Coram Children’s Legal Centre employs lawyers and experts in children’s human rights. Want to join the team? Check out our current vacancies.
Neena Acharya, Senior solicitor
Neena is an accredited solicitor specialising in immigration and asylum law. She is experienced in representing clients at all stages of the immigration and asylum process, including initial applications, appeals in the First Tier and Upper Tribunals and the Court of Appeal. She has particular expertise and interest in judicial review challenges (her recent cases include challenges to the length of leave granted, refusals of fresh claims, deportation cases and unlawful detention).
Neena has experience representing children, young people and families, including vulnerable clients. She has expertise in working with victims of trafficking and other human rights abuses, clients with mental health and learning difficulties.
Neena qualified as a solicitor in 1997 at Edwards Son & Noice Solicitors (now Edwards Duthie) and has worked in immigration and asylum law since. Before joining CCLC Neena worked at Lambeth Law Centre. She started at CCLC in August 2018.
Rosalyn Akar Grams, Head of Legal Practice
Rosalyn Akar Grams joined CCLC’s Legal Practice Unit as the Head of Legal Practice in September 2019. She is an experienced solicitor specialising in asylum, immigration and human rights cases. She is an accredited supervisor under the Law Society’s Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme. She has acted for clients throughout the asylum process from the initial application stage through the appeal stages right up to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Rosalyn also has significant experience bringing judicial review and strategic challenges.
Prior to joining CCLC, Rosalyn was the Interim National Manager of the Medico-Legal Reports Service and permanent Manager of the Legal Advice and Welfare Service at Freedom from Torture. In 2017, she was shortlisted for Human Rights Lawyer of the Year at the Law Society Excellence Awards for her work promoting the rights of survivors of torture going through the asylum system.
Rosalyn is an experienced trainer. She has written articles on access to justice and has been consulted by organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Justice on issues related to the UK asylum system.
Previously, Rosalyn spent many years as a practising solicitor at Wilson Solicitors LLP, specialising in asylum and with a focus on survivors of torture, victims of trafficking and gender based violence and children and young people. She started her work in this field at the Refugee Legal Centre in 2002.
Her notable cases include MJ (Angola) v SSHD  EWCA CIV 557, R (on the application of Elmi) v SSHD  EWHC 2775 (admin) and KV v SSHD  UKSC 10 (with Freedom from Torture as joint interveners).
Machela Boampong, Paralegal
Machela is a paralegal with CCLC’s Legal Practice Unit. She started working with the Legal Practice Unit in July 2018.
Prior to her role as a paralegal she worked as a Legal Advisor with the Child Law Advice Service for two years, from June 2016 – June 2018. She started in October 2015 as a volunteer for the Child Law Advice Service. Her role was to provide advice to young people and parents on family, child and education law.
Machela obtained her LLB Law degree from the University of Essex in 2016. She went on to complete an LLM in International Human Rights at the University of Essex in 2016-2017.
Gregg Burrough, Senior solicitor, Education law team
Gregg joined Coram CLC in September 2019, and has over 5 years’ experience of running education cases.
His work is focused largely on helping parents and young people in Special Educational Needs and Disability Discrimination (SEND) Tribunals and challenging public bodies by way of judicial review.
In SEN Tribunal cases, Gregg represents children and young people in all types of SEN appeals, such as refusal to assess for an EHC needs assessment, refusal to issue an EHCP, appeals for SEN needs, SEN provision and school placements. Gregg also acts for clients regarding permanent exclusion matters both in the initial governing body hearings and the independent review panel. He is skilled in representation in all of these hearings.
Gregg has previously worked for the Football Association in safeguarding regulatory law.
He studied at the University of Wales, Swansea.
Keeley Creedy, Solicitor and Manager, Community care law team
Keeley Creedy is a solicitor specialising in public law and community care law. She has a particular interest in public law, civil liberties and human rights.
Keeley has gained considerable experience in representing young people in age disputes. She also has experience in education law and represents children who have been excluded, are out of school and with respect to their special educational needs. She works closely with a number of children’s charities, in particular CCLC’s partner charity Coram Voice.
Keeley trained and qualified as a solicitor at Fisher Meredith LLP. She subsequently worked at Maxwell Gillott before joining Coram Children’s Legal Centre in 2014.
Pia de Keyser, Paralegal
Pia joined the education team in CCLC’s Legal Practice Unit in January 2019.
