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Kay Everett Memorial Award and Lecture

Date posted: 11 August 2016

Kay Everett

(25th November 1972 – 7th August 2016)


Kay joined the firm in January 2008 and was appointed a partner in 2012. She was instrumental in the establishment of our public law department.

Kay read law and Chinese at the University of Leeds, graduating in 1995. Kay trained at City firm Lovells where she met her partner Anand Doobay, who is also a solicitor. She was admitted to the roll in 1999.

After qualification, she joined magic circle firm Freshfields in 2000 working in project finance. It was at a meeting in the Ministry of Defence that Kay realised the City was not for her. This was in 2003 just before the invasion of Iraq and there was an anti-war demonstration outside. Kay turned to her colleague and whispered: ‘I think I’m the only one around this table who would rather be outside with the protestors.’

In 2004 Kay followed her conscience and enrolled at SOAS on a masters in human rights law.

Thereafter she volunteered at Hackney Law Centre and became active in supporting destitute asylum seekers and migrants. Kay reshaped her career as an immigration and legal aid specialist.

In 2005 she joined Christian Khan and went on to be head of the immigration team.

Kay joined Wilson Solicitors in January 2008. She was a passionate fighter for the most vulnerable of clients. She had a wonderful sense of humour and her optimistic catchphrase ‘what can possibly go wrong?’ punctuated the most tense legal dramas involving emergency removals and complex detention cases.

Kay keenly felt the injustice of any immigration detention. She was tenacious in the cause of liberty and adept at pursuing damages claims for illegal detention. Kay was a ray of light for her clients, she was on their side, listened to them and eloquently spoke for them.

Kay was instrumental in establishing the public law department at Wilsons and we were extremely proud to appoint her a partner in 2012. Kay led by example and was a wise mentor, helping numerous trainee solicitors with their careers.

Her sheer kindness and intellectual rigour underpinned outstanding legal work. She brought great organisational strength from her City background which she put to good use in her litigation on behalf of many detained asylum seekers.

Over the years Kay campaigned on immigration and human rights issues. In 2012 Kay was recommended in Chambers & Partners and was praised as being ‘a champion in dealing with extremely vulnerable individuals’. She gave moving evidence about the inordinate immigration detention to the all-party parliamentary group on migration. She was a powerful voice for the voiceless.

Kay was co-convenor of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association’s detention committee and had many friends in the wider immigration law community. She was generous with her time and was involved in pro bono grass roots legal advice. Over the years she was associated with Justice, Asylum Aid, Bail for Immigration Detainees, Body & Soul, NNLS Asylum Seekers Drop In and the Helen Bamber Foundation.

She was also a member of the Law Society’s Human Rights Committee and particularly concerned about human rights and the rule of law in Malaysia, reflecting the part of the world that she spent an influential part of her childhood.

In June 2015, reflecting her expertise, Kay addressed the European Law Academy Conference in Strasbourg on human rights and the detention of asylum seekers.

Kay was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009 when only 36. She fought the disease with tenacity and amazing dignity. She was absolutely determined to continue both her work and live life to the very fullest. In so doing Kay inspired all who knew and loved her.

In memory of Kay, the firm has established in conjunction with SOAS the Kay Everett memorial award and annual lecture.

The Kay Everett memorial award is for the best Masters dissertation within a human rights module at SOAS.

The award is presented during the course of an annual memorial lecture held at SOAS.

2018  Temporary Exclusion Orders: Beyond a human rights critique of pre-emptive security by Eda Seyhan

2019 Corporate Due Diligence and Accountability in Global Supply Chains: Legal Challenges and Possible Solutions by Chara de Lacey

2020 Queering Kampuchea by Pat de Brún

2021 Staging Nationalism: Political Gendering in Indian Rape Trials by Shefali Kharabanda

2022 ‘A Twail of Two Approaches : How can international law be used to best provide rights holders with adequate ‘access to remedy’?’ by Sarah Abigail Chaplin

The inaugural 2018 lecture was delivered by Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, “It’s about time: ending the tragedy of indefinite immigration detention” and can be viewed here.

The 2019 lecture was delivered by Lord Justice Singh, “Holding the Balance: National Security, Civil Liberties and the Role of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal” and can be viewed here.

The 2020 lecture was delivered by Professor David Cole, National Legal Director at the American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU);  “Defending Migrants in the Era of Trump”. The Lecture can be viewed here and the full event with introductions and the Q & A session can be viewed here.


The 2021 lecture was delivered by international law expert Professor Patricia Viseur Sellers on the “Reckoning and (Re)Righting of International law” and can be viewed here.


The 2022 lecture will be delivered on Tuesday 17th May at 5pm at SOAS in London by Professor Karen Engle of the University of Texas at Austin. Her subject will be “Abolitionist human rights”. For full details and to register free to attend the event please see here