We employ eight part-time women and have nine dedicated Trustees. We work with pro bono legal volunteers to support our information review and curriculum design. Our staff and team of associates have expertise in law, community education, empowerment work and work with refugees and migrant groups.
Dr Lisa Wintersteiger
Lisa’s early career was in the advice and community sector including legal aid casework, youth and community development and regeneration programmes. She has also been a policy consultant and researcher in advice needs, international human rights and more recently has been leading public legal education research and programming.
She specialises in access to justice interventions both in the UK and abroad. Her expertise is in bringing together theory and practice, policy development and designing programmes to meet the needs of vulnerable people. In 2011 she co-founded Law for Life. She holds a PhD in law on the intersection of Frankfurt School Critical Theory and education. She has taught at Birkbeck, University of London where she co-convened clinical education and as visiting faculty at the Central European University.
Head of Information and Digital Innovation
Theresa is experienced in designing and managing public legal education and information projects and materials, including a successful EU-funded advice sector partnership project to promote equality and tackle discrimination. Theresa is also a skilled writer and editor of user-friendly content on the law and rights.
During her time at Help the Aged and Advicenow Theresa has overseen the production of many information guides on topics as diverse as care home fees, immigration advice and benefits sanctions, including researching the law, commissioning, implementing user feedback and evaluation.
Theresa also provides consultancy to other organisations to help them produce better information and forms for their audiences, including information for litigants in person, on informed consent, and social care.
Head of Communications and Deputy CEO
Mary specialises in translating the law into accessible and engaging materials, drawing on her experience delivering public legal education and advice on the ground in student, community and mental health settings. Mary is a highly skilled writer and has designed, written, and evaluated a wide range of legal information materials - from awareness raising materials, to step-by-step guides, films and automated self-help tools.
Mary specialises in producing information to help users better manage their welfare benefit disputes, private renting issues, family law problems, and help for those who have to represent themselves in court or tribunal.
Mary co-authored the Better Information Handbook, and provides information consultancy to help other organisations better meet the needs of their users, and training to staff at other organisations about how to produce more effective legal information and self-help tools.
As our Head of Communications, Mary is also responsible for promoting Law for Life and Advicenow, and writes press releases, articles for publications, and manages our social media.
Head of legal information and pro bono
Beth is a non-practising solicitor with over ten years’ experience of working in family law, primarily advising and representing legally aided clients. She has worked as a pro bono solicitor at Avon and Bristol Law Centre and at HMP Eastwood Park assisting vulnerable women prisoners. She also has some experience in Court of Protection work.
She is now responsible for researching the law, designing, writing and updating a range of legal information resources for the Advicenow website. To support this she works to foster and support pro bono and legal sector relationships. She is also responsible for managing and developing the involvement of volunteers within all of Law for Life’s work.
Dragica (Dada) Felja
Head of Education and Training
Dada started her career working with refugees and asylum seekers at the Refugee Council. For fourteen years, she worked with the Roma refugee and migrant communities in the UK at the London-based charity Roma Support Group. Her work included advice and advocacy for Roma families, mentoring and education support for vulnerable young Roma. She also supported statutory and non-statutory organisations working with the Roma communities across the UK through training, consultancy and capacity building support. Dada has contributed to various research projects, articles and publications related to Roma issues in the UK.
Office manager / Personal Assistant to Chief Executive
Mihaela moved to the UK in 2008 and initially spent her time volunteering at an environmental not for profit organisation and a community charity. Her experiences working in the community lead her to become a freelance community interpreter, working with various agencies across London for six years. Alongside her linguistic skills, she has continuously developed strong administrative skills through her work as a freelancer and as office manager for both not for profit organisations and private companies. She is pleased to be supporting the Law for Life and Advicenow team, while currently undertaking an MSc in Integrative Counselling and Coaching.
