Judges from 2018

2019 Judges to be announced soon!

Helen Ager
Partner Professional and Commercial Risk
DAC Beachcroft LLP

View Helen’s Biography

Jo Aitken
Client Relationship Director

View Jo’s Biography

Dame Vera Baird
Police & Crime Commissioner
Northumbria Police

View Dame Vera’s Biography

Justin Barlow
Marketing Director
Nigel Wright Recruitment

View Justin’s Biography

Joanna Berry
Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship
Durham University Business School

View Joanna’s Biography

Lee Bowyer
Regional Sales Manager
Conveyancing Data Services

View Lee’s Biography

Shaun Cannell
Business Partner
Brighter Law Solutions

View Shaun’s Biography

Deveral Capps
Head of Law School
Leeds Beckett University + Trinity Chambers (Newcastle)

View Deveral’s Biography

Stephen Carmichael
Relationship Director
Santander Corporate & Commercial Banking

View Stephen’s Biography

Laura Coapes
Barrister and Senior Lecturer
Northumbria University

View Laura’s Biography

Richard Clark
Chartered Wealth Manager

Ruth Connorton
Solicitor (non- practicing)

View Ruth’s Biography

Helen Cutting
Executive Director of Legal & Governance Services and University Secretary
Teesside University

View Helen’s Biography

Simon Darby
SD Legal Services

View Simon’s Biography

Jon Dudgeon
FCA Cofounder
Blu Sky Chartered Accountants

View Jon’s Biography

John Duns
NE Times

View John’s Biography

Andrew Entwistle 
Partner – Head of Valuations
George F White

View Andrew’s Biography

Laura Farnworth  
Head of Legal
Atom Bank

View Laura’s Biography

Vicki Gilman
Managing Director
Social Return

View Vicki’s Biography

Simon Goldberg
Trinity Chambers

View Simon’s Biography

Helen Griffiths
Chartered Legal Executive
Swinburne Maddison LLP

View Helen’s Biography

Geoff Harrison 
Visiting Professor
Northumbria Law School

View Geoff’s Biography

Lee Hartley 
Chief Executive Officer
Fairstone Group Ltd

View Lee’s Biography

Toby Hedworth Q.C.
Head of Trinity Chambers

View Toby’s Biography

Elizabeth Hodgson
Parklane Plowden Chambers

View Elizabeth’s Biography

Chris Hugill 
Compliance Officer for Legal Practice
Ward Hadaway

View Chris’ Biography

Edwin James 
Director & General Counsel (Solicitor)
Bannatyne Group

View Edwin’s Biography

Paul Jennings 
Joint Managing Director
The North of England P&I Association Limited

View Paul’s Biography

Jonathan Jowett
Company Secretary & General Counsel
Greggs plc

View Jonathan’s Biography

Jessica Layfield
Newcastle Manager
Personal Support Unit

View Jessica’s Biography

David Leech
Corporate Account Manager

View David’s Biography

Kevin Maloney
Muckle LLP

View Kevin’s Biography

John Marshall  
Chair of NGI

View John’s Biography

Paul McKeown
Senior Lecturer
Northumbria Law School

View Paul’s Biography

Ammar Mirza
Chairman & Founder
Asian Business Connexions (ABC)

View Ammar’s Biography

Alison Moss
Solicitor (non-practising)

View Alison’s Biography

Margaret Nesbitt
Divisional Director
Brewin Dolphin

View Margaret’s Biography

Fiona Newborough
Divisional Director
Brewin Dolphin

View Fiona’s Biography

Erin Peart
Head of Property
Hanro Group

View Erin’s Biography

Matthew Price
Company Law Solutions Limited

View Matthew’s Biography

William Ralston
Acting Director of Bar Programmes
Northumbria University Law School

View William’s Biography

Rosy Rourke
Legal Sector Director
Armstrong Watson

View Rosy’s Biography

Rhona Smith
Head of Law School
Newcastle University

View Rhona’s Biography

David Storey
Business Strategy Consultant

View David’s Biography

Michael Stubbs
Practice Director
Parklane Plowden

View Michael’s Biography

Kerry Underwood
Senior Partner
Underwoods Solicitors

View Kerry’s Biography

Wayne Whitford
Elliott Davies

View Wayne’s Biography

Rod Wilkinson

View Rod’s Biography

Helen Ager Biography

Helen is a professional indemnity partner in the Newcastle office of DAC Beachcroft with many years of experience acting for professionals and their insurers.
Helen mainly deals with claims against Solicitors, Accountants and other   professionals in traditional lines of work. However she has also represented a variety of professionals and businesses, consultants, agents, brokers and manufacturing or service businesses facing claims under their professional indemnity, Directors and Officers or Corporate Legal Liability insurance policies.
Helen also advises insurers on policy points which arise whilst dealing with those types of claims.

