Wesley Gryk, senior partner and founder of the firm, is a dual British-American national and has practised law in both countries. He obtained his BA(Hons) from Harvard College and his JD(Hons) from Harvard Law School. He also attended the University of Warsaw for one year on a Fulbright Fellowship. He began his legal career as judicial clerk to the late Honorable Constance Baker Motley, US District Judge in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan), who was the first black woman appointed to the US Federal Judiciary. He went on to work for four years for Shearman and Sterling, a large New York corporate law firm, first in New York City and then in Hong Kong.
He moved to the United Kingdom in 1980 to take up the post of Deputy Representative and Legal Adviser to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and went on to work in London for the International Secretariat of Amnesty International for five years, first as its Deputy Legal Adviser and then as the Deputy Head of the organisation's research department. After retraining to become a solicitor in this country, he worked for a number of years with the highly respected civil liberties lawyer Ben Birnberg of B.M. Birnberg and Co, before setting up Wesley Gryk Solicitors in 1995. Wesley served two terms as a member of the Law Society Council, the governing body for solicitors in England and Wales, with responsibility for immigration matters. He also previously was a board member of the Refugee Legal Centre, the Redress Trust and the Legal Aid Practitioners Group. He has travelled extensively on international human rights missions having, for example, attended the trial of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and of Abdullah Ocalan in Turkey on behalf of Amnesty International and the trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia on behalf of Human Rights Watch. He was involved in much of the litigation, campaigning and lobbying which resulted in the implementation of the current unmarried partners and civil partnership rules and he continues to undertake voluntary work on these issues.
His practice covers the full range of immigration issues and, in particular, his strength in gay rights cases is well acknowledged. He has represented the UNHCR in two important House of Lords cases relating to immigration law - Shah and Islam, about the persecution of women in Pakistan, and Sepet and Bulbul, relating to conscientious objection in Turkey.
Alison Hunter, who became a partner in the firm on 1 October 2006, was educated in Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom. She read law with French law at King's College, London and went on to do a Masters degree in Human Rights Law at University College, London. After her training at Freshfields, she joined Wesley Gryk Solicitors in 1997 as a solicitor. Her practice covers all aspects of immigration and nationality law, with particular emphasis on EU free movement law, asylum and human rights law. She maintains close links with German lawyers and academics working in the field of immigration. She was formerly a visiting lecturer for immigration law at Westminster University and a Management Committee Member of the Centre for Advice on Individual Rights in Europe and a board member of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association.
Barry O'Leary, who became a partner in the firm on 1 October 2006, read law at Cambridge University and attended law school at the College of Law, London. He qualified as a solicitor in 1997 and joined Wesley Gryk Solicitors in January 2000. His practice deals with the full range of immigration and nationality issues, with a particular emphasis on applications based on same sex relationships and also on asylum and human rights claims on the basis of sexual orientation. In his spare time, he works as a volunteer lawyer providing legal advice on these issues. He was heavily involved in the consultation process leading up to the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and has given a number of lectures on the immigration aspects of this Act. He is the author of the immigration chapter of the Law Society Publication "Civil Partnership – the Law in Practice".
Tim Barnden read English at Cambridge University and converted to Law studying at the College of Law in London. He qualified as a solicitor in 1998 and has specialized in immigration and asylum work since then. He undertakes advice and representation across the full range of immigration and asylum law. He has recently been elected Chair of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) and is involved closely with their asylum project. He was an Executive Committee member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA) for the years 2007-9. He also continues to undertake and is known for his training work.
Diana Baxter qualified as a solicitor at Wesley Gryk Solicitors in 2012. Having graduated with 1st class honours in Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford, Diana went on to work as a paralegal at a Chinese law firm specialising in foreign direct investment, employment, media and land law. Returning to the UK, Diana achieved a distinction MSc in Development Studies at the London School of Economics, following which she spent a period undertaking postgraduate studies in sociology of law and migration at the University of California. She joined Wesley Gryk Solicitors as a paralegal in 2008 and, since then, she has successfully completed, with distinction, the Graduate Diploma in Law at BPP Law School and the Legal Practice Course at the College of Law. Diana's practice covers a wide range of immigration and asylum law, with a particular interest in British nationality law.
