Amir Ali MCICMChairmanCCUA
Claire SmithHead of Partnerships Mortgage Advice Bureau
CARMEN NADOLUHead of Memberships
The Institute of Paralegals
Karen BabingtonCo-FounderSolve Legal Marketing
Katrina RobinsonInterim Solicitor, Shepherds Bush Housing Group
Keven BaderChief Executive
Sally PenniBarrister at LawKenworthy's Chambers
Stephen GowlandChair of thePolice Misconduct Tribunal
MARK SOLONChairman of Wilmington Legal
lee daviesChief Executive
karen peartService Delivery Manager, DENTONS
Stephen wardManaging Director, Clerksroom
rachel tombsDirector, Orion Legal Marketing
NEIL ROBERTSHead of Legal Operations, Which? Legal
Esperanza FuentesOmbudsman Manager at Financial Ombudsman Service
hilary UnderwoodFamily Lawyer & Parental Alienation Specialist. Co-Director of Hexagon Legal Network.
Head Judge | Amir Ali
Amir is Chairman of the CCUA (Civil Court Users Association). He was elected to the post of Vice Chairman in September 2009, (Acting Chairman from February 2015 to October 2015) and serves as Chairman of both the Lobbying and Events Steering Committees.
The Association is charged with airing and addressing the concerns of all Civil Court Users in England and Wales at the very highest levels.
Judge | Sally Penni
Sally Penni is an award-winning practicing Barrister at Law with almost 20 years of experience and a Non-Exec Director of Codethink Ltd, a fin tech company.
In 2012 Sally founded Women in the Law and Business UK a non-profit professional development organisation providing mentoring and inspiring tomorrows future lawyers.
Sally practices in Employment Law, Regulatory Crime and Cyber Security Law having started her law career in serious crime of young offenders and mental health.
Judge | Keven Bader
Keven Bader joined the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys in November 2008 as the first Chief Executive.
He has overseen many developments during his time at CITMA including the successful petition for a Royal Charter, granted in April 2016 and the introduction of a new title CITMA Paralegal for paralegals specialising in trade mark and design work.
This led to the launch of a formal Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme for CITMA Paralegals in January 2019.
Judge | Claire Smith
Claire qualified as a solicitor before embarking on a career in business development in Professional Services. Claire headed up Connect2Law, the UK’s largest referral and support network for law firms, before joining the national brand, Quality Solicitors. She then led the Business Development team within Moneypenny, the UKs largest outsourced communications business.
Passionate about people, customer service and the importance of creating a thriving business culture for the success and happiness of both employer and employee, Claire has been a regular spokesperson at industry leading events.
In August 2020, Claire joined Mortgage Advice Bureau as the Head of Partnerships. Claire is responsible for building and leading strategic relationships with large businesses to help them promote financial well-being across the workforce.
Judge | Mark Solon
Mark Solon is Chairman of Wilmington Legal, part of Wilmington Plc. Companies within the Plc includes Central Law Training one of the UK’s leading providers of practical training for paralegals and legal support professionals.
The Specialist Paralegal Qualification is equivalent to QCF Level 6, the highest level of subject specific Paralegal training available in the UK.
Judge | Stephen Gowland
Stephen was the 50th national President of Cilex and the first who was also a solicitor. He started his career as an apprentice and qualified as a lawyer whilst working full time.
He ran a successful personal injury firm for 12 years before moving on to pursue other opportunities. He now sits as a police misconduct judge and works with the College of Policing assisting them with high level recruitment and promotion for UK police forces.
Judge | Karen Babington
Karen is the co-owner of Solve Legal Marketing, part of the Practical Vision network.
Karen has over 20 years experience in the legal, property and mortgage markets, specialising in setting up and growing businesses who supply to the legal sector. With a background in sales and marketing Karen has held a number of senior management posts specialising in the conveyancing and wills and probate sectors.
Judge | Carmen Nadolu
Having spent several years as a Qualified Lawyer in her home country, Carmen became the IoP's Head of Membership in 2015. She has participated in the growth of the organisation, from recruiting new members, through managing complex complaint resolution and intake processes.
Carmen’s day-to-day activities in the supervision of the administrative activities to facilitate the smooth and efficient running of the IoP office include assisting with membership processes, dealing with membership issues, liaising with members and the general public, co-editing the monthly newsletter. At the IoP, no two days are the same and there's never a dull moment.
Judge | Lee Davies
Lee Davies is the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), a role he took up in February 2012. Prior to this, Lee held the position of Deputy Chief Executive of the Institute for Learning (IfL), where he was instrumental in reforming and refocusing professional identity in the further education sector. Lee is a passionate advocate for the association sector and is Vice-President and Chair of the Institute of Association Management (IAM), where he leads the Chief Executives’ Forum.
Lee’s professional background is in engineering (mechanical services) and further education teaching. Lee has experience of the governance of professional bodies, having served as the President of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) in 2011-12.
Judge | Karen Peart
Karen is the service delivery manager for Dentons UK&ME LLP (Dentons) supporting the real estate (RE) team in Milton Keynes (MK). She leads ParaShoot (the dedicated MK RE paralegal team). She was key to the inception, implementation and delivery of the Dentons development programme for its paralegals which won the National Paralegal Award 2019 for best Law Firm - Paralegal Development.