Head of Housing Programmes
Rowan has extensive experience working on independent grassroots projects advocating for the rights of tenants, residents, and homeless people in London. She has previously volunteered with Citizens Advice providing advice on a range of issues from benefits, migration, and domestic abuse, through to a variety of housing issues. She is currently working on a PhD exploring the gendered ramifications of the housing crisis in the UK. At Law for Life she is part of the Education and Training team and is currently involved in the creation and delivery of a series of housing rights legal education workshops for grassroots and community organisers.
Research and Evaluation Officer
Wendy specializes in mixed methods research, particularly measuring how social policy affects the daily lives of vulnerable people. She has undertaken independent research for Central England Law Centre and Coventry Independent Advice Service. Her experience of working with benefit claimants in the public sector led her to study for a PhD in Law at Warwick University on the impact of welfare reform and austerity policies on the human rights of individuals. She has taught at the University of Warwick.
She leads on the monitoring an evaluation of the wide range of interventions and projects undertaken by Law for Life, and is researching the changing legal needs emerging under Covid-19, in particular focusing on identifying the barriers and difficulties that some groups experience in accessing justice.
Trustees and patrons
- Amanda Finlay CBE, Chair
- Jon Spain, Treasurer
- Dr Vanessa Davies
- Prof Dawn Oliver
- Raymond Sheehy
- Joe Broadway
- Dr Simon Davey
- Michael Olatokun
Our Founding Patrons are:
- Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE QC,
- The Rt Hon. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
- Lord Briggs of Westbourne
Amanda Finlay CBE - Chair
Amanda Finlay is a Council Member and Executive Board member of Justice. She was a member of the Justice Working Groups on Access to Justice in an Age of Austerity, and on What is a Court? and recently chaired the Justice Working Group on Preventing Digital Exclusion from Online Justice.
Amanda was a member of the Civil Justice Council (CJC) from 2009 -2012 and is a continuing member of the CJC Working Group on Litigants in Person Support Strategy and a member of the MOJ Litigants in Person Engagement Group. She is a member of the Greenwich University Law Advisory Forum . She was Vice Chair of the Low Commission, and until recently was a Trustee of LawWorks and a public governor of Oxleas NHS Mental Health Foundation Trust in South East London.
Amanda has been a Trustee of Law for Life since 2009, when she retired from the Ministry of Justice. During her career she was an advocate and supporter of Public Legal Education, and was a member of Professor Dame Hazel Genn’s PLEAS Task Force and of Lord Bach’s Public Legal Education Strategy Group.
During her long career in the Lord Chancellor’s Department, and then the Ministry of Justice, Amanda worked on many aspects of access to justice. She was the MOJ Director responsible for legal aid strategy and for legal services reform. She led work to improve the forecasting and control of legal aid, introducing more predictable fee schemes for lawyers. She built on research and client surveys to target legal aid on more vulnerable groups. She led the arrangements to set up the Legal Services Board. She worked with the legal profession, academics, social workers and client representatives to develop improved arrangements for both private law and public law children cases. She supported the case for tribunal reform set out by Sir Andrew Leggatt in his review “ Tribunals for Users” which in time resulted in the Unified Tribunal service. She worked with human rights and asylum lawyers, and with the immigration and asylum judiciary, to develop HR compliant new asylum appeals primary and secondary legislation.
Amanda led the work on the Human Rights Act in the Lord Chancellor’s Department, working with human rights lawyers to ensure that the scheme of the Act was workable in the courts and leading ten all day “walkthroughs” to test out compatibility with judges, lawyers and human rights experts in courts from the magistrates up to the Court of Appeal. She was Secretary to Lord Woolf’s Inquiry “Access to Justice”, working with the judiciary, lawyers, academics and lay people to devise improvements to the civil justice system.
Earlier in her career she was engaged in work to open up legal services to more competition, including work with the Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct on rights of audience applications from solicitors and employed lawyers, and the establishment of the Legal Services Ombudsman. Amanda was secretary to the Legal Aid Advisory Committee; worked with Richard White and Cyril Glasser (founder members of the Legal Action Group) on their report on unmet need for legal services in the 1970s and was engaged in the work to set up the Crown Court and the Court Service following the Courts Act 1971.
