H&F Law Centre Solicitor Wins Prestigious Award

Sue James receives Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year for outstanding achievement

Sue James, Supervising Solicitor in Housing at Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre, has received the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year award for outstanding achievement at a packed ceremony in the City of London.

Sue, who is also one of the founding trustees at Ealing Law Centre was recognised for being a leader in her professional and local community: energetic, determined and generous with her time and knowledge.

Speaking at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards, Sue said: "I wanted to be a solicitor in a Law Centre... Law Centres just do things differently. I love that we get to go from the food bank - to the Supreme Court.

"I know from my many years representing tenants that good housing changes people's lives. Decent, safe, affordable housing should be a basic right. And when it goes wrong people need access to legal aid - 'austerity justice' just isn't working."

She was congratulated on Twitter by Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter who said @hammersmithandy:"Congratulations to Sue James @HF_LawCentre for winning Outstanding Achievement Award at #LALY17 - there's no more deserving winner than Sue."

Practising law for nearly three decades, Sue has been with Law Centres since 1989. Since joining Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre 12 years ago, she has seen it through a challenging period of legal aid cuts. Beyond preserving its valuable services, she has expanded them recently with an outreach service at a foodbank in Shepherd's Bush.

After her home borough of Ealing had become a legal advice 'desert', Sue initiated the setting up of a new Law Centre there four years ago. She has several landmark legal victories to her name, including one of the country's first pregnancy discrimination cases, Webb v EMO Air Cargo (UK) Ltd, which she has taken all the way to the European Court of Justice and which is still cited today.

Recently, Sue has taken to blogging to communicate the hardship and humanity she encounters at the duty solicitor desk. Her posts on the Legal Voice website relate her clients’ perspectives, "because I want other people, not just us lawyers, to see what we see"

The annual awards, presented by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, celebrate excellence in publicly funded legal work, helping people in poverty and disadvantage.

July 7, 2017