Carla MacLeod, a solicitor-advocate with Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham-based law firm Needham & James, has been granted Higher Courts qualification.

The qualification allows her to act as an advocate in the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the House of Lords, without the need to brief a barrister when a case is heard there.

Ms MacLeod, aged 26, was appointed solicitor-advocate at Needham & James last September, after completing a two-year training contract with the firm. She specialises in advocacy and family law dispute resolution, and has a special interest in arbitration and mediation.

John Hughes, senior partner at Needham & James, said: "It is a tribute to Carla's conscientious and enthusiastic approach to her work that she has achieved this qualification at such a young age.

" Her intelligence and empathy make her a highly effective member of the family law unit, and this new qualification will enable her to bring these qualities to bear at all levels within the judicial

system." Ms MacLeod said: "After several months spent getting a thorough grounding as solicitor-advocate working in both the Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon offices at Needham & James, I am delighted to have been granted this qualification and to be able to offer our clients an enhanced service.

"In the family law unit the sensitivities involved in some of our work makes it particularly desirable that the same team can take a case right through to its conclusion without the need to call in outside expertise."

Ms MacLeod graduated with an honours degree in Law (English and European) and German from the University of the West of England in Bristol in 2001, and gained a distinction in her legal practice course at the College of Law in Birmingham.

Before university she attended Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls.

Needham & James has offices in Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon , Shipston- on- Stour and Moreton-in-Marsh.