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About Laura O’Brien

Laura is a Partner and Head of the Protest Team.

She is a dedicated defence solicitor and Crown Court advocate who thrives on the legal and strategic challenge involved in preparing cases for trial. She fights on behalf of her 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, Laura has 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. Laura focuses on preparation and communication, being honest and clear with her clients about their options. She prides herself in taking the time to make sure that her 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.

Laura has a particular interest in representing children and young adults and defendants with complex psychological and psychiatric needs. She believes that every contact with the criminal justice system leaves a mark. Fighting to minimise the impact on young clients is particularly important; their experience of the criminal justice system can determine their future. Laura’s clients have taught her to understand their experience and perspective.

Laura trained in a small, close-knit and very busy firm in Hackney, focusing on criminal and benefit fraud cases. She moved to Hodge Jones & Allen to work in the criminal defence team that contributes so much to the firm’s excellent reputation.

"She deals with her cases brilliantly. She is good at keeping track of disclosure, analysing issues, pursuing lines of enquiry; Laura is a really tenacious solicitor who you know you'll have to keep up with because she is very committed." - Chambers UK, 2024

"Laura O’Brien is fiercely committed to her clients and extremely diligent in ensuring that every case she has conduct of is carefully managed. She seems to be able to create almost infinite time to meet her clients’ needs and expectations, and never drops the ball." - Legal 500, 2024

“She is really intelligent, dedicated and hard-working, and someone you can absolutely trust.” “Laura is really impressive and certainly one to watch in the protest arena.” “Laura is a fantastic protest lawyer.” – Chambers UK, 2023

“Raj Chada, Mike Schwarz and Laura O’Brien are real standouts in the crime department.” – Legal 500, 2023

Laura O’Brien is a criminal defence solicitor who regularly represents clients facing charges related to protest activity. – Chambers UK, 2023

“She is extraordinarily on the ball and she leaves no stone unturned.” “I think Laura has a lot to offer, she is a rising star.” – Chambers UK, 2022

Notable Cases

  • Murder – R v S – representing a man charged with the murder and arson following the death of his estranged wife.
  • Child abduction – R v P – represented woman acquitted of child abduction after taking someone else’s child to another country without permission of her lawful guardian.
  • Murder – R v D – represented a young adult who was first on a multi-handed indictment for murder and possession of a bladed article.
  • 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 rob – R v A – representing a youth facing a charge of conspiracy to rob in a multi-handed case in the Crown Court.
  • 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.
  • Sexual assault – R v H – represented a captain facing Court martial in relation to an alleged sexual assault on a fellow officer.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Assault on police – R v C – acted as Crown Court advocate for a man charged with assaulting a police office. Following careful cross-examination of a number of officers the client was acquitted.
  • 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.
  • Breach of section 14 condition – R v D, A, H – represented three Extinction Rebellion protestors at trial acquitted of breaching a section 14 condition on assembly. One of many acquittals secured in relation to prosecutions arising from April 2019 Extinction Rebellion protests.

Client Comments

"Laura O'Brien from HJA was wonderful. All of the potential legal arguments were explained to me and I felt well informed and, importantly, I also felt cared for and supported. In the court room it was very obvious that Laura knew more about the relevant laws and legal arguments than either the prosecution, the judge or the other defence barrister. I felt I was in very safe hands."

  • “Laura O’Brien is amazing. Extremely passionate, knowledgeable and professional. Laura was incredibly supportive and treated me with kindness and care as well as expert legal representation. Laura O’brien defended me against false allegations of assault on an emergency worker. I was found not guilty on both counts.”

“My dealings with HJA, my solicitor Laura O’Brien, and her paralegal Somaya Yassine were so supportive from beginning to end. I have Parkinson’s Disease, which at times causes me anxiety and confusion. Laura made me feel so relaxed that I was even able to go into the witness box and speak my truth to the Court rather than leave all the talking to her. She really knows her stuff and we got the justice that we deserved.”

