People: Irwin Mitchell; Northern; Rollits; and more

Irwin Mitchell has further expanded its national private client team with a new senior hire in Leeds.

Clare Walker joins as an associate solicitor. The firm has the second largest private client team in the country by fee earner count.

Walker comes from Roche Legal where she was a partner. She is an experienced senior private client solicitor and member of Solicitors for the Elderly.

She specialises in drafting Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Trusts, Administering Estates, Estate and Tax planning and Care home fee planning.

She has also been appointed as a professional Attorney and supported moves into residential care. She also has experience in advising clients who have cross border estates.

Andrea Jones, partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: “I’m pleased to welcome Clare to our Leeds office in what marks an exciting time for Irwin Mitchell’s private client team.

“Clare is a highly experienced and knowledgeable solicitor, and her skills and experience are a great addition to our already strong team in Yorkshire.”


Kerry Peters has been appointed regional director for Northern in Yorkshire, Humberside and the East Midlands.

She takes up her new post at the end of the summer, when the current regional director, Tony Baxter, leaves to become operations director at Chiltern Railways.

Peters, who was born in Lancashire and lives in North Yorkshire, is currently regional director for Northern in the North East.

She joined the rail industry as a catering stewardess for British Rail in 1994, eventually leading the team responsible for training the on-board crew on the new Pendolino fleet.

In 2005, she moved to Virgin Cross Country as its customer service manager and later became business manager with a responsibility for the train operator’s services in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.

Joining Northern in 2017 as head of trains and stations for the North East, Peters was promoted to regional director in 2020.

She said: “I look forward to joining the team in Leeds and working with them to ensure Northern continues to deliver for people across the region.

“As a Yorkshire adoptee, it’s great to be ‘coming home’ and helping contribute to the success of the region through its rail connectivity.

“I still have a few months in the North East and will be working hard to ensure a smooth transition to my successor – who will be inheriting a great team from Carlisle on the west to Whitby in the east.”

Tricia Williams, chief operating officer for Northern, said: “We’re happy that Kerry will be taking the helm of our operations in Yorkshire, Humberside and the East Midlands.

“This role is responsible for a huge section of our network and Kerry’s experience in the North East, coupled with her local knowledge, made her the ideal candidate to lead the team going forward.”


Rollits has revealed the promotion of two solicitors from the Hull area who both joined the practice as trainees.

Sophie Wheeldon, who arrived at the firm in 2013 and qualified two years later, is promoted from associate to partner.

Lucy Trynka, who is promoted from solicitor to senior solicitor, joined the firm in 2018 and qualified in 2020.

Wheeldon attended Wolfreton School in Willerby and completed her law degree at the University of Hull, graduating with first class honours in 2012.

On qualifying in 2015, she joined the commercial property team, where she continues to specialise in all aspects of the department’s work including sales and purchases, landlord and tenant, leasehold and freehold, secured lending and corporate support work.

She acts for a wide range of clients from large companies to small unincorporated charities.

Trynka attended Hymers College in Hull and then completed her LLB at Newcastle University and passed her Legal Practice Course with distinction at the University of Law in Leeds.

She qualified directly into Rollits’ employment team and is based at the Hull office.

She has had experience working across Yorkshire for employers and employees and providing HR advice to businesses.

Trynka has advised clients in complex disability discrimination matters, including during employment tribunal proceedings, and regularly advises both employers and employees on settlement agreement matters.

She also provides corporate support in the form of employment law due diligence and TUPE advice to large companies undertaking both share and asset purchases, as well as drafting employment related documents such as staff handbooks, contracts of employment, service agreements and settlement agreements.

Ralph Gilbert, managing partner, said: “Congratulations to Sophie and Lucy on their well-deserved promotions. Their dedication and hard work has paid off and we are thrilled to see them continue to grow and thrive in their chosen career.

“Our Training Contracts programme is part of our strong commitment to finding local talent and offering people entry into the legal profession.

“Sophie and Lucy are just two of the people who have made the most of this opportunity.”


SmartSearch, a Leeds-based provider of digital compliance solutions, has appointed Ian Wright as its new strategic alliances manager. 

In his role, Wright will look to expand the firm’s partnership offering across both domestic and international markets.

He will work with platforms, software systems and consultancies across a variety of sectors to integrate the business’s anti-money laundering (AML) data and intelligence. 

He brings with him more than two decades of experience from across compliance, platforms and the wider business information sector, including 14 years with international platform provider Creditsafe.

Prior to joining SmartSearch, he has also held senior roles with AML providers and data and analytics firms. 

Wright said: “SmartSearch is well established in all the major sectors for its in-depth market intelligence and cutting edge technology.

“This is a really exciting opportunity to take that proven proposition and continue to integrate that within platforms across the world to enable them to attract and retain more clients. 

“SmartSearch is very clear in its ambitions to build on its success and reach out into emerging markets at home and abroad.

“Expanding the partnership network will be a key component to that strategy and will ensure all regulated firms have the ability to mitigate the risk of money laundering and financial crime.” 

Martin Cheek, managing director, added: “Ian brings with him great knowledge and a proven track record of building and nurturing successful partnerships.

“Importantly, he also understands the heavy burden facing regulated firms to meet the AML and KYC requirements of regulators across the world. 

“Platform integration has always been a key part of our offering, alongside developing our next-generation digital compliance software.

“Ian’s efforts to expand this important segment will not only help platforms increase their offering, but ensure regulated firms remain compliant no matter how their business operates.”