Jon Spain -Treasurer
Jon Spain is a professional Actuary and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, with experience in the private and public sectors, spanning 40 years. He is on the Board of his local synagogue and Treasurer of Community Voice Health, a patient/member-led community organisation monitoring NHS Trusts and CCGs. Mr Spain is about to retire from the Civil Service.
Dr Vanessa Davies
Vanessa Davies has been the Director General of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) since 2011. Prior to joining the BSB, Dr Davies was the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Operations at Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ).
She started her working life as a linguist. She was the Director of the Language Centre at King's College, London and then spent nearly a decade at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, first as Director of the Diplomatic Service Language Centre and subsequently as a Group Director overseeing a range of services in support of UK foreign policy.
Dr Davies left the world of languages in 2005 and trained for the Bar. She is an unregistered barrister, and a Bencher of Inner Temple. She was a volunteer at the Personal Support Unit and a Trustee at the PSU until 2016.
Professor Dawn Oliver
Professor Dawn Oliver recently retired as Emeritus Professor of Constitutional Law at University College London. She served as Dean of the Faculty from 1993-98 and in 2007. She was editor of Public Law from 1993-2002, and has been a distinguished member of many Commissions on constitutional issues. Professor Oliver was elected a Bencher of the Honorable Society of the Middle Temple in 1996, and was Treasurer of the Middle Temple in 2011. She was made Queen’s Counsel, honoris causa, in 2013. Earlier in her career she ran two legal advice clinics in the 70's. She was also a part time consultant for Legal Action Group, writing updates on social welfare law. She was a Trustee of the Citizenship Foundation. She is now a volunteer with the Personal Support Unit.
Raymond Sheehy has been the Chief Executive of Bridge Mental Health in Woolwich since 2009. Previously the CEO of a learning disability and mental health charity, he is currently Lead Governor of Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and a Panel Member on the Monitor Independent Advisory Panel.
Mr Sheehy is now working with his team on the development of new models of delivering services; social and commercial enterprises, and a range of innovative support and housing options for people who have experienced or continue to live with a mental health problem. He has established the first non NHS run Recovery College which now serves the people in Woolwich"
Joe Broadway is Director of Legal Affairs and Company Secretary at CFH Docmail Ltd. He created and ran Velopost, a fossil fuel free postal delivery service, as a separate business unit within CFH Docmail, for three years. He received the 2015 Business Insider Magazines 42 Under 42 award which "recognises some of the South West’s most dynamic and inspirational young entrepreneurs and celebrates their success in helping grow the regional economy”. He has recently become a volunteer advocate at the Free Representation Unit, is a Trustee of the CFH Total Document Management Retirement Benefit Scheme, and was a fundraiser and volunteer at READ International.
Dr Simon Davey
Dr Simon Davey is Managing Director of Omega Alpha, working across strategy, digital, data and change. He has twenty years’ experience with charities, including as the first Director of the national IT volunteering programme IT4Communities, and has worked with over fifteen access to justice organisations since early 2016 alongside targeting whole system change. Simon’s educational interest lies in the development of confidence, resilience and problem solving skills and he co-founded and led the Emerging Scholars’ Intervention Programme (ESIP) in East London.
Simon serves as an Independent Commissioner for the Data and Marketing Commission, leads digital transformation as a volunteer (and member of) the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants, is a guest lecturer at Cass Business School Centre for Charity Effectiveness and enjoys using Lego when designing strategy to help see, and show, how the pieces fit together.
Michael Olatokun is a researcher and project manager focused on exploring the connection between rights, citizenship and education. He is the Head of Public and Youth Engagement at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law. This year he developed an online course called 'Citizenship and the Rule of Law' (https://www.coursera.org/learn/citizenship-rule-of-lawLink opens in a new window), in collaboration with the University of London. He is also the Coordinator of 'The Rule of Law for Citizenship Education', a nationwide programme in which young people are taught about the rule of law and human rights. Michael is a member of the Solicitor General's PLE Committee and helped to draft the minister's vision statement in 2019.
