First for public law

ELS is a unique legal service that combines exceptional commercial experience with a mature understanding of the values and ethos of the public sector. Evolving from the in-house legal team of one of the UK’s largest local authorities, we're committed to protecting the public

Over 100 legal professionals. One award-winning team

Our highly experienced professionals work to provide comprehensive legal advice to our clients. We demonstrate that we understand the changing needs of our clients by continually developing our skills, knowledge and experience.

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Paul Turner, Director, Legal and Assurance

Paul Turner

Director, Legal and Assurance

Paul has been Essex County Council’s Monitoring Officer or deputy since 2013. He has overall responsibility for the County Council’s constitution and its formal decision making processes as well as supporting Councillors across the political spectrum. Paul has 25 years’ legal experience across almost all areas of local authority law and prides himself on taking a risk aware approach, ensuring that the decisions taken by the County Council are as safe as possible. Paul deals with complex complaints and is adviser to the Essex Police and Crime Panel on complaints. He has particular experience as senior responsible officer for Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Katie Bray, Head of Projects

Katie Bray

Head of Legal

Katie specialises in major projects and procurement law advising public bodies on all aspects of public procurement, including closing complex and innovative projects including PFI and PPP Projects.  Katie has worked with public bodies at all stages of major projects from the initial stages of the procurement through to advising on operational issues. This has included detailed work with public bodies assisting in scoping requirements at the beginning of the procurement through to competitive dialogue and to achieving financial close. Katie has a strong record in leading on the procurement of major projects and transactions across a broad range of sectors including local government, education, health and social care, highways and outsourcing.  She also advised on the implementation of the Better Care Fund and the integration between health and social care.  

Laura Edwards, Head of Projects

Laura Edwards

Corporate and Commercial - Legal Services Manager

Laura specialises in all aspects of commercial law and specifically procurement law and regeneration projects, advising on complex high value projects including PFI, PPP and outsourcing. Laura’s particular expertise is dealing with major complex procurements including competitive dialogue across various sectors including education, highways, information technology, outsourcing and transformation.  Laura has an in-depth practical experience in advising on cutting edge innovative commissioning solutions for the delivery of public services including social enterprises, social impact bonds, pooled funds, joint procurements projects and shared services. Laura also has considerable experience in advising public bodies on construction and regeneration matters as well as trading vehicles, joint ventures and mutuals.

Joanna Gent, Head of Property

Joanna Gent

Property - Legal Services Manager

Joanna joined ELS from private practice where she was the Head of the Property Department and a partner in a busy private practice. Joanna has over 12 years of experience in dealing with commercial property matters both in the public sector and private practice. Joanna specialises in all commercial property matters to include landlord & tenant, freehold and leasehold purchase and sales, easements, option and overage agreements. Joanna has a broad range of Commercial Real Estate experience, having acted for developers, landlords and providers of development finance. Joanna has a commercial and practical approach to problem solving and the knowledge and experience to rise to any challenges our clients face with their real estate and secure a successful outcome. Relevant experience: Development Disposals and Acquisitions Easements and Licences Option and Promotion Agreements Landlord and Tenant General Property Advice Commercial Agreements

Jacqueline Millward, Head of Place

Jacqueline Millward

Highways and Environment - Legal Services Manager

Jacqueline is our Highways and Environmental Legal Services Manager ​and provides advice and support to public bodies in all aspects of highways, rights of way, waste, planning, enforcement actions and prosecutions. She is Law Society accredited Local Government lawyer with almost 30 years of experience. Jacqueline deals with the Commons Registration Authority’s functions including searches, applications for registration and varying of rights.  She provides training and advice to ECC’s Development and Regulation Committee on planning and village green matters Jacqueline also has extensive experience in advising public bodies in respect of judicial review of government policies and planning decisions, including the successful challenge to the Government’s White Paper proposals for Air Transport.  She continues to provide advice of the airport expansion project at Stansted G1. Significant work includes: Road and rail infrastructure development.  Jacqueline is currently working on the delivery of the proposed Beaulieu Park Train Station and its linkage to the existing main line network.  Jacqueline is also advising on issues relating to delivery of the proposed improvements to the A12 and M11 in concert with government agencies, including on compulsory purchase and other land issues. Shell Haven/Thames Gateway.  Jacqueline drafted the original obligations and supported representations to the inquiry on the scheme to deliver additional port capacity to the UK and is involved in the implementation of the planning agreements for the delivery of supporting road improvements for the local highway authorities. Jacqueline is working on a number of local highway authority schemes to deliver links for cyclists and pedestrians as part of the public health and sustainable transport agenda including the legal arrangements to achieve new routes and advice on procedure and consultation issues. Jacqueline is responsible for providing training and advice to Essex County Council’s Development and Regulation Committee on planning and village green matters including the induction of new members and interest issues. Lead Local Flood Authority.  Jacqueline is working the Essex LLFA Board in delivery of flood prevention schemes using her expertise in planning matters to guide delivery. Crouch Harbour Authority.  Jacqueline is appointed clerk to the statutory body Crouch Harbour Authority and advising the members and officers in all aspects of its powers in relation to the control and enhancement of the waterway and their land holding as well as overseeing prosecution actions.

