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Legal champions of the most vulnerable feted

Solicitors who champion some of the most vulnerable people in society and have made an invaluable contribution to worthwhile causes have been recognised at the Law Society Awards 2021.

Excellence was recognised across 20 categories at the most prestigious awards ceremony for solicitors in England and Wales, which took place virtually yesterday (7 October) hosted by comedian Jo Caulfield.

The diverse activities our award winners have been involved in range from providing pro bono assistance to help Asylum Aid handle statelessness within the UK, supporting bewildered working parents during the pandemic and freeing maritime hostages.

“Congratulations to all the winners, commended and shortlisted in this year’s awards,” said Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“Solicitors help so many people – including the most vulnerable in society – in so many ways and it is a great pleasure to be able to recognise the efforts of our outstanding winners.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the hard work, skill and dedication of their counterparts across England and Wales, who continue to champion the rule of law and to defend the right to justice for all despite the difficult circumstances so many of us have faced in the past year.”

Our Lifetime Achievement Award went to Michael Hanley, from Wilson Solicitors LLP, who has dedicated his career of 36 years to fighting for some of society’s most vulnerable and unpopular causes.

It was double delight for Hanley as his firm won the award for Excellence in Access to Justice. Specialising in immigration, an area which has seen substantial public funding cuts, Wilson Solicitors has demonstrated a strong commitment to providing continued legal aid provision.

Neil Hudgell, from Hudgell Solicitors, who helped secure justice for dozens of former sub-postmasters wrongly convicted in the Post Office Horizon scandal, won the Law Society Gazette Legal Personality of the Year.

Fatema Orjela, of Sidley Austin LLP, took the Woman Solicitor of the Year gong, having demonstrated clear leadership in gender diversity including mentoring the next generation of aspiring solicitors from diverse backgrounds.

Human Rights Solicitor of the Year winner – Maria Patsalos, from Mishcon de Reya – is a true champion of diversity, having founded a range of pro-bono initiatives such as Pink Law and Black Justice to ensure the rights of marginalised groups are protected and promoted.

While Junior Lawyer of the Year, Jeremy Bloom (of Duncan Lewis Solicitors) impressed with his involvement in the Windrush project, changing the lives of thousands of people.

New categories introduced this year included Excellence in Upholding the Rule of Law, won by Rook Irwin Sweeney. Since launching with three founding partners during the pandemic, the firm has acted in a string of landmark cases to uphold the rule of law.

Notes to editors

List of winners:

  • Excellence in Access to Justice – Wilson Solicitors LLP
  • Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion – Thursfields Legal Limited
  • Excellence in International Legal Services – Baker McKenzie
  • Excellence in Practice Management – The Family Law Company
  • Excellence in Practice Promotion – DAC Beachcroft
  • Excellence in Pro Bono – Akin Gump, Ashurst, Cooley, Dentons, Freshfields, Latham & Watkins, Morrison & Foerster, O'Melveny, Orrick, Reed Smith, Skadden and White & Case (Collaboration)
  • Excellence in Promoting High Ethical Standards – The Ethical Solicitor/MLSH Ltd
  • Excellence in Technology and Innovation – Monaco Solicitors
  • Excellence in Upholding the Rule of Law – Rook Irwin Sweeney
  • In-house Team of the Year – Working Families
  • Medium Law Firm of the Year – Phillips Solicitors
  • Small Law Firm of the Year – Tatham Law LLP
  • The Law Society Gazette Legal Personality of the Year – Neil Hudgell, Hudgell Solicitors
  • Human Rights Solicitor of the Year – Maria Patsalos, Mishcon de Reya
  • Junior Lawyer of the Year – Jeremy Bloom, Duncan Lewis Solicitors
  • Sole Practitioner of the Year – Ian Walker, Family Law and Mediation Limited
  • Solicitor of the Year – In-house – Marios Kontos, Rainbow Migration
  • Solicitor of the Year – Private Practice – Anne Kavanagh, Irwin Mitchell
  • Woman Solicitor of the Year – Fatema Orjela, Sidley Austin LLP
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Michael Hanley, Wilson Solicitors LLP

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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