Election 2015: the lawyers standing for Parliament

At every general election, a new crop of lawyers stand for Parliament.

Election 2015 vote

Among the successful candidates in 2010 was Rochman Landau employment lawyer Chuka Umunna – now, as shadow business secretary, a well-known public figure who’s been dubbed ’Britain’s Obama’.

Here are some of the candidates the legal profession has supplied for 2015. Some are bound to be elected; others are rank outsiders – but they show the diverse backgrounds and outlooks of those in the profession.

Update: Find out the winners and the losers here.

Looking likely

Name: Keir Starmer

Party: Labour

Seat: Holborn & St Pancras

Legal qualifications: Human rights lawyer and former Director of Public Prosecutions.

He says:  “Our constituency needs an MP who will continue with Frank Dobson’s principled campaigning, fight to get the Tories out of power and be able to influence a future Labour Government. I believe I can bring my experience as a human rights lawyer, DPP and campaigner to do that.” (Evening Standard)

Chances: Dead cert. Starmer’s fighting the safe Labour seat occupied by Frank Dobson for the last 34 years.

Latest odds: 1/100

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Name: Victoria Prentis

Party: Conservative

Seat: Banbury

Legal qualifications: Barrister who was head of justice and security at the Treasury Solicitors Department until recently. A Government lawyer for 17 years, she defended the government in the 7/7 inquiry. Married to New Square Chambers barrister Sebastian Prentis.

She says: “I can’t see how HS2 will benefit people in Banburyshire.” (Banbury Guardian)

Chances: A surefire winner – this has been a safe conservative seat since 1922.

Latest odds: 1/150 (was 1/100 on April 6)

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Name: Nick Thomas-Symonds

Party: Labour

Seat: Torfaen

Legal qualifications: Chancery and commercial barrister at Civitas Law (see also: Matthew Paul, below).

He says: “[Clement Atlee and Nye Bevan] inspire me because of the great improvements they brought about for working people, not least the National Health Service, which I am passionate about defending.” (South Wales Argus)

Chances: A solid Labour seat, this should be a nailed-on victory for Thomas-Symonds.

Latest odds: 1/100

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Name: Richard Burgon

Party: Labour

Seat: Leeds East

Legal qualifications: A trade union lawyer and community activist.

He says: “I’ll be campaigning on important issues including the scourge of unemployment and low pay and the attacks on our public services and NHS.”

Chances: Burgon steps into a safe Labour seat once occupied by Denis Healey

Latest odds: 1/100

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Name: Alan Mak

Party: Conservative

Seat: Havant

Legal qualifications: Solicitor, formerly of Clifford Chance.

He says: ”I’ve been working very hard for the last two months listening to local residents, councillors, business owners and headteachers to understand local issues.” (Portsmouth News)

Chances: With incumbent David Willets stepping down, Mak has been selected to replace him. Although some of the Tory faithful were angry that a local wasn’t chosen to contest the seat, he should still win with ease. [24 April update: Tory MP candidate for Havant under fire over Clifford Chance CV claims]

Latest odds: 1/66

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Name: Suella Fernandes

Party: Conservative

Seat: Fareham

Legal qualifications: Barrister at No5 Chambers

She says: “I am thrilled, delighted and excited, if a little bit nervous.” (Portsmouth News)

Chance of winning: A massively safe Tory seat, Fernandes will take over as MP from Mark Hoban.

Latest odds: 1/200

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Name: Victoria Atkins

Party: Conservative

Seat: Louth & Horncastle

Legal qualifications: Barrister at Red Lion Chambers

She says: “It is a privilege to represent the decent, law-abiding majority in my work prosecuting hardened criminals. I have prosecuted international drug trafficking rings, gun-runners and fraudsters who steal millions from British taxpayers. I am one of only 30 advocates in England and Wales appointed to the prestigious Attorney General’s List and the Serious Fraud Office’s List of specialist fraud prosecutors. I hope to put my experiences in the criminal courts to good use in the political world.”

