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Excellence Awards 2019 winners

24 October 2019

Team awards

Excellence in Access to Justice

This new award for 2019 recognises the importance of access to justice, a fundamental right. Legal aid performs a crucial role in providing fair and equal access to those most at risk of being excluded from our legal system. We are celebrating the teams and firms who go above and beyond to combat this issue.

Winner: Paul Hastings LLP

 
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Paul Hastings LLP

Paul Hastings LLP were recognised for working collaboratively on several projects with children’s rights charities including the Youth Justice Legal Centre, UNICEF and Coram. Our judges were impressed with their excellent work, and appreciated their effort working in partnership with others, setting an example to the profession and leading to beneficial consequences for children’s rights.

Highly commended: Legal Advice Centre (University House)

 
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The Legal Advice Centre impressed the judges with their new webcam platform, enabling the provision of welfare benefits and family law advice that focused on remote areas of Devon and Cornwall.

Highly commended: Latham & Watkins

 
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Latham & Watkins impressed the judges with their work with Amnesty International and Save the Children UK to produce detailed research on refugee law, enabling the charities to argue a strong case to change the law in support of vulnerable refugee children.

Excellence in Business Development

As business environments and client expectations constantly evolve, firms are having to find new and innovative ways to secure new business and deliver legal services each year. Celebrating examples of initiatives that challenge convention this award also recognises the work that has contributed additional value to the business.

Winner: Fosters Solicitors LLP

 
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Fosters Solicitors LLP

Fosters Solicitors LLP impressed the judges with their well-thought out business development strategy, and clear focus on business and client needs. They felt the firm deserved high praise for their ingenuity and excellence in this sphere.

Highly commended: DAC Beachcroft

 
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DAC Beachcroft highlighted a clear need for their services, working with NHS Resolution to produce an advisory video to mitigate the risk of complaints, claims and associated costs. The judges were particularly impressed with the authoritative and empathetic nature of the content, and how useful it had become for their clients.

Highly commended: Duncan Lewis Solicitors

 
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Duncan Lewis Solicitors have embraced innovation. Our judges were impressed by the way that they delivered a model of working that stretches the traditional legal services delivery, with a compelling service proposition that showed quality and value to their clients, while helping those who are most at risk in society.

Excellence in Client Service

Clients will always have ever-growing expectations and this award recognises firms who place a strong emphasis on their client care and are committed to continued excellence.

Winner: CFG Law

 
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CFG Law

In an exceptionally strong field, the judges thought CFG Law’s ‘Client First Service’ that focuses on the needs and wellbeing of clients who have suffered a catastrophic injury, was innovative and extremely client centric. The judges were impressed with the firm’s holistic approach, and their focus on understanding needs during the whole patient journey.

Highly commended: Bartons Marine Department

 
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Bartons impressed the judges with the lengths they went to understand the world of their clients and their challenges. By creating empathy they experienced a greatly enhanced client service.

Highly commended: Stuart Miller Solicitors

 
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The judges were impressed by Stuart Miller’s adoption of a 24/7 service that delivers greater accessibility, flexibility and improved communication for their clients.

Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion

The Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion award showcases the successful and innovative examples of best practice in the promotion of diversity, inclusion and social mobility.

Winner: Sainsbury’s Legal Team

 
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Sainsbury’s Legal Team

Sainsbury’s Legal Team have tackled a full range of diversity strands from many different angles. From training sessions on unconscious bias to creative approaches to recruitment, our judges were impressed with their commitment and the work they were doing to encourage teams and organisations they work with to make similar steps.

Highly commended: Bhatt Murphy

 
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Bhatt Murphy has established an impressive paid placement scheme for students from underrepresented groups. Judges were impressed with their efforts to offer an important first step to becoming a legal aid lawyer, opening doors to those who may not have been able to show necessary work experience otherwise.

Highly commended: Gowling WLG

 
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Gowling WLG impressed judges with their clear and data-driven three-year plan and their outside the box approaches including recruitment, leadership and accountability strategies which are already showing results.

Excellence In-house

This award acknowledges the achievements of in-house legal teams, recognising those who apply their skills to the benefit of both the legal function and the overall organisation.