Jo Aitken Biography


Jo is a Director at legal market research specialists, Acritas.

Jo has 15 years of experience in the legal sector working with regional firms and predominantly with the leadership of the largest international law firms. Her experience at Acritas sees her input to the strategy of firms through detailed market research and analysis as well as interpretation of the findings into presentations at Partner conferences and Board meetings.   Jo has a great deal of insight about what makes law firms truly differentiated and what clients really like when it comes to expertise, service delivery and star lawyers through interviewing thousands of law firms clients.

In working with data outputs from Acritas’ flagship Sharplegal global legal market study Jo is experienced in knowing what it takes for law firms to stand out from their competition and how their culture, , marketing and client service strategy will directly influence a firm’s level of success in the rapidly evolving legal market.

Dame Vera Baird Biography


Dame Vera Baird is currently the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Police having been elected to the post in 2012, and then re-elected in 2016 with a majority of more than 120,000. She also serves in several voluntary roles as an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law at Northumbria University, Visiting Professor of Legal Practice at Newcastle University, Visiting Law Professor at London South Bank University, Visiting Law Lecturer at Teesside University and as an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda’s College, Oxford.

Dame Vera was previously Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Redcar from 2001 - 2010, UK Government Minister from 2006 - 2010 and the UK Government's Solicitor General for England and Wales from 2007 to 2010 - the House of Common's most senior law officer. As Solicitor General she was particularly involved in criminal justice policy and legislation, especially on gender and equality policies. In 2017 she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to women and equality. She is also the only honorary woman member of the Durham Miners’ Association as well as a Patron of the charity RESPECT.
Dame Vera is recognised as being a strong voice for the North East, speaking up for Northumbria Police force, partners and communities at a local and national level.

Justin Barlow Biography


Justin Barlow has over 20 years’ marketing leadership experience gained in multi-channel business-to-business sectors with international blue chip corporations such as ICI plc and Sage Plc. Until recently, Justin spent 9 years as the Business Development Director for commercial law firm, Muckle LLP.
Justin’s career has involved plenty of rebranding and brand development with extensive online and offline marketing. Having worked with lawyers for nearly a decade, he is experienced in knowing what it takes for law firms to stand out from their competition and how their culture and working practices will directly influence a firm’s level of success.

Joanna Berry Biography


Joanna is Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship at Durham University Business School and Regional Chair of the IoD. Joanna was Regional Chair for the CIM for seven years and still sits on the NECC’s International Trade Committee. Joanna was born and brought up in the North East and remains passionate about increasing the profile and prosperity of the region, with a particular and personal emphasis on supporting women in (and into) business, particularly in the STEM subjects. Following a career in international business development she founded and ran a number of SMEs, nationally and regionally. She has been mentor to many Business Enterprise companies and still mentors senior individuals in large and small corporate organisations.

Lee Bowyer Biography


Lee has over 10 years’ experience in the conveyancing (legal) industry and for the past 2 years has been the Regional Sales Manager(s) for Conveyancing Data Services who supply all the necessary information and indemnities required for a property transaction in a way that suits you and how you choose to work.
Our clients don’t just do business with us because we offer a full range of searches and get them back quickly - collecting the best data using the best methods.
They use us because they can tell from our service and our support that we love what we do, that we work hard to make a difference and that we give them everything they need to succeed, every day.

Shaun Cannell Biography


Shaun has worked within the conveyancing search industry for over 15 years and has a wealth of experience working with law firms of various sizes and requirements. Shaun established the North-Eastern office of Property Information Exchange (PIE) and has built a strong presence and reputation. Driven to providing excellent service to his clients, Shaun understands how communication and technology play a vital part in the conveyancing process. Shaun builds relationships and delivers practicable and timely solutions.

