12:36, June 10 19 0 theguardian.com

2019-06-10 12:36:06
Other lives  Paul Shearer obituary

My husband, Paul Shearer, who has died suddenly aged 54, as the result of an undiagnosed heart condition, was a solicitor who specialised in the field of housing and legal aid in the south-west of England.

Throughout his career, his work focused on those at risk of falling through the cracks in society: the poor, the destitute and the vulnerable – tenants facing eviction or living in unsafe and unsanitary housing, situations that became increasingly common during the recent years of austerity.

He was also a peer reviewer and a leading member of the housing team at the Legal Aid Agency, advising other lawyers and working to maintain and raise the quality of legal work carried out by practitioners in housing law in England and Wales.

Paul was born in Winchester, Hampshire, the son of Robert, a surgeon, and Shaune (nee Vance), a former nurse, and spent his school years in London, where he was a pupil at Dulwich college. He went on to Warwick University to study history and politics. Before becoming a lawyer, he worked as a volunteer for a youth project in the East End of London and the charity War on Want.

He trained as a solicitor with the east London law firm Edwards Duthie where, upon qualifying in 1995, he went on to become a member of their housing and social welfare team, advising tenants in the London boroughs of Newham, Redbridge, Hackney and Waltham Forest.

Paul and I married in 1999, and in 2005 we moved to Wiltshire, where he joined the housing team at Wood, Awdry & Ford in Chippenham. The firm was taken over in 2008; however the modest profit margins in legal aid work meant this area of law was not sufficiently attractive to the new owners, so Paul was left with little option but to set up his own practice.

Shearer & Co swiftly became established as one of the few law firms in the south-west to provide a voice for vulnerable clients across the region, from Devon to Gloucestershire. During the past 11 years this area of law became increasingly fraught. Funding cuts and court closures as well as changes to the benefits system and legislation in relation to tenancies combined to make access to justice increasingly difficult for those without means.

Paul was liked and admired by colleagues and clients, whom he always treated with dignity and respect, as well as by his opponents in the legal community.

A lifelong reader of the Guardian, which he read daily from cover to cover, he had wide-ranging interests, encompassing sport – cycling in particular – music, reading, film and gardening.

He is survived by me, our son, Alex, and his parents.

Topics