Winner: Young People's Legal Service, Warwickshire Legal Services, Warwickshire Country Council

 
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Young People's Legal Service, Warwickshire Legal Services, Warwickshire Country Council

The Young People’s Legal Service were selected for Excellence In-house for their outstanding contribution to society by delivering legal services that help people experiencing significant financial pressure. The judges were impressed that they thought about not just a short-term solution at a lower price but considered the entire legal system.

Highly commended: Telstra

 
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Telstra were highly commended for their “Engage Platform” – a great innovative service which has been incorporated as part of a clear and holistic legal strategy.

Highly commended: JDA Software

 
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JDA Software stood out for their ability to translate the legal function to the rest of their business in a clear and understandable way.

Excellence in International Legal Services

This award recognises law firms which have demonstrated an innovative approach to the delivery of legal services in today’s international marketplace.

Winner: The International Family Law Group

 
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The International Family Law Group

The International Family Law Group were chosen as winners of Excellence in International Legal Services for their truly international focus in an often challenging area of expertise. Their work on international child abduction impressed the judges, who appreciate it is a big responsibility of huge social consequence. Judges were also impressed by their leading voice in the discussion on the impact of Brexit on international family law.

Highly commended: Zaiwalla & Co LLP

 
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Zaiwalla & Co LLP were highly commended for taking internationalism to the heart of their firm. Through a series of landmark cases, Zaiwalla & Co showcased the strength and independence of the legal system in England and Wales.

Highly commended: Expatriate Law

 
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Expatriate Law were highly commended for demonstrating an impressive internationalisation of their practice area, as well as a diverse body of professionals advising domestic and overseas clients.

Excellence in Learning & Development

This award recognises the importance of learning and development in the legal profession and the commitment of firms who are investing in the continued professional development of their teams.

Winner: Russell-Cooke and Lawyers in Charities

 
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Russell-Cooke and Lawyers in Charities

Russell-Cooke and Lawyers in Charities were selected for Excellence in Learning & Development because of their collaborative effort in developing a clever, free legal resource for in-house charity lawyers that is easy to access and will be of benefit to charities across the UK.

Highly commended: Weightmans LLP

 
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Weightmans LLP’s flexible learning and development programme, including their leadership academy, has helped them fill skills gaps, promote internally and has shown significant return on investment.

Highly commended: Giles Wilson LLP

 
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Giles Wilson LLP were highly commended for their clear commitment to progression. They showed that investing in staff can create excellence in the workforce while helping individuals transitioning from paralegal, to trainee, to associate.

Excellence in Marketing & Communications

This award recognises solicitors who are leading the way in finding innovative means to communicate with clients, staff and stakeholders.

Winner: RPC

 
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RPC

RPC developed and executed a campaign aimed at attracting the right kind of people to join their firm. The judges felt that the style, tone and use of humorous videos set this entry apart and were impressed by the increased employee engagement it had contributed towards.

Highly commended: Harrison Clark Rickerbys LLP

 
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Harrison Clark Rickerbys successful campaign made solicitors more visible and accessible for clients. A new website with outstanding functionality, rich content and a personal, open feel brought their campaign to life.

Highly commended: Setfords Solicitors

 
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Setfords Solicitors improved client engagement, built trust, and delivered a better return on investment on its digital activities through use of the UK's leading review platform, Trustpilot.

Excellence in Private Client Practice

Excellence in Private Client Practice celebrates those who excel and set themselves apart in the world of wills, probate and trusts.

Winner: Morecrofts Solicitors

 
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Morecrofts Solicitors

Morecrofts Solicitors clearly demonstrated commitment to client satisfaction. They have gone above and beyond for their clients to ensure that their wellbeing, and where possible their additional costs, can be looked after by creating support and pointing clients towards free access to the things they need.

Highly commended: Roche Legal

 
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Roche Legal have demonstrated a customer-focused approach to help provide a voice to the most vulnerable in society. Judges were impressed by their commitment to bringing private client issues into the public in a more understandable way, demystifying the legal process and utilising digital opportunities to address some of the issues their clients were experiencing.

Highly commended: Hugh Jones Solicitors

 
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Hugh Jones Solicitors demonstrated high standards in expanding services to support vulnerable clients and their families. Judges were impressed at their approach to offering advice in difficult areas, including welfare benefits and healthcare appeals, and the clear evidence that they value and appreciate their staff.

Excellence in Pro Bono

Excellence in Pro Bono celebrates the outstanding work of firms who are also members of the Law Society Pro Bono Charter, recognising commitment to providing outstanding pro bono work.

