Lawyer Liam Naidoo is being recognised for his human rights work. In our latest ‘Alumni in the News’ feature focusing on the careers of successful Worthians, Liam tells us about how he got into law and his advice for current students.
Top lawyer Liam Naidoo (Chapman, 1996) did not take an obvious route into law. As he explains: “Whilst at Worth, with the help of some great History teachers, I had become obsessed with medieval history and languages and had no notion of becoming a lawyer.”
On leaving Worth he got a place at Cambridge (Girton) to study Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic History, followed by a Masters in Medieval Irish History. He even considered going on to do a PhD, but became sceptical about a life in academia and craved something more international and team focused. He said: “I looked at law and a career as a solicitor and it seemed like something that could provide academic challenges but was perhaps a bit more dynamic and offering a stable career.” So, after a conversion course, Liam joined law firm, Hogan Lovells, and has been there ever since.
Almost 19 years on, Liam is now a partner, based in London, and deputy head of their International Investigations, White-Collar and Fraud practice, while also co-leading their Business and Human Rights Group. He has made a name for himself doing a lot of pro bono work focusing on human trafficking and modern slavery, and has recently been acting for the families of several of the 39 Vietnamese migrants found dead in a lorry container in Essex in 2019 after being trafficked to the UK via Belgium. Liam and his team have been helping some of families through the criminal proceedings in England but also in Belgium. Last month, in a landmark judgment, a Belgian court ruled that the families of the victims should be entitled to damages from the traffickers – a great result for Liam’s team who hope this will mark a turning point in the way victims are compensated.
Following the ruling, Liam featured in The Times as Lawyer of The Week where he talked about the biggest hurdles he had had to overcome in the case, which were, “From a practical perspective, engaging sensitively with the families and explaining the consequences of being a civil party in Belgium. This project has focused on convincing the relevant authorities that human trafficking is an intentional act of harm and that compensation should be paid from the assets of the traffickers.”
Liam, now married to Eilís with three children (Áine, Malachy and baby Maristella), looks back fondly on his time at Worth and has great memories of clandestine dorm raids, touch rugby in the front quad, tea and toast parties and a Sixth Form bar. His advice for young Worthians starting out on their careers is: “Be flexible and grab as many experiences as possible.”
Worth Society is the School’s thriving alumni association that enables former pupils and staff to stay in touch with one another for business and social networking purposes, providing careers advice, support and lifelong guidance.