I read law at Durham University and qualified as a Barrister in 1985. Virtually all my career has been as a lawyer in the Government Legal Service (GLS). I was the first member of my family to have gone to university or to have any connection with the law or the Civil Service.
I have moved around the GLS quite a bit, having worked in five different departments. From 2002-4 I was Legal Adviser to the Department for Education and Skills (as it then was), heading a Directorate of over 50 staff (including 40 lawyers). In 2004 I returned to the Attorney General as Director General and head of the Office. In that role I worked for two Attorneys – Lord Goldsmith and later Baroness Scotland – on a huge range of high-profile issues, including counter-terrorism, cash for honours, BAE systems, the inquest of Diana, Princess of Wales, issues relating to Guantanamo Bay and the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, the constitutional role of the Attorney, criminal justice and international strategy.
Since 2009 I have been Deputy Treasury Solicitor. This means I am deputy head of TSol, the largest legal department in government and one of the largest legal organisations in the country, comprising over 1000 staff, of which roughly half are lawyers. TSol acts for more than 180 clients – all the main government departments and many other public bodies. We conduct almost all the government’s litigation, handling more than 30,000 cases at any one time. Many of these are at the cutting edge of legal developments, with TSol handling a high proportion of the cases in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Our advisory lawyers work on Bills, draft regulations and other forms of secondary legislation, and advise on a wide range of legal topics, including public and constitutional law, EU law, human rights and information law. Recently they have played key roles in the establishment of Academies and Free Schools, the response to the financial crisis, and the London Olympics.
TSol operates as a business and we charge our clients for our services in much the same way as a private sector law firm. My role is to oversee all TSol’s business and ensure we are providing high quality, efficient legal services to our clients. That has recently included promoting new ways of providing shared legal services to help reduce costs for clients, for example by creating an enhanced, unified Employment Group, and by agreeing with Defra to provide its legal services, with over 100 legal staff moving to TSol.
I am a “Bencher” (or senior member) of the Middle Temple (one of the four Inns of Court for barristers) and am active in the provision of training to recently qualified barristers.