Our Team


Sean Canning – manager

Sean started his career working in the social housing movement where he began work as a housing worker before becoming Director of An Teach Irish Housing Association, an organisation which specialises in working with young, single homeless people in Haringey.

Sean has worked in the Law Centre movement for the last ten years as Director of the North Kensington Law Centre and now Hackney and Camden Law Centre’s.  He has extensive experience of fundraising, managing legal aid contracts and developing volunteer programmes.

Sean was instrumental in setting up the Advice Now project in Kensington and Chelsea – a collaborative £500,000 project funded by the Big Lottery Fund to offer a wider range of all types of advice services.

Sean has been Treasurer of the Law Centres Network for three years (2007-2010) and has served as a member of the Law Centres Network Executive Committe for several years.

He is a school governor.


Wendy Pettifer – solicitor

It is 36 years since Wendy started out in Manchester Law Centre when it first opened.  She has been committed to working with the most vulnerable sections of UK society ever since.

She moved to Hackney over 30 years ago when she was a single parent, running an Advice Centre at Centreprise for 9 years.  She worked part-time throughout her full time Law degree in the 80s and qualified as a solictior in 1992, having completed a training contract with Winstanley Burgess.

Wendy worked in private practice for 12 years as a social welfare lawyer, supervising housing and family contracts in Tottenham and Hackney.  She completed her Masters Degree in Refugee Studies in 2003 and during this period worked for 6 months in Cairo, supervising interns in a Legal Aid project assisting refugees with applications to UNHCR.

Wendy is bi-lingual and has travelled widely in Europe Africa and the Middle East.  She currently maintains her interest in International Human Rights as a delegate with REMDH in Tunisia.

Wendy took 6 years out of practice to run a pro bono unit with the College of Law, but returned to practice to work in the Law Centre in 2011.   The work of the Law Centre is an integral part of her life and she hopes she still contributes to supporting and helping people on the margins of our society to be housed and obtain sufficient money to survive in these harsh times.


Nathaniel Mathews – solicitor

Nathaniel Mathews is the senior solicitor at HCLC.  He was born in the UK but spent much of his childhood abroad in Mexico, Italy and Kuwait.  He has worked at HCLC since qualifying as a solicitor in 1994.  He heads the Social Welfare Team.

In 2006, Nathaniel was awarded the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award in the ‘Social Welfare‘ category.

In his spare time, in a personal capacity, he writes a blog called ‘Frontline Hackney – a day in the life of the Law‘.


Diane main picDiane Morrison – solicitor

Diane Morrison joined the Law Centre as a typist in May 2005 (initially on a part time basis).   She then qualified as a Generalist Adviser with the CAB (Holborn) on a part-time basis and became the Law Centre’s main adviser alongside the specialist caseworkers.   She still volunteers with the CAB. From 2009 onwards she started the Law Centre’s volunteer programme which was then upgraded with input from Ms. Wendy Pettifer.

Diane’s main experience has been in the social welfare law team – alongside supporting the volunteers with front level advice work and represents the Centre at the London Borough of Hackney’s Public Service Promise meetings.

Outside of the Law Centre she is also a keen distance runner (she successfully completed her fourth marathon in London in April 2012).

She also believes the world’s problems could be solved if more people learned knitting and embroidery.  She is a member of the Womens’ Institute (Alexander Palace) and has joined the London Comedy Writers circuit as an outlet for writing sketch comedy.  She was also the secretary of the St Ignatius Soup Run for 11 years and is a member of a choir.

In October 2014, Diane won the Law Society Excellence Award 2014 in the ‘Solicitor of the Year-In House‘ category.


Hilton official photoHilton von Herbert – senior supervising immigration caseworker

With well over ten years of experience as an accredited Senior Caseworker and Immigration Supervisor, in the field of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law, Hilton joined Hackney Community Law Centre in April 2009 having previously worked at Cambridge Citizens Advice Bureau, Nucleus Legal Advice Centre and Lambeth Law Centre.