Michael has also worked as a political organiser encouraging young people and disenfranchised groups to participate in public life. He has led voter registration projects that have successfully registered hundreds of thousands of first-time voters, working with the Cabinet Office and other partners to promote voter engagement in the run-up to the 2016 European Union Referendum. Michael helped to establish the charity ‘Product of a Postcode’ in East London and has been a trustee of three other organisations in addition to Law for Life.
Lord Briggs of Westbourne
Lord Briggs of Westbourne is a Justice of the Supreme Court. He focussed on the needs of litigants in person in the Chancery Modernisation Review which he conducted in 2013. He highlighted the importance of public legal education in his Civil Courts Structure review in 2015 and 2016 . In that report he said that the level of success of the new online court in extending access to justice would depend critically upon parallel progress being made with public legal education generally, and recognised the need for affordable legal advice on the merits of any case.
Lord Briggs was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2013 and as a Justice of the Supreme Court in 2017.He was Deputy Head of Civil Justice from January 2016 until his appointment to the Supreme Court.
Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE QC
Professor Dame Hazel Genn is a leading authority on civil justice whose work has had a major influence on policy-makers around the world. She is currently Dean of the Faculty of Laws, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at University College London.
She has held full-time research posts at Oxford University Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and the Cambridge Institute of Criminology. She served on the Committee on Standards in Public Life and in 2009 was appointed to the Secretary of State's Advisory Panel on Judicial Diversity. In 2005, she was awarded the US Law and Society International Prize for distinguished scholarship and she holds Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Keele, Edinburgh, Leicester, and Kingston.
Hazel was chair of the Public Legal Education and Support (PLEAS) task force and was chair of the Advisory Panel for research on Family Advice and Information for the Legal Services Commission.
She served for eight years as deputy chair and then chair of the Economic and Social Research Council's Research Grants Board and in 2008 she was elected Honorary Master of the Bench of Gray's Inn.
Hazel Genn is a leading authority on civil justice and has published widely in the field including Meeting Legal Needs? (1981), Understanding Civil Justice (1997) and Tribunals for Diverse Users (2006). She is author of companion volumes Paths to Justice: What People Do and Think About Going to Law (1999), and, with Alan Paterson, Paths to Justice Scotland: What Scottish People Do and Think About going to Law (2001), which report the findings of two major national surveys into public use of and attitudes to the legal system.
She was one of the team leading the Nuffield Foundation's Inquiry on Empirical Legal Research and is one of the authors of the final report Law in the Real World: Improving our Understanding of How Law Works, published in November 2006. In November/December 2008 she delivered the 2008 Hamlyn Lectures on civil justice.
The Rt Hon Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
The Rt. Hon. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury was appointed as Master of the Rolls in 2009 and then became President of the Supreme Court in October 2012.
He was called to the Bar in 1974 and was made a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 1987. He became a Bencher for Lincolns Inn in 1993. His first judicial appointment was as a Recorder from 1990 until 1996 when he was appointed a High Court judge in the Chancery Division and was then the Supervisory Chancery Judge for the Midland, Wales and Chester and Western Circuits 2000 - 2004.
In January 2004 he was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal and led an investigation for the Bar Council into widening access to the barrister profession. In 2007 he was made a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and created a life peer as Baron Neuberger of Abbotsbury in the county of Dorset.
We are delighted to introduce Law for Life associates. Our team have a wealth of experience in the field of public legal education; they are expert popular educators, writers and trainers who have worked in the design, delivery and evaluation of public legal education programmes in all sorts of settings.
Clare Shirtcliff trained and worked as a solicitor specialising in family law with a background in Law Centres and CLS consultancy, she also has extensive experience in law-related education in the adult learning sector. Claire has devised and taught PLE courses linked to family and social welfare law such as ‘Dealing with Debt ‘and Women and the Law as a tutor for South Wales Workers Education Association. Clare also worked in Adult and Community Education teaching English as a Second Language and incorporated law-related education for migrants and new arrivals.