Deveral Capps Biography


Deveral graduated in law from Sheffield Hallam University before reading for a master’s degree in Computers and Law at Queens University Belfast and Erasmus University in Rotterdam; he was called to the Bar in 1995. In 1997 he joined Northumbria University’s School of Law and over a period of 18 years was Director of Bar Programmes, Director of eLearning and Director of International Development.
In early 2015 he moved to Leeds Beckett University to become the Head of Leeds Law School and in 2016 became the Dean of Leeds Law School.

Deveral is a door tenant at Trinity Chambers in Newcastle and acts as a consultant and external examiner for the Bar Standards Board and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. At the Bar Standards Board, Deveral sits on the Future Bar Training Programme Board and is involved with the development of the new training regime for barristers. He is also a Director of Ballet Lorent Ltd, the leading contemporary dance company in the North East of England. He lives in Northumberland.

Stephen Carmichael Biography


Stephen, a qualified Chartered Banker, joined Santander UK in December 2011 as a Relationship Director responsible for managing and developing a portfolio of trading businesses in the Region with a Turnover up to £50m.

Stephen has over 25 years of experience in the Corporate Banking arena and has undertaken several roles during this period within business development, transactional corporate finance and relationship management teams. Each of these roles has resulted in dealings with a wide range of professional services firms and businesses alike, ranging from owner managed businesses to quoted companies.

Laura Coapes Biography

Laura is a Barrister at Trinity Chambers, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, specialising in family and civil practice. Since 2016, she has been employed as a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University, teaching on the Bar Professional Training Course. She is currently Deputy Programme Leader for the full-time BPTC programme, and also acts as an Examination question writer and standard setter for the Bar Standards Board civil litigation centralised assessments.

Ruth Connorton Biography


Ruth trained in house before working in private practice for over 20 years in leading national firms. She spent 18 years at Eversheds as a commercial law partner heading the NE co/comm team and leading their successful national public procurement practice. In 2013 she moved with her commercial team to establish DAC Beachcroft’s commercial team in the NE. She has worked with small local businesses and large multinationals as well as many public sector organisations and been involved in large scale delivery projects including London’s Olympic Legacy, New Covent Garden Market and Network Rail’s delivery strategy.
Ruth has very recently decided to take a break from legal practice to explore other avenues. She is currently undertaking a variety of volunteering work including as a board member of Tyneside Cinema Bar Cafe and New Writing North and is training in floristry.

Helen Cutting Biography

Helen is a qualified practising solicitor having studied law at Northumbria University. She is currently Executive Director of Legal and Governance Services & University Secretary for Teesside University having joined the senior executive team there in June 2017. Before joining Teesside, Helen was Director of Legal and Governance at University of Sunderland. Helen’s current role requires her to have oversight of the University’s legal and regulatory compliance, including information governance and safeguarding, as well as leading on the modernisation of the University’s governance practices and taking an active role on the University Executive Team. Before moving inhouse in higher education, Helen worked as a solicitor in private practice in the areas of medical negligence and commercial contracts.

Simon Darby Biography


Simon founded SD Legal Services, a provider of process serving, investigation and enforcement services to the legal sector 10 years ago.
SD Legal Services now has offices in Newcastle and Guisborough and have a large number of North East based solicitor clients.
In the last 15 years Simon has carried out thousands of instructions in the North East for Solicitors, property management companies and Local Authorities.
Simon is a Certificated Bailiff (Enforcement Agent) of 15 years, a full member of the ABI (Association of British Investigators) and former police officer and school governor.
He has been dubbed ‘The Respondent Whisperer’ due to his ability to track down and serve Respondents with Non-Molestation Orders and works with 2 local domestic violence charities.

Jeff Dean Biography


Jeff Dean started his career as a Social Worker in Liverpool before working as a senior manager in Local Government, the Not for Profit Sector and the NHS . He moved to Ben Hoare Bell LLP in 1998 and retired as Managing Partner there in 2014.
He presently holds a number of roles including; Director/Trustee, Waddington Street Centre Durham; Trustee, Northumbria Quakers: Ethics Adviser, Durham University Anthropology Dept ; Researcher, Ethical Consumer . He is also involved in community groups working to develop cycling infrastructure, care of the environment and community power generation.