Winner: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher UK

 
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Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher UK

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher have achieved lasting and dramatic change in an area of significant public importance, by bringing the concerning trend of “upskirting”, a practice of taking photos up someone’s skirt without their consent, into the courts. The judges were especially impressed with the breadth of legal skills used and the ambition of the project – this firm have shown how much can be achieved when solicitors get creative with pro bono.

Highly commended: Arnold & Porter, Covington & Burling, Reed Smith, Ropes & Gray, Shearman & Sterling and Kids in Need of Defense UK (MiCLU hub)

 
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The judges were impressed with the collaboration between these firms to help undocumented children with the right to remain in the UK. The network of pro bono lawyers has worked together and achieved an impressive 100% success rate for applications submitted to the Home Office.

Highly commended: Hogan Lovells International LLP

 
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Hogan Lovells impressed the judges with their needs-led approach to pro bono, building a business case and funding for Lewisham Law Service from a proven need in the area. The work they have done demonstrates the lasting impact that an innovative approach can have.

Excellence in Technology & Innovation

The Excellence in Technology & Innovation award champions those who have embraced the possibilities of technology and implemented them in innovative ways to aid their business.

Winner: Co-op Legal Services

 
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Co-op Legal Services

Co-op Legal Services impressed the judges with the way they deployed technology to meet a clearly defined and unmet client need. By digitalising divorce paperwork, utilising content marketing, and implementing technology that aids a more balanced working life for their staff; Co-op Legal Services have created a positive impact for their clients, colleagues and their business.

Highly commended: Hall Smith Whittingham LLP

 
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Hall Smith Whittingham LLP were highly commended for their impressive innovation in the delivery of traditional high street services. Their Home Owner’s Passport helped to reduce completion times and increase transparency for their clients.

Highly commended: Sky Legal

 
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Sky Legal were highly commended for their Legal Front Door project. The judges were impressed with the case study in how large-scale internal legal operations can be transformed using technology.

Small Law Firm of the Year

This award celebrates the successes of small firms, whether from stand-out events or overall performance, it celebrates those who have demonstrated excellence through business improvement, staff engagement, development, and client service.

Winner: Instalaw Solicitors

 
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Instalaw Solicitors

Instalaw Solicitors have become a very successful firm in a short space of time, already receiving recognition for the work they have achieved in their client care initiatives. Respected and noted in the community for working closely with many charities, Instalaw Solicitors are firmly committed to training their staff and encouraging new law students to join the profession.

Highly commended: Collins Solicitors

 
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Collins Solicitors were highly commended for their instrumental involvement in bringing about the statutory Infected Blood Public Inquiry, looking into how and why thousands of people in the 1970s and 1980s were given infected blood products by the NHS.

Highly commended: Wesley Gryk Solicitors LLP

 
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Wesley Gryk Solicitors LLP are highly commended for their development and engagement of staff through the firm’s outreach initiatives, especially for EU citizens and LGBT refugees.

Medium Law Firm of the Year

This award celebrates the success of medium-sized firms who have excelled. Recognising firms who have implemented creative initiatives to help grow and improve performance in all areas, including business improvement, client services and staff development.

Winner: Family Law Partners

 
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Family Law Partners

Family Law Partners have made real changes to working lives and the industry through their focus on wellbeing and innovation. They display a significant and impressive focus and investment in people and technology, together with a willingness to share with the industry via their independent tech platform.

Large Law Firm of the Year

This award celebrates large firms who have thrived and made an impact in a highly competitive and volatile business environment. They have made strides to improve business practices across the board and excel in client services and community involvement.

Winner: Dentons

 
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Dentons

Over the last year, Dentons have secured a number of complex, high-profile and multi-jurisdictional deals for clients, including the government. By implementing a strategy of creating stronger ties with key clients and developing a robust value proposition and investing to grow market share, Denton’s has sustained revenue growth in the double digits.

Highly commended: Weightmans LLP

 
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Weightmans LLP were highly commended for their modern and forward-thinking strategies that saw them go from strength to strength. The judges were impressed with their focus on innovation, responsible work with the community and corporate social responsibility work.

