We had previously been refused permission to appeal by the Single Judge on the papers, but under instructions from Mr H we renewed our application to appeal before a full court this morning, with Mr Myrie making oral submissions.
Although unfortunately our case was not quite strong enough to be granted permission to appeal, and suffered from the quite significant stumbling block of requiring an eight-year extension of time for the appeal, our disappointment at being refused permission was mitigated by the comments made by the court after the judgment was delivered. Lord Justice Davis told Mr Myrie that the whole bench had been very impressed by his persuasive skill and excellent advocacy.
We are very sure that such praise from the Court of Appeal reflects the very high standards reached by all our Crown Court Advocates and the Criminal team generally.
See our Blog for our views on the recent JR and Global Law Summit
See our Blog for our report on Not the Global Law Summit
See our Blog for details of recent court successes
Earl Chambers, Solicitor Advocate, passed away suddenly on 9th August, leaving his wife and two children. Earl was at the heart of our highly successful Crown Court Advocacy Department and it is a tragic loss to the Firm , his Business Partner, Angela Campbell, and his Family. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and his clients to whom he provided great support and guidance.
We are proud to say that Sebastian completed his recent bicycle trip to Paris on behalf of “Big Issue”. It was a wonderful effort by Seb and his team. See his Blog for details of his experience.
We are delighted to announce that Danny Lyness has accepted the position of Head of our Family department. We have no doubt that he will continue to maintain the very high standards set by his predecessor Jane Cummins who is greatly missed.
Corentin Dolivet - soon to be French Lawyer- leaves us today (5th August 2014) after spending 6 months in our Family Department - see his blog for his experience. We thank him for his hard work and hope to see him soon.
We are delighted to announce that Clea Topolski and Tariq Malik were both called to the Bar in July 2014 . We now have 4 Barristers in our Crown Court Advocacy team - see Clea's blog for her experience on the day.
Please help support Sebastian in supporting these vulnerable members of our communities and sponsor him on this grueling ride by donating here: http://www.justgiving.com/Sebastian-Peattie
Cycling from London to Paris: Fundraising to Help the Homeless
On 21st July 2014, Sebastian Peattie from the Wainwright & Cummins’ Housing Department will be cycling his way from London to Paris in support of people suffering from homelessness. This is a yearly event run by The Big Issue and it is their biggest fundraiser to date. See http://www.bigissue.org.uk/event/london-paris-bike-ride for further details or to sign yourself up!
Jane Cummins, Partner and Head of the Family Department, passed away suddenly on 8th June 2014, leaving her husband and three children.
Jane was the founder and heart of the Family Department, and it is a tragic loss to the firm and her family. She was much-loved by all who worked with her, and was a constant source of support and guidance. She will be greatly missed.
The London Legal Walk
Last Monday, 19 May, a team from Wainwright & Cummins headed over to the Law Society on Chancery Lane for a charity walk, raising funds for the London Legal Support Trust. The LLST is an important supporter of free legal advice services, such as Legal Advice Bureaux and Advice Centres and charities.
Free legal services serve an ever-growing need for legal advice where legal aid cuts have left vulnerable people without necessary access to representation. Wainwright & Cummins is proud to support access to justice initiatives such as the LLST.
This is the view of Fontaine Stubbs, work experience student from the University of Surrey, on the London Legal Walk:
The 10K Legal Walk
The most beautiful sight was to see the legal profession coming together to support free legal advice for charities in London and the South East. It was a great atmosphere to see everyone happy and energetic to take part in the 10k walk and making use of the beautiful day.
The 10k legal walk was an exciting yet therapeutic walk around some of London’s most amazing sights including St James’s park; where the trees stood high, the flowers blossomed and the birds sung freely. There was also the breathtaking sight of the long stretch of the lake which glistened brightly as the sun beamed its rays from above and the ducks quacked from all the excitement of the festivities.
This year we had the support of 8,000 walkers and with everyone’s tremendous efforts we have raised over £530,000.
I am happy to say that I experienced my first legal walk with Wainwright & Cummins Solicitors and its supportive team and I will definitely be taking part again next year.
Legal Aid Action – Update
As you may be aware, we have taken action in response to the recent cuts to criminal legal aid and the further cuts due next year. Please see our announcement here.
The Government has so far failed to recognise the vital role that small businesses play in bolstering the Economy. Imposing further legal aid cuts at a time when overheads continue to rise is catastrophic for small firms and undoubtedly will have an impact upon the public accessing Justice.
We are grateful to our Regional colleagues for the great leadership they have shown in temporarily putting their immediate interests aside in an attempt to encourage dialogue with the Justice Secretary. We hold a similar aim. However we accept that London is a vastly different climate and recognise that the economic conditions here are dire.
As a result, we are presently suspending our adoption of The Crown Court protocol. This suspension will continue pending further discussion with our colleagues in London and will be reviewed regularly.
We thank our Clients and our Staff for the support they have shown over the last 10 days.
