Leading legal aid lawyer appointed as Circuit Judge

PROMINENT London legal aid solicitor Robert Winstanley has been appointed a Circuit Judge.

Winstanley, who founded north London legal aid firm Winstanley Burgess with longtime friend and colleague David Burgess, has already started his new job on the South East Circuit.

His appointment as a full-time judge has forced him to resign from both his firm and the Law Society Council, where he led the courts and legal services committee.

Winstanley's departure means the council has lost two of its most experienced and well known legal aid lawyers.

Henry Hodge recently resigned to take up the post of deputy chair of the Legal Aid Board.

Winstanley, who has been a recorder for several years, said it was not an easy decision to leave his practice.

“I would not say I was nervous on my first day, but there was a mixture of pleasure and regret,” he said.

“It is a final decision that you have to take, but the good thing about the system is that you spend time as a part-time judge first to see if it suits.”

Winstanley Burgess, which now has four partners, will hold on to its name despite Winstanley's departure.

Burgess said: “We are all delighted for him. I'm sure he will make an excellent judge.

“Obviously we will miss him, but we regard the appointment of solicitors as judges as extremely healthy.”

Winstanley will preside over both criminal and civil cases.