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Helen Smith



I started working at Irwin Mitchell as a paralegal in 2008 before training and qualifying with the firm. I joined the Public Law & Human Rights department in Irwin Mitchell LLP as a Solicitor in 2017.

I specialise and have experience in general public law cases and welfare cases in relation to vulnerable adults in the Court of Protection under the Mental Capacity Act relating to mental capacity, deprivation of liberty, health and welfare. I am regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor, family members, advocates and paid relevant persons representatives.

I have particular interest and my team have expertise in the following types of cases:

  • S21A challenges to a deprivation of liberty.
  • S16 best interests health and welfare applications dealing with disputes about residence, care and contact.
  • Applications concerning a person's capacity to marry and to consent to sexual relations.
  • Medical treatment disputes
  • Safeguarding vulnerable adults
  • Bringing legal challenges to unlawful care assessments and inadequate care packages for disabled children, adults and carers

I often work with highly vulnerable individuals who are suffering from conditions such as dementia, learning disabilities or brain injury. I am determined to ensure that those who are considered to have impaired decision-making capacity continue to have a 'voice' and that their wishes and feelings are upheld, where possible, and not unfairly marginalised.

I also advise on other areas of community care law, including challenges under the Care Act 2014, Children and Families Act 2014, challenges under the Human Rights Act 1998 and public law judicial review challenges.

I have a number of years' experience in working on complex, high value catastrophic injury cases and managing cases for vulnerable clients who have sustained serious injuries.

In 2016 I received the Trainee Solicitor of the Year award at the Northern Law Awards.

Client Testimonials

“Thank you for all the work you put into securing a return home for mum. Your efforts have reassured me that the legal system can and does work to safeguard and  protect vulnerable individuals. We both wish you all the best for the future and hope you have many more successes.” – Peter Smith

“We are pleased that the case has been resolved correctly. In no small measure to your efforts and for that you have our gratitude. By the time I got to you with the case I was tearing out what little hair I have left... Thank you so much for your work Helen.” – Mr J

“I am most grateful for your consistently clear and professional communication during what has been a nightmare scenario for some considerable time, and thankfully has now ended.” – Mrs F

“Thank you for all your support and guidance in this matter. Your attentiveness has been very much appreciated.” – Mrs G

What Inspired You To Get Into Law?

I am committed to being able to use my expertise to protect the rights of those most vulnerable in society and to ensure that they have a voice which is heard. I am very fortunate to work within a team which puts the client at the centre of all that we do and which is able to address wider policy challenges which affect the lives of our most vulnerable clients.

I wanted to work in a team which is frequently at the forefront of challenging and developing the law; the Public Law & Human Rights department certainly ticks that box.

What Is The Most Rewarding Aspect Of Your Role?

The most rewarding aspect of my role is being able to achieve an outcome which benefits my client. The clients I act for are often experiencing extremely difficult circumstances and can be very anxious about decisions which are being made which have a significant impact on their lives.

As a solicitor, to be able to provide reassurance, guidance and to achieve a positive outcome for my clients in these circumstances is an aspect of my job which provides great satisfaction to me.

What Do You Like About Working At Irwin Mitchell?

I am very fortunate to work with a team of equally committed, hard-working people who are all dedicated to protecting and promoting our clients’ rights. In my previous role at the firm, I worked within our Serious Injuries team and acted on behalf of clients who had sustained catastrophic brain and spinal injuries to access rehabilitation and to regain the best possible quality of life.

The firm stands out in that we are able to call on colleagues within other departments for their expertise so as to ensure that the client receives the best possible service.

What Do You Do Away From The Office?

Away from work, I am a Trustee of the Northern Neurological Alliance, a charity which campaigns to improve the lives of people living with and affected by neurological conditions.

I am also an avid football fan and hold a season ticket to Sunderland AFC. Sadly, my Newcastle colleagues enjoy this more than I do at present.

Read My Comments On The Latest News

  • 05/04/2019
    High Court Legal Battle Launched To Save Friarage Hospital Northallerton A&E

    “The group is extremely worried by recent events related to The Friarage and after looking into its concerns we consider that there is clear merit in the decision-making process regarding the suspension to be reviewed. “This issue goes beyond the pure health services on offer in Northallerton, as the suspension would undoubtedly affect Ambulance services, other local hospitals and the rural communities in a number of different ways. There has been no formal public consultation. With this in mind, our client’s believe there is a need to re instate the hospital services and revisit the original decision. “We appreciate that the NHS faces difficult challenges, but it is clear that any decision on the future of services must always put the best interests of patients first and follow a fair process.”

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  • 29/03/2019
    Campaigners Instruct Lawyers as They Step Up Fight Against Friarage Hospital A&E Suspension

    “Our clients are hugely concerned about the suspension to specific hospital services and are now working quickly to consider the legal options available. “The changes in this case would affect more than just the people of Northallerton, as they may only serve to have a wider impact on other local health services. With this in mind, we will be analysing the decision-making process to ultimately determine whether all of the consequences of this move have been properly considered. “While we recognise that the NHS is facing great strain at this time, it is absolutely vital that every decision is made lawfully and with the best interests of patients at heart.”

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  • 18/12/2018
    Campaign To Save Local Tyneside NHS Hospital Services In North East Heads To High Court

    “This is obviously a very important issue and one which affects thousands of people’s access to much needed, potentially life-saving local NHS hospital services across the North East. “This is why it is crucial that any decision made in respect of those services, is made correctly and lawfully.”

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  • 21/08/2018
    Green Light For Judicial Review In Fight To Save Local Tyneside NHS Hospital Services in North East

    “This is obviously a very important issue and one which affects thousands of people’s access to much needed, potentially life-saving local NHS hospital services. This is why it is crucial that any decision made in respect of those services, is made correctly and lawfully. “Our legal challenge raises questions around the decisions taken by the CCGs because of a potentially flawed consultation process which breached the principles of procedural fairness and decisions made on the basis of potential flaws in the transport analysis. “Our clients believe the proposals to transfer the NHS services to Sunderland were based on a flawed assessment of the impact on patients and that the criteria to assess the cost of this was also flawed.”

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