Jon Dudgeon Biography


Jon is Cofounder of Blu Sky Chartered Accountants, a growing, ambitious accountancy and tax practice that specialises in delivering expert advice to exciting high growth businesses. Blu Sky’s niche is the tech and digital sector here in the NE, London, Leeds and Manchester. Jon’s career as an accountant started with Arthur Andersen in Leeds in 1997 and prior to founding Blu Sky in 2008 Jon also worked for Deloitte, Aviva, GE Money and Santander. Jon is no stranger to award ceremonies having won NE accountancy practice of the year 3 times with Blu Sky at the North East Accountancy Awards.

John Duns Biography

John Duns is the co-owner of leading regional business magazine North East Times.
John has over 30 years experience in media and professional services with Wealth Manager Brewin Dolphin , law firm Watson Burton and Trinity Mirror.

Andrew Entwhistle Biography

Andrew has over 20 years’ experience working in the North East property sector and heads up the valuation teams within George F White. Andrew frequently deals with legal professionals on numerous matters, particularly on valuation orientated subjects, and as an Expert Witness in litigation cases. Appointed Head of Valuation for George F White in 2010, Andrew also sits on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Valuations Standards Board. 


Laura Farnworth Biography


Laura joined Atom Bank, initially on secondment, in July 2014 when the business was still very much in the early stages of development.  She has been involved in all of the company’s funding rounds, including the investment by Banco Bilboa Agentaria Vizcaya as part of a £100m raise in late 2015, as well as the application for Atom’s banking licence and the associated lifting of restrictions on that licence in April 2016.  Laura’s role with Atom now includes providing support to the business banking team in relation to their product offering to SMEs.

Formerly, Laura was an associate in the banking team at Bond Dickinson, working on transactions for both borrowers and high street lenders as well as clients including the British Business Bank and local fund managers.

Vicky Gilman Biography


Vicki qualified as a physiotherapist in 1988 and worked through a range of specialisms in the NHS before finding her clinical niche in the field of neurorehabilitation. Following a move to the independent sector she discovered an interest in entrepreneurial activities alongside her clinical professional background.
For the past 20 years as a therapist, expert witness and entrepreneur Vicki has been able to combine these aspects as the founder of successful and award-winning therapy and case management businesses.

Vicki has learned from the ground up how to balance innovation and passion for effective, meaningful services with a well-developed attention to detail, a strong strategic view and sustainability of outcomes for both the individual with healthcare needs and for the business.
She has had the good fortune in business to be surrounded by teams of outstanding people where 2-way knowledge sharing was firmly embedded and to be part of wider vibrant networks within the medico-legal community.

Simon Goldberg Biography

Simon is the head of Trinity Chambers’ Business and Property team and is well established as one of the region’s leading commercial litigation barristers. He regularly appears in the Chancery and Queen’s Bench divisions of the High Court, and in arbitrations, often with an international dimension. He has recently been appointed as a Recorder for the North Eastern Circuit. Simon has also been a member of the Attorney General’s Regional Panel of Counsel since 2007, which has given him the opportunity to advise and represent central government departments in cases of complexity and sensitivity.
He is one of only a handful of local practitioners to be recognised nationally by the professional directories as a leading barrister in Business and Property work, where his intellectual ability and willingness to fight his clients’ corner is regularly praised. "He is as sharp as a razor and able to take on and get to grips with matters of significant complexity very quickly." Commercial Dispute Resolution, Chambers UK 2018.
Simon’s principle areas of practice include: contractual disputes; commercial fraud; directors’ duties (including director’s disqualification proceedings); shareholder disputes; contentious probate; partnership disputes; landlord & tenant (commercial and residential); insolvency and professional negligence.

