First Defence Team
Higher Court Advocate
Derek has been a solicitor since 1988. He was Chairman of Bedford Duty Scheme and a member of the Regional Duty Solicitor Committee from 2001–2006. Derek is a Higher Court Advocate and is therefore permitted to appear in all criminal courts. He is a member of the Solicitors’ Association of Higher Court Advocates. He spends the majority of his time representing clients in the Crown Court and has overall control of the Crown Court department for the firm.
Paul joined The First Law Partnership in Oct 2010 after 23 years practicing law. He was called to the Bar at Grays Inn in 1988 having graduated with an honours degree in law, Paul spent 14 years at London chambers in private practice before becoming in house counsel for a Wiltshire based law firm. After building a reputation as a ferocious defender of clients in the crown court he also has considerable experience in mental health act cases, with a very high success rate in long trials. Paul has joined the already strong and respected group of in house advocates here at First Law. He is no stranger to the Old Bailey having practiced in a London Chambers. Paul has also had series of favourable results in the Court of Appeal.
Matthew has a criminal practice that covers all areas of crime for has appeared at all levels from the magistrates’ court to the Court of Appeal. In addition, Matthew practices in mental health law and appears regularly both before the Mental Health Review Tribunal and other courts. Matthew is particularly interested in combining these areas, defending clients with mental health problems in the criminal courts. He is thought of as being particularly good with ‘difficult’ clients. Matthew has spent a period seconded to a Customs and Excise team examining disclosure issues for an appeal. Through that experience he has gained an extensive knowledge of Customs’ investigation techniques. Having graduated in history from Oxford University, Matthew was awarded a scholarship whilst at the Inns of Court School of Law and is a member of Lincoln’s Inn.
Higher Court Advocate
Mark qualified in 1991 with a BA Hons Degree in Law and French. He completed his training with Toller Hales & Collcutt before moving to Wellingborough firm Parker Groome Solicitors where he did general litigation work. Mark was made a Partner after 2 years and in 1995 joined Gill Walker and Co based in Corby, primarily doing family and criminal law. He then set up his own practice in 1997 specialising solely in Criminal law. He built up a good practice and client base and especially worked well with youths. In 2007 Mark joined Lawrences Solicitors where he consolidated his client base and reputation before moving to First Defence in 2009. Mark now puts into practice all of his experience in the Crown Court. Mark has been a Duty Solicitor since 1993 and has been on their local committee for about 10 years. He have also chaired and been on their Appeals Committee.
Higher Court Advocate
Martin Jackson qualified as a solicitor in 1986 after reading law at Merton College, Oxford and taking a postgraduate degree at Bristol. He has specialised in crime since 1990. He was a founder member of Reading Solicitors Chambers in 1993, and merged his practice with First Defence in 2011. His last case as an independent practitioner involved acting as solicitor and junior advocate in the successful defence, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, of a client facing a murder charge that drew national and international attention.
He has been a Higher Courts Solicitor-Advocate since 2002; a Deputy District Judge (Magistrates Courts) since 2005; a Recorder on the Midland Circuit since 2009; and a Legal Assessor for General Medical Council Fitness to Practice panels since 2010. He also assists the Inner Temple with ethics training for new practitioners.
His interests include walking, growing vegetables, antiquarian books, and collecting Gillray caricatures....."
Head of Crown Court Litigators
Emma received an honours degree in Law from Nottingham Trent University in 2001. Since then she has worked for large regional firms, initially in conveyancing and subsequently in criminal practice. Emma was admitted as a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives in April 2009 and works as a criminal litigator in the busy Crown Court Department preparing cases from the time they are transferred to the Crown Court from the Magistrates Court through to appeal.
Vicki is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, elected in 2001, with 17 years of experience in preparing all levels of cases from Theft and Burglary through to Rape, multi handed conspiracies and Murder appearing before the Crown Court right through to the House of Lords.
Vicki has a strong work ethic even in the most pressurised of environments. She is a passionate believer in Defendants’ rights and for high quality representation. She has an excellent reputation for providing a personal service with meticulous case preparation and an ability to master complex cases whilst maintaining attention to detail.
Rosanna is a Crown Court Litigator based in our Bedford office. She has been an Associate Member of The Institute of Legal Executives since 2008. Rosanna is also a Police Station Advisor. She has over 4 years experience in dealing with clients at the Police Station and Benefit Interviews Under Caution, Magistrates Court and Crown Court matters. She has dealt with a variety of cases including dishonesty, drugs and violence offences.
Fay is a Graduate Member of the Institute of Legal Executives working towards becoming a Fellow. Fay is also a Police Station Advisor. She has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and in the last five years has concentrated mainly on criminal law work. Prior to this Fay worked for several years in conveyancing and matrimonial as well as dealing with childcare files. This wide spectrum of experience leaves her perfectly placed to offer the highest possible service and has most recently dealt with cases that include sexual offences, violent disorder, fraud, drugs and assaults. Fay also deals with Prison Law matters.
Helen received a 2:1 honours degree in law from Lancaster University in 1995 along with the Rachel Todd award for her criminal law dissertation. She went on to pursue a career in financial sales before returning to the legal world. She graduated from De Montfort University in 2011, completing the Graduate Diploma in Law and being awarded the Ilex Tutorial College Prize for the highest exam results in her year.
Helen passed her Legal Professional Course exams this year with distinction and has commenced her training contract with the First Law Partnership. Helen currently works in the Crown Court department in Bedford as a litigator.