Adam qualified as a solicitor in 2012. He read law at the London School of Economics, graduating in 2008. He has worked for the firm for over four years and, for most of that time, he has worked directly with Barry O'Leary. Adam is a volunteer for the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group where he speaks at the partnership and asylum meetings. Adam was also a volunteer for the Terrence Higgins Trust for over twelve months where he worked as a Refugee Mentor offering advice and support to asylum seekers in the UK. Adam offers advice and representation across the full range of immigration and nationality matters.
Elizabeth is qualified as a solicitor as well as an Attorney-at-Law in the State of New York. She first practiced immigration law in the US in 1996, and in the UK in 2007. Elizabeth is a native of New York City, and has lived in Germany and Italy as well as the UK. She was educated at Harvard University, Boston University, and the London School of Economics. After graduating from law school, she clerked for Hon. Nancy Gertner on the Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts, before joining the Immigration Group at Dechert Price and Rhoads in Philadelphia. Since moving to the UK, she has practiced immigration and asylum law at Elder Rahimi Solicitors and Refugee and Migrant Justice. In addition to preparing asylum and immigration applications, she has represented her clients as an advocate before both the First Tier and Upper Tribunal, Immigration and Asylum Chamber.
Irena Karapetyan is a trainee solicitor at Wesley Gryk. Irena is originally from Armenia and has also lived in Russia and Bulgaria. She has a basic understanding of the Armenian language and is fluent in Russian and Bulgarian. Irena read law at the London School of Economics and during her second year of law school she worked part-time in a small immigration law firm. Upon graduating in 2009, she started working as a paralegal at Wesley Gryk Solicitors. Alongside her work at the firm, Irena has also participated in an international research project on immigration and asylum law on behalf of the London School of Economics. Irena has recently completed the Legal Practice Course and expects to qualify as a solicitor in late 2014.
Tom Hardwick is a trainee solicitor at Wesley Gryk Solicitors. Tom read International History and International Politics at the University of Sheffield. He was awarded a BA degree in 2008. He went on to obtain a Graduate Diploma in Law from The College of Law. He started working as a paralegal at Wesley Gryk Solicitors in August 2011. For most of his time at the firm he has worked directly with Wesley Gryk. Tom is currently studying the Legal Practice Course part-time while working at Wesley Gryk Solicitors. He expects to qualify as a solicitor in early 2015.
Emily Heinrich is a trainee solicitor at Wesley Gryk Solicitors. Emily studied on the International Baccalaureate programme in The Netherlands and speaks Dutch. She read Law at the University of Surrey and was awarded her undergraduate degree in 2007. Emily continued her legal education at the University of Surrey, graduating with an LLM in International Law, for which she was awarded a Distinction. Her master's dissertation, titled "Universalism and Cultural Relativism: In Search of Reconciliation", focused on the development of international human rights, a subject in which she retains an active interest. Emily completed her Legal Practice Course at the College of Law, Guildford. She joined the firm as a paralegal in 2009 and expects to qualify as a solicitor in 2014.
Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession ranks Wesley Gryk Solicitors LLP equal first amongst personal immigration practices in London. Wesley Gryk, Alison Hunter, Barry O'Leary and Tim Barnden are all named as leading individual practioners.
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Changes to the Knowledge of Language and Life in the United Kingdom requirement for settlement and naturalisation applications
The Home Office has recently announced that from 28 October 2013, all applicants for settlement or naturalisation will need to meet a new, two-part Knowledge of Language and Life in the United Kingdom requirement (unless exempt)…read more
Barry O'Leary. Partner, has been appointed to the Law Society Immigration Law Committee.