Highly commended: Leigh Day

 
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Leigh Day was highly commended because of their work on some of the most high-profile legal cases in the UK. Their strength of conviction saw them withstand attacks and remain a firm which will always support the 'David against the Goliath'. The judges were impressed that Leigh Day appeared to go places others fear to tread, demonstrating real courage in serving their clients.

Individual awards

The Law Society Gazette Legal Personality of the Year

The Gazette Legal Personality of the year is a special award. Nominations are submitted by Law Society Gazette readers and the winner chosen by a panel of senior editorial staff. The award recognises those who have made an outstanding public contribution to the profession.

Winner: Harriet Wistrich, of Birnberg Peirce, and the Centre for Women’s Justice

 
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Harriet Wistrich used the law to secure accountability for violence against women, as a solicitor and founder of the Centre for Women’s Justice. Her work has included seeking justice for women who had relationships with undercover police officers and leading the action that prevented the release of the ‘black cab rapist’ in 2018.

Highly commended: Carol Storer of Legal Action Group

 
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Carol Storer made a huge contribution to the publicly funded sector in an unprecedentedly difficult economic climate. She has been described as a 'robust and highly effective champion’ for access to justice.

Highly commended: James Brown and Sam Hall of Hall Brown

 
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James Brown and Sam Hall led a campaign to safeguard the pioneering but threatened Family Drug and Alcohol Court, pledging £37,000 over three years. Their extraordinary efforts were not in vain – nearly a year later, the government promised £15 million to keep children out of care.

Human Rights Solicitor of the Year

This award celebrates excellence and outstanding achievement in human rights. We’re celebrating solicitors whose sheer dedication has made an exceptional contribution to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights.

Winner: Sapna Malik of Leigh Day

 
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Sapna Malik of Leigh Day

Sapna Malik is a prominent human rights lawyer who has run several ground-breaking test cases. She has proven herself to be a model for young lawyers, fighting fearlessly against huge odds. The judges were impressed by her outstanding dedication, commitment and perseverance.

Highly commended: Nusrat Uddin of Wilson Solicitors LLP

 
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Nusrat Uddin impressed the judges with her vital work for survivors of human trafficking and lifechanging work around asylum seekers. She was also awarded a research fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to compare the UK’s models of support for victims of trafficking to those in other countries.

Highly commended: Jocelyn Cockburn of Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors

 
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Jocelyn Cockburn was highly commended for her work on the landmark ruling in the Supreme Court regarding the human rights of soldiers on the battlefield. She also launched a full and fearless investigation into the death of a child who died from respiratory failure and asthma which may be linked to air pollution, arguing that there has been an arguable failure by the State to comply with its duties under the Convention to protect her right to life.

Junior Lawyer of the Year

The Junior Lawyer of the Year award celebrates those who have demonstrated an exceptional standard of work as well as great dedication in their role as a junior lawyer.

Winner: Jonathan Andrews of Reed Smith

 
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Jonathan Andrews of Reed Smith

Jonathan Andrews impressed the judges by not only excelling professionally – managing over 200 cases affecting thousands of clients – but also leading on outstanding work in the disability inclusion field. As a first-year trainee, he co-founded Bauer Media's first-ever D&I forum, and advises clients on diversity, recognising its importance to the profession.

Highly commended: Chrissie Wolfe of Irwin Mitchell

 
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Chrissie Wolfe is highly commended for her work representing clients in a pioneering and challenging area of law. She has also made an impact with her YouTube channel, which aims to help aspiring solicitors break into the profession.

Highly commended: Adam Eagle of Clifford Chance LLP

 
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Adam Eagle, at just two-years qualified, has played a pivotal role in shaping the legal landscape in a post-Brexit world. Adam impressed the judges with his work on nationally significant cases and has developed pioneering legal specialisms.

Practice Manager of the Year

The Practice Manager of the Year category celebrates individuals who have introduced innovative change management initiatives which resulted in significant performance improvements.

Winner: Joanne Dalton of MSB Solicitors

 
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Joanne Dalton of MSB Solicitors

Joanne Dalton is a practice manager in the truest sense, her sole contribution to the success of her firm and improvement of its core business functions have been transformative. Our judges were impressed with her practical commitment to championing staff development and progression within the firm. Crucially, she has made diversity and inclusivity instrumental to that aim.

Highly commended: Ian Walker of Family Law and Mediation Limited

 
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Ian Walker has founded and built a thriving firm in a relatively short period of time. His innovative “multiple client point” service impressed the judges.