Chance of winning: Atkins should win this historically safe Tory seat, held by Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell until this election. It’s a UKIP target, though, and the bookies are offering 4/1 on them here.

Latest odds: 1/7

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Name: Alberto Costa

Party: Conservative

Seat: South Leicestershire

Legal qualifications: Solicitor, formerly of the Treasury Solicitors Department

He says: “I will be campaigning for protection of amenities in rural Leicestershire and working with doctors to ensure a full range of health services are available for local people including for dementia patients.”

Chances: Costa stood unsuccessfully in Angus in 2010 and has been rewarded with a seat he ought to triumph in.

Latest odds: 1/100

Fighting the marginals

Name: Joanna Cherry QC

Party: SNP

Seat: Edinburgh South West

Legal qualifications: Barrister with Arnot Manderson Advocates

She says: “Delighted and honoured to have been chosen as the SNP candidate for Edinburgh South West, and from such a strong field. I would like to assure all those who voted for me that I will fight as hard as I can to win this seat and, when I get to Westminster, I will do them, my constituents, my party and my country proud.” (Sentinal)

Chance of winning: This was Alastair Darling’s constituency but he’s standing down and Cherry is odds-on with the bookies to take the seat for the SNP, who finished fourth here last time round.

Latest odds: 1/5 (6 May)

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Name: Jo Stevens

Party: Labour

Seat: Cardiff Central

Legal qualifications: Trade Union solicitor with Thompsons.

She says: ”I’m not a professional politician. I’m a first time candidate who brings 26 years’ experience of advising, representing and campaigning for people injured, mistreated or accused of criminal conduct at work.”

Chance of winning: The Lib Dems won this seat from Labour in 2005, but Stevens looks well-placed to take it back

Latest odds: 4/11 (10 April)

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Name: Robin Hunter-Clarke

Party: UKIP

Seat: Boston & Skegness

Legal qualifications: Not a lawyer, but this 22-year-old candidate is fresh from a law degree. A Tory councillor at the age of 18, Hunter-Clarke defected to UKIP in 2012 and could become the country’s youngest MP if elected (though 20-year-old Mhairi Black also has a good chance for the SNP in Paisley).

He says: “The big issue for people in Boston and Skegness is immigration. Something like one in five people in Boston is an immigrant. It’s quite a big proportion and it’s growing all the time.” (Independent)

Chances: Boston & Skegness is one of UKIP’s top targets and the latest polls suggest it’s on course for a win. There have, however, been complaints among the UKIP grassroots that Hunter-Clarke was selected to fight the seat through preferential treatment from the party’s top brass.

Latest odds: 6/4 (Evens on April 8)

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Name: Rob Marris

Party: Labour

Seat: Wolverhampton South West

Legal qualifications: Solicitor who worked for Manby & Steward, then for large national chain Thompsons before being elected to Parliament in 2001. Marris lost this seat at the last election in 2010, but is fighting to win it back this time round.

He says: “I am delighted to have been selected as Labour’s candidate. I am honoured that the members of Wolverhampton South West have put their trust in me to regain the seat at the next General Election.” (Express & Star)

Chance of winning: Wolverhampton South West is a key marginal seat, with a Tory majority of just 691 votes. Marris will be confident of taking it back.

Latest odds: 1/4 (April 8)

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Name: Victoria Ayling

Party: UKIP

Seat: Great Grimsby

Legal qualifications: Former barrister, who runs music and property businesses and ”has also worked in the sale and marketing of fish oils”

She says: “I just want to send the lot back, but I can’t say that.” (The Mirror)

Chances: Ayling fought this seat for the Conservative party in 2010, and lost by just 714 votes to Labour incumbent Austin Mitchell, who hung on to the seat he had occupied since 1977. Not reselected by the Tories this time round, she jumped ship to UKIP. This is a key target seat for the party, but Ayling’s chances haven’t been helped by race rows and accusations – from her own mother – that she was a member of the National Front. Meanwhile, The Grimsby Telegraph reports that ‘saucy photographs’ could also emerge.

