Specialised legal services for some of society’s most vulnerable people are to be expanded at a North East law firm with the appointment of two new professionals.
BHP Law’s specialist Court of Protection Deputies have, for many years, supported people who have lost capacity through accident, injury or clinical negligence.
Partner Karen Pratt, who leads the team, has now been joined by Chartered Fellow legal executive Diane Davison and paralegal Melanie Morley to offer not only financial management support to those who have received substantial compensation, but also to introduce a new welfare and rights advocacy service.
Diane, from Billingham, has a background in litigation having worked in private practice with Jacksons and Thompsons Solicitors on Teesside, and in the legal department at Durham County Council.
During ten years at Thompsons, she worked on serious injury claims for clients with physical and mental health conditions, including former military personnel, winning millions of pounds worth of compensation on their behalf.
Diane will work alongside Karen managing the financial, property affairs and needs of existing and new clients to whom they have been appointed by the Court of Protection.
“We work with our clients and their families typically over many years so we get to know them very well and develop close relationships with them, managing anything from finding them somewhere appropriate to live to buying their football season ticket,” explained Karen.
Melanie had a career working in the construction, finance and charities sectors before, as a mother of four, going to Northumbria University to study law. She followed this up with a masters in political and legal theory at York University.
After gaining her legal practice qualification she worked as a paralegal at Gateshead Council in the adult and social care environment.
At BHP Law, she intends using her knowledge of welfare to expand the firm’s services to represent clients who have been deprived of their liberty.
Since these cases are often under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, they are supported by Legal Aid.
Melanie explained: “It’s a particularly complex area that recognises clients’ rights to express their feelings and wishes about what is happening to them. We all love what we do and want to achieve the very best for our clients.”
Further explaining the specialism, Karen added: “Unfortunately, accidents leading to serious injury and clinical negligence, together with cases of dementia and learning disabilities, are all too common and everybody will know somebody who will have a capacity issue at some time.
“They deserve the very best support and when we are appointed by the Court of Protection we are charged with representing and managing their interests.
“I am delighted that in Diane and Melanie we have appointed not one, but two, fantastic professionals who have a lot of experience and knowledge in what is a niche and specialised area of law in the North East.”