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James Cook

James Cook

Director, Head of Child Care & Public Law Team
Department: Child Care & Public Law
The Legal 500 – The Clients Guide to Law Firms

James Cook trained and qualified at a South Yorkshire firm where he specialised in family and immigration law.  James joined Ridley & Hall in 2006 and continued his expertise in family law focusing primarily on representing parents, family members and children in care proceedings.

James has been a member of the Children Panel since 2009 and has represented children both through court appointed Guardians and directly.

James undertakes a wide range of family cases, he has represented families on numerous cases when extremely serious findings are being alleged including those of sexual and physical abuse.  He has and continues to represent families successfully both locally but also nationally in England and Wales including Birmingham, London, Bristol, Nottingham, Cambridge, Cardiff and Manchester.

In addition to care proceedings James has represented parents/children in cases involving contact, residence and adoption.  He has also represented clients in cases involving the abduction of children, removal of children from the UK and injunctions under the Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court.  James has represented parents in cases in the Court of Protection, High Court and Court of Appeal.

He has also represented parents on breaches of their Human Rights by Local Authorities.

James’s client focused approach is both sympathetic and understanding whilst still giving clear advice.  James strives to ensure his clients are treated fairly by all professionals, no matter what the circumstances, to ensure they have the maximum chances of success.  James is a pro-active family litigator who isn’t afraid of ensuring his clients cases are fully challenged when required.

James became a partner on the 1st October 2009 and heads the Child Care and Adoption Team.

James held the post of President of the Huddersfield Incorporated Law Society between November 2011 – January 2013, having been the vice-president in the year preceding this.  James remained a member of the law society committee until 2016.  He became a committee member of the West Yorkshire based Lawyers for Children (LFC) in 2016 and is currently LFC’s treasurer.

James has provided training for Huddersfield University and West Yorkshire CAFCASS.  He has also spoken at the national Community Care Conference in London on Special Guardianships.

James is a regular runner and has completed a number of ½ marathons over the last five years for charities.  James has raised money for charities including Dementia UK, LIVES and Kirkwood Hospice.

James assistant is Nicki Butterworth.


“James Cook is a very experienced advocate who works above and beyond for each client. James is passionate about the rights of the children, ensuring that he skilfully advocates to ensure that their voices are heard.”

Child Care & Public Law Team

Kavya Balram

Kavya moved to the UK in 2015. She is a qualified lawyer in India. Kavya has always wanted to progress her career in law and pursue further studies to dual qualify as a Solicitor in England and Wales. She has passed the first stage of the exams and is studying towards the second part....

Sarah Brown

Associate Solicitor
Sarah joined Ridley & Hall in 2010 following the completion of her Law Degree. Whilst working at Ridley & Hall she studied the Legal Practice Course part time over two years, completing it in 2012....

Nicki Butterworth

Associate Personal Assistant
Nicki is an experienced Personal Assistant who works within the Care & Public Law Team (for Child Care Director, James Cook). Nicki’s career began in the retail sector, and it was there where she began to hone her renowned communication and customer service skills....

Deborah Hardy

Deborah has over 25 years’ experience in family law and has particular expertise in representing children, court appointed guardians, parents and extended family members in care proceedings in Leeds and surrounding areas. She joined Ridley & Hall as a Partner in 2018....

Victoria Jones

Trainee Solicitor
Victoria achieved a First Class M Law (Exempting) degree at Northumbria University. Whilst at university, Victoria was a student adviser at Northumbria University’s Student Law Office, providing detailed legal advice to members of the public under solicitor supervision. Prior to commencing her final year at University, Victoria completed a short internship working with a law firm in Singapore....

Clare Linden

Clare joined Ridley & Hall Solicitors as a Partner in 2018. Clare graduated from Durham University and completed her legal training at the College of Law in York in 2006. Clare qualified as a solicitor in 2008 when she re-located to Leeds to join the niche family law firm McAras and was made a partner in 2013 following the firm’s merger with Simpson Millar solicitors in Leeds....

Laura Milburn

Laura has many years of legal experience and was called to the Bar in 2010.  After qualifying as a Barrister, Laura cross-qualified to become a Solicitor in 2012.   Laura is a passionate advocate and has used her advocacy and negotiation skills on behalf of many clients over the years. ...

Helen Moody

Helen completed her degree in law in 2009 before continuing her studies part time on the Legal Practice Course whilst working in a solicitors firm in Wakefield to gain experience. Helen joined Ridley & Hall in January 2012 after completion of the Legal Practice Course,  initially as a Legal Assistant working alongside Nigel Priestley to build up experience in the Public Law department. Helen completed her training contract at Ridley & Hall and qualified as a solicitor in October 2016....

Nigel Priestley

Senior Partner, MBE
Nigel Priestley is a Senior Partner of Ridley & Hall Solicitors and a community care and adoption specialist solicitor. He is a member of the Children’s Panel and regularly represents children and parents in care proceedings. ...

Michelle Silcox

Michelle joined Ridley & Hall in October 2019 and was admitted to the Role of Solicitor in early November 2019. Following redundancy from her longstanding role as Customer Service Manager at a national workwear company in 2007, Michelle took the decision to go to University and study law, something she had also hoped to do....
Natalie Stephenson Quayle

Natalie Stephenson-Quayle

Natalie started at Ridley & Hall in November 2019 as a care paralegal. In September 2020, Natalie integrated into the Public Law team as well, so now she works in both the Care and the Public Law teams which offers her the ability to help clients in need. This is something she has been interested in from a young age. ...

Rosie Turner

Rosie primarily assists clients on a variety of issues in relation to kinship care, particularly claiming allowances and back dated payments for kinship carers from Local Authority’s. Rosie also assists clients with Special Guardianship Order applications and advice in relation to the support that is available under Special Guardianship Orders....
Yasmin Walker

Yasmin Walker

Trainee Solicitor
Yasmin initially joined our Residential Property team in the South Elmsall office as a Conveyancing Assistant in September 2019 to gain first hand legal experience whilst undertaking her Masters Qualification....

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