Helen Griffiths Biography

Helen started her career in law as a legal secretary in 2007 and began her studies with CIlex (or Ilex as it was then known) in 2009. She completed the Level 3 Diploma in Law and Practice at Newcastle College and went on to study via distance learning with Ilex Tutorial College, completing her Level 6 Higher Diploma in Law and Practice in 2014. Based in the property department of one of the leading law firms in County Durham, Helen has gained experience both in the residential and commercial property sector and has a keen interest in property development. She joined the CIlex Newcastle Branch in 2015 and became Chair of the branch in February 2016. Helen is very proud to be part of a Committee which works tirelessly to promote the CIlex route into law and the benefits of it’s membership as well as supporting local charities.

Geoff Harrison Biography

Geoff retired as a partner in Eversheds in 2009. His area of practice was competition law. In 1999 he chaired the board which created the blueprint for the full financial integration of Eversheds a year later. From 2000 until his retirement he was a member of the senior management team running the international law firm. He had particular responsibility for all aspects of client service and relationship management. From 2009 until 2015 he was a Visiting Professor at Northumbria University. His focus was on the development and teaching of programmes designed to increase the commercial awareness of lawyers and to increase their understanding of what is required to run a successful legal services business, He is now a non executive board member at Parklane Plowden Chambers.

Lee Hartley Biography

Lee Hartley, 41, has been involved in business development for over 18 years, specifically within the digital, technology and financial services sectors. Lee co-founded Fairstone in 2008 and has grown the business from a start-up to its present position as one of the UK’s largest Chartered financial planning business. He architected the business model, acquisition programme and IT strategy together with leading the business through 3 investment rounds. Fairstone now operates on a national footprint with 36 regional branches and has management offices situated in Newcastle and London. Today, Fairstone Group encompasses 410 staff and professional advisers, has run-rate revenues approaching £70 Million and oversees £8 Billion in client assets.

Toby Hedworth Q.C. Biography


Winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award in 2017, Toby Hedworth Q.C. is a nationally recognised Criminal and Regulatory Silk.
Born and educated in the North East, Toby Hedworth Q.C. studied Law at Cambridge before returning to the region and being called to the Bar in 1975, quickly establishing himself as a leading junior barrister. He was appointed Crown Court Recorder in 1991 and took Silk in 1996.
Toby Hedworth Q.C. became Head of Trinity Chambers in 1998. During his time as Head, he has driven the development of Chambers, including the renovation of and move to The Custom House on Newcastle's Quayside in 2004 and the opening of Chambers in Middlesbrough. Under Toby’s leadership, Trinity has tripled in size, with nearly 80 barristers including 6 Silks working with solicitor clients across the region, nationally and increasingly, internationally.
Toby Hedworth Q.C. is regularly recognised in the leading legal directories - "He's an outstanding advocate in trials, and he gives peace of mind to clients who are facing the most stressful of times." Chambers and Partners 2018. "A fantastic communicator, who distils complex facts into intelligible themes" Legal 500 2017.

Elizabeth Hodgson Biography

Elizabeth Hodgson is a barrister at Parklane Plowden Chambers, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She has practiced almost exclusively in the field of injury-related litigation since pupillage at Ropewalk Chambers in Nottingham in 1993. She acts on behalf of both Claimants and Defendants in a wide range of personal injury, industrial disease and clinical negligence cases. She is instructed by many insurance companies, local authorities, the NHSLA, and the major trades unions. She has been recommended in the Legal 500 regularly since 2007, being described in the most recent edition as "Very bright and capable with excellent advocacy skills"

Chris Hugill Biography

Chris has had a long legal career which includes qualifying and practising in a high street firm, lecturing at a University in property law and the business of the law, writing three editions of a practitioner’s book on Business Leases, as a commercial property lawyer specialising in housing and mixed use development and formerly holding the position of a regional managing partner in an international law firm. Chris joined Ward Hadaway in 2006 as a partner to become the head of the firm’s regeneration team and is now a consultant with the firm giving advice on issues of legal ethics and property law and also the firm’s COLP. His particular interests are property law, the business of practising law, the development of lawyers, professional ethics and regulation.
Chris is Vice President of the Newcastle Upon Tyne Law Society.

Edwin James Biography

Ed James is Legal Director and General Counsel (Solicitor) at The Bannatyne Group with responsibility for overseeing legal compliance for over 71 health clubs, over 40 beauty spas and a small chain of hotels.