Emma Thomas, Head of Employment

Emma Thomas

Dispute Resolution and Employment - Legal Services Manager

Emma deals with both contentious and non-contentious employment law matters and provides practical advice on a wide range of issues including all aspects of discrimination law;  bullying and harassment;  redundancies and restructures; equal pay; part time workers; the performance management of employees; managing sickness absence; advising on contracts of employment and staff policies, resolving complex and sensitive employment disputes; settlements and negotiations; and general advisory work.  Emma regularly advises public bodies’ senior officers on highly sensitive and complex employment law matters with governance implications. She has particular expertise in complex Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) matters including the in-sourcing and outsourcing of contracts; whistleblowing; health and safety at work; grievance and disciplinary matters; and related investigations. Emma regularly presents seminars and training workshops on employment law updates nationally and internationally and can tailor a workshop to the client’s specific requirements. The Employment Team host regular training events and workshops as well as sessions dealing with key changes in legislation.

Jennifer Mellani, Healthcare Specialist Lawyer

Jennifer Mellani

Health, Social Care and Deputyship - Legal Services Manager

Jennifer is a specialist Healthcare Lawyer who led on transactions stemming from some of the major reforms in the NHS including: the “Transforming Community Services Agenda”, Personalisation Agenda and Direct Payments, Health and Social Care Act reforms. She also acted in her past in-house role as an advocate for the “Freedom to Speak Up Review”. Jennifer is currently leading on major projects involving local government and healthcare including Better Care Fund Initiative, Health and Social Care Integration Programme, partnerships and joint ventures between local government and NHS organisations, integrated care delivery models and service disaggregation.

Dorothy Simon

Dorothy Simon

Children and Education - Legal Services Manager

Dorothy joined Essex County Council in 1995 as a Principal Solicitor to bring the child care in the south east of the county back in-house. She then joined Southend Borough Council in 1998 to form the Social Care & Education Legal Team for the new unitary authority before returning to Essex County Council in 2000 to consolidate the now county wide Children Legal Team. Following this outstanding achievement, Dorothy moved to Hertfordshire County Council in 2004 to become the Assistant Chief Legal Officer and Deputy Monitoring Officer and then went on to join the London Borough of Haringey in 2009 to implement the learning from the Baby Peter Serious Case Reviews as the Assistant Head of Legal (Social Care). Dorothy is currently appointed to a joint post of Children and Education Legal Services Manager in ELS and Group Manager of the Social Care and Education Legal Team in Southend Borough Council. Dorothy has  been a Social Care advocate and an Adoption Agency legal adviser from 1991. She is a legal adviser to the Local Safeguarding Children Board and to the People and Health Scrutiny Committee. Dorothy is currently the Chair of the Law Society’s Children Law Sub-Committee and sits on the NSPCC external expert advisory group on neglect. Dorothy was also the writer for the Independent Management Review in four Serious Case Reviews involving local authority legal services graded by Ofsted as two outstanding and two good. Dorothy’s depth and breadth of specialist knowledge and experience are real assets for our clients in both the health and social care sectors. Relevant experience : Health and Social Care. Judicial review. Coroners’ inquests relating to health and social care. Education law. Child protection and safeguarding. Regulatory and Advisory (all aspects of childcare, education and health). Information Governance (DPA, FOI and confidentiality matters). Corporate Governance. Local Government Ombudsman matters.Memberships of external advisory groups: Law Society’s Children Law Sub-Committee. Lawyers in Local Government Eastern Region Child Care Special Interest Area Group. Lawyers in Local Government Child Care Lawyers’ Group (national group). NSPCC’s neglect external advisory group. Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) neglect critical friends’ reference group. Department for Education expert panel on residential assessments study.

Amy Lapite, Head of Children and Education

Amy Lapite

Children and Education - Legal Services Manager

Amy specialises in childcare and education matters (SENT and SEN tribunals) and has Higher Rights of Audience for civil matters.  She has served as a legal adviser to the Adoption Agency since 2004. Amy joined ELS in 1998 from Manchester City Council. Amy is a member of Essex Family Justice Council. Amy has over 17 years of experience in dealing with Adult and Social Care, Mental Health, Children Law, Safeguarding, Court of Protection, Adoption, Education and Public Law. Amy also has specialist knowledge and experience in handling complex judicial review cases for our clients. Amy’s expertise covers all aspects of regulatory, advisory and litigation matters for public bodies and she also specialises in special education needs, disability tribunal proceedings and school exclusion review hearings. Amy provides practical and targeted advice and support to our clients with their policies, procedures and the development of safe practice within their organisations. Relevant experience: Family Conducts public law cases Advice on judicial review cases Advice on Ombudsman complaints Legal Adviser to the Adoption Agency Advice on Special Education Needs and deals with Tribunal cases Advice on No Recourse to Public FundsEducation Advice to client department on key issues Advice on Ombudsman complaints Advice on judicial reviews  

Carolyn Austwick, Practice Manager

Carolyn Austwick

Practice Manager

Carolyn is responsible for practice management across all legal services at ELS. 

