Ellis Pinnell

Ellis is a Principal Associate based in London. He advises clients on a broad range of complex public law matters including public inquiries, non-statutory reviews, investigations and associated litigation. He is currently the Solicitor to the Brook House Inquiry.

Ellis previously worked as a Senior Lawyer for the Government Legal Department and has more than 20 years' experience of working in the public sector. He is a focussed and pragmatic lawyer with extensive skills and experience in conducting thorough investigations, complex case management and effective policy development.

Having worked directly for Government and private sectors organisations, Ellis has a real appreciation of the different pressures that clients face, including commercial, regulatory, political and reputational risks. Ellis has advised on a broad range of complex and sensitive matters. He works collaboratively with clients from all sectors and provides clear insights and thorough understanding of their work and those that they engage with.

Ellis helps clients by offering objective analysis and providing high quality and pragmatic legal advice. He is very proactive and uses his experience to anticipate and plan for issues that may arise. He presents the legal issues in context and uses his cross-sector knowledge to provide advice that is balanced, recognising and addressing opposing arguments, and robust.

Clients have repeatedly commented upon Ellis' strong interpersonal skills, ability to quickly build trusting relationships and value his calm, diplomatic and constructive approach.


Inquiry / reviews

  • Acting in the statutory post of 'Solicitor to the Inquiry' to the Brook House high-profile public inquiry for more than three years.
  • Advising on all aspects of inquiry law and practice including scope of the terms of reference, evidence gathering and disclosure, public hearings, restriction orders, warning letters and report writing.
  • Developing Inquiry protocols and drafting key procedural documents. Planning and overseeing the evidence gathering and review process.
  • Advising on procedural matters including the designation of Core Participants and the need for and importance of undertakings from the Attorney General and Home Secretary.
  • Instructing experts, setting their terms of reference, monitoring progress and considering stakeholders' submissions.
  • Leading engagement with the representatives of diverse Core Participants, document providers, witnesses and other interested parties.
  • Leading teams to successfully set up and deliver preliminary and substantive public hearings including liaison and support for c.80 witnesses and Inquiry stakeholders.
  • Ensuring that sensitive and vulnerable witnesses are comfortable with the process including meeting witnesses and their representatives in person before they give evidence.
  • Creating and overseeing the process for considering Core Participants suggested witness questions and advised, at pace, on other matters that arose at hearings.
  • Advising on the report writing process and co-ordinating and leading preparations for warning letters.
  • Managing the strategy for the recruitment, training and management of the Inquiry's legal team of paralegals, solicitors and counsel.


  • Advising senior officials acting on behalf of Ministers including the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary.
  • Providing legal and strategic advice to clients in a variety of complex and high profile judicial review claims and appeals.
  • Working closely with operational, policy and advisory legal teams to reduce the exposure to litigation risk and develop contingency plans when risks materialise.
  • Drafting legal documents (e.g. contracts, pleadings, and guidance) and appearing as an advocate in individual cases in the County Court, SCCO, Upper Tribunal (Immigration & Asylum Chamber), and Administrative Court.
  • Experience of large-scale disclosure exercises in numerous judicial review claims including advising clients regarding document retention and the content of witness statements.
  • Providing guidance and delivering training to internal and external stakeholders on complex legal issues including modern slavery and human trafficking and the Civil Contingency Act.

Policy development

  • Overseeing changes to criminal legal aid policy in particular progressing recommendations from Lord Carter's Independent Procurement Review.
  • Drafting major consultation documents, options appraisals and Ministerial submissions. Analysing consultation responses and developing detailed fee modelling proposals.
  • Contributing to a national strategy for contract management and financial stewardship. Delivering a series of stakeholder engagement meetings across all circuits in England and Wales.
  • Providing strategic leadership on a project including people management, financial management and governance reporting. Organising and delivering a series of c.60 face-to-face workshops to private contractors (and professional bodies) on proposals.
  • Developing and introducing a Service Level Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding.


"Ellis is an extremely capable, hard-working and conscientious lawyer."

"Ellis consistently produces high quality legal advice which sets out clear options to the clients on complex issues."

"He works incredibly effectively with clients encouraging them to focus and make decisions on difficult issues."

"Ellis interacts very successfully with clients, counsel, opposing legal representatives and other team members. He has an open and friendly manner that facilitates good communication"

"One of Ellis' key strengths is the breadth of his experience in both policy and legal roles"

"Excellent understanding of the practicalities of litigation"

"He has an instinctive ability to get on with people, and was invaluable in one hearing where there were multiple parties all of whom were squabbling. He is a calm and reassuring presence."

"Ellis is hard working, very bright and quick thinking"

"Ellis is very good with people – he has an easy, charming manner – strong interpersonal skills. But what particularly stands out is Ellis' highly practical approach, something which distinguishes between the great many highly intelligent lawyers who turn their hand to public law and those few like Ellis who have a really good grasp of the practicalities and see the legal issues in a case in context."

"A pleasure to work with!"

Career & Recognition

Filter timeline:
  • 2023

    • Career
      March 2023
      Gowling WLG (UK), Principal Associate
  • 2019

    • Career
      December 2019
      Government Legal Department, Solicitor to the Brook House Inquiry
    • Career
      October 2019
      Cabinet Office, Operation Yellowhammer, Senior Lawyer
  • 2018

    • Career
      August 2018
      Government Legal Department, Senior Lawyer / Employed Barrister
  • 2015

    • Career
      June 2015
      Government Legal Department, Lawyer / Employed Barrister
  • 2014

    • Education
      July 2014
      Diploma in Public Policy, SOAS.
  • 2013

    • Career
      April 2013
      Legal Aid Agency, Legal Advisor / Employed Barrister
  • 2011

    • Career
      April 2011
      Legal Services Commission, Legal Advisor
  • 2005

    • Career
      January 2005
      Legal Services Commission, Senior Policy Manager
  • 2000

    • Career
      April 2000
      Legal Services Commission, Area Contract Manager
  • 1999

    • Career
      February 1999
      Legal Aid Board, Auditor / Account Manager
  • 1998

    • Qualifications (Year of Call/Admission, etc.)
      October 1998
      Qualified, Barrister in England and Wales
    • Education
      August 1998
      The City University London, Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Skills
  • 1997

    • Education
      Anglia Ruskin University, Law LLB (Hons)