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Charity Trustees

Learn more about the Law Society Charity Trustees:

Company secretary: Dani Topolski

Trustee biographies

John Perry (chair)

John is a member of the Law Society Council and the Wills and Equity Committee. He was originally articled to, and is now senior partner of, Palmers, a high street practice in Kingston-upon-Thames.

He qualified in 1978 and is also a general practitioner. He is former secretary and president of the Mid-Surrey Law Society and the Surrey Law Society (twice). John is also chair of governors of Hampton School, a large independent boys' school.

In his spare time he runs a deputy cathedral choir and sings with a number of leading London choirs. He has had 41 playing seasons with Teddington Cricket Club and is now its vice president. 

Andrew Caplen

Andrew is a past president of the Law Society of England and Wales. He has been a trustee of various charities and is currently chair of Spurgeons Children's Charity.

Andrew has many years of experience in relation to access to justice and human rights issues.

Sara Chandler

Sara is visiting professor of clinical legal education at London South Bank University. She is a supervising solicitor for student volunteers in the university's Legal Advice Clinic, which provides free legal advice to the public.

Her practice is in housing law (landlord and tenant) and she works with two solicitor colleagues in the Legal Advice Clinic, a social welfare law practice, giving advice on employment, asylum and immigration and social security.

Sara has general experience in training international pro bono lawyers, and a particular interest in Uganda, Zambia and Nigeria where she has worked with local law societies, law schools, NGOs and others in establishing networks of legal aid providers, and legal aid schemes.

She is an active member of CLEO (the Clinical Legal Education Organisation) and participates in the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education Conferences. She also participates in the Global Alliance for Justice Education, Society of Legal Scholars and the Association of Law Teachers. Her special interest is in the teaching of ethics.

Her education was at Swansea University, Newcastle University, London School of Economics, South Bank Polytechnic, and City Polytechnic. She completed articles and 3 years PQE in legal aid firms (Glazer Delmar in Peckham, and HCL Hanne & Co in Battersea), returning to the Law Centre movement before joining the College in 2003. In 2012 she joined London South Bank University

Sara is a member of the Law Society Council and chair of the Law Society Human Rights Committee with responsibility for Colombia. She led the UK section of an international delegation of lawyers to Colombia in August 2008, 2010 and 2012 to investigate the situation of human rights' lawyers, and is the current chair of the Colombia Caravana, a charity formed to support human rights lawyers in Colombia.

Sara is president of the Human Rights Commission of the Federation of European Bar Associations, which represents over 800,000 European lawyers

Sara is a trustee of the Graham Turnbull Trust, Central London Law Centre and is the Law Society´s nominee on the Board of Trustees of the Access to Justice Foundation.

Beth Forrester

Beth studied philosophy, undertaking the GDL and the LPC in London. She worked as a paralegal during and after her LPC, before completing her training contract at a high street firm in Brighton.

Upon qualification in 2011, Beth moved to work in-house as a local authority solicitor for Kent County Council. Beth remained with Kent until late 2015 when she moved to her current role as litigation lawyer for Ofsted.

Beth was involved in setting up a Sussex branch of the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) in 2010 and was group secretary for the local committee. She was elected to the JLD national committee in 2008 as a student representative and was an executive committee member from 2009 to November 2011.

In June 2013, following a break from JLD activities, Beth was elected to the Law Society Council to represent the qualified solicitor members of the JLD. As a council member, Beth also sits on the Education and Training Committee, Council Membership Committee and is a trustee of the Law Society Charity.

Malcolm Fowler

Admitted as a solicitor in 1967 and with Higher Rights of Audience since 1995, Malcolm was a criminal defence advocate for 48 years and now works pro bono as a human rights campaigner.

In 1995 he became chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association. He was president of the Birmingham Law Society in 1998/9 and in that same year became a member of the lord chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct and chair of the Law Society's Criminal Law Committee, a post which he held for four years.

From 2000 to 2016 he was a Law Society Council member and a member of the Society's Human Rights Committee.

David Merkel

David Merkel was admitted as a solicitor in 1976. He has over 21 years of experience in local government statutory law enforcement, specialising in environmental health and related matters.

David is now a consultant trainer, lecturer and regular conference speaker. He is a visiting lecturer at King's College, London, and the Universities of Wales, Salford, Edinburgh, Greenwich and City College Norwich. He is a course presenter for the Law Society's Local Government Group and at Nottingham City Council, Guildford Borough Council and North Warwickshire Borough Council.

He is also a consultant trainer to the Combined Services Training Unit at Ash Vale, Aldershot.

David is accredited as a teacher in further and higher education with the experience of setting and marking degree level papers. He is a council member of the Law Society.

Geoffrey Sandercock

Geoffrey was appointed a trustee of the charity in 2002 and was a Law Society council member between 1995 and 2006.

Admitted in 1973, he became a partner in 1974 and senior partner from 1987 to 2006 at a high street practice in Gwent with six branch offices and extensive legal aid involvement.

He has been a children panel member from 1986, and qualified for advocacy rights in the higher courts for civil proceedings in 2002. He practised mainly in civil litigation and public law children cases with some probate and trusts.

Geoffrey has also served as honorary secretary to Monmouthshire Law Society from 1985 to 1995, and became its president in 2000.

He also sat as the chair of the Practice Management Committee from 1996 to 1998, and was vice chair of the Audit Committee from 1999 to 2002, as well as treasurer and main board member from 2002 to 2005.

Geoffrey was the director of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund between 2004 and 2006 and a lay member of the disciplinary appeals committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants between 2005 to 2006.

Since leaving the Council he has continued to act as the chair of the Higher Courts Advocacy Rights Appeals Committee.

Geoffrey sat as a deputy district judge from 1993 and was appointed full-time district judge in 2006. He sits in south east Wales dealing with civil and family cases.

Alison Stanley

Alison is a partner in Bindmans LLP specialising in immigration law, about which she has lectured and trained extensively.

She has written numerous articles on immigration issues and co-wrote 'Putting Children First – a guide for immigration practitioners' (LAG 2002).

She is a founder member of the Refugee Women's Legal Group and of the Law Society's Immigration Law Committee and is the immediate past chair.

Alison was also a member of the advisory group that produced 'Working with children and young people subject to immigration control: guidelines for best practice '(ILPA 2004), co-wrote 'Representation at Immigration Appeals: a Best Practice Guide' (ILPA 2005) and was a member of the advisory group for the policy paper 'When is a child not a child? Asylum, age disputes and the process of age assessment' (ILPA 2007).

She is chair of the Immigrants Aid Trust and the vice-chair of Paddington Arts.

Jane Whitfield

As well as specialising in charity law in private practice, Jane was also one of the co-authors of the third edition of Charities as Beneficiaries, published by the Private Client Section and the Institute of Legacy Management.

From September 2014 to August 2017, Jane acted as chair of the Law Society’s Wills & Equity Committee, having been a member of the Committee for the previous nine years. In July 2017, Jane was appointed as the Vice President of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Law Society.

Jane is a trustee of Smile International, a charity established to relieve suffering and poverty around the world through feeding, educating, empowering and development (F-E-E-D) programmes. Jane and her husband have visited the charity’s projects in Kampala and in Harare to inspect the work of the charity and report back to the board of trustees in the UK.

Jane is also a trained musician and sings in the choir at the Royal Memorial Chapel at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. Jane also sings in the chamber choir ‘FineChants’, which is directed by her husband.

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