Ed’s legal career commenced with a training contract at Whitehead Monckton in Kent where he qualified into the Commercial Department. This was followed by a five year stint as a Corporate Finance Associate at Ward Hadaway in Newcastle upon Tyne. In November 2010, Ed joined Bannatyne as Legal Counsel. This role has developed in line with the growth of the company and Ed now oversees the Legal Department at The Bannatyne Group as well as sitting on the board of a number of the Bannatyne companies.

Paul Jennings Biography

 Paul Jennings is Joint Managing Director of North Group, a leading international marine insurance group with a 12% global market share, employing around 400 staff.  The Group is based on the Quayside in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK with regional offices and subsidiaries in Australasia, China, Greece, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. Paul has been involved in the marine insurance industry for over 30 years and he is an Executive Director of both North P&I Club and Sunderland Marine and is responsible for all aspects of the North Group.  He is also Chairman of the Reinsurance Sub-Committee for the International Group of P&I Clubs, representing the interests of over 90% of the world’s merchant shipping.

Jonathan Jowett Biography

Jonathan Jowett’s executive role is Company Secretary & General Counsel at Greggs plc, where he is a member of the Operating Board, reporting to the Chief Executive. He is a lawyer by profession, and has spent most of his career working in-house in international manufacturing companies, across a variety of sectors including food production and retailing, medical product and consumer healthcare.

Jonathan’s responsibilities in Greggs include legal and government affairs, risk management & insurances, internal audit, food safety, health and safety, corporate communications, social responsibility, and pensions administration. He is Secretary to the PLC board and its committees.

Away from Greggs, Jonathan chairs the Board of Trustees of the Percy Hedley Foundation, which provides educational and care services to children, young people and adults with cerebral palsy, communication sensory impairments and complex learning, social care and therapeutic needs. Jonathan is also a non-executive director at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Company Secretary of Darlington Football Club.

Jessica Layfield Biography


Jessica is one of the Service Managers at the Personal Support Unit (PSU) in Newcastle. Based in the Combined Court, PSU volunteers provide free practical and emotional support in the civil and family courts, with issues such as contact with children, divorce, eviction and money claims. Jessica graduated from Durham University, and has several years of experience in the voluntary sector, in a variety of operational and volunteer management roles.

David Leech Biography


David has 30 years of experience in Banking, having worked in the North East all of his career.
With over 20 years at HSBC, David later moved  to Santander Corporate Bank where he spent 5 years looking after corporate and real estate customers before finally moving to Handelsbanken 4 years ago.
Specialising in Corporate Banking over the last 15 years , David’s present role is a Corporate Account Manager at the Grey Street Branch of Handelsbanken, in Newcastle.
Looking after a small portfolio of high quality corporate customers, David enjoys being a trusted advisor to his customers providing a professional and friendly service.

Kevin Maloney Biography


Kevin is a partner in the banking team specialising in the full range of services to banks, other financial organisations and businesses.
Outside of his fee earning work, Kevin leads the graduate recruitment team at Muckle and is responsible for the recruitment of the firm’s trainees. He also acts as a mentor for the trainees and oversees their training requirements.
Kevin studied law at Newcastle University and completed his LPC at the College of Law in York. Kevin joined the firm (Robert Muckle as it was then known) in 1998 as a trainee solicitor.

John Marshall Biography


John Marshall has spent his legal career working out of Newcastle as a specialist in commercial litigation and risk at Bond Dickinson LLP.

John became Head of Litigation in 2009 and in 2010 was elected Senior Partner of Dickinson Dees. In 2013, on the firm's merger with Bond Pearce, John became Vice-Chairman and a Board Member of Bond Dickinson LLP.

John left Bond Dickinson on 30 June 2016 to pursue other interests, and has since become Chair of Newcastle Gateshead Initiative. He is also Chair of Trustees at Newcastle United Foundation and chairs the Development Committee for Princes Trust in the North East.

Paul McKeown Biography

Paul is an Associate Professor and a solicitor at Northumbria University. He is currently the Director of Northumbria Law School’s multi-award winning Student Law Office. Prior to joining Northumbria University in 2007, Paul was a solicitor specialising in employment and housing law. Throughout his career, Paul has had a keen interest in promoting access to justice. As well as being a former trustee of the North East Legal Support Trust, he has worked closely with a number of organisations including LawWorks, the Access to Justice Foundation and the Personal Support Unit to support the provision of legal advice and assistance in the North East. Paul has also been a board member of the European Network for Clinical Legal Education (ENCLE) since its formation in 2013.