Clare has managed public legal education projects including ‘Progress toward Equality: reaching out to Communities’ managing and supporting local and national providers to deliver PLE on discrimination issues. She has a developed and assessed monitoring mechanisms and helped design PLE evaluations in a number of contexts. Clare has written and produced a range of publications including ‘Going to Court’ guides for self-represented litigants in association with the Royal Courts of Justice Citizens Advice Bureau.
Tony has worked in public legal education for thirty years, initially as member of the Law Society’s Law in Education Project, designed to develop the nature and extent of law-related education in schools. Tony was one of the founding members of the Citizenship Foundation, and the members of staff there who focussed on the development of law-related education.
Tony has written 20 textbooks and guides to the law. His publications include ‘A Guide to the law for refugees and asylum seekers' and the 'Young citizens passport' (amongst others) and he has written and developed teaching materials in the UK, Russia and Georgia. Tony has extensive skills in developing and implementing law-related programmes in both formal and informal teaching settings. He has designed programmes for a wide range of audiences through work with BBC and broadcasters, human rights organisations, schools and universities and many others.
David is a solicitor who practised in the legal aid sector for about 30 years, until September 2013. During that time he gained experience in many areas of legal practice, latterly specialising in housing law and related public law and human rights. In 2011 he was selected as Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (Social Welfare category). He is now studying for a PhD in law at the School of Law, Birkbeck College, and teaching law to undergraduates there; he has a Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Supporting Learning in Higher Education.
He has been working with Law for Life helping to design and deliver training since 2016.
Francesca is a researcher and trainer with a background in international human rights and social justice. For the last eight years she has worked with several organisations in Europe and India, conducting legal and social research. This involved monitoring and training on socio-economic rights, particularly around housing, health and workers’ rights.
As a co-founder of Nazdeek in India, she developed and coordinated programmes to build the capacity of women from marginalized groups to monitor, document and address gaps in the delivery of basic services, combining legal training with community-led data collection and litigation. Currently Francesca is also working as a coordinator for the International Network on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Has extensive experience of advice and information provision within the voluntary sector for over 20 years. As Senior Adviser at Help the Aged she was responsible for providing public legal information and advice, as well as delivering training and mentoring to staff and volunteers. As Advice and Casework Manager for a charity called Ownership Options, which specialised in providing technical welfare benefits and housing advice, she was responsible for delivering training and legal guidance to local authority and housing association staff, as well as commissioning, editing and writing information guides for the public.
She currently works as a freelance writer, copyeditor and researcher into public policy and law around welfare benefits, welfare reform, social care and housing. As a freelancer, she has written, edited and evaluated public guides and factsheets for several organisations, including Age Scotland, Age UK and Independent Age. She has also written research reports and briefings for NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and HSEU (Housing Support Enabling Unit).
Davina’s skills are in copyediting and writing public information clearly and plainly for diverse audiences. She has considerable experience in information design and, more recently, has undertaken training in knowledge and information management.
Anta Brachou has just recently joined the Centre for Studies of Modern Slavery at St Mary’s University. Prior to joining the Centre, she worked for Hibiscus Initiatives, where she managed the Women Centre until June 2019. She has provided advocacy and support to vulnerable women affected by the criminal justice system and victims of trafficking. While at Hibiscus she established and maintained monitoring and evaluation frameworks that worked for the ‘one-stop-shop’ model and worked closely with various funders, including Big Lottery and Esmee Fairbairn to meet reporting objectives and project outcomes. She is also accredited at OISC Level 2 to assist service users with immigration and asylum advice, and led the organisation through the OISC auditing process.
Currently, she is doing PhD research at University of Hull, the Wilberforce Institute on human trafficking from Albania, to contribute to the 4Ps paradigm of the problem; prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships. Anta has also conducted research on trafficking for ATLEP (Anti-trafficking Legal Project) and presently working on a feasibility study funded by Commonweal on housing for victims of human trafficking.