Karen is a qualified real estate solicitor with over 15 years’ experience gained both in the City and in house. Prior to her role at Dentons she was a senior tutor at the University of Law Moorgate and enjoyed delivering both the land law module on the GDL and the real estate courses on the LPC. Karen is a keen champion of paralegals and is delighted to be a judge on these awards.
Judge | Katrina Robinson
Katrina has spent most of her career as an in-house Head of Legal Services for housing associations and her previous team won the Law Society Excellence Award for the in-house category in 2017. She was the Independent Adjudicator for Grenfell and is now the interim solicitor at Shepherds Bush Housing Group.
She specialises in combating anti-social behaviour and tenancy fraud and was awarded an MBE for services to social housing in the New Year’s Honours List in 2016. Katrina is passionate about protecting the victims of anti-social behaviour and fraud. She is also the Chair of the Law Society’s LGBT+ Division. Katrina is also the founding member and Chair of the Tenancy Fraud Forum which brings together all social landlords to identify and stop tenancy fraud.
Judge | Rachel Tombs
Rachel was a practising Solicitor for 15 years before setting up her own business helping legal professionals, who want to attract new clients and grow their practices and achieve exceptional results. Since leaving practise, Rachel has worked with over 500 businesses and law firms, delivering bespoke and effective marketing and business development services. Rachel’s knowledge of the legal sector means she is able to offer proven, reliable advice that makes a measurable and substantial difference to law practices, using both online and offline marketing tools to generate maximum results.
Rachel has won a national award and two regional business awards in recognition of her expertise and commitment to helping others succeed. She has been featured in a number of legal publications including the Solicitors Journal, Sole Practitioners Group Journal SOLO magazine, CILEx Regulation etc. She has also presented at events hosted by the Employment Lawyers Association, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Standing Conference of Mediation Advocates, Sole Practitioners Group and The Law Society.
Judge | Stephen Ward
Stephen Ward has been a barristers' clerk since 1983, becoming a senior clerk in 1993. Aged 25, Stephen was one of the youngest senior clerks in the UK after 10 years experience in the Temple and Grays Inn, London. Now Stephen is co-owner and co-founded Clerksroom Barristers in 2001, more recently added Clerksroom Direct in 2015, which is a web based portal allowing anyone to go direct to a UK qualified Barrister. Clerksroom Direct was voted the UK's 2nd most Disruptive Tech Start Up company 2017 by Disruptive Pitch TV (15th March 2017)
Stephen’s current roles include Managing Director of Clerksroom Barristers, Clerksroom Mediation & Clerksroom Direct. Stephen has recently taken on the additional task of project manager for Billy Bot, the chat bot junior clerk.
Stephen has won many awards for innovation and appeared in numerous publications with a focus on disruption in the legal tech environment in the UK.
Judge | Neil Newman
Neil is Director of Development and Innovation at the IoP. He is responsible for the global growth and development at IoP ensuring we continue to connect effectively with the profession. Prior to joining the IoP Neil worked at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) as Director of Communications and Membership. He was responsible for the strategic leadership on all aspects of membership development, international conferences, corporate communications and the global branch network. Neil was responsible for the successful implementation of CIArb’s segmentation strategy allowing CIArb to grow and expand its offering to a wider international audience. Neil also worked at the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) for over ten years and has expertise in a wide range of areas, including organisational development, learning and development and innovation management.
Judge | Hilary Underwood
Hilary is a specialist family lawyer with over 20 years experience. In her practice H A Underwood Solicitors, based in Kent, she focuses upon children issues and is an expert practitioner in the complex field of parental alienation. She is passionate about helping those who are victims of this damaging form of child abuse. Hilary is also twice winner of the Lawyer Monthly Women in Law Awards - Advocacy Solicitor of the Year (UK). She is co-Director of the Hexagon Legal Network, former Interim CEO of the Surrey Law Society and former Chairwoman of the Sole Practitioners Group.
Judge | Esperanza Fuentes
Esperanza started her legal career in the commercial law sector. After a career break she spent a year at the CPS then joined Which? Legal where she advised on a range of issues including consumer law and employment law, and appeared on national and local TV and radio. When she was appointed Head Of Legal Operations she led a team of 20 lawyers and introduced paralegals to the team for the first time. Esperanza now works in the area of dispute resolution.
Esperanza is passionate about developing new talent and is keen to see more diversity in the legal profession and more development opportunities for aspiring newcomers. She also believes that the public need new ways of accessing legal information and advice which are relevant to their needs and professionally and expertly delivered.
Judge | Neil Newman
Neil is Director of Development and Innovation at the Institute of Paralegals. He is responsible for the global growth and development at IoP ensuring we continue to connect effectively with the profession. Prior to joining the IoP Neil worked at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) as Director of Communications and Membership. He was responsible for the strategic leadership on all aspects of membership development, international conferences, corporate communications and the global branch network.
Neil was responsible for the successful implementation of CIArb’s segmentation strategy allowing CIArb to grow and expand its offering to a wider international audience. Neil also worked at the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) for over ten years and has expertise in a wide range of areas, including organisational development, learning and development and innovation management.