Latest odds: 6/4

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Name: Sarah Sackman

Party: Labour

Seat: Finchley and Golders Green

Legal qualifications: Junior barrister at Francis Taylor Building, specialising in public, planning and environmental law. Married to Matrix barrister Dan Squires.

She says: ”Local residents are being hit hard by the Tories’ failing policies and are seeing their costs of living soar. They need someone they can count on to fight for the issues they care about.” (Labour in London)

Chance of winning: The Conservatives took this seat from Labour at the last election. If Sackman can win it back, she’ll be the constituency’s first female MP since a certain Margaret Thatcher. Tory incumbent Mike Freer has a 6,000 majority and is favourite with the bookies, but Sackman could give him a good fight.

Latest odds: 5/2 (April 10)

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Name: Darren Jones

Party: Labour

Seat: Bristol North West

Legal qualifications: Technology solicitor at Bond Dickinson

He says: “I will offer a new style of politics as part of a new generation of politicians. I want to engage with all people and organisations, regardless of how you vote, to get the best deal for Bristol North West.” (Bristol Evening Post)

Chance of winning: The Tory incumbent, “Parliament’s sexiest MP” Charlotte Leslie, is favourite to hold this seat, but her majority is not unassailable for Jones.

Latest odds: 7/2

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Name: James Berry

Party: Conservative

Seat: Kingston & Surbiton

Legal qualifications: Barrister at Serjeants Inn Chambers specialising in healthcare and police issues. Edits the UK Police Law blog. Harvard graduate.

He says: “Kingston and Surbiton is a fantastic area. I will be starting straight away, getting out and meeting people across the constituency to understand what matters to them.” (Surrey Comet)

Chances: This is energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey’s constituency: depending how anti-Lib Dem people are feeling on the day, Berry has an outside chance of overturning his majority.

Latest odds2/1

Name: Will Quince

Party: Conservative

Seat: Colchester

Legal qualifications: Solicitor in the business services team of Colchester firm Thompson Smith and Puxon, having qualified at Asher Prior Bates in 2013.

He says: “I pledge to be an independent-minded MP and will always put my constituents first. If that means voting against my party, then so be it. There will always be difficult decisions to take but I will never forget that the people of Colchester are my boss.” (Daily Gazette)

Chances: Quince failed to trouble Lib Dem incumbent Sir Bob Russell in the 2005 election and would require a swing of 7,000 to take the seat this time round. He’s in with a chance, but only if Conservatives have a good night.

Latest odds: 7/2

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Name: Todd Foreman

Party: Labour

Seat: North East Somerset

Legal qualifications: Non-practising solicitor at Axiom Law, formerly of Freshfields, White & Case, JPMorgan Chase and Barclays

He says: “I will be working hard over the next two years with our local party and the community to ensure that North East Somerset has a Labour MP to be their voice on these issues come 2015.” (Bath Chronicle)

Chance of winning: It’s not inconcievable that the American-born Foreman could unseat the super-English Jacob Rees-Mogg. Unlikely though.

Latest odds: 6/1

Long shots

Name: Jonathan ‘Joe’ Rich

Party: Conservative

Seat: Stoke-on-Trent South

Legal qualifications: Barrister specialising in consumer and property law at Five Paper Buildings.

He says: “If I am elected in the marginal seat of Stoke-on-Trent South in May, my family will be moving there to live.” (Herts & Essex Observer)

Chance of winning: This has always been a relatively safe Labour seat. The Tories have been chipping away at the party’s majority since 1997 to make it slightly more marginal, but Rich is unlikely to unseat the incumbent, and may find UKIP eating into his own share of the vote.

Latest odds: 40/1 (50/1 on April 6)

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Name: James Sandbach

Party: Lib Dem

Seat: Suffolk Coastal

Legal qualifications: Called to the bar, but never practised. He’s remained in the legal sector, though, most recently as advocacy manager for the Low Commission and Legal Action Group. Before that he spent ten years as Social Policy Officer for Citizens Advice.

