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Nigel Priestley

Senior Partner, MBE
Department: Child Care & Public Law
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Nigel Priestley is 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.

Nigel was awarded the MBE in New Year Honours 2021 for services to children and families.

Nigel’s work has been celebrated and he is a leading expert in kinship care, adoption breakdown and care proceedings. Nigel won the Yorkshire Lawyer of the Year Award at the Yorkshire Legal Awards in 2017.

He has taken the lead in bringing Judicial Review proceedings on behalf of children placed with Kinship Carers. These actions are to ensure that local authorities fulfil their legal obligations towards Family and Friend Carers and the children who are living with them.

He has been involved in landmark decisions as a result of Judicial Reviews he has brought. These include a successful challenge against Kirklees when they were paying Special
Guardianship Allowance at 2/3 the Fostering Allowance. In another case the Court of Appeal set out when children living with grandparent carers should be regarded as ‘looked after’ children.

He represents children, parents and grandparents in care proceedings. He has been involved in cases in the High Court which have been reported in the legal press including a foreign adoption and the making of Wardship Orders in care proceedings where the children suffered serious global developmental delay.

Nigel works closely with Grandparents Plus and many support organisations. Over £1 million has been paid to carers in respect of back paid Fostering Allowances as a result of actions in which Nigel has been involved.

Nigel has spoken at conferences organised by the Grandparents Association, BAAF and Grandparents Plus.

Nigel is concerned about the support given to adopters. He is a member of Adoption UK and advises adopters facing post adoption support challenges as to their rights.

Nigel helped set up the unique Twinning Link between Huddersfield Law Society and the Uganda Law Society in 2002. The link has provided legal resources and training for Ugandan lawyers. Nigel has regularly carried out training in Kampala.  The Twinning Link won the Pro Bono Award at the Yorkshire Legal Awards 2016, and it was highly commended at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2016.

He is a grandfather himself and understands the pressures on grandparent carers!

Areas of work Nigel deals with


  • Awarded the MBE in New Year Honours 2021 for series to children and families
  • Won Yorkshire Lawyer of the Year 2017
  • Won Lawyer of the Year Award at the Modern Law Awards (2016)
  • Shortlisted for Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Adoption Week Awards (2016)
  • Shortlisted for Partner of the Year at both Yorkshire Legal Awards and Family Law Awards (2016)
  • Shortlisted for Family Law Partner of the Year at the Family Law Awards (2015)
  • Won Legal Champion of the Year Award at the Kinship Care Awards (2013)
  • Named The Solicitor of the Year (Private practice) in the National Law Society Excellence Awards (2010)
  • Shortlisted for Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award (2008)
  • Law Society Highly Commended Solicitor of the Year (2008)


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

Team Leader of the Care Team
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....
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Jennifer Keefe

Jennifer has experience in all areas of family law, however she is particularly passionate about representing parents, extended family members and children involved in care proceedings, or helping families that are facing child protection issues....
Clare Linden Headshot

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....
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Alisha Mazher

Alisha is a qualified family law solicitor with ample experience and knowledge in domestic abuse cases, private child arrangements and kinship....
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....
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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....
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....