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Dr Laura Janes

Dr Laura Janes


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I have been teaching at London South Bank University since 2007. I currently contribute to teaching on courses on Human Rights and Development. I have also taught criminal law in the past.

I am a consultant solicitor specialising in prison law, criminal appeals, mental health law and public law.

I have particular expertise in representing children, young adults and vulnerable people in detention in both penal and mental health settings. I combined my legal practice with developing policy and working towards change. I have particular experience in children's rights, penal reform and access to justice.

I have a professional doctorate in youth justice at the University of Bedfordshire in 2014. I have been a trustee of Legal Action Group since 2010 and Chair of the charity since 2017. I am a director of the Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group.

I am a committee member of the Association of Prison Lawyers, the Mental Health Lawyers’ Association and the Criminal Appeal Lawyers’ Association.

I founded Young Legal Aid Lawyers in 2005 and received both the 2010 Liberty Human Rights Young Person of the Year award and the 2009 Young Legal Aid Lawyer of the year award on behalf of the group. In 2006 I was named Young Legal Aid Solicitor of the year. In 2012 I was listed by the Guardian as a lawyer to watch. In 2019, I was awarded Solicitor of the Year by the First 100 Years’ Inspirational Women in Law Awards.

From 2005 to 2022, I worked for the Howard League for Penal Reform and was its legal director between 2016 and 2022.

Recent publications include

“Children and Young People in Custody in England and Wales: Rights and Wrongs” in Cox and Abrams (Eds) The Palgrave International Handbook of Youth Imprisonment (2021)

“The Sentencing of Young Adults: A Distinct Group Requiring a Distinct Approach” [2021] Crim L. R., Issue 3

“Thirty Years On: The Continuing Challenges of Bringing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to Life for Children in Custody in England and Wales” [2019] 6 E.H.R.L.R.

Various children’s rights briefings published by the Howard League for Penal Reform including “Your Rights During Covid-19” (2020), “Young Adults in prison during the Covid-19 pandemic” (2020), “Ending the detention of unsentenced children during the Covid-19 pandemic” (2020), “Children in prison during the Covid-19 pandemic” (2020).

Professional Doctorate in Youth Justice

University of Bedfordshire

MRes Law, Culture and Identity

Birkbeck College

Legal Practice Course

College of Law

Legal Director
Howard League for Penal Reform

Oversaw national legal team working with children and young adults in prison

Third sector/charities