Chances: This is a fairly solid Tory seat and the best Sandbach can hope for is to equal the Lib Dems’ 2010 performance, when they finished second after a collapse in the Labour vote.

Latest odds: 20/1

 

Name: Toby Brothers

Party: UKIP

Seat: Mid Sussex

Legal qualifications: A criminal solicitor of 25 years who trained with a large commercial practice. He appears to be currently without a firm although Googling his name brings up what is presumably his former practice: Richardson Solicitors of West Sussex.

He says: ”I have always maintained an interest in economic issues and I have an in depth knowledge of the Justice System, its failings and strengths, having been involved for over 23 years. I also take a particular interest in Mental Health issues within this setting.” (East Grinstead Online)

Chances: This is Tory old stager Nicholas Soames’ seat: Brothers will have a job taking the patriotic vote from Winston Churchill’s grandson. Still, with a collapse in Lib Dem support and the Labour vote historically quite weak here he may have a chance of taking second place.

Latest odds: 20/1

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Name: Bilal Mahmood

Party: Labour

Seat: Chingford and Woodford Green

Legal qualifications: Banking and corporate finance solicitor, formerly of Allen & Overy and Addleshaw Goddard and now in-house counsel at China Construction Bank.

He says: “I’m standing because I don’t believe it’s right students from my old school have fewer chances than I did growing up. Through my time working in the City and with charities, I’ve seen first hand how social mobility, aspiration and co-operation help build prosperity and communities. I’m taking on Iain Duncan Smith in my home town to ensure that everyone has an equality of opportunity that has been shrinking over the past five years.”

Chances: Mahmood will probably finish second to Iain Duncan Smith; but has a good chance of cutting his majority down a bit.

Latest odds: 40/1 (25/1 on April 6)

Name: David Williams QC

Party: Labour

Seat: Wycombe

Legal qualifications: Barrister specialising in international family law at 4 Paper Buildings.

He says: “Having spent 20 years working in the justice system, I have seen on a daily basis the struggle that many ordinary people face – whether through poverty, prejudice or powerlessness – and I believe that I can make more of a difference by seeking election to parliament.” (Bucks Free Press)

Chances: The Conservatives have held this seat since 1951, suggesting Labour, which came third behind Lib Dems in 2005, has no hope of winning it. However, Williams tells us that the latest Bucks Free Press poll shows Labour, UKIP and the Tories in a tight three-way fight. If that can be believed, perhaps a shock is on the cards.

Latest odds50/1

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Name: Andrew Judge

Party: Labour

Seat: Wimbledon

Legal qualifications: Criminal barrister at Westgate Chambers and former leader of Merton Borough Council.

Chance of winning: Stephen Hammond has held Wimbledon from the Conservatives since winning it from Labour in 2005, and the Lib Dems narrowly beat Labour to second place in 2010. Judge should improve on that result but a win is porbably too much to hope for.

Latest odds: 33/1

Don’t quit the day job

Name: Fraser Galloway

Party: Conservative

Seat: Paisley & Renfrewshire South

Legal qualifications: A newly qualified solicitor at Hogan Lovells

He says: ”Being a lawyer has given me fantastic opportunities. I have worked with some of the brightest people I have met who do really interesting work. It has improved my analytical skills, my writing and my understanding of business. This would all be incredibly useful in Parliament.” (Read Fraser’s full interview with Lawyer 2B)

Chances: The chances of Fraser having to quit Hogan Lovells in May are small: this is a seat that’s predicted to swing from Labour to the SNP. Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has a fight on its hands to keep it.

Latest odds: 100/1

Name: Stefan Mrozinski

Party: Conservative

Seat: Tottenham

Legal qualifications: Relatively junior corporate solicitor with US-founded firm White & Case. Won the firm’s pro bono award in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Mrozinski ran for Mayor of Newham in 2014 and came second with 18 per cent of the vote.

