North-East law firm creates mental health department to cope with surge in demand

19th October 2023


BHP Law has recruited two specialist mental health lawyers to add to the company’s expanding team and range of services.

Senior Associate Solicitor Jonathan Barker brings a wealth of experience in the sphere of mental health law, built up over 25 years. He is joined by Associate Solicitor Rachel Elliott, who qualified five years ago, and also has specialist expertise around mental health.

They have joined from a practice in the North-East , and their recruitment means BHP Law is now one of only nine law firms in the North-East offering specialist mental health legal services.

Managing Partner John Pratt said: “Since the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen a significant surge in mental health issues in the North-East. More people than ever need legal support in this specialist area, so we are responding to that demand by creating this new department and investing in the expertise Jonathan and Rachel bring to our business.”

Jonathan came to the North-East when he started practising as a lawyer in 1993, and lives in Darlington. He said: “There’s no doubt that the pandemic, closely followed by the cost-of-living crisis, has had a serious impact on mental health because people are under more pressure.

“That is being compounded by a reduction in the number of hospital beds around the country. Indeed, we are seeing a growing number of mental health patients being transferred to hospitals in the North-East because of a lack of hospital beds in the south.”

Rachel, who is a member of Sunderland Law Society and also serves on the North East Pro Bono Committee, added: “Mental health is definitely a growing issue, so it’s great to see one of the region’s oldest and most respected law firms investing in this vital area of law.”

As well as specialising in mental health, Jonathan and Rachel have experience in other areas of law. Jonathan sees the new mental health department as a natural extension of his extensive work in health and welfare cases in the Court of Protection, and he also focuses on dispute resolution, and serious injury claims.

Rachel also works in dispute resolution – particularly with landlords and tenants – as well as employment law.

BHP Law, which dates back to the 1800s, has offices in Darlington, Durham, Stockton, Newcastle and Tynemouth, and now has 13 specialist teams across the full range of legal services.

Mr Pratt said: “The addition of Jonathan and Rachel is part of our ongoing expansion plan. As well as providing specialist knowledge in mental health, they have the experience to bolster other parts of the business.”

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