Highly commended: Linda Hayes of Grayfords

 
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Solicitor of the Year – In-house

This award celebrates the unique blend of professional responsibilities that come with working as an in-house solicitor. We’re recognising excellence and outstanding achievements of those who have gone above and beyond in their roles.

Winner: Chris Fox of Kambi Group plc

 
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Chris Fox of Kambi Group plc

Chris Fox impressed the judges with his demonstration of professionalism and commitment to growth, rebuilding his firm’s governance processes and managing a series of deals worth in excess of £600 million.

Highly commended: Hazel Randall of NHS Digital

 
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Hazel Randall’s inspirational leadership and vision has resulted in a professional, knowledgeable team delivering innovative legal services to NHS Digital.

Highly commended: Anne-Louise Ferguson MBE of NWSSP Legal and Risk Services

 
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Anne-Louise Ferguson’s unique blend of legal knowledge, experience and understanding of the NHS and medical practice has made her a leading expert in her field.

Solicitor of the Year – Private Practice

This award recognises an outstanding contribution made by a solicitor in private practice. We’re celebrating those who have gone the extra mile.

Winner: Tamsin Allen of Bindmans LLP

 
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Tamsin Allen of Bindmans LLP

Tamsin Allen has shown exceptional energy and focus in every area of her work, contributing to her team’s success. Her pioneering work includes successfully defending high-profile whistle-blowers, most notably in the Cambridge Analytica and 'Vote Leave' scandals, having a direct impact on the UK political scene and large numbers of social media users.

Highly commended: Daniel Winterfeldt at Reed Smith

 
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Daniel Winterfeldt was highly commended for his prolific charity work and impressive leadership qualities. The judges were impressed with the work he did to help people from a wide range of disadvantaged backgrounds.

Highly commended: Kayleigh Leonie of Macfarlanes LLP

 
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Kayleigh Leonie has been described as “tenacious and creative” and has applied herself to work which has had an extremely positive social and commercial impact. Through her work in resilience and wellbeing in the profession, she has raised awareness around the issues that junior lawyers often face.

Sole Practitioner of the Year

This award celebrates excellence and outstanding achievement from sole practitioners. In times of regulatory, legislative and financial management challenges, we’re celebrating passionate and pioneering sole practitioners who stay on top of the ever-changing industry.

Winner: Ayesha Nayyar of Nayyars Solicitors

 
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Ayesha Nayyar of Nayyars Solicitors

Ayesha Nayyar has built a successful practice with remarkably strong growth while still managing to support young apprentices. Innovative in her ability to get her public message out, she has developed a strong brand and built an impressive profile for herself and her firm.

Highly commended: Arun Chauhan of Tenet Compliance & Litigation Ltd

 
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Arun Chauhan’s niche firm provides an accessible route to highly specialised legal advice, and whose work has had a positive impact on access to justice.

Woman Solicitor of the Year

This award recognises female solicitors who have achieved significant results, either in business or for the benefit of society.

Winner: Alison Lobb of Morecrofts Solicitors

 
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Alison Lobb is a leading lawyer who is fully embedded in the legal profession and wider business community in Liverpool. As a managing partner, she has introduced significant policy changes to support gender equality in the workplace. She stands out for her active promotion of women in the profession, and is a true and worthy ambassador for women, her practice and her city.

Highly commended: Sarah Khan-Bashir MBE of SKB Law

 
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Sarah Khan-Bashir has inspired the next generation of lawyers through leading and delivering on community initiatives such as work experience placements and employability schemes.

Highly commended: Lesley Gregory of Memery Crystal LLP

 
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Lesley Gregory has actively promoted female representation in her firm and has helped many aspiring female entrepreneurs through the Women in Business network.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner: Lucy Scott-Moncrieff of Scott-Moncrieff Associates Ltd

 
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Lucy Scott-Moncrieff of Scott-Moncrieff Associates Ltd

Lucy Scott-Moncrieff’s work is prolific: she is the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, the Co-Chair of the Legal Aid and Access to Justice Committee of the International Bar Association, and sits as a Tribunal judge, to mention just a few of her appointments.

She has not only built an extremely successful firm from the ground up but has also built her reputation as a mental health and human rights lawyer, and as a promoter and supporter of the profession and its values. She gives a huge amount of her time to the public and the profession.