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Clare Linden Headshot

Clare Linden

Department: Child Care & Public Law
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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.

She has a wealth of knowledge and experience in all areas of family law, but her particular expertise is in representing parents, extended family members and children involved in care proceedings. Clare deals primarily with cases that involve child protection issues and often attends at PLO Meetings with parents who are facing the prospect of care proceedings being issued.

Clare became a member of the Law Society’s Children Panel in 2011, which recognises her experience and ability in dealing with legal issues relating to children. She is regularly instructed to represent the interests of children both through court appointed children’s guardians and by children directly.

Being passionate about this area of law, Clare’s priority is to always ensure that children can be brought up within their family, wherever possible. She understands that care proceedings are often highly emotive and that clients require clear, honest and jargon free legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Clare provides her clients with sensible and child focussed advice to ensure the best possible outcomes for families in every case that she is dealing with.

Clare has experience in dealing with some of the most complex cases that come before a court to include cases of infant mortality, alleged non-accidental injuries and serious sexual and physical abuse. She often instructs specialist experts in these cases to provide their own independent expert opinions to the court.

A strong working relationship with some of the most high profile and experienced barristers and QC’s on the Northern Circuit and regular representation of clients before circuit and high court judges mean that Clare is well respected by her peers.

Clare also has experience in representing parents, family members and children in private law proceedings relating to residence and contact matters.

Clare has a particular interest in working with local charities who provide support to young parents and families in the community. She has provided free legal advice clinics to a number of local organisations to ensure that parents are aware of their legal rights and adequately supported when social services become involved with their family and has supported law students through the Street Leeds programme and assisted in the preparation, and delivery, of presentations in respect of children related issues.

Outside of work, Clare likes to spend time with her family and friends.


Clare is a member of the Law Society’s Children Panel, the Leeds Law Society, Resolution (formally known as the Solicitors Family Law Association), Lawyers for Children and the Association of Lawyers for Children.

Child Care & Public Law Team

Sophie Aldridge

Sophie Aldridge

Trainee Solicitor
Sophie achieved a First-Class degree in Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice in 2020, for which she also achieved the Criminology Award for the highest overall grade on the course. Following this, Sophie achieved a distinction on the Graduate Diploma in Law, was awarded the prize for the highest overall grade on the course, together with the prize for the highest grade in Property Law. Sophie is now studying the Legal Practice Course before training to become a solicitor....

Sarah Brown

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....
Zoe Butt headshot

Zoe  Butt

Zoe Butt joined the firm in March 2023 as a Partner. Zoe has a wealth of experience in children matters and works in our Care and Public Law teams. Zoe’s particular expertise is in complex care proceedings involving Child Sexual and Criminal Exploitation, and cases involving alleged Non-Accidental Injury. She also has a wealth of experience in dealing with cases involving Forced Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation and Honour Based Violence....

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....
James Cook

James  Cook

Head of Child Care & Public Law Team
James Cook trained and qualified at a South Yorkshire firm where he specialised in family and immigration law. ...

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....
Laura Milburn

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 joined Ridley & Hall in 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 2016. Helen has had major successes in claiming allowances and back dated payments for kinship carers from Local Authorities across the country. Helen was made an Associate Solicitor in January 2023....
Rosie Nicholson Headshot

Rosie Nicholson

Associate Solicitor
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....
Kim Noble

Kim Noble

Kim qualified as a Solicitor-Advocate in 2019 after obtaining her Higher Rights of Audience (Civil) as a Trainee Solicitor based in the Care Department at a Local Authority. Kim has obtained a Law Degree, Legal Practice Course and a Master of Laws prior to qualifying as a Solicitor-Advocate....

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. ...
Marie Stanley Headshot

Marie Stanley

Legal Secretary
Marie joined Ridley & Hall to work in our Wills & Probate team. After securing a Cilex qualification opportunity offered by Ridley & Hall in 2023, she now works in the Care Team....
Tracy Steel

Tracy Steel

Tracy joined Ridley & Hall as a trainee solicitor in June 2022 and is due to qualify as a solicitor in September 2022....
Anthony Sykes Headshot

Anthony Sykes

Anthony joined Ridley & Hall Solicitors in November 2023 as a Care & Public Law paralegal. He closely collaborates with the department's lawyers, assisting with a broad spectrum of matters at all stages of care proceedings....