Two former senior government lawyers join Kingsley Napley

Former GC to the Prime Minister and Government Legal Department lawyer boost London firm’s public law offering
Headshots of Natalie Cohen (left) and Lord Carter

Natalie Cohen (l) and Lord Carter

Kingsley Napley has hired two experienced former government lawyers – Natalie Cohen and Lord Carter – to bolster its public law litigation offering. 

Natalie Cohen, an employed barrister, joins as a partner from the Government Legal Department (GLD), where she was a senior lawyer in its litigation group. Joining Cohen is Harry Carter, Lord Carter of Haslemere, formerly general counsel at 10 Downing Street from 2016 to 2023.

With more than 20 years of experience advising government departments, Cohen has overseen high-profile litigation for the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Department for Education (DFE), the Treasury and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, having lately advised the DFE and MOJ concerning the ongoing Covid Inquiry. 

Carter, who becomes a consultant, is a barrister and a bencher of Gray’s Inn. During a career as a government lawyer spanning 34 years he held senior roles at the Home Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. While at No. 10, he advised four prime ministers.

He was awarded a peerage in 2019 but chose to defer parliamentary duties while still working as a crown servant, taking up his seat as a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords in December. 

Welcoming him to the Lords, Lord Garnier KC of 4 Pump Court, a former Solicitor General, said he had “provided a much-needed element of stability at that address”.

Carter said he had “been able to advise across the full range of public law issues affecting successive governments and to work with talented politicians and civil servants in formulating policies, steering bills through parliament and defending litigation”.  He called the work “creative, intellectually challenging and endlessly varied”.

Both Hunt and Cohen will work with Sophie Kemp, head of Kingsley Napley’s public law practice, which advises various public, private and third sector/NGO clients on judicial reviews, public body powers, select committee hearings, FOI requests, human rights law and general inquiries.

Kemp said: “We are delighted that Natalie and Harry have chosen Kingsley Napley for the next steps in their careers. Their tremendous experience and expertise across diverse public law areas will greatly benefit our clients.”

The pair’s arrival will dovetail nicely with established names at the firm including professional discipline partner Iain Miller. Their decision to join a law firm as opposed to a barristers’ chambers reflects Kingsley Napley’s ability to integrate former government lawyers into commercial practice. It will also allow them to retain their ability to work with leading counsel across the Bar.

Culturally, the firm is a stronger fit for both GLD lawyers than a US law firm. Although US firms have a strong tradition of hiring lawyers from public office, this is much less common in London. 

Cohen said: “I am pleased to be joining such an excellent team and am very much looking forward to my new role in private practice, bringing challenges against the government rather than defending them. The fact I know how government and policy-making works from the inside will hopefully be a valuable perspective for clients.” 

Carter added: “Kingsley Napley has a great tradition of taking on former government lawyers, and I am pleased to follow that path. The firm has a leading public law practice and a long-standing reputation for advising on complex, high-profile and politically sensitive matters, where I hope my knowledge and expertise will be of assistance.” 

Other former government lawyers who found a home at Kingsley Napley include former senior partner Stephen Parkinson: the former deputy head of the Attorney General’s Office became the Director of Public Prosecutions last year, succeeding Sir Max Hill KC, who was knighted in the 2024 New Year Honour’s list.

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