Leah Connolly

Leah is a highly regarded and recognised youth specialist with over 10 years' experience.

She represents youths at all stages of criminal matters; at police interviews, in the youth and magistrates' court and the Crown Court.   

Leah qualified as a solicitor in 2012 and following working at other reputable criminal defence firms joined SMW in 2019 as head of our youth team.

Ranked as a rising star in Legal 500 2024

Leah represents youths facing the full spectrum of criminal matters from low level public order offences, thefts, and assaults, to multi defendant drugs conspiracies, sexual offences, firearms offences, and murder.  She deals with all cases with the same amount of commitment to her client.  

Incomparable Client Care 

Leah prioritizes the importance of building a relationship of trust with any young client and their family, and the need for continuity when representing young or vulnerable clients. 

Leah is adaptable to her clients' needs and is able to offer calm but clear and thorough advice for those going through their first experience of the criminal justice system.  Due to the great rapport she builds with those she represents she also has repeat clients for whom she has detailed knowledge of their prior convictions and personal circumstances which assists her in their representation.  

Network of Experts  

Leah’s wealth of knowledge and contacts includes good relationships with Psychologists and Psychiatrists to ensure that young people understand the case against them and can actively participate in Court proceedings. She has experience working with vulnerable clients including those suffering from learning difficulties and mental health issues.  She also has specific experience in representing clients whereby modern slavery could be an issue.  

Leah’s skills are widely recognised, such that she is often called upon by the Youth Offending Team and Local Authorities to advise and represent young people as well as receiving referrals from Counsel, other reputable solicitors firms, and her own client base.  

Expert in Youth Justice 

The law concerning youths is complex, but Leah has an encyclopedic knowledge of this very difficult area and is passionate about ensuring young people are aware of their rights.  Leah is aware of the ongoing impact a criminal record can have on a young person and strives to avoid criminal proceedings or convictions for her clients where possible.  She is very experienced in making written representations in order to persuade out of Court disposals in cases if at all possible.  

In addition to being an adept advocate in the youth courts, Leah is a fierce litigator. She has often persuaded the Prosecution to drop cases against her clients via letters of representations. Leah has succeeded in many appeals to achieve the right result for her clients’. Whether in Court or not, Leah has the legal expertise to properly represent young people and children.  

Professional societies and memberships

Leah co-founded the Youth Practitioners’ Association (YPA) alongside other members of the legal profession. The YPA is a pan profession organisation which aims to ensure proper representation for young people within the Criminal Justice System. Click here to find out more about the YPA. 

In her spare time Leah volunteers at local Youth Clubs. In conjunction with these Youth Clubs, she established free legal advice clinics, offering young people support and guidance and ensuring they know their legal rights. Leah also works with Centrepoint, a charity which supports homeless young people. She provides free legal advice both to young people and those that support them. 

Leah played a key role in Centrepoint’s investigation into the link between Homelessness, Criminality and Exploitation, providing a point of view from those who defend young people and viewpoint that hadn’t initially been considered. Click here to read the resulting report.  Leah was also part of the Select Committee at the House of Commons, that launched this research. Additionally, she has also been invited to speak at Children Rights Inquiry.  

"Hi Leah I Just Want To Say Thank You So Much For Everything You Have Done For My Son And Our Family You Are More Appreciated Than You Could Ever Truly Understand, To You Its Your Job, But There’s Work And Then There’s Going Above And Beyond… Thank You"

Client's Dad, 2023

"As his mum, this was a truly terrifying experience, hopefully never to be repeated! You made yourself completely available, you displayed compassion, patience, professionalism and explained the process with clarity and precision. You have a calming and approachable manner and for that I thank you."

Client's Mum, 2022

"Thank you so much for all your help Leah. You were amazing and always ensured everything was clear to us all. We as a family really appreciate it. "

Client's Sister, 2024

Leah's Notable Cases

View Leah's Cases

Leah's Insights

Uk Rising Star 2024
SMW Chambers And Partners
The Law Society Accredited Criminal Litigation
Solicitors Regulation Authority Sra
YPA Logo

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