Michelle Campbell

Michelle Campbell

Dispute Resolution and Employment - Supervising Associate

Michelle specialises in acting for local authorities in claims including claims of historic child sexual abuse, data breach, industrial disease/employers liability and highways claims. Michelle was the lead Solicitor in the case of Woodland which went to the Supreme Court and dealt with non delegable duties of schools to pupils. Michelle acts on a wide range of personal injury claims including fast track and multi track litigation in the High Court and County Court  including undertaking advocacy. Michelle has experience in claims involving multi party litigation and case management and has experience advising and negotiating in respect of costs and attending and preparing for costs management conferences. Michelle supervises a team of lawyers/paralegals who case manage and handle a variety of small claims, fast and multi-track claims ranging from highways/employers liability claims to flooding and tree subsidence.  

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Robin Donaldson

Health, Social Care and Deputyship - Solicitor

Robin is a solicitor in the Health and Social Care Team. He advises on all areas relating to adult social care including the Care Act 2014, safeguarding, the Mental Capacity Act 2005, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, integration between NHS bodies and local authorities, the Mental Health Act 1983, forced marriage, Ordinary Residency disputes between local authorities, Local Government Ombudsman complaints and judicial reviews.                                                                 Robin regularly conducts advocacy in the Court of Protection and is a member of the Court of Protection Practitioner’s Association.  He also delivers training.

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Susan Moussa

Corporate and Commercial - Associate Solicitor

Susan has extensive experience advising clients in relation to contracts and public procurements, having led on procurements for various types of goods, services and works for unitary authorities; county councils; districts, boroughs; Fire and Rescue Authorities; and local authority wholly-owned companies.  Susan advises as to the legal and procurement implications; drafts contract documents; provides advice regarding procurement documents; and provides advice regarding ad-hoc queries. Susan, also, provides commercial advice regarding alternative delivery structures including, but not limited to, companies, joint ventures and shared services.  Susan liaises with clients to establish the optimum delivery model.  Susan provides corporate governance advice to companies and undertakes company secretarial duties for local authority trading companies. Susan, also, has a history of providing corporate governance advice to local authorities, having previously successfully completed the Law Society’s Diploma in Local Government Law and Practice.  Susan regularly advises local authorities as to their decision-making powers and acts on behalf of the Monitoring Officer.

Tracy Davies

Tracy Davies

Personal Injury and Civil Litigation - Solicitor

Tracy specialises in personal injury litigation.  Tracy has extensive experience in working for individual clients and on behalf of major household and motor insurers dealing with a wide range of issues, advising on the merits and value of a claim to conducting and completing Court proceedings.  Tracy advises and acts on behalf of Essex County Council and other local authorities on a wide range of disputes. Tracy also acts on behalf of other local authorities dealing with a range of insurance litigation matters including defamation, noise induced hearing loss and subsidence.

robbie celmens

Robbie Clemens

Dispute Resolution and Employment Law - Solicitor

Robbie acts, and provides advice, on a variety of disputes, including; education, contractual, land and boundary disputes, environmental and procurement, S77/78 CJPOA 1994 and Part 55 CPR evictions, and trespass proceedings. He has also assisted senior members of staff on Judicial Review matters and high-value commercial disputes. Robbie has significant experience in Disability Discrimination claims in the context of maintained schools and the SEND Tribunal, settling a recent Tribunal matter to the benefit of both the parent and the school. Robbie also provides advice and advocacy in respect of evictions of unauthorised occupants at ECC sites. Robbie has also advised and acted for local authorities on possession proceedings. Recent work Disability Discrimination claims at SEND Tribunal Advice and advocacy under part 77 CJA and drafting of Part 55 CPR proceedings, for the eviction of unauthorised occupants Acting for a local authority regarding unauthorised encroachment on their land Acting on sensitive children matters to ensure the protection of parties involved Advice to maintained schools on boundary disputes Advising the Council on claw-back provisions on high-value land transfers Acting and advising an external authority on a high-value contractual dispute 


Alex Elliott


Alex is a member of our  Dispute Resolution and Employment team where he specialises in all aspects of employment law.

Contact Us

To find out how we can help you and your organisation, please get in touch by phone or email.

Our legal helpline (available to subscribers only) operates between 9.00am and 5.15pm. Contact us on: 0333 013 9993. Or if you want to subscribe please call: 0333 013 2305.

ELS, Seax House, Victoria Road South, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1QH
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