Polly Sweeney

Polly Sweeney is a Partner in the Public Law and Human Rights Department at Irwin Mitchell and heads up our national Education Law team. Polly specialises in education law, community care and healthcare (including medical treatment) and Court of Protection. Polly has a particular interest in cases involving the rights of children and young people with disabilities. Polly’s education law practice includes acting for parents in appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and judicial reviews on a range of public law issues such as school closure, transport, failure to provide education and wider policy challenges. Polly also advises schools and colleges in relation to a broad range of legal issues including duties under the Equality Act, admissions and exclusions, funding and governance and challenges against local authorities’ decision-making. In the Court of Protection, Polly is experienced in representing individuals who lack capacity where there are disputes about best interests, often on instruction of the Official Solicitor or an independent mental capacity advocate (“IMCA”). Polly has acted in a number of reported cases in relation to deprivation of liberty and breaches of human rights including cases which involve cross border issues with other legal jurisdictions such as Scotland. On 1 September 2019, Polly was appointed as co-chair of the Law Society’s Mental Health and Disability Committee which plays a central role in reviewing and promoting improvements in law, practice and procedure affecting disabled people, including those who have mental health needs.

Polly is a contributing author to the leading Legal Action Group publication “Disabled Children: A legal Handbook” (2nd and 3rd editions) writing both the remedies and education law chapters. Polly was named Solicitor of the Year at the Bristol Law Society Awards in 2014 and was a shortlisted finalist at the National Law Society Excellence Awards in 2015. Polly was also named Assistant/Associate Solicitor of the Year in the Birmingham Law Society Awards in 2011 and was a shortlisted finalist at the 2009 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards.

About Our Bristol Office:

We have been in Bristol since 2010 and now employ over 40 people at our busy city centre office on Tower Hill. Our solicitors in Bristol offer a full legal service to both individual and business clients, with a reputation for the quality of our personal injury and family law work. Highly-praised by the two major guides to UK lawyers (Chambers and Partners and Legal 500), our family law team are specialists in:

  • Complex divorce settlements
  • Civil partnership dissolutions
  • Pre nuptial agreements

Our Bristol personal injury solicitors are headed by our Regional Managing Partner, Julie Lewis. We have expertise in cases involving:

  • Serious injury
  • Medical negligence
  • Asbestos related compensation claims


As part of our commitment to reducing our environmental impact, all of our offices are accessible for cyclists and have bike lockers or racks which we welcome visitors to use. Please contact us if you’re arriving by bike and need any help.

Irwin Mitchell In The Community:

Our charity of the year for 2019 is Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS). They’re a specialist support service for anyone in the Bristol, Bath, Somerset and Gloucester areas who has experienced any form of sexual violence in their lives. They offer counselling, email support, a helpline for men and boys as well as for women and girls, and support for families of survivors too. Their website is full of resources and information on the services they offer, should you need to use them. However, our charity work extends far beyond this and we raise funds for a number of local and national causes, including Brainwave, Bibic, Designability (formerly BIME), Children’s Hospice South West, Scope, Cerebral Palsy Plus and Contact a Family.