Free Hybrid Event - Celebrating Universal Children’s Day - Building a Community of Child Specialist Lawyers

Monday 20 November 2023, 6pm - 7.30pm (followed by a drinks reception)

Kate Aubrey-Johnson

Leslie Thomas KC

Aika Stephenson

Elena Papamichael

Shauneen Lambe

Dr Laura Janes

Mel Stooks

This event was brought to you by the Garden Court Children's Rights Team.

Date: Monday 20 November 2023
Time: 6pm - 7.30pm (followed by a drinks reception)
Venue: Chambers & Online  
Cost: Free
Areas of Law: Children's Rights , Youth Justice & Child Rights , Criminal Defence

Share This Page

Email This Page

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires all professionals involved in child justice to have received multi-disciplinary training, not only on the Convention rights, national and international legal provisions, but also systematic and continuous training on established and emerging understanding of child offending, from neuroscience, to social and psychological development, to the social causes of crime, and the treatment of marginalised groups.

We will hear from eminent lawyers in the Children’s Rights field highlighting the role of specialist lawyers for children in contact with the justice system.  

Chaired by Kate Aubrey-Johnson, we will hear from Leslie Thomas KC in conversation with Aika Stephenson, a leading Child Specialist Criminal Lawyer, about what motivated her to become a solicitor, how she has built her specialist expertise and how she manages her practice. She’ll share top tips on how others can follow in her footsteps.

This will be followed by a panel discussion about the role of specialist lawyers for children in contact with the justice system with the Youth Justice Legal Centre and the Youth Practitioner’s Association.


Kate Aubrey-Johnson, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Chair)
Kate is a youth justice expert, author and leading mediator. As a child rights specialist, criminal and public lawyer she regularly advises on issues affecting children in the criminal justice system and has an extensive mediation practice. She works to ensure lawyers have the specialist skills and expertise to represent children. Kate is co-author of the leading textbook Youth Justice Law and Practice (LAG, 2019). She is a youth justice expert and is regularly called upon to give lectures and deliver training. She is a convenor of the Garden Court Children's Rights Team.

Professor Leslie Thomas KC, Garden Court Chambers 
Leslie is a leading expert in claims against the police and other public authorities, and claims against corporate bodies, with expertise across the full spectrums of civil wrongs, civil litigation, human rights, data and privacy claims. He is an expert in all aspects of inquests and public inquiries, having represented many bereaved families, in particular where there has been abuse of state or corporate power. Leslie is currently Professor of Law at Gresham College delivering his lecture series 'Hard Choices: The Law's Struggle with Ethical Dilemmas.'

Aika Stephenson,  Co-Founder & Legal Director, Just for Kids Law
Aika founded Just for Kids Law alongside Shauneen Lambe in 2006. She is a solicitor and youth justice expert with years of experience representing young people in criminal proceedings and particularly those with Special Educational Needs. Since April 2017, she has led the organisation’s criminal work after Just for Kids Law was awarded its first criminal legal aid contract. In 2018, Aika was named Criminal Defence Lawyer of the Year, becoming the first individual to be awarded two LALY awards.

Elena Papamichael, Garden Court Chambers
Elena Papamichael is a crime and youth justice specialist, regularly instructed in complex and serious cases representing children in the Youth Court and Crown Court. Elena co-authors the youth justice update for Legal Action (the legal magazine published by the Legal Action Group) and has worked on a youth justice research project with Newcastle University & the Youth Justice Legal Centre where she has been [tapped] to provide expert advice. She has worked to develop the youth justice assessment for pupils in chambers. Elena achieves particularly successful outcomes for child victims of criminal exploitation / trafficking though her forensic understanding of the guidance and case law.  

Her practice has a particular focus on racial injustice in her work and was on the Advisory Board to the Racial Bias and the Bench report. Elena was previously the Chair of Directors to 4front, a youth justice and racial justice youth led project. Elena has written extensively on topics about children’s rights, including on the age of criminal responsibility; drill music and gang injunctions and alternatives to criminalisation for children and young people.

Shauneen Lambe, Director, Youth Justice Legal Centre
Shauneen Lambe is a barrister in England and Wales and an attorney in the USA. She is former joint chief executive officer of Just for Kids Law (2005-2018) and co-founder of Impact - Law for Social Justice, a consultancy that supports those considering using the law for social change. Prior to working in the UK, Shauneen worked at the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Center representing those facing the death penalty and helped Clive Stafford Smith set up his NGO - Reprieve. For her work, Shauneen has been awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship, and Ashoka Fellowship, a Shackleton Fellowship, and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

Dr Laura Janes, Consultant Solicitor, member of the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee and trustee of the National Association of Youth Justice
Laura is a Consultant Solicitor at Scott-Moncrieff & Associates Ltd and GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates. Laura teaches at South Bank University in the Law department. She was awarded a professional doctorate in youth justice at the University of Bedfordshire in 2014. Laura is a Board member the Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group and a trustee of Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre in her capacity as a councillor for the London Borough Hammersmith and Fulham. She is also a trustee of the National Association for Youth Justice.

She is a committee member of the Association of Prison Lawyers, the Mental Health Lawyers’ Association and the Criminal Appeal Lawyers’ Association. She also sits on the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee. From 2005 to 2022, Laura worked for the Howard League for Penal Reform and was its legal director between 2016 and 2022.

Mel Stooks, Partner at GT Stewart and Youth Practitioners’ Association Committee Member
Mel qualified as a solicitor in 1998 and has spent her career defending young and vulnerable people. She understands the importance of building a relationship of trust and the need for continuity, so frequently represents clients from the police station through to trial. Mel has a particular interest in autism and regularly receives referrals via The National Autistic Society. She works with a wide range of other professionals in order to ensure that her clients are able to effectively participate in their defence and navigate their way through the criminal justice system as simply as possible. Mel is an experienced trial advocate in the Youth Court and has defended young clients charged with the most serious crimes.

Mel was a member of The Rook Committee that produced the Advocacy and Vulnerable Witness Training provided by Inns of Court and The Law Society. She provides training in youth justice to other professionals as well as training for Appropriate Adults who may be required to attend the police station. Mel also runs legal advice clinics at London Youth Clubs.

Reserve your ticket 

Online and in-person tickets are available, please specify your preference on the booking form below.

In-person tickets are limited to the capacity of the venue. If you have requested an in-person space via the booking form, we will be back in touch to confirm your place at this event. Please note this event is for Children's Rights practitioners. 

We are top ranked by independent legal directories and consistently win awards.

+ View more awards