Before joining the LPU she worked as a paralegal in community care and education Law at John Ford Solicitors. Having completed her LLM Qualifying Law Degree at Birkbeck School of Law in 2017, Pia gained legal casework experience as a volunteer at Liberty, Advocate (previously the Bar Pro Bono Unit), and Camden Community Law Centre. She is currently studying part-time for the Bar Professional Training Course at BPP University.
Before studying law Pia worked as a special educational needs teaching assistant, and as a visiting creative workshop leader in nursery and primary schools throughout London.
Michelle Elcombe, Supervising solicitor, Children's Pro Bono Legal Service
Michelle Elcombe joined CCLC in May 2016 as the Supervising Solicitor for the Children’s Pro Bono Legal Service. The service utilises the pro bono commitment of lawyers at DLA Piper and Allen and Overy to provide a free legal to service to children and young people to enable them to apply for and enjoy British citizenship. Michelle is responsible for training and supervising these lawyers and has been instrumental in developing the project and proving that this pro bono model works. The service has been recognised as a unique innovative model of pro bono provision of legal services.
Michelle was previously a Partner and head of Immigration at Leonard Canning’s solicitors in Southampton, formerly Leonard and Co solicitors where Michelle also trained and qualified. Michelle has over 13 years’ experience specialising in immigration, asylum and nationality law. Michelle has experience representing children, young people and families at all stages of the immigration and asylum process including initial applications, appeals and judicial reviews.
Kelly Everett, Senior solicitor
Kelly joined the Children’s Legal Centre in 2004 and assisted with the setting up, running and advising of what is now the Child Law Advice Line – a national telephone advice line which provides free legal advice over the phone and online on child, family and education law matters. She subsequently qualified as a solicitor in child law, family law, public law and education law in 2006.
Kelly was previously head of the family team before taking a career break to have two children. Now working part time, Kelly represents children, parents and carers in the area of child and family law where she has a keen interest in judicial review cases. Although Kelly undertakes work across the field of family and child law, her specialism is in representing children and young people in matters involving local authorities. Her particular interest lies in ensuring that homeless young people are accommodated and supported by the relevant authority, whether that be social services or the council housing department, bearing in mind the duties of those authorities and the wishes and feelings of the young person, in addition to ensuring that those young people who have been in care are able to access all their entitlements until the age of 21 or 25.
Kelly undertakes work on all areas involving the Children Act 1989 and Children Act 2004, including obtaining support services for children and their families from local authorities and placement moves for young people in care, leaving care legislation and contact and residence disputes.
She has been involved in a precedent case: Carla Edwards v General Register Office  EWHC 2380 (Fam), involving a declaration of parentage.
Kelly has written for Children & Young People Now and appeared on a number of regional and national television programmes and radio stations.
She works on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and is based in CCLC’s Colchester office.
Victoria Fernandes, Trainee solicitor
Sophie Freeman, Solicitor and Manager, Immigration law team
Sophie Freeman is an accredited supervising solicitor specialising in immigration, asylum and nationality law. Sophie has experience representing children, young people and families at all stages of the immigration and asylum process, including initial applications, fresh claims, appeals and judicial reviews.
Sophie has particular expertise working with young people with mental health problems. She regularly represents victims of trafficking and young people at risk of persecution as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. She also has a particular interest in representing young people facing deportation from the United Kingdom as a result of their criminal convictions.
Sophie also undertakes strategic litigation on behalf of the Legal Practice Unit. She, along with Jane Barrett, had conduct of CCLC’s intervention in the case of R (SM & Others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1144 (Admin) in which the High Court found the then Home Office policy on Discretionary Leave to be unlawful because it did not allow the proper consideration of children’s best interests when deciding the duration of leave to remain to be granted to them.
As well as her casework within the Legal Practice Unit representing individuals and families, Sophie works closely with the Migrant Children’s Project, contributing to the MCP’s policy work and training programs. She also speaks regularly at the monthly legal advice meetings held by the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group.
In October 2016, Sophie wrote the immigration and asylum section of the Legal Action Group’s special publication entitled, ‘Use it or lose it: children and legal aid’. In July 2018, Sophie was named ‘Legal aid lawyer of the year‘ in the social and welfare category.
Sophie trained and qualified as a solicitor at Fisher Meredith LLP, where she gained valuable experience in children law and community care law, as well as immigration and asylum law. She joined CCLC in June 2012.
