Hudgell Solicitors’ growing Civil Liberties team is boosted as two trainee solicitors qualify.
Alexandra Eldon and James Camidge have both worked on national, high-profile cases over the last two years, winning praise from both their in-house managers and the wider legal profession.
The pair were admitted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on 1 May 2023.
James and Alexandra started their training contracts in 2021 and over the last two years have worked on demanding cases, primarily in the firm’s Civil Liberties department, cases that have made national and local headlines.
Earlier this year James Camidge, who is based in the firm’s Manchester office, was named Trainee Solicitor of the Year at the 2022 Yorkshire Legal Awards, recognising his ‘exceptional legal work’ and ‘astounding’ feedback from his clients.
While Alexandra Eldon, who is based at the firm’s head office in Hull, has worked on her own Civil Liberties cases, including successfully representing several families through the Inquest process and representing a vulnerable family in their claim for damages against Greater Manchester Police for human rights breaches.
“Hudgells is such a positive place to be as a trainee. It’s down to the people who work here because no matter how busy they are, the team always put time aside to help and you are never made to feel that a question is too silly,” she said.
Alexandra was also part of a larger team working on cases such as the Inquest into the death of Lewis Skelton and the Inquest into the victims of serial murderer Stephen Port.
“These experiences have shown me how important client care is and how being there for clients, during difficult periods, is a core part of our role.”
Alexandra Eldon joined the firm as a New Claims Advisor before becoming a Litigation Executive and then a Trainee Solicitor.
During her traineeship Alexandra represented clients in cases relating to wrongful arrest, unlawful detention, police assault, false imprisonment and criminal injuries. In addition to the civil litigation, she represented multiple families at inquest.
“Working alongside very experienced senior solicitors is a great opportunity, they have taught me so much. But then, so is working with our clients, some of whom have lost loved ones in devastating circumstances and show real strength during inquest proceedings.
“I’ve also developed my knowledge of legal aid. Clients rarely have any legal experience or legal knowledge and can’t be expected to raise legal arguments against those organisations who have experienced legal teams behind them. Legal Aid ensures that the process is fair and equal amongst the parties,” she said.
Head of Civil Liberties, Vicky Richardson, said, “Alexandra is brilliant example of how a legal career can develop and be supported at Hudgells.
“She has been committed to client care since she started as a new claims advisor. Now, she’s a qualified solicitor and we are all extremely proud of what she has achieved and by her professionalism and dedication. She shows compassion and maturity beyond her years.
“Alexandra builds tremendous relationships with her clients and they really appreciate both her understanding of what they are going through and her ability to manage their cases for the best possible outcomes.
“At this early stage of her career, achieving the results that we have seen over the past few years, underlines why she is such a good solicitor. She has been and will continue to be a real asset to our Civil Liberties team”.
James Camidge has played a key role representing families of those who lost loved ones in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing and attended hundreds of sessions of the Public Inquiry alongside clients.
James combined his demanding work at the firm with his Legal Practice Course studies at the University of Law in Manchester.
“It feels great to finally qualify,” said James, “The training period can be instrumental in forming good habits at an early stage so that they come more naturally when you are qualified.
“I feel like having the firm’s values embedded in my training has given me skills that will help me throughout my career. I’ve learnt what it means to adopt a client-focused approach to a claim, and the importance of maintaining this with every client.”
Terry Wilcox, Public Inquiries Manager at Hudgell Solicitors, says James’ work has been essential:
“James immerses himself in the case files. In the Manchester Arena case he knew at all times what evidence was about to be heard or presented to the inquiry, and that allowed him to act almost as an early warning system for our clients, ensuring he was able to prepare them ahead of difficult and emotional aspects of the hearing, which at times they had decided they did not want to see or hear.
“In the Post Office case he was instrumental in training the whole team on the working methods required to review and cross reference the enormous volume of documentation while identifying themes which were relevant to specific clients,” said Mr Wilcox.
James is also involved in Hudgells’ work involving the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.
“There have been obvious highlights from my time as a trainee such as being recognised at the Yorkshire Legal Awards, but I feel like there are more subtle moments which really stand out,” said James, “like working with colleagues on the Manchester Arena Inquiry gave me the opportunity to work with highly experienced solicitors and KCs. Observing how they approached complex issues was all invaluable experience. Not every trainee is given this opportunity.
“I am thrilled to be qualifying in Civil Liberties. We have some important work to do over the next year or so and my focus will be to continue helping both the team and our clients.”
Rachel Di Clemente who was appointed Hudgell Solicitors’ chief executive in 2020 has had a clear vision on how to progress and support early legal careers and qualification routes.
“It is fantastic to see both James and Alexandra come through and it will stand our Civil Liberties’ team and the company in good stead for years to come.
“They are both superb ambassadors for Hudgells, not only for their commitment to our clients but also because they really have made the most of their opportunities as trainee solicitors, by making a huge difference. Their commitment is appreciated by their colleagues and by our clients.”
Mrs Di Clemente says the qualification of Alexandra and James is evidence of how working as part of Hudgells’ expert team of legal professionals gives new starters a platform on which to build a rewarding career.
“Our flexible routes to qualification as a solicitor benefits candidates wishing to complete their LPC or apprenticeship alongside gaining work experience,” she said.
“James and Alexandra’s progress also shows our commitment, where possible, to promoting from within and investing in our people with supported qualification routes giving our trainees the chance to work on some of our high-profile cases which can only benefit them and our firm going forward.
“We are all really proud of them and congratulate them for completing their training contracts to become solicitors.”