Next Generation Partners

Crime, fraud and licensing: General crime and fraud in East Midlands

Cartwright King

Maintaining its market-leading position, the corporate, financial and serious crime team at Cartwright King uniquely houses Magistrates' Court and police station lawyers to assist clients facing less serious or complex cases. Its clients range from small businesses to multinational companies across a host of sectors, including banking, investment, health, construction and manufacturing. Practice head Laura Smithis a real fighter and prepared to go the extra yard for her clients‘ and focuses on defending clients in fraud cases involving missing trader, carousel, tax and VAT fraud. Senior associate James Bainbridge leads the Crown Court department and is an ‘extremely experienced‘ lawyer. Nicola Hunter and senior associate Sharad Buddhdev specialise in financial crime and associated Proceeds of Crime Act cases, with a particular interest in account freezing orders.

Practice head(s):

Laura Smith

Other key lawyers:

James Bainbridge; Nicola Hunter; Sharad Buddhdev


‘Cartwright King always resource cases appropriately. There is a dedicated lawyer assigned to represent the client. Diary management is conducted through their dedicated clerking team. They are an extremely efficiently organised set up.’

‘Laura Smith is a real fighter and prepared to go the extra yard for her clients. She dispels stereotypes and has a frank and forthright approach.’

‘James Bainbridge heads up the Crown Court team. He is an extremely experienced, affable solicitor who deals with difficult or anxious lay clients with aplomb: he is able to establish a good rapport and gain the trust of even the most anxious, nervous or otherwise difficult defendant. James’s cases are always well organised and he shows deft strategic sense in the lines of enquiry pursued on behalf of his client. He has access to experts with extremely impressive CVs and always organises things in a timeous manner.’

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of a defendant alleged to have been involved in a £123m cheat on the public revenue through a sophisticated scheme to avoid the payment of VAT and duties on certain goods.
  • Defending a company director in connection with an NHS Counter Fraud Authority investigation into the alleged falsification of testing documents submitted during a tendering process.
  • Acting on behalf of a defendant charged in connection with the alleged murder of a suggested gang member where the motivation for the attack is suggested to be a disagreement between criminal gangs over the trade in drugs.

Johnson Astills

Specialising in criminal defence, family, children, domestic abuse, property, and wills and probate cases, Johnson Astills fields a ‘brilliant‘ team headed by leading lawyers Helen Johnson and Michelle Harding, who often represent vulnerable defendants and collectively defend clients across a broad range of offences, included terrorist offences, violent and sexual crimes, including manslaughter and murder, drug and motoring offences, and fraud, among others.

Practice head(s):

Helen Johnson; Michelle Harding

Other key lawyers:

Olivia Peck


‘This is a brilliant team of women who properly reflect the diverse culture of Leicestershire. The firm recruits on pure talent and will enable women with children and caring responsibilities to develop and thrive in a warm and inclusive working environment. Each of the solicitors within it are hugely talented and work tirelessly and professionally to get the right results. Client care is exceptional and it extends to ensuring that it provides detailed and thorough instructions to whichever advocate picks up the case. There is continuity of representation and real skill sets. This firm is stellar.’

‘Helen Johnson should be a KC. She is a highly talented advocate who prepares her cases so thoroughly and professionally that her advocacy appears to be effortless. It is far from it. If you have Helen Johnson representing you, then you can be certain that every aspect of the case has been carefully and thoroughly researched. She has the confidence and respect of judges and opponents. Her tactical decisions are first rate. She is a calm and measured advocate and her speeches are thoughtful and concise. If I were in any difficulty she would be my first choice to represent me.’

‘Michelle Harding is an exceptionally talented solicitor. Her preparation and care for clients is first class. She has a warm and caring manner which may make opponents feel that they can take advantage, but they learn very quickly that they are very wrong. Michelle is a force to be reckoned with when fighting for her clients. She does so in a calm and measured way but her arguments have real force.’

Smith Partnership

Smith Partnership is an ‘outstanding East Midlands firm‘ with ‘great experience and depth‘. Managing partner Kevin McGrath leverages ‘huge experience and excellent judgement with sound commercial sense‘ owing to his 25-year career defending high-value and complex cases of serious fraud. Andrew Oldroyd in Derby is likewise a ‘brilliant solicitor advocate who has always exceeded expectations‘. He defends clients in motoring cases, and prosecutions brought by agencies such as the Health and Safety Executive, local councils and the Department of Work and Pensions. Other recommended lawyers include Adrian Pearce and Justin Ablott in Derby, and Vasanti Vaitha and Beth McGovern in Leicester.

Practice head(s):

Kevin McGrath; Andrew Oldroyd

Other key lawyers:

Adrian Pearce; Justin Ablott; Vasanti Vaitha; Beth McGovern


‘All of the solicitors in the practicve are equally as motivated in providing a rolls royce level service for their clients and have shown a clear ability to understand and identify how to draw out potentially complex issues, and to advance that in a way that is understood and recognised by the Court. I have always been impressed by the willingness in the team to go the extra mile for their clients. Smith Partnership is a stand out practice, head and shoulders above the crowd.’

‘An outstanding East Midlands firm for white-collar crime. Great experience and depth.’

‘They are able to assist with the full gamut of criminal matters from the most serious offences against the person to white-collar crime and corporate crime. They have the best in-house advocates with higher rights of audience who are able to advise and represent from commencement of the case to final determination. They have an excellent reputation.’

Richard Nelson LLP

Focusing historically on fraud and business defence, boutique practice Richard Nelson LLP continues to develop its reputation in tax investigations, professional disciplinary investigations, and serious sexual offences proceedings. Leading the firm with ‘unmatchable experience in criminal defence‘ is Jacqui Callan, who balances a busy caseload spanning all aspects of criminal defence work, covering sham marriages, murder, drugs and fitness to plead matters. A recent hire in spring 2022, in-house barrister Chris Evans appears in both the Crown Court and Magistrates’ Court in cases involving homicide, drugs supply, offences committed online and historic allegations.

Practice head(s):

Jacqui Callan 

Other key lawyers:

Chris Evans


‘Jacqui Callan leads a great team who go the extra mile in defending their clients.’

‘The team at Richard Nelsons LLP are very professional and knowledgeable in all areas of law, particularly fraud and white collar crime. They are very accommodating, friendly, approachable and easy to deal with. I know that several personnel will go the extra mile for their clients, Jacqui Callan being the prime example.’

‘Jacqui Callan is the stand out individual. Her experience in criminal defence is unmatchable. She also has a great support team.’

‘First class client service with a genuine specialism in defending individuals accused of sexual offences.’