Charlie Hopkins was born in Newport, Gwent in 1953 and brought up in South Wales, attending a local grammar school in Swansea. He studied Geography at Oriel College, Oxford, specialising in geomorphology, and graduated with 1st class honours in 1975. Remaining at Oxford he undertook a B.Phil in Latin American Studies, specialising in Economic Development and Political Science, transferring to the University of Sussex to research for a D.Phil in Natural Resource Development and Ecology in Latin America.
From 1979 he lectured in London at Polytechnics and in Higher Education, teaching courses on Environmental Psychology and Sociology, Geography and Business Studies.
In 1989 he completed a Diploma in Law at Central London Polytechnic, and the Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law being called to the Bar in 1991, where he was awarded the W A Maakad Prize by the Inner Temple for the highest mark in the European Commercial Law module.
He joined a specialist Environmental Law chambers, Old Square, for pupillage, working on cases such as Camelford and Rechem. During this period he was involved in setting up the Environmental Law Foundation, before completing his pupillage with Leigh, Day & Co, Solicitors.
He remained with Leigh, Day & Co until 1996, and was nominated by In Brief legal magazine as "Capital Young Lawyer of the Year" in 1994 (at the age of 41). In 1995 he was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court. During this period he worked on a number of high profile cases such as the tobacco personal injury actions, beach pollution cases with Surfers Against Sewage, Greenpeace International v European Commission, tort actions against trans-national corporations and developed a specialist practice in the field of environmental judicial reviews and water pollution.
In 1995, in a departure from environmental law, he acted for Newport County AFC (his home town football club) in an action for restraint of trade against the FAW (Football Association of Wales). In a ground-breaking decision Newport obtained an injunction to return to play football in Wales and an eventual High Court judgement in their favour. Charlie remains the only lawyer to have featured in a football team line-up in the Non-League Directory.
In 1997 he joined Bindman & Partners as a consultant and was retained by Surfers Against Sewage as their legal advisor.
In 1998 he set up EarthRights Solicitors with John Dunkley and ran the Devon office. He has had various articles published in legal journals and the national press, together with contributions to a number of legal textbooks. He has given a number of seminars and workshops on a broad range of legal topics and has made a number of appearances on national TV and radio.