Solicitor crooners beaten by a dog in Britain’s Got Talent final

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By Judge John Hack on

Father-and-son half of family duo are criminal and occupational health law specialists — but they still couldn’t outperform a mutt called Matisse


A solicitor father-and-son team has lost out to a daring dog in the UK’s favourite televised circus … er … talent show.

Laurie Neale — a partner at Birmingham criminal law firm England Strickland & Neale, and his son James, a senior associate at the Brum office of national law firm DWF — formed half of a family singing act that brought tears to the eyes of hard man judge and pop music impresario, Simon Cowell.

But the punters voted for a mutt called Mattise after it performed a cops and robbers routine with its trainer, eliciting an equally emotional response from another judge, Amanda Holden.

In the end, the lawyer-led Neale family finished ninth in last night’s final on ITV.

But that takes nothing away from a quality performance. Laurie has been crooning for the best part of 20 years, with career highlights including performances with fellow Brummies UB40 and the Electric Light Orchestra.

Son James is normally more at home specialising in cases involving factory workers losing their limbs, while the other two sons work in banking and marketing.

According to website Solihull Update, 59-year-old Laurie has had to suffer years of teasing from fellow Birmingham lawyers over his addiction to performing swing classics.

“I get ribbed about it quite a lot,” Laurie told the site 18 months ago. “All the lawyers in Birmingham know each other and they often shout over at me to sing them a song. But it’s not just my fellow solicitors and barristers who have my CDs, but lots of magistrates and crown court judges, too.

“I sang at a Birmingham Law Society concert at the Jamhouse called BLS Has Talent, where the judging panel actually consisted of some of the top judges and QCs, and I managed to win that.”

Laurie went on to say that crooning beat even some of his greatest courtroom triumphs.

“I’ve defended 62 murder cases and counting,” he told the site, “but there’s nothing like pulling off a song and being met by a roar of applause. Singing in front of thousands is challenging, but having spent years standing up to a judge in a packed courtroom is not too dissimilar.”

Son James has been with DWF since May 2012. He graduated with a law degree from Warwick University in 2007 before doing the Legal Practice Course at the Birmingham branch of the then College of Law.

He trained at Midlands firm Buller Jeffries, qualifying in 2011.

Rumours that Matisse has applied to the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives to qualify through its apprenticeship route have not been confirmed.