He says:  “Local people I speak to feel let down by the incumbent. If we can tackle crime, unemployment and ensure that the benefits of the economic recovery are felt by all, then we can make Tottenham a safer, more inclusive and better place to live.” (Tottenham Journal)

Chance of winning: A safe Labour seat, Mrozinski will battle it out with the Lib Dem for a distant second place.

Latest odds: 100/1

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Name: Thomas McNeil

Party: Labour

Seat: Meriden

Legal qualifications: Solicitor, formerly of SJ Berwin and Arnold & Porter, now at Bates Wells Braithwaite. Special Constable in the Metropolitan Police.

He says: “For the long term I will campaign for Labour on the message that we must strive for equal opportunity because that is what is fair and that is what makes economic sense; lower welfare bills, lower criminal justice bills, lower health bills, greater employment, greater economic productivity and a fairer and happier society.” (Solihull Observer)

Chances: A safe Conservative seat in the West Midlands, McNeil’s biggest challenge will be beating UKIP to second place.

Odds: 40/1

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Name: Julian Gregory

Party: Lib Dem

Seat: Islington North

Legal qualifications: Competition law barrister at Monckton Chambers

Chances: The smallest and most densely packed constituency in the country is odds-on to be held by Labour. The Lib Dems finished second here last time but a Green surge might present a threat to Gregory’s share of the vote here.

Latest odds50/1

Name: Roger Crouch

Party: Lib Dem

Seat: Feltham and Heston

Legal qualifications: Solicitor specialising in mental capacity and charity law at a small Hammersmith firm FMW Law.

Chances: Crouch stood in Feltham’s 2011 by-election following the death of its long-serving MP Alan Keen. On that occasion he finished third with 5.9 per cent of the vote and is unlikely to do much better this time round. Labour has held the seat since 1992.

Latest odds: 100/1

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Name: Glenn Hall

Party: Conservative

Seat: Tynemouth

Legal qualifications: Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright 

Chances: In 2010 Hall stood in nearby Blaydon, where he increased the Conservative vote share by 8 per cent. As North East constituencies go, this is one of the more marginal ones, but Hall taking the seat from Labour this time round would be a shock.

Latest odds20/1

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Name: David Robinson-Young

Party: UKIP

Seat: Newcastle upon Tyne East

Legal qualifications: Barrister specialising in employment discrimination law at Dere Street Chambers.

He says: “Before the common market we made our own steel in Consett, we mined our own coal, we built our own ships. All of this has gone now. We are even bringing coal to Newcastle.” (Chronicle)

Chances: Robinson-Young was originally set to stand in Newcastle Central, but got moved to Newcastle East. It makes little difference to his chances: both are Labour strongholds. There has been excitement in Robinson-Young’s campaign though – if not of the sort he would like. The Chronicle reports a man threatened to behead him.

Latest odds: 50/1

Name: Chris Bramall

Party: Lib Dem

Seat: Stourbridge

Legal qualifications: Retired solicitor who spent 25 years working in the Professional Ethics department at the Law Society

Chances: Bramall has stood for the Lib Dems in Stourbridge on four previous occasions and come third every time. If he can get as much as the 16.4 per cent of the vote he got in 2010, he’ll have done very well.

He says: “I hope to finish third again or do even better.” (Stourbridge News)

Latest odds: 100/1

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Name: Jan Williams

Party: Labour

Seat: Harrogate & Knaresborough

Legal qualifications: A family law solicitor from 1993 until 2009

Chances: This is a marginal seat but not one that Williams will win for Labour: it’s a shootout between the Tories and the Lib Dems.

Latest odds100/1

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Name: Matthew Paul

Party: Conservative

Seat: Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

Legal qualifications: Public planning and regulatory barrister at Civitas Law (see also: Nick Thomas-Symonds, above) and formerly of Argent Chambers.