“Nice, kind, compassionate, empathic, non judgemental and get the things done that you need.”

“I would like to thank HJA for their valuable work supporting me and especially Laura O’Brien, Somaya and Ife Thompson for their support.”

“I could not have found a better company and solicitor than Ms O’Brien at HJA! From the outset, communications and advice were clear and precise. The support, both moral and during trial was much appreciated over a very difficult period. Despite the shortcomings of the court, Ms O’Brien was extremely professional and a fantastic advocate. I would have no hesitation in recommending this company and solicitor.”

“Laura and Lucy were amazing. Seeing such strong, informed, confident, crusading women in their full feminine power battling systematic injustice truly has given me a reinvigorated sense of hope for the future. I feel very privileged to have played a small part in and witnessed what I hope will set a foundation for future success in future cases in service to civil rights and climate justice.”

“Laura O’Brien and HJA were excellent. Arrested as part of Insulate Britain campaign”

“Very nice people that know their protest stuff. Was nice to have them represent me for court business. <3”

“Laura O’Brien was amazing all the way through. She took on my case just before my plea hearing and took the time to talk me through the process in person the day before and as it was my first court appearance, this really helped me feel less anxious. She was professional throughout, went beyond what I thought a solicitor would do and worked so well with the other solicitors representing others in the case. Highly recommend Laura for her professionalism and commitment to the case.”

“I found you extremely helpful and did not let it stray from the actual context discussed. Thank you for your help at a difficult time.”

“2 times you helped me. Thanks very much; best lawyers from London Laura and Bianca”

“Since initial contact with HJA they have been so helpful and friendly. The advice, knowledge, and service was brilliant. I would like to thank especially Laura O’Brien and colleagues whom I had contact with. Whilst being professional, at the same I felt the service caring and down to earth. I was so pleased with them aiding my first case, that I returned to their firm when I needed representation a second time. Thank you.”

“Thank you for the help, advice and guidance and for the friendly professional service from your Solicitor [Laura] who handled my case. I was extremely distressed having never had to deal with this type of legal matter however I felt reassured after I met your colleague. I would feel comfortable recommending you to others and using your firm in the future for any type of legal service needed.”

“Brilliant service. The instructed solicitor was very nice, calm and polite. I would recommend Hodge Jones & Allen to everyone!”

“Laura O’Brien has provided brilliant services in all stages. Laura was really attentive, helpful, professional and gave me plenty of advice. She was highly supportive and very active in assuring that the case was dealt with efficiently.”

“It was amazing. They gave me all the knowledge and cared about my best interest.”

“Laura was absolutely amazing and instrumental to our defence and us getting acquitted!”

  • “Recently I had the pleasure of using the services of Laura O’Brien and her paralegal Shelby Keppel at HJA for a criminal law case related to animal rights activity. Their communication was perfect, their attention to detail impressive and at no time did I feel anything other than confidence having them handle my case.
    …I would like to thank Laura O’Brien and Shelby Keppel for all their help, guidance and work during this rather unpleasant episode of my life. I would have no hesitation in recommending them to others who find themselves in a similar predicament.”
  • “HJA arranged representation for me at Stratford MC, for two plea hearings and a subsequent trial on a charge of wilful obstruction of the highway at Parliament Square, during a civil resistance action by Insulate Britain. I was very happy with the guidance, advice and representation at trial which I received. I was given a conditional discharge and a contribution towards prosecution costs to pay. I’m advised that I have sound grounds for an appeal against being found guilty. I’m considering doing this, in order to try to change attitudes, within the justice system, to peaceful, proportionate protest against The UK Government’s active acceleration of the destabilization of climates and societies.”

Memberships and Appointments

  • Committee member of the Youth Practitioners Association (YPA)
  • London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association (LCCSA)
  • The Solicitors’ Association of Higher Courts Advocates (SAHCA)


Articles & Publications




  • 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
Further Reading Laura O'Brien
Criminal Defence, Financial Crime & Regulatory