Crime: general in East Midlands

Smith Partnership

Hailed as ‘efficient and committed’, the ‘always professional team’ at Smith Partnership has particular expertise in cases involving homicide, drugs conspiracies, serious sexual assaults and the defence of youths and the vulnerable. Practice head Andrew Oldroyd has expertise in relation to motoring prosecutions and is also renowned for his defence of prosecutions brought by agencies such as the Health and Safety Executive, local councils and the Department of Work and Pensions.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Oldroyd

Other key lawyers:

Kevin McGrath; David Cusack


They have always been accessible for young people’

They meet the needs of the client

Smiths are my go-to choice of firm

Andrew Oldroyd can engage young people well, showing an understanding of specific needs and levels of understanding

Work highlights

  • Defence of a private individual on charges of death by careless driving
  • Defence of a private individual on allegations of import and supply £66m worth of Class A drugs
  • Defence of a private individual on charges of domestic murder
  • Defence of a youth client facing allegation of S18 wounding
  • Defence of a private client charged of engaging in sexual activity with a child family member

Cartwright King

Cartwright King handles a wide range of criminal defence work such as cases involving murder, rape and drug offences. Paul Wright heads the practice, which also advises on firearm, shotgun licence and taxi licence appeals, and is home to a dedicated motoring department headed by Imogen Cox and Andy Cash.

Forrest Williams

Lawyers at boutique firm Forrest Williams are noted for their ‘exceptional communication under difficult circumstances’. The ‘very professional’ and ‘highly experiencedSteve Williams serves as practice head and his team ‘manages expectations very well, often exceeding them’. The recent caseload includes various sexual offences while additional areas of expertise include motoring charges, fraud, regulatory investigations and disciplinary proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Steve Williams


They care and are always available if you need them

Clients always deal with the same people and build up strong relationships

Their attention to detail and client care really set them apart from their competitors

They make sure someone appropriate and informed on the case sees you as soon as possible

Work highlights

  • Defended a private individual charged with numerous allegations of sexual assault
  • Defended a private individual charged with assaulting a neighbour
  • Defended a private individual charged with two allegations of rape
  • Defended a private individual charged with drink driving

Johnson Astills

At Johnson Astills, clients are represented at all court levels, with the firm’s in-house solicitor-advocates frequently taking a lead role. Helen Johnson heads the practice, which has particular expertise in acting for defendants on the autistic spectrum or with learning difficulties. The team’s extremely broad caseload encompasses sexual, driving, trading standards, regulatory and drug offences along with fraud and child neglect.

Practice head(s):

Helen Johnson

Other key lawyers:

Michelle Harding


‘This firm consists of tremendously capable women who work as a team. They have a broad mix of skilful advocates, academic lawyers and a professional team of paralegals and solicitors.’

‘A unique firm who pride themselves in employing women in what has traditionally been a male preserve.’

‘In the current climate of cutbacks and solicitor indifference to their lay clients I found this firm to be refreshingly different – committed, caring and wise.’

‘Aside from her obvious grasp of the legal and factual issues, Isabel Wilson has an excellent insight into the character and motivations of her client. It is rare in the current climate to come across a legal professional with that level of dedication to their client and the skill to back it up. Rarer still when it is accompanied with an equal dose of relaxed good humour.’

‘Helen Johnson navigated us through a difficult case, with class, intelligence and steely determination. She is very bright and extremely tenacious. We were very glad to have her fighting our corner and she got the result we wanted.  Helen was also transparent and fair on billing, kept us informed of progress, and liaised expertly with the police.  I would be happy to recommend her to anyone.’

‘I have been particularly impressed with Michelle Harding – she was impressive, calm and methodical but incredibly robust and not afraid to go ‘toe to toe’ if the situation required it.’

‘Helen Johnson is a very effective advocate who achieves excellent results for her clients.’

‘Isabel Wilson will leave no stone unturned in the defence of her client.’

‘Helen Johnson is a stand-out advocate in this firm. She is highly skilled at presenting complex and volume in this cases in a way which makes them simple and straightforward.  Her cross-examination gets to the heart of the issues in the case. She has an understated style which is highly productive in food cases. Her attention to detail and the manner in which she can ensure that she takes the jury with her when questioning witnesses is top class.’

‘A team which inspires confidence. Efficient and well resourced. Communication is good and they are user friendly.’

‘There is a strength of depth and talent to the Emery Johnson Astills team. As a firm there is a proactive approach to their work and a willingness to go the extra mile for clients.’

‘An excellent team of criminal lawyers, all of whom are committed to providing an outstanding service to their clients. They are friendly, approachable and knowledgeable about the criminal law. Their attention to detail & level of client care is exceptional.’

Work highlights

  • Secured the acquittal of a defendant on a highly publicised  joint enterprise murder at the Old Bailey in October 2018.
  • Secured the acquittal of a defendant in a murder case at Leicester Crown Court.
  • Secured acquittal of the defendant in a high-profile rape trial at Leicester Crown Court.
  • Represented a defendant at Leicester Crown Court in a high-profile fraud case involving the proceeds of a Lee Rigby charity.

Wilkin Chapman LLP

Senior solicitors Rachel Taylor and Gordon Holt are among the key names at Wilkin Chapman LLP. The team represents clients at the police station, youth, magistrates and crown court and also handles judicial reviews. Areas of specialisation include legal aid work and road traffic offences as well as regulatory matters ranging from health and safety prosecutions to environmental offences.