On 11 July 2013, Barry O'Leary taught the ILPA course on Applications for leave to enter: the general grounds for refusal, mandatory bans, significant contrivance and suitability.
The All Parliamentary Group's report on family migration was published today here.
It includes thanks to Barry O'Leary for his input.
Wesley Gryk, Senior Partner, was one of eight leading immigration lawyers invited by the Law Society Gazette to participate in a roundtable discussion regarding the growing difficulties facing immigration practitioners as a result of the political debate surrounding immigration. See article here.
The firm played key roles in helping to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group with a party held at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in May 2013, with Barry O'Leary helping to organise the event and Tim Barnden and Wesley Gryk speaking at the celebration.
On 15 March 2013, four of our solicitors were named as “Super Lawyers” in the new magazine of that name.
On 14 March 2013, Wesley Gryk, Senior Partner, spoke to the Lewes Immigration Detainee Support Group and the Lewes Amnesty International group on recent legal developments with respect to lesbian and gay asylum seekers.
Barry O'Leary, Partner, appeared as a panellist at University College London, on 15 February 2013, for the debate on “When should LGBT people be offered Asylum in the UK?”.
Barry O'Leary, Partner, gave oral evidence in Parliament, on 11 February 2013, to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Migration inquiry into family migration rules, on behalf of ILPA.
Tim Barnden, Senior Solicitor, spoke on 23 January 2013 at the AIRE Centre's seminar on Family Reunification to mark the publication of its report “Family Reunification Requirements: a barrier or facilitator to integration?”.
Alison Hunter, Partner, met the Home Office as part of an ILPA team to discuss the rules relating to international adoption.
Tim Barnden and Katie Dilger taught an ILPA course on the financial requirements of the new immigration rules relating to family members in London on 4 December 2012.
Tim Barnden, Senior Solicitor, spoke at “A consideration of the family migration changes and Article 8: Where do we go from here?”, a joint Justice, Human Rights Lawyers Association and ILPA event held on 8 November 2012.
Tim Barnden and Katie Dilger spoke at the ILPA AGM on 17 November on the new family immigration rules.
Katie Dilger taught an ILPA course on the financial requirements of the new immigration rules relating to family members in London on 21 September 2012.
Alison Hunter, Partner, attended a meeting on behalf of ILPA with the European Section of the UKBA regarding the legal issues arising out of recent amendments to the Immigration (EEA) Regulations and clarifying the UKBA's position following some important cases in the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Wesley Gryk, Senior Partner, was chosen for inclusion in the 2013 volume of Debrett's People of Today and in a number of other legal and and Who's Who directories.
Barry O'Leary and Tim Barnden taught an ILPA course on the new immigration rules relating to partners in London on 17 July 2012, in Birmingham on 23 July 2012, and again in London on 16 August 2012.
Barry O'Leary, Partner, met with the UKBA as the ILPA representative on the Case Assurance & Audit Unit Partner forum and in connection with the new immigration rules relating to family migration.
Katie Dilger, Solicitor, was elected to the Executive Committee of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA) in November 2011. ILPA seeks to promote and improve advice and representation in the fields of immigration, asylum and nationality law. ILPA's work includes providing training sessions for practitioners, disseminating information, participating in Governmental meetings and consultations and briefing MPs. The firm is actively involved with ILPA's work by, amongst other things, providing training, participating in subcommittees and responding to consultations. Katie is also an active member of ILPA's Family and General Subcommittee.
Tim Barnden, Senior Solicitor, was elected chair of the board of trustees of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG). UKLGIG promotes equality and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people who seek asylum in the UK, or who wish to immigrate here to be with their same-sex partner. Tim has volunteered with the charity since 2005 in their asylum support work. Tim is looking forward to further involvement with UKLGIG and assisting them in their mission of providing support to LGBT asylum seekers.