Four solicitors, including two high-profile legal aid lawyers, are among six to be appointed honorary Queen’s Counsel by the lord chancellor Chris Grayling today.

Nicola Mackintosh is a leading community care lawyer and sole practitioner at south London firm Mackintosh Law. She has been appointed in recognition of her 'pioneering work in developing community care law'.

Mackintosh has been a legal aid lawyers for her entire career, acting in particular for those in mental distress, the elderly and disabled and those unable to act on their own behalf. 

During her 20-year career she has won a string of cases stopping the closure of care homes and mental hospitals and acted to prevent abuse and neglect of people with learning disabilities and residents in care homes.

She took a judicial review of the Ministry of Justice’s decision to deliver community care legal advice only by the telephone through the legal aid ‘telephone gateway’, and brought a judicial review of the Legal Services Commission’s nascent plans for contracting in 1999, winning significant improvements in both schemes.

Mackintosh is co-chair of the Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group and a member of the Law Society Council and its access to justice and mental health & disability committees.

Saimo Chahal (pictured), partner and joint head of public law and human rights at London firm Bindmans, has been appointed for her 'innovative use of the Human Rights Act' to help ordinary and often vulnerable people to take successful legal challenges.

Chahal's cases have often changed law and policy and she has worked to promote victims rights and to secure investigations into deaths in custody. Her cases have also included those concerning the right to die with dignity, the most high profile being the case of Tony Nicklinson and Paul Lamb.

Michael Smyth is a consultant at City firm Clifford Chance. He was recommended for his expertise across a range of disciplines, including public inquiry work and judicial review.

He has promoted the importance of pro bono work and the broader engagement with the public understanding of law.

He is a member of the Press Complaints Commission and has been a member of the Ministry of Justice’s public legal education committee. He is also founding chairman of charity Law for Life.

Paul Newdick, is a consultant at Clyde & Co where he spent 25 years as a partner. He has been recommended for his work and leadership for the profession in the pro bono arena.

He has served as the chairman of LawWorks, serves on the management committee of the Bar Pro Bono Unit and is a trustee of the National Pro Bono Centre.

The fifth appointment went to academic and author Professor Richard Whish. A qualified solicitor, he has been recommended for his contribution to competition law and policy.

The final appointment is barrister Keith Bush, the first chief legal adviser to the National Assembly of Wales between 2007 and 2012.

Bush was recommended for his contribution to the development of the National Assembly for Wales as a legislature, as well as contributing to the development of devolved law and to the discussion and study of wider Welsh legal issues.

The awards are made to lawyers who have made a major contribution to the law of England and Wales outside practice in the courts.