I made the law in Parliament and now I want to apply it in the courts as an advocate,” explains Mr O’Brien. “I was the Minister who took through the Commons the Human Rights Act, major legislation on the NHS, two Pensions Acts, the Companies Act, Freedom of Information and Immigration and Asylum laws. 

Michael was a lawyer before he was elected. He left Parliament in May 2010 and, wanting to return to the law and build a practice, he transferred to the Bar to take up his new role at No5.

“I could have stayed a solicitor but I enjoyed advocacy,” he adds. “Clients will have the opportunity to brief counsel with an extensive experience of how the public sector works, as well as the person who brought into law many important Acts of Parliament.”

Mr O’Brien joined No5 Chambers because it is one of the most progressive and forward thinking chambers in the country. The Chambers has a wide range of expertise and a deserved reputation as a centre of excellence in public law, offering an influential and expanding public law group – the kind of law Michael will practice – with strong bases across the country. 

Michael continues: “In addition, I come from the West Midlands, I trained as a lawyer in Birmingham and have a home locally. I have strong contacts there and I am proud of the region being known as a centre of legal expertise with some strong firms and a Bar that is highly rated.” 

Tony McDaid, Practice Director at No5 Chambers, is delighted that Michael O’Brien has taken tenancy. “I am pleased that Michael has recognised the strength of the public law group at Chambers and has decided to lend his not inconsiderable reputation to it,” says Tony. “We have a growing number of former government ministers and law makers enhancing our roster of tenants which is good news for our business model and also for the clients our barristers represent.” 

Michael O’Brien trained in Birmingham as a Solicitor. He was a Lecturer in Contract and Business Law from 1981 to 1987. He practised Criminal Law from 1987 to 1992 dealing with Insider Dealing, fraud, five cases of murder and a defendant in the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Robbery – allegedly the biggest robbery in British history. He was also a Solicitor Advocate for two years.

Elected to Parliament in 1992 he was on the Home Affairs and Treasury Select Committees and was Parliamentary Adviser to the Police Federation before being appointed to the front bench as a Shadow Treasury Minister in 1994 and later going into government. He is a former Law Officer (he was Solicitor General for the United Kingdom 2005-7) and was appointed as Queens Counsel in 2007. 

He served for fourteen years at the Dispatch Box as a Government Minister. 

1994-7 Shadow Minister for The City. 

1997-99 Home Office Minister, took Human Rights Act through the Commons.

1999-2001 Minister for Constitutional Affairs – Acts on Freedom of Information, electoral reform, party finance and Northern Ireland. 

2002-3 Foreign Office Minister dealing with the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan

2003-4 Minister of State for Trade

2004-5 Energy Minister

2005-7 Solicitor General and Law Officer, appointed Queen’s Counsel – Companies and Fraud Acts.

2007-8 Minister of State for Social Security – two Pensions Acts.

2008-9 Minister of Energy and Climate Change – two Energy Acts.

2009-10 Minister of State for Health – Health Reform Act.

Click here to view the profile page of Michael O’Brien.