Laura O’Brien | Solicitor
I am a dedicated defence solicitor and Crown Court advocate who thrives on the legal and strategic challenge involved in preparing cases for trial. I fight on behalf of my clients to avoid prosecution wherever possible, whether by challenging the evidential basis of an investigation or prosecution or by challenging a decision that prosecution is in the public interest.
No case should be dismissed as small or insignificant. The consequences of coming into contact with the criminal justice system can be huge even when the charges are not deemed to be serious. Having had a diverse caseload over the years, covering everything from minor offences to the most serious, I have developed a diverse skill set and become a better lawyer.
It is easy for people to get lost among the power struggle between the police, the prosecution and the defence. I focus on preparation and communication, being honest and clear with my clients about their options. I pride myself in taking the time to make sure that my clients understand the process they are moving through and ensuring that they can retain a feeling of control in what can be chaotic and intimidating proceedings. This is especially important for people who are vulnerable by virtue of their age or health.
I have a particular interest in representing children and young adults and defendants with complex psychological and psychiatric needs. My clients have taught me understand their experience and perspective.
I trained in a small, close-knit and very busy firm in Hackney, focusing on criminal and benefit fraud cases. I moved to Hodge Jones and Allen to work in the criminal defence team that contributes so much to the firm’s excellent reputation.
- Advocacy and the vulnerable training, 2017
- Higher Courts Advocate, 2015
- Duty Solicitor, 2015
- LPC, BPP, 2010-2012
- Law Conversion, BPP, 2010
- BA French and Politics, University of Leeds, 2005-2009
- Solicitor, Hodge Jones & Allen, 2019
- Solicitor, Moss and Co, 2014-2018
- Trainee, Moss and Co, 2012-2014
- Volunteer Paralegal, Islington Law Centre, 2011-2012
- Murder – R v D – represented a young adult who was first on a multi-handed indictment for murder and possession of a bladed article.
- Exposure – R v D – acted as Crown Court advocate for a man suffering complex psychological problems including obsessive compulsive disorder. He was found not fit to plead and following a trial of issue was found not to have done the ‘act’ alleged. This required a careful application of the law surrounding what comprised the ‘actus reus’ and what the prosecution had to prove.
- Attempted murder – R v I – represented man charged with attempted murder in relation to a stabbing that left the young complainant with a knife lodged in his eye-socket.
- Conspiracy to supply – R v H – represented the only defendant to be acquitted following a lengthy trial lasting a number of months.
- GBH – R v D – acted as Crown Court advocate for a man charged with stabbing a long-time friend.
- ABH – R v R – acted as Crown Court advocate for a man charged with assaulting a police officer on the way home from a night out. After careful cross-examination of the complainant he was acquitted.
- GBH – R v D – represented a 15-year old boy charged with stabbing another school boy on the street. After a successful application to exclude hearsay evidence no evidence was offered and a not guilty verdict was recorded.
- Fraud – R v M – social worker accused of benefit fraud in relation to a failure to declare a workplace pension was acquitted.
- Fraud – R v N – woman accused of benefit fraud acquitted after prosecution forced to offer no evidence.
- Possession with intent to supply cannabis – R v D – represented client at trial acquitted of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
- Assault on police & obstruction of police – R v M & P – represented two clients at trial charged with obstructing and assaulting officers detaining another male for a drugs search. Despite drugs having been found on the male being searched, after a full day of cross-examining police officers, I argued that the Magistrates could not be sure that the officers had been acting in execution of their duties and both clients were acquitted.
- Arson reckless as to whether life would be endangered – R v B – represented a young vulnerable woman accused of setting a fire at a halls of residence.
- Rape – R v R – man acquitted of raping his girlfriend following targeted disclosure requests that supported the client’s defence and undermined the account given by his girlfriend. Successfully defended the same client in the Magistrates Court accused of breaching a non-molestation order after careful cross-examination of the complainant in relation to her phone records.
Memberships and Appointments
- London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association (LCCSA)
- The Solicitors’ Association of Higher Courts Advocates (SAHCA)