Ammar Mirza Biography


Ammar Mirza CBE - A multi-award winning entrepreneur who has helped establish several hundred businesses in the North East. Ammar is Founder and Chairman of Asian Business Connexions, President of the Federation of Asian Business, Board Member at the North East LEP, alongside being a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management (FInstLM), and Royal Society of Arts(FRSA). He has a particular interest in enterprise education as Chair of Governors of a Primary School, Chair of the Progression Forum and a visiting Professor of Practice at Newcastle University, and having helped launch the Primary Inspiration through Enterprise (PIE) Project Charity.

Alison Moss Biography


From 2008 until December 2017 Alison Moss worked as the Group Legal Director for PD Ports, one of the UK’s major port groups based in Teesside but with operations at many key ports and logistic centres. Alison was previously in-house Legal Counsel for a utilities company based in Teesside and has also worked in private practice as a commercial solicitor for a number of North East based law firms including Bond Dickinson (now Womble Bond Dickinson) and Ward Hadaway. Alison studied law at the University of Northumbria where she obtained her LLB and undertook the Legal Practice Course.

Margaret Nesbitt Biography

Margaret is a Divisional Director at wealth management firm Brewin Dolphin and joined the firm in 1997. She graduated in Financial Services from Humberside University in 1995 and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments. Margaret has 23 years investment industry experience and specialises in managing investments for a wide range of private clients, trusts and pensions. Over the years she has worked with a number of legal firms within the region, with a more recent emphasis on offering wealth management services to personal injury lawyers.

Fiona Newborough Biography

Fiona is a Divisional Director at wealth management firm Brewin Dolphin and joined Brewin Dolphin in 2005 having previously worked for both Close Brothers and Experian in London and has 14 years investment industry experience. She graduated in International Business Studies from Northumbria University in 2001 and is a Chartered Fellow of the CISI. Fiona assists her clients in developing flexible financial plans and specialises in the management of private client, trust and pension fund portfolios. Over the years she has worked with many legal firms within the region with a more recent emphasis on offering wealth management services to family lawyers and their clients. Fiona has recently taken over as co-Chair of the Collaborative Family Law, North East Group.

Erin Peart Biography

Erin is the Head of Property at Hanro Group, a privately owned North East based property group with an investment and development portfolio in the order of £120m. She has responsibility for the day to day operation of the portfolio, including development, acquisitions and disposals.
Erin graduated from Northumbria University and is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Erin sits on the North East Regional Board of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. The Board exists to help improve standards and professions in the land, property and construction sectors. Activities include influencing Government policy, encouraging more young talent in to the industry and helping promote RICS’ latest initiatives to create a more inclusive industry.

Matthew Price Biography

 Matthew graduated with a Masters degree in History from the University of Durham and worked for a local software company before deciding to switch to law, undertaking the Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course at Northumbria University. He joined Company Law Solutions as a paralegal in 2009 and became a Director in 2014. Though mainly specialising in company-commercial support services, Matthew has a particular interest in corporate law as relates to sports clubs, non-profit and charitable organisations and social enterprises.

William Ralston Biography


William is a senior lecturer in law at Northumbria University and is the Programme Leader for the Full Time Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at Northumbria. Prior to joining Northumbria in 2013, William spent 13 years in full-time-practice in the Bar at a common law set of chambers in Liverpool. He still practises part-time in the areas of personal injury and commercial law.

Rosy Rourke Biography

Rosy is a Legal Sector Director at Armstrong Watson and has specialised in working exclusively within the legal sector since 2014.
Rosy provides compliance support such as accounting, tax and SAR services to law firms throughout the UK, as well as specialist pro active advice in order to help them improve. This advice includes structure reviews, mergers and acquisition assistance, the implementation of bonus schemes, lock-up reviews and valuations.
Rosy enjoys building close working relationships with her clients and understands the topical issues and challenges they face due to the continuing changes within the legal sector.
Armstrong Watson is endorsed by the Law Society for the provision of accountancy services to law firms throughout the North of England.