He qualified with a Law Degree from the University of London and has many years of experience in delivering training in Immigration Law. He has also been involved in some high profile Parliamentary Lobbying which have brought about significant changes in UK Immigration Law and Policy that has undoubtedly benefitted and positively impacted on the lives of thousands of people.

As a keen cyclist, Hilton has helped several charities including the British Heart Foundation and Barnados raise money and awareness for their campaigns by engaging in charitable cycle rides and fundraising events. He is fluent in Krio and he loves the study of anthropology.

In 2013, Hilton won the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year award for his work as a Senior Immigration Caseworker.


Hope Olugbola – debt caseworker

Hope joined Hackney Law Centre in November 2006.

He worked for the Hackney Citizens Advice Bureau in Mare Street, in the same position, for four years before joining HCLC.

Hope runs Hackney Law Centre’s Debt Advice project funded by Hackney Homes for council tenants.  He works out of all five neighbourhood office across the borough.

He is also a LSC Debt caseworker Supervisor.

Hope is an approved Debt Relief Order intermediary and an accredited member of Institute of Money Advisers.

In his spare time, Hope is an active volunteer member of a charity-Life Gate, where he offers support, counselling and life-skills training to individuals and families in crisis.

Hope is married and has two boys.


marcinMarcin Brajta – welfare benefits caseworker

Marcin began working at HCLC in September 2016. He previously worked for Stirling Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) as their Income Maximisation and Debt Caseworker. He also worked on housing, employment and immigration cases, acting as a trainer on immigration law to all new trainee advisors. Marcin also used to work as a court approved interpreter providing Polish-English translation in courts, police stations and hospitals. He gained a diploma in Public Service Interpreting in 2012.

Marcin, who originally comes from Poland, studied for his BA degree in Scottish Law with sociology at the University of Stirling. He then studied for his Graduate Diploma in Law at the University of Law in Leeds, gaining a distinction.

Marcin speaks Russian to a high level and he also has a good working knowledge of Spanish.

In his spare time, Marcin enjoys playing the guitar. He was the bass player in a number of bands in Stirling and Glasgow. He is a keen cyclist and has cycled around many of Scotland’s islands in the Inner and Outer Hebrides.


Miranda Grell – development officer & barrister (np)

Miranda came to HCLC in February 2011 as part of the first intake in a new formalised volunteer programme where she worked on housing and immigration and asylum law cases.  Miranda then became an intern with HCLC in October 2011, answering calls on our telephone adviceline and seeing ‘drop-in’ clients for face-to-face appointments.  Miranda is now HCLC’s Development Officer working with the Centre’s Manager to fundraise and build HCLC’s capacity and profile in a difficult financial time.

In November 2014, Miranda was awarded the Law Centres Network’s ‘Reita Clarke Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement’ in recognition of “her award winning initiatives, dynamism and creativity, and her commitment to justice for the people of Hackney“.

Prior to coming to HCLC, Miranda had successfully completed a Graduate Diploma in Law at City Law School, gaining a distinction in Constitutional and Administrative Law, and undertook a number of legal placements and mini pupillages. She also spent six months with a busy children’s legal charity.  Miranda had previously worked for the then Deputy Mayor of London as her researcher and was also a local Councillor.  She also worked for the conciliation service Acas as a Senior Policy Advisor and in Brussels as a trainee speechwriter to the then European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs.

Miranda has a First Class degree in European Studies with Modern Languages (Spanish and German) from the University of Manchester and a Masters in International Employment Relations from the London School of Economics.

Following the successful completion of her Graduate Diploma in Law in 2010, Miranda successfully completed the Bar Professional Training Course in 2014 and was Called to the Bar of England and Wales by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in November 2014. Her call to the Bar was proposed by former Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Stephen Sedley, a Master of the Bench at the Inner Temple.

In her spare time, Miranda is a commissioning editor and advisor on business development for online magazine The Justice Gap (www.thejusticegap.com).


*The solicitors, caseworkers, interns and volunteers are assisted by Bella – administrator and Kim – administrator*.