Whitney Hard, Paralegal, Community care team
Thomas Hardwick, Supervising solicitor, Children's Pro Bono Legal Service
Thomas Hardwick joined CCLC in June 2019 as the Supervising Solicitor for the Children’s Pro Bono Legal Service. He deals with the part of that service which utilises the pro bono commitment of lawyers at Baker McKenzie and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to provide a free legal to service to children and young people to enable them to apply for and enjoy British citizenship. Thomas is responsible for training and supervising these lawyers.
Thomas was previously a solicitor at Wesley Gryk Solicitors LLP where he also trained and qualified. Thomas has 8 years’ experience working in immigration, asylum and nationality law. Thomas has experience representing children, young people and families at all stages of the immigration and asylum process including initial applications, appeals and judicial reviews.
Jack Howes, Paralegal
Jack is a paralegal in the education law team in CCLC’s Legal Practice Unit. He joined CCLC in January 2019.
Between March 2018 – January 2019, Jack worked first as a Paralegal and was then promoted to the role of Special Educational Needs Specialist in a London law firm specialising in SEN Law. During this period Jack largely dealt with Education, Health and Care Plans and assisted parents with appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
Jack obtained his LLB Law degree from the University of Greenwich in 2017.
Helen Jackson, Solicitor
Helen is a solicitor specialising in community care law.
Helen worked for several years in the domestic violence sector prior to qualifying as a solicitor in 2015. Following qualification she worked at Hammersmith and Fulham Community Law Centre and then South West London Law Centres where she specialised in community care and housing law. Helen also has experience of representing clients in welfare benefits appeals in both the First Tier and Upper Tribunal.
Helen joined CCLC in March 2018. Helen has an MA in Gender Studies, and volunteers as a Duty Scheme Advocate for the Asylum Support Appeals Project.
VyVy Lewis, Solicitor-Advocate
VyVy is a dual-qualified UK/USA lawyer and qualified as a Solicitor in England and Wales in 2005. VyVy specialises in representing children, parents, and extended family members in care proceedings. VyVy undertakes her own advocacy and she has Higher Rights of Audience (Civil). She has a number of professional accreditations. As well as being a member of the Law Society’s Children Law Accreditation Scheme (aka the Children Panel) she also interviews applicants and assesses re-accreditation applications. She is also an accredited Resolution Practitioner in children law (public) and domestic abuse. She is an active member of the Law Society’s Children Law Sub-Committee, co-organiser of the London Children’s Lawyers, and member of the Association of Lawyers for Children
VyVy has a Juris Doctorate and an LL.M from the University of Washington School of Law in the USA. VyVy remains an active member of the Washington State Bar Association. She worked as a trial lawyer in Seattle, Washington (USA) in the fields of Care, Juvenile Justice, Misdemeanours, Children-in-Need, At-Risk Youth, and Education law until she moved to the United Kingdom.
Qaisar Sheikh, Head of Education law
Qaisar is a highly experienced solicitor in education law, particularly special educational needs, discrimination claims, Upper Tribunal appeals and public law challenges related to schools and local authorities. He has a keen interest in health and social care matters that arise within SEN appeals. Although he primarily undertakes work in these areas, he has gained experience in child and family law matters.
For his work in Education Law, Qaisar has been ranked in Chambers and Partners 2020, alongside other leading solicitors in this area. Chambers and Partners comment: Qaisar Sheikh is well known in the market for his work in various types of cases, particularly EHC plan assessments and tribunals regarding school placement. Market commentators describe him as “incredibly client-oriented and extremely practical,” adding: “He is tenacious in fighting the points that matter and has the pragmatism and shrewdness to know when to compromise.”
Qaisar joined Coram Children’s Legal Centre in 2010 as a paralegal, for what is now called the Child Law Advice Service. In 2011 he took on the role of Deputy Team Leader where he supervised a team of advisors. He later joined the Education Law Team as a caseworker and subsequently commenced a training contract in 2014, qualifying as a solicitor in 2016.
Since April 2017, Qaisar has managed the Education Law Team, a branch of our Legal Practice Unit. He provides supervision to all caseworkers undertaking education law and associated discrimination law matters whilst overseeing the operations and the development of the department.
Qaisar obtained his LLB (Hons) degree from the University of Essex in 2007 and completed his post-graduate diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Law (formerly the College of Law) in 2009. Before joining CCLC, he gained legal experience through voluntary work at a number of organisations.
Eleanor Simon, Solicitor
Eleanor is an accredited solicitor specialising in immigration and asylum law. Eleanor is experienced in representing children, young people and families at all stages of the immigration and asylum process, including initial applications, appeals in the First-tier and Upper Tribunals, fresh claims, and judicial reviews.