Rhona Smith Biography


Dr. Rhona Smith is Professor of International Human Rights and Head of School at Newcastle University. She has more than twenty years’ experience in legal academic  and professional education across different legal systems and jurisdictions.  She has published in a range of outlets and completed several externally funded research projects, including on aspects of English law.

David Storey Biography


David Storey is a Business Strategy Consultant, based in North England.
His current clients include Brewin Dolphin, one of the country’s largest wealth management groups and Drummond Central, the expansionary digital media company. On the legal front, he has held advisory roles with Bond Dickinson and with Square One Law but his private client experience also includes Investec, Yorkshire Bank, Tier One Capital and several accountancy practices, Last but not least, he looks after the financial interests of a selection of High Net Worth clients both in Newcastle and London.

David’s background was always aimed at the professional services sector and his law degree and accountancy qualification seemed part of a natural progression to becoming a stockbroker briefly in Newcastle with Greig Middleton, before moving to Head Office in London and becoming a founding Director of Gerrards, now Barclays Wealth.
His business interests include 15 years spent as a SME shareholder and Director in an animal breeding technology business which he sold to the Milk Marketing Board in the mid nineties. He was Commercial Director of Genus, now a FTSE250 company, for 2 years.
David lives by the river in Tynedale with his wife Carolyn. He has 2 children and rates his interests as family, sport and, a first in 30 years: “no commuting and more Northumberland”.

Michael Stubbs Biography


Michael has over 30 years experience as a barristers clerk working in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle. After relocating to the North East in 2003, he joined Plowden Chambers as senior clerk in 2005. Following the successful merger with Park Lane Chambers in Leeds, where Michael was one of driving forces behind the link he was employed as Joint Senior Clerk to the largest civil litigation set on the North Eastern Circuit “Parklane Plowden”. He is committed to meeting clients' needs, being responsive to the market, and working with clients to provide pragmatic solutions to the engagement of barristers and fee structures. He is also involved in the marketing and development of Parklane Plowden Chambers and now Practice Director and member of Chambers Management board.
Chambers and Partners 2018 - Client service: "They are a very forward-thinking set and the clerking is excellent." Practice director Michael Stubbs is described as "a delight to work with and fantastically proactive in arranging suitable counsel."
Legal 500 2017 Practice director Michael Stubbs is ‘a fantastic ambassador for the set’
Chambers and Partners 2017 - Client Service: The "absolutely brilliant" practice director Michael Stubbs leads the clerking team

Kerry Underwood Biography


Senior Partner Underwoods Solicitors and Underwoods South Africa. Former Employment Judge. Lecturer, writer and broadcaster. Former councillor and Parliamentary candidate. Author of leading text books on Funding, Fixed Costs, Conditional Fee Agreements, Small Claims and Portal Claims and Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting.

Widely regarded as a leading expert on the English Legal System, especially constitutional and funding and regulatory matters. Adviser to various Commonwealth Governments. Consultant to law firms and barristers chambers, big and small. Pioneered offshoring of legal and secretarial work to South Africa. Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassador.

Wayne Whitford Biography


Wayne is a founding Director and has over 25 years’ experience within the Enforcement and Debt Collection sector. He is the client champion within the company to ensure it provides them with individual attention, and the highest level of customer service.
He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (FCICM).
Wayne is a judicial specialist providing innovative recovery solutions for both Commercial and Consumer partners alike.
He has particular expertise in High Court Enforcement, Commercial Rent Arrears now known as CRAR and other enforcement routines, including Local Authority Revenues and Parking.
Wayne is also a Member of British Parking Association MBPA and the Association of Credit Professionals FACP.

Rod Wilkinson Biography


Rod leads the Corporate Finance Team at KPMG in Newcastle. He started his career with the firm on Teesside and specialised in Lead Advisory work following qualification. During a 25 year career in Corporate Finance, Rod has lead well over 100 transactions including advising Board’s on strategy options, disposals, acquisitions, private equity fund raisings and re-financings. Local transactions include the sale of O’Brien Waste Management, the sale of the Kids 1st nursery business, the re-financing of Kitwave and the sale of North East Convenience Stores.