. Legal aid is about justice. Justice for all; not only for those who can afford to pay privately for the best lawyers in the business.
Law firms that provide legal assistance to clients who qualify for legal aid are staffed by people who value justice more than money -- legal aid work never paid anywhere near as well as commercial or private client work. But just like all hard-working taxpayers, those who dedicate their lives to seeking justice for those not wealthy enough to afford it on their own still need jobs, somewhere to live, clothes on their backs and food on their tables.
After a decade of continued cuts to legal aid, the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, has decided that the time is right to make still further cuts to criminal legal aid. Mr Grayling intends to cut the rates of criminal solicitors by another 17.5%. Cuts to legal aid have already been putting law firms out of business and average people out of work, while those seeking legal help end up getting poorer representation from unqualified representatives.
This is the experience of one of Wainwright & Cummins’ criminal legal aid solicitors - Clea Topolski - who got into legal aid work for all the right reasons, but finds herself questioning whether her family can withstand another cut so that she can continue to stand up for people who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer.
. Some of our recent leading cases are as follows:
R v B (2013): The firm represented a client who was charged with eight others with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, namely cocaine and heroin. Our client entered a not guilty plea and was acquitted of both charges following an eight week trial.
R v F (2013): We represented a client charged with attempted robbery and Grievous Bodily Harm Section 18. Our client entered a not guilty plea and the matter was listed for trial. The trial lasted five days and our client was acquitted by the jury.
R v K (2013): The firm represented a client who was charged with two counts of taking in a prohibited article into a prison, namely cannabis and diamorphine. Our client entered not guilty plea to both allegations and the issue of duress was raised as our clients defence. Following a Goodyear direction, our client entered a guilty plea and was given a suspended sentence.
R v M (2013): Our client was charged with another with causing Grievous Bodily Harm to a child. Our client entered a not guilty plea and the matter proceeded to trial. Counsel made a successful half time submission resulting in the Judge making a terminating ruling. The Crown Prosecution Service did not agree with the Judge’s ruling and appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeal where the ruling was upheld.
R v K (2013): The firm represented a client charged with street robbery. Our client entered a not guilty plea and the matter went to trial at the Crown Court. The issue at trial was identification. Following the alleged victims evidence, the Judge directed the jury to find our client not guilty.
R v D (2013): We represented a client who was charged with benefit fraud to a sum over £68k. Following a guilty plea our client only received a six month custodial sentence.
R v B (2013): The firm represented a client who was arrested with another for passing counterfeit currency. Our client entered a not guilty plea and was acquitted following trial at the crown court.
R v H (2013): Our client faced a charge of being in possession of a bladed article, it was alleged that our client put a knife to the throat of their victim. Our client entered a not guilty plea and was acquitted following a trial at the crown court.
R V D (2013): The firm represented a client charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Our client entered a not guilty plea and elected the matter be heard at the crown court, where our client was acquitted by the jury.
R v F (2014): Our client was charged with attempted burglary. The client entered a not guilty plea and the matter proceeded to a trial in the Crown Court. Our client was acquitted by the jury following the trial.
R v M (2014): Our client was charged with handling stolen goods. A not guilty plea was entered and the matter proceeded to trial. At the close of the prosecution case, defence counsel made a submission of no case to answer. The submission was successful and the Judge directed the jury to find the client not guilty.
. The Legal 500 is a definitive guide to the most highly regarded law firms and practitioners in the UK. The guide provides a thorough review of the strengths and capabilities of law firms across a number of legal disciplines. The Legal 500 has once again recommended Wainwright & Cummins in the Real Estate Social housing: tenant.
Our housing team is very committed to achieving high standards of client care and providing a strong quality service. The recommendation by the Legal 500 is strong recognition of our housing teams strength and capabilities to provide a high quality of service to our clients.
. Aneesha Bhunjun Talk at University of Hertfordshire, de Havilland Campus
12th March 2013
Aneesha is frequently invited to give her opinion on topical legal issues and developments, which have had an impact on her work. She recently gave a presentation at the University of Hertfordshire in conjunction with Amnesty International and Anti-Slavery International where she spoke about her experiences of working on legal matters in relation to the increasingly prevalent issue of human trafficking and slavery.
In brief, Aneesha’s talk took a domestic stance; she spoke of her experience dealing with forced marriages as the Vice-Chair of the Association of Women Lawyers (AAWL) and highlighted the fact that forced marriages are a form of slavery. She raised awareness of the similarities of relevant defined terms within the legislation relating to human trafficking and enforced marriages; drawing a clear link between these two areas of law.
. We are delighted to announce that Our Conveyancing team have been awarded the CQS (a quality mark ) by the Law Society. This is yet further recognition of our drive to ensure we reach the highest standards in our client care.
. Wainwright and Cummins are delighted to say that the Social Housing team have been included again in Legal 500 for 2013
. Wainwright and Cummins members walked in aid of Legal Advice centres