Eleanor has a particular interest and expertise in representing vulnerable clients in their asylum and human rights claims, including victims of human rights abuses, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied children and care leavers, and those with mental health difficulties.
Eleanor started working as an accredited caseworker in immigration and asylum law at Wilson Solicitors LLP in January 2013, and went on to qualify as a solicitor there in October 2016. She joined Coram Children’s Legal Centre in May 2018.
Liam Wells, Senior paralegal, Education law team
Jessica Whitehead, Senior solicitor
Jessica Whitehead is a solicitor specialising in community care and public law. She is experienced in representing vulnerable children and young people across the spectrum of community care law, including obtaining assessments of needs and provision of support and accommodation.
Jessica has successfully represented looked after children and children leaving care or custody who need support and accommodation. She has particular experience representing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children whose ages have been disputed, who have been unlawfully detained in adult immigration detention, or who have mental health difficulties, as well as victims of trafficking. She also acts for children who have been excluded from school, are not receiving suitable full-time education or have special educational needs. She works closely with a number of charities including CCLC’s partner charity Coram Voice and charities such as the Refugee Council.
Jessica trained at Fisher Meredith LLP, where she qualified as a solicitor in September 2008, having gained particular experience in children law, public services and education law. She later worked at Maxwell Gillott, where she developed her expertise in community care and public law, before joining CCLC in 2014.
Reported cases: VS v the Home Office  EWHC 2483 (QB); R (E) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1927 (Admin); R (N) v Staines Magistrates’ Court  EWHC 3081 (Admin).
Child Law Advice Service
The CLAS team
The Child Law Advice Service is staffed by fully trained paralegals specialising in family, child and education law. They all hold a legal qualification, having completed law degrees, legal practice courses or specialist paralegal courses. Our staff come from a variety of backgrounds including having worked in Citizen Advice Bureaux or other legal firms. All our advisers are trained in customer service, call handling and digital communication.
For information and advice on issues of Child, Family and Education Law please the Child Law Advice Service’s dedicated website www.childlawadvice.org.uk.
Migrant Children’s Project
Charles Bourthoumieux, Legal and policy intern
Charles is an intern with the Migrant’s Children Project. He assists with the project’s legal and policy work. He helps secure legal representation for service users through the exceptional case funding scheme. At policy level, he works on the discriminatory effects of the EU Settlement Scheme.
Prior to joining Coram in January 2020, he was an advice volunteer at Praxis Community Project.
Charles holds BA in Law, Philosophy and Politics and an MA in Political and Legal Theory.
Alison East, Senior solicitor
Alison East is a solicitor working Tuesday – Thursday answering queries on immigration and welfare matters by email for the Migrant Children’s Project Legal Advice Line.
Alison trained as a social welfare lawyer at Hammersmith Law Centre and has a broad-based legal background encompassing welfare rights, community care, housing and public law as well as immigration.
Chloe Evans, Immigration adviser
Chloe Evans is an immigration adviser accredited under the IAAS at level 2 and at level 3 of the OISC in asylum and immigration. She has experience working with children, young people and families at all stages of the immigration and asylum process. She also has experience working with clients held in immigration detention.
Chloe is currently working on our outreach project at Hackney Migrant Centre and our outreach programmes in South London, providing advice to young asylum seekers and refugees.
Chloe started working as an accredited caseworker at Elder Rahimi Solicitors and then went on to work at Wilsons Solicitors LLP, before joining CCLC in October 2018.
Rosalind Hodder Compton, Solicitor and outreach adviser
Rosalind is a solicitor specialising in immigration, asylum and nationality law and issues relating to access to support, housing, health care and education for children, young people and families affected by immigration control. Rosalind is experienced in working with children, young people and families at all stages in immigration, asylum and nationality processes, including in initial applications, appeals and judicial reviews.
Rosalind does outreach work across several London boroughs, offering legal advice to children, young people and families on immigration, asylum and nationality law.
She trained at Fisher Meredith where she worked in immigration, housing and police and prison law, before joining CCLC in October 2013.
Rosalind was seconded to the Greater London Assembly, working on the Citizenship and Integration Initiative, for a year from April 2018 to March 2019.
Anita Hurrell, Head of the Migrant Children's Project
Anita Hurrell manages CCLC’s Migrant Children’s Project, which promotes the rights of children and young people affected by UK immigration control, and is responsible for providing legal guidance and delivering training to professionals in the statutory and voluntary sectors. She contributes to CCLC’s policy work, particularly on the issue of legal aid.
