Yogi Amin

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This was a BLD interview with Debo Nwauzu in February 2009. Read more about Yogi Amin in the Directory.

Yogi Amin who is in the national news as the lawyer representing several cancer patients in their fight to receive life-prolonging but costly medication from the National Health Service (NHS). He is a fervent supporter of the positive difference that the Legal Aid system and the Human Rights Act can make to the lives of ordinary and vulnerable members of society that he represents.

Yogi was born in 1973. He read Law at the Liverpool John Moores University and graduated in 1997. He attended the College of Law in Chester for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) between 1997 and 1998. Prior to starting his training contract at the High Street firm Amphlett Lissimore, in Crystal Palace, London, Yogi worked for a year doing various voluntary work, including at the Hackney Law Centre and various High Street practices. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1999 and stayed on at Amphlett Lissimore until 2001 when he joined Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office.                     

Yogi became a partner at Irwin Mitchell in 2007, having spent the previous year handling several cancer drug dispute cases.  His famous cases included:

•      November 2005, representing Elaine Barber who won her case for Herceptin, an expensive new breast cancer drug which can prevent the life-threatening disease returning, after the intervention of the Health Secretary.  North Stoke Primary Care Trust had refused the treatment. 
•      November 2005, winning the fight in a campaign for a Newcastle hospital consultant suffering with breast cancer to receive Herceptin treatment on the NHS. 
•      Representing “YL”, an 83-year-old Alzheimer’s patient, in her battle to have her human rights recognised whilst residing at a private care home.  The case was heard in the House of Lords, with the Secretary of State and various national charities intervening to support the claim.

•      Representing breast cancer sufferer Ann-Marie Rogers in her fight over funding for Herceptin. There was a successful appeal to the Court of Appeal. 
•      Case of two cancer sufferers seeking funding for the drug Tarceva, again winning High Court judgments on their behalf.
•      In September 2008 another cancer patient, Colin Ross, who had months to live, won a High Court battle to get a life-prolonging drug on the NHS. An NHS Trust had refused to pay for his treatment. Judge Simon Grenfell overturned the Trust's ruling that the new drug, Revlimid, was not cost-effective and that Mr Ross's case should not be treated as “exceptional”. Mr Ross, who lives in West Sussex, would have been able to get the drug if he had lived in neighbouring East Sussex. Yogi told one national newspaper after the High Court victory: “Mr Ross's case demonstrates the devastating effect that the postcode lottery can have on people's lives but today he is overjoyed that he has won his right to live.”

Yogi was one of the The Lawyer Hot 100 in 2007 and he won the Social and Welfare Lawyer of the Year award at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) awards in 2008. Chambers and Partners says Yogi has “won enthusiastic praise from peers and clients, who describe him as ‘a seriously good lawyer who knows exactly what he’s doing.’ ‘Young, bright and enthusiastic, with a nose for adventurous cases.’”

Yogi is a member of the Administrative Law Bar Association and the Human Rights Lawyers Association and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In March 2007 he was appointed as a trustee for the Independent Living Funds, which enables severely disabled people to live independently in their own homes. He also lectures and has addressed the annual conference of the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Yogi is married with two children.
Below is our interview with Yogi:

BLD: Why did you choose a legal career?
YA:  I just found some of the legal issues more interesting than anything else.

BLD: If you were to choose another role/profession other than law, what would it be and why?
YA: Social or probation work because they both involve working with people and hopefully not too much paperwork!

BLD: What was the best career advice you were given?
YA: Don’t pay too much attention to forging a career path - just go with the flow. This seems to have worked!

BLD: What was the worst career advice you were given?
YA: To go for the money.

BLD: What career advice would you give to other lawyers and budding lawyers?
YA:   For budding lawyers I’d say see the whole breadth of legal work before specialising. Also do voluntary work.

BLD: Who is the person you most admire (dead or alive) and why?
YA:   Barack Obama is top of the list at the moment. He has really come a long way in a short time.

BLD: What are you most passionate/happiest about?
YA:  Rooting out the views of people stuck in the Dark Ages and bringing them up to date by educating them.

BLD: What are your dislikes?
YA: Bureaucrats!

BLD: What was your worst moment as a lawyer?
YA:   Being shouted at when appearing before a Stipendiary Magistrate as a Trainee Solicitor because he did not like the argument I was putting forward on behalf of my client.

BLD: Tell us your professional high point(s).
YA:  Whenever you win a case is a high point. The Herceptin cases are pretty high as they changed policies and saved lives.
BLD: What was the most famous/interesting case(s) you have handled to date?
YA:    The Herceptin cases.

BLD: Any professional regrets?
YA: No

BLD: If you could rule the world for a day what would you change/do?
YA:  Ban emails!