Thursday 18th October was a good night for Law Centres. Paul Heron, solicitor specialising in housing, social security, and public law at Hackney Community Law Centre (HCLC) was awarded the title of the Law Society’s Solicitor of the Year In-House for his work advising marginalised people who would not use mainstream services. Carolyn Osbourne, Senior Solicitor at Streetwise Community Law Centre, was highly commended in the same category, making her the runner up.
Paul has a wealth of experience, having worked with homeless people with mental health, alcohol and drug problems before becoming a solicitor. As well as delivering advice and care to clients from HCLC’s offices he also leads on their weekly outreach work at the Hackney Migrant Centre.
Paul is currently establishing a new outreach service offering legal advice and representation to vulnerable street homeless people and those who have been recently provided with accommodation.
In a voluntary capacity Paul is a member of the executive committee of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers.
Carolyn has worked at Streetwise Community Law Centre, which specialises in legal advice for young people, for seven years.
She is always on the look-out for cases which will challenge the boundaries of the law and improve access to education for children and young people. Her cases include a Judicial Review which established that Academies, although independent schools, are open to challenge and must be publically accountable. This case has far-reaching implications.
Another of Carolyn’s cases recently lowered the bar for evidence that parents need to provide to get a special needs assessment for their child. The judgement brought into question the lawfulness of the SEN Code of Practice.
As well as undertaking challenging casework in the education field Carolyn actively campaigned to keep education within the scope of legal aid. She addressed an All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs in January 2011 and helped to write a LAPG briefing for MPs.