Who? Jamie Potter, partner in the public law and human rights team at London firm Bindmans.
Why is he in the news? Bindmans acted for 10 claimant law firms in procurement law challenges against the government’s tender for new criminal legal aid contracts. The firm was a common case management representative for all but one of 77 claimants from 21 December. Last month justice secretary Michael Gove said he would not be going ahead with a new contracting scheme for criminal legal aid that was under challenge.
Thoughts on the case: ‘I don’t think a procurement of this extent (85 separate areas, 527 contracts in total) had previously been attempted. It gave rise to an unusual mix of legal, commercial and political issues for all of the parties involved, which made it unlike any case in which I had acted. The firms that were willing to take the financial risk of pursuing litigation deserve credit for the outcome. While the case was ultimately resolved, questions remain as to why it could not have been resolved sooner.’
Dealing with the media: ‘This case was covered in the legal press but did not immediately grasp the wider public’s attention. However, we engaged the mainstream press and, as demonstrated by widespread reporting on the result, the case involved real issues of public importance.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I started university in Australia wanting to become a criminal psychologist, and therefore studied both psychology and law. Seven years later, by the time I finished my degree and had spent time working in both fields, law was what I wanted to do. Looking back at cases I have had the pleasure to work on, I think I made the right choice.’
Career high: ‘It is hard to go past this case. Even as a public lawyer, it is not often you are part of a fundamental change to government policy with wide-ranging implications not just for your clients but also in respect of legal aid and access to justice.’
Career low: ‘There are at least two cases in which I acted where a lot was at stake for the claimants involved and we pursued the case all the way to the High Court, and in one case the Court of Appeal, but did not succeed. You always wonder if there was something you could have done differently.’