Staff Stories

Lucy Hogarth, Solicitor

I joined Howells in 1997 as a junior secretary in the civil department at the Spital Hill office. I knew by then I wanted to be a lawyer. I moved to the criminal department later that year and became an Accredited Police Station Representative in 1998. I studied for the CPE and LPC exams part time whilst I worked and then I was taken on as a trainee solicitor.

At the end of my training contract I was delighted to be taken as a solicitor in the crime team at Sheffield. I always enjoyed criminal work and I knew I wanted to be able to represent clients at court. I didn’t come from a privileged background myself, and found it very challenging to continue in education after the age of 16. I have always felt able to understand the experiences many of our clients have and how easy it is to find yourself in trouble with the law.

I qualified as a solicitor in 2002 and learned a huge amount from the experienced solicitors around me at Howells. Now that I am the manager of the crime team I joined in 1998, I make sure we spot potential in people early on and help them to develop; our clients are best served by people who bring their own experience to the job.

My proudest moment was gaining Higher Rights of Audience in 2014; a client encouraged me to put myself through the assessment, but I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it in case I didn’t pass it! I really wanted to be able to represent clients in the Crown Court as well as the police station and the Magistrates Court. I try really hard now to support each client at every stage of their case.

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/feb/08/my-path-to-law-i-couldnt-understand-my-lecturers-for-the-first-two-years

Peter Mahy, Managing Partner

Managing Partner, Peter Mahy

“I gained my LLB Law Degree from the University of Sheffield in 1993, completed an M.Phil. in Criminology at the University of Cambridge in 1994, travelled round the world for a year before undertaking the LPC at the University of Northumbria. I joined Howells Solicitors in Sheffield as a trainee in 1996. I qualified in 1998 where I specialised in civil liberties and human rights and later became Head of the Civil Liberties Department.

I was made a partner at Howells in 2002 and in 2010 I was named Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award as a result of my work on the Marper case before the European Court of Human Rights. The Court ruled that the retention of innocent peoples DNA was a breach of their human rights. It is considered one of the most significant Human Rights cases – a world changer.

I have been listed in Chambers and Partners as a leading individual for many years in relation to Actions Against the Police, Civil Liberties and Administrative and Public Law. I have conducted cases before all levels of courts, including the House of Lords and European Court of Human Rights and have over 30 reported cases. I often appear on national television and radio.

In 2011 I was appointed as Howells Managing Partner and am responsible for ensuring the firm maintains its excellent reputation and survives and thrives.

Heather Smith, Senior Receptionist

Senior Receptionist, Heather Smith

I commenced employment with Howells in 2005, working within the Children team as a secretary, which I really enjoyed.  Working in the team was really interesting role but also very sensitive as it involved dealing with social services, adoptions etc.  I had the opportunity in 2008 to change roles within the firm covering maternity leave.   I found being a receptionist very rewarding, dealing with clients face to face and on the phone and received real job satisfaction.  I feel as though I ended up doing what I do best.

Howells has a good in house training development for all employees with a wide variety of training on offer such as: communication skills, equality and diversity, conflict management training, client care training etc.  This helps to benefit all employees in the firm.

In August 2014 I was delighted when I was promoted to senior receptionist.  I have been given more responsibility, which includes the smooth running of two receptions, and am supported by a dedicated team of receptionists who I am fortunate to work with.

Howells always encourages career progression within the firm, promoting internally wherever possible.

I get great satisfaction from the wide range of clients that we assist.  Every day brings it’s own challenges as you never know what each day will bring.

Kathryn Lill, Solicitor

Solicitor, Kathryn Lill

I applied to Howells on the recommendation of a friend with whom I volunteered with in a local advice centre in Sheffield. He had been working for the firm for about 6 months and was thoroughly enjoying the work. My employment with the firm started in July 2008.

When I started at Howells, I had a basic knowledge of benefits and debt law, from my work at the advice centre. The firm arranged for full training for me when I started in the role.

In 2010 I moved to the Barnsley office as the benefits and debt adviser. The firm provided me with the training on a new form of debt relief, and I became a Debt Relief Order Intermediary. I passed the assessment in 2011.

I successfully applied for a training contract with the firm in 2011 and this commenced in 2013. My first seat was in the criminal defence team. I thoroughly enjoyed the work and by Christmas 2013 I had decided that I would like to qualify as a criminal solicitor. I therefore started to work towards becoming a Police Station representative and passed the portfolio and test in June 2014.

Howells offered me the opportunity to complete my higher rights of audience (criminal proceedings) rather than completing electives on the PSC. I completed the course and exams in February 2014 and found out that I had passed a few weeks later.

I qualified as a solicitor in 2014 and joined the criminal department at the Barnsley office. I passed the assessments to become a duty solicitor in 2016 and since that time have been representing clients at the police station and in the Magistrates’ Court.

I have now been working at Howells for almost 10 years. I have worked in different departments in that time and felt well supported and encouraged throughout my whole employment here.

Liam Flanagan, Apprentice

Liam was awarded the ‘Outstanding BTEC Apprentice of the Year (16-18yrs)’ by the National BTEC Awards 2015 for his outstanding work and progression under the apprentice scheme. Watch the video on Liam’s nomination and award