Oliver Conway shortlisted for Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2021

6th July 2021 By Arman Khosravi

We are delighted to announce that Oliver Conway has been shortlisted for a Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year award 2021 in the Family category. Oliver is a trainee solicitor at Oliver Fisher Solicitors and will qualify in August 2021.

Oliver is ideologically committed to legal aid work and is deeply concerned about access to justice. He is passionate about the children’s work and intends to specialise in this area when he qualifies. His innate empathy and compassion make him effective in representing clients who have learning difficulties, emotional and psychological difficulties, mental health disorders and physical disabilities.

Clients have expressed their enormous gratitude for Oliver’s representation at a stage when they are upset, distressed and often in a state of shock and not able to advocate for themselves. He has worked closely on a number of cases with clients requiring intermediaries due to their needs. He has worked with clients from myriad communities and often with those for whom English is not their first language requiring interpreters.

One of Oliver’s most notable cases has spanned three years, with a client from the Traveller community whose children were both removed at birth. Oliver was a paralegal when he first met with the client in hospital following the birth and removal of her first child. He fought valiantly for the client to have a voice within the first set of proceedings and implored professionals involved to do better at trying to understand the client and the wider Traveller community.

Oliver often travels to client’s homes, hospitals, prisons, and secure facilities so that the client can put a face to a name and tell their stories to someone directly. This approach is often shied away from and sometimes not even covered by legal aid. One client in particular was held in isolation in a secure facility due to their behaviour, however, was able to sit directly with Oliver and provide their instructions whenever he visited without the need for security. The client now sees their children on a regular basis, which would not have been thinkable at the outset of proceedings.

Oliver is always mindful of the emotional and psychological impact of proceedings on clients and their families. He will in some cases help clients to come to terms with difficult choices and help them to focus on what is realistically achievable while maintaining their dignity and self-respect. Oliver will tirelessly advocate for and secure support and access to therapeutic services for his clients. Clients have remarked that Oliver gave them faith that there is a life after proceedings.

Oliver is a confident advocate and is already representing clients at hearing in the family court. Clients say this provides them with much needed continuity and someone who knows their case and they trust. It also avoids them having to repeat very personal and often distressing events.

A loud voice for neurodiversity in the law, Oliver has dyspraxia and yet has excellent drafting skills for statements, position statements and orders. Oliver is very popular with clients who rely on his kind and compassionate but straight-talking no-nonsense approach. Many clients remain in contact long after proceedings are concluded and one local client comes into the office several times a year with treats she has cooked for him, often as an opportunity to talk and to be supported by Oliver.

Speaking about his nomination, Oliver says “I’m honoured to be recognised for the Legal Aid equivalent of the Oscars! I must say a huge thank you to all the clients and colleagues who nominated me, and my firm Oliver Fisher Solicitors for giving me a chance to undertake so much complex, interesting and often pro bono family work. Very few firms would give staff so much opportunity to go the extra mile for clients. Society needs legal aid lawyers now more than ever.”

We at Oliver Fisher Solicitors are delighted that Oliver has received this nomination. Other finalists in the Family category include solicitors who have committed their working lives to supporting legally aided clients in family matters, and it is a privilege to have one of our trainees among their number.

Winners will be announced at a streamed event starting at 6pm this evening. To register for the event, click here.

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