Anita has worked in the field of immigration since 2008, including as Senior Researcher at the think tank Policy Network and as a Caseworker at the legal charity Refugee and Migrant Justice, where she primarily represented clients in detention and unaccompanied children.
Anita was seconded to the Greater London Assembly, working on the Citizenship and Integration Initiative, from April 2017 until April 2018.
Marianne Lagrue, Policy manager
Marianne Lagrue is policy manager at Coram Children’s Legal Centre. She works in CCLC’s Migrant Children’s Project and contributes to CCLC’s policy work on Brexit, children’s rights and access to justice. She has authored Uncertain futures: the EU settlement scheme and children and young people’s right to remain in the UK (2019) and co-authored Rights without Remedies: legal aid and access to justice for children (2018) and ‘This is my home’: Securing permanent status for long-term resident children and young people in the UK (2017). She is also responsible for CCLC’s digital content, the monitoring and evaluation of the MCP’s programmes, and the operation of the project’s training programme. Marianne manages youth involvement in the work of the MCP, and runs CCLC’s Youth Rights Trainers scheme. She is also an immigration adviser accredited to OISC level one and does outreach legal work on the EU settlement scheme.
Marianne has past experience as a Parliamentary researcher in the House of Lords, as an assistant caseworker for an MP and as a political consultant. She has an MA in Media and International Development. Marianne joined CCLC in September 2015.
Joyinola Layonu, Legal and policy intern
Joyinola is a legal and policy intern at CCLC’s Migrant Children’s Project (MCP). She is responsible for assisting vulnerable children, young people and families with obtaining legal aid under the Exceptional Funding System (ECF) and securing legal representation once ECF has been obtained. She also supports the MCP with its EU Settlement Scheme project for vulnerable EU national children and young people, and contributes to policy work on the EU Settlement Scheme, children and young people’s residence rights and access to justice.
Joyinola is passionate about human rights advocacy at domestic, regional and international levels. Prior to joining CCLC, she interned at the Immigration Advice Service (IAS) and volunteered with Islington Law Centre, where she was exposed to various aspects of the UK immigration system and its impact on vulnerable people. She has also previously undertaken an internship with the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) in Geneva, Switzerland, where she advocated for the rights of human rights defenders at the 39th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Joyinola holds an LLB Law degree and an MSc in EU Politics.
Stewart MacLachlan, Senior legal and policy officer
Stewart MacLachlan is Senior Legal and Policy Officer for the Migrant Children’s Project, part of Coram Children’s Legal Centre. He leads on the project’s training and legal guidance, as well as contributing to the policy work of the project. He is co-author of Seeking Support (fifth edition), a guide to working with separated children and young people.
Stewart is a practising Scottish solicitor, qualifying in 2010, and was accredited as a level 2 supervisor under the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme in England. He previously worked at an immigration firm in Nottingham, and worked for over 4 years in law centres in Scotland. He is on the Board of Trustees at the Scottish Child Law Centre.
Nisa Tanin, Solicitor and outreach adviser
Nisa is an accredited solicitor, specialising in immigration, asylum and nationality law.
She has experience working with children, young people and families at various stages of the immigration and asylum process, including initial applications, fresh claims, appeals and judicial reviews.
Nisa is committed to assisting vulnerable clients and has represented victims of human rights abuses, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, victims of trafficking and those with mental health difficulties. She trained at Bhatt Murphy Solicitors in immigration detention, police law and inquests. She qualified in 2016 and has since been practising immigration and asylum law. Nisa joined CCLC in July 2019.
Nisa is a director at the Springboard Youth Academy, a community social enterprise providing holistic support to young refugees and asylum seekers.
Nisa is a native Dari/Farsi speaker and fluent in French.
Youth Rights Trainers
Sheree Clark, Legal Cashier/Colchester Office Manager
Sheree Clark is Legal Cashier and Colchester Office Manager. Sheree joined Coram Children’s Legal Centre in 2008 as an accounts assistant for the charity. Sheree has a number of years’ experience and has spent her career in finance-based roles. In 2011 Sheree took over the role of Legal Cashier for CCLC’s Legal Practice Unit and in January 2014 has taken on the additional role of Office Manager of CCLC’s Colchester office.
Maddy Verrier, Receptionist/Administrator
Maddy Verrier is Receptionist/Administrator for Coram Children’s Legal Centre Colchester office. She joined the charity 2015 where she has completed her NVQ in Business & Administration. Maddy works alongside Sheree in the Finance Office and is the voice you will hear when you contact the Colchester office.