the suits

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Nicholas Bowers is not a publicity-conscious lawyer specialising in high-profile cases. The litigation specialist at a three-partner firm based in Surbiton, Surrey, became the legal representative of Szymon Serafinowicz, the 84-year-old former carpenter accused of taking part in the murder of Jews in Eastern Europe during the Second World War, in the usual way - via a personal recommendation.

That was two years ago, when Mr Serafinowicz, who lives near Surbiton, became aware that he faced becoming the first person to be charged under war crimes legislation passed in 1991. Since then, Mr Bowers has become used to the media attention that attends such cases, while also going about his more usual business of pursuing civil claims and taking on the odd criminal case. Advice from the Law Society had been helpful, he says, adding philosophically that helping clients deal with the media is part of his function. He and his client were accordingly mentally prepared for the events at the end of last week.

A native Mancunian who studied at the then Kingston Polytechnic's well- regarded law school before being admitted as a solicitor in December 1974, the 45-year-old Mr Bowers practised in nearby Guildford and Esher before settling in Surbiton in 1981. The firm had been founded a few years before by Edward Thompson and became Thompson Bowers in the mid-Eighties.

As has been reported, Mr Serafinowicz will be granted legal aid, and the names of the legal big guns who will prepare his defence should be announced shortly. But this side of the affair - dealing with high-profile counsel - does not trouble Mr Bowers. He has, after all, helped to make legal history once before. A few years ago, he acted in R v Bridge, a child abuse case that was the first to use videolink evidence.

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