He says: “The Labour regime in Cardiff and Carmarthenshire’s Labour-led council are mismanaging our public services, and I will hold them to account.” (South Wales Evening Post)

Chance of winning: The Conservatives trail both Plaid Cymru and Labour here by miles, so Paul will fare less well than Civitas colleague Nick Thomas-Symonds.

Latest odds: 25/1 (May 6)

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Name: Sundip Meghani

Party: Labour

Seat: Harborough, Oadby and Wigston

Legal qualifications: Solicitor at Bobby Dhanjal Legal Services, formerly of Cartwright King and Richard Nelson. President of the Leicestershire Junior Lawyers Division for five years.

Chances: Little. Labour trails the Conservatives and Lib Dems by some considerable margin in this Leicestershire constituency.

Latest odds80/1

Name: Paul Ray

Party: Liberal Democrat

Seat: Lichfield

Legal qualifications: Solicitor at Browne Jacobson.

He says: “As a happily married father of three with a successful career as a banking and finance partner in national law firm Browne Jacobson, I decided that it was time for a midlife crisis. But what was I to do to bring about my own destruction? Leave the wife for my attractive young assistant, buy a motorbike, take up rambling or cycling perhaps? No, I needed a challenge that only certain defeat can bring, so I joined the Liberal Democrats.” (Five Spires Live)

Chances: Mr Ray seems happily resigned to certain defeat and we applaud him for his realistic outlook.

Latest odds: 100/1

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Name: Charles Smith

Party: Labour

Seat: Maidenhead

Legal qualifications: Solicitor, formerly of Herbert Smith and now in-house at Subsea 7.

He says: “Working with [the Citizens Advice Bureau] you see so much work needs to be done. I’m standing to represent those hard-working people and the most vulnerable in society who have been severely let down by the Tories and betrayed by the Liberal Democrats.” (Maidenhead Advertiser)

Chances: Theresa May enjoys an overwhelming majority in Maidenhead and it’s hard to see Smith even making up enough ground to take second place off the Lib Dems.

Latest odds: 80/1

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Name: Paul Gilbert

Party: Labour

Seat: Cheltenham

Legal qualifications: Solicitor, formerly GC of Cheltenham & Gloucester and now CEO of LBC Wise Counsel, a management consultancy for in-house legal teams.

He says:  “I’m just a local middle-aged family man who decided to take a step forward. I love living here, loved working for Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society in its heyday and love the business I set up here 15 years ago. I’m blessed to have had my life chances and grateful for every day. I would like to put something back.” (Gloucestershire Echo)

Chances: Gilbert is playing up his chances, saying that 27,000 voters didn’t turn out in 2010 and Lib Dem Martin Horwood’s majority is less than 5,000. This is certainly a seat that’s up for grabs, but Labour has a lot of ground to make up and it’s the Tories who have the best chance of unseating the Lib Dems: the best Gilbert can hope for is to gain ground on those two parties while holding off UKIP.

Odds: 100/1

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Name: Alaisdair Henderson

Party: Whig

Seat: Bethnal Green & Bow

Legal qualifications: Public law and human rights barrister at One Crown Office Row

He says: “I first heard about the Whigs in school history lessons, and I remember thinking I would have been a Whig if I’d been alive in the 19th Century, when the Whig party were instrumental in ending the slave trade and extending the vote. Like many people, I have been feeling increasingly disillusioned with the current political scene but I didn’t want to get cynical and apathetic. With the return of the Whig Party I’m delighted that I don’t need to be!” (Whigs.uk)

Chances: This is the constituency famously won by George Galloway for Respect in 2005, but it returned to Labour hands in 2010 and Henderson isn’t going to mount a Gallowayesque outsider’s challenge with the Whig Party. He will hope do better than the anarchist candidate Duncan Disorderly, though.

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Name: Jan Williams

Party: Labour

Seat: Harrogate & Knaresborough

Legal qualifications: A family law solicitor from 1993 until 2009

Chances: This is a marginal seat but not one that Williams will win for Labour: it’s a shootout between the Tories and the Lib Dems.

Odds: 100/1