We are very grateful for the support and expertise of our Academic Advisory Group, which consists of five internationally-known experts in the field of legal capabilities.
The Advisory Group was established in November 2020, primarily to support the research element of the Legal Services to Litigants in Person (LSLIP) grant funded by the Ministry of Justice.
Anne Barlow, Professor of Family Law and Policy, Exeter University
Anne has a particular interest in Family Law and Policy, especially the regulation of adult relationships such as cohabitation and marriage, but has also taught and researched in the areas of comparative law, housing law and welfare law and policy. She led a 3 year interdisciplinary study funded by the ESRC on Mapping Paths to Family Justice, looking at Out-of-Court Dispute Resolution of private family law issues. This was followed by 3 phases of ESRC Impact Accelerator Awards, Creating Paths to Family Justice where she worked with a number of agencies including OnePlusOne, Relate, the Ministry of Justice, the Family Mediation Council, Resolution and CAFCASS to draw on research findings to develop online and offline mediation services and information for couples and children. She is a co-investigator in an interdisciplinary team for the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health - a new, world-leading research centre dedicated to providing innovative approaches to enabling health and well-being across the life course.
Sharon Collard, Professor of Personal Finance & Research Director, University of Bristol
Sharon is Research Director at the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre. Her research explores the intersections between vulnerability and personal finance. For example, the Centre has examined ways to address the Poverty Premium faced by low-income households; and delivered a programme of work on how financial services firms identify and treat consumers in vulnerable circumstances.She is also a Research Affiliate at the University of Sydney; a member of the UK Financial Services Consumer Panel, a statutory panel that represents the interests of consumers in the development of policy for the regulation of financial services; the UK Financial Inclusion Commission; the government’s Financial Inclusion Policy Forum; and is on the Council of the Pensions Policy Institute.
Grainne McKeever, Professor: School of Law, Ulster University
Gráinne is a Professor of Law and Social Justice, and Co-Director of the Ulster University Law Clinic. Her research has examined the interplay between social justice and administrative justice, focusing on participation in, and structural reform of, tribunal processes; the overlaps between the social security and criminal justice systems in a niche area of research examining social security fraud and associated social security sanctions; and comparative processes of legal decision making in administrative and public law systems and the access to justice implications that arise, particularly for litigants in person.
She is currently Chair of the Discretionary Support Review expert panel to review the Discretionary Support (DS) scheme which provides financial support to individuals in crisis situations in Northern Ireland.
Ash Patel, Programme Head: Justice, Nuffield Foundation
Ash leads a team undertaking and commissioning civil justice research to improve understanding of the accessibility of the legal system for people, particularly those who are vulnerable and those without legal representation. The team aims to explore incentives and structures for encouraging good early decision-making that could avoid disputes which may later require resolution in court, but which also enable people to take appropriate legal action where needed. This includes seeking to understand more about how research and data science could be used alongside professional judgment and legal precedent in framing and making decisions in formal justice mechanisms and the effect of digital technology used to deliver justice and dispute resolution on people’s ability to exercise their rights and solve their problems.
Pascoe Pleasence, Professor, Empirical Legal Studies, UCL
Pascoe is a leading international expert in social science research methods, access to justice and legal capability. His research is primarily focused on issues of access to justice; also extending to the methods used in this field. Following his successful stewardship of the English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey, much of his recent work has continued to concern the design, development and analysis of data from 'legal needs' surveys (surveys of citizen and business experience of legal problems). He was lead author of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Open Society Justice Initiative’s (OSJI) 2019 global guidance Legal Needs Surveys and Access to Justice, and the access to justice chapter of the United Nations Praia City Group’s 2020 Handbook on Governance Statistics. These two publications were instrumental in the United Nation’s 2020 adoption of a first global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) concerning access to civil justice (Target 16.3.3).