Excellence Awards judges

  • Learn more about our expert judges.

    Sally Azarmi, sole practitioner, Azarmi & Co

    Sally Azarmi

    Judge: Sole Practitioner of the Year

    Sally Azarmi founded Azarmi & Company Ltd in the City in 2012, after 18 years of practising as a solicitor and partner in large law firms.


    Sally has been singled out by clients for her focus, efficiency and “brilliant strategic approach”, as well as the personal and highly attentive nature of her practice and bespoke service. Azarmi & Co specialises in international trade and shipping, and immigration. The majority of their clients are referred by other law firms and professional partnerships in the UK and internationally.

    Sally has been involved with the Small Firms Division of the Law Society since its inaugural year, and was formerly chair of the division, as she strongly believes in the need for small firms to provide access to justice and in promoting and supporting small firms across the country.

    Robert Banner, executive director, Banner Jones Solicitors

    Robert Banner

    Judge: Excellence in Practice Management

    Robert Banner is executive director at Banner Jones Solicitors. He qualified in 1976 and has been a partner in the firm since 1981.


    After initially spending 12 years specialising in criminal law and then employment law, for the last 25 years Robert has focused on personal injury. During that time, he has developed considerable expertise in all types of cases on behalf of claimants and has dealt with several multi-million pound claims.

    Robert was one of the first solicitors in the area to recognise the importance of management and business planning as far as law firms were concerned. He took on the role of managing partner in the 1980s and now serves on the Management Executive Committee within Banner Jones Ltd.

    Robert has recently been recognised by the UK Legal 500 and has received the ‘recommended lawyer’ status for his experience in personal injury work.

    Cordella Bart Stewart, director, Black Solicitors Network

    Cordella Bart Stewart

    Judge: Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion

    Cordella has a strong interest in equality and human rights issues and has specialised in family and immigration law for over 25 years.


    An immigration and family law specialist, Cordella founded Stewart & Co Solicitors & Privy Council Agents in 1990 as a general legal practice in north London.

    She has been a pioneering champion for social justice working across many different sectors including as an independent governor of Staffordshire University, which awarded her an honorary doctorate. She is current chair of the Education Committee. She has been a fee paid immigration judge since 2000.

    Her extensive management and leadership experience was recognised by the Chartered Management Institute who appointed her a Companion of the Institute. She was shortlisted as the Law Society Gazette Legal Personality of the Year at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2014. She is a serving director and founding member of BSN.

    Robert Buckland QC MP, Solicitor General for England and Wales

    Robert Buckland

    Judge: Excellence in Pro Bono

    Robert is Solicitor General for England and Wales. He was elected Member of Parliament for South Swindon at the general election of 6 May 2010.


    Robert was born in Llanelli in 1968. He went to Hatfield College, Durham, where he became secretary of the Junior Common Room and president of the Union Society (Michaelmas 1989), graduating in Law in 1990.

    Robert attended the Inns of Court School of Law, where he was a prize winner for advocacy and was called to the Bar at Inner Temple in October 1991. He returned to practice in Wales, and became a tenant of Iscoed Chambers, Swansea. In 1999, Robert moved to 30 Park Place, Cardiff, where he practised in criminal law and planning. In 2007, Robert joined the newly formed Apex Chambers at 33–35 Cathedral Road, Cardiff. Robert is a door tenant at 23 Essex Street Chambers, London. In 2009, he was appointed as a recorder of the Crown Court, sitting on the Midland Circuit.

    In 1997, Robert married Sian, whom he met at university. In 2002, their twin children Millicent and George were born. Robert’s interests include music, wine, political history and watching rugby and cricket.

    In July 2014 he was appointed solicitor general.

    Larry Cattle, consultant, CattleConsulting

    Larry Cattle

    Judge: Excellence in Business Development

    Larry has a classic marketing background which began at Unilever and was followed by a move into financial services, most notably with NatWest Bank.


    Since then he has worked for more than a decade in professional services in in-house and consulting capacities with professional services firms including Bird & Bird, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Collyer Bristow, Bacon & Woodrow, Conyers Dill & Pearman, ES Group and Bevan Brittan.

    Larry has won several professional awards including, in 2011, leading a mid-sized London law firm to be recognised by the Law Society with its Award for Excellence in Marketing and Business Development, for Project Connect: “the most innovative, creative and inspiring business development campaign executed by a law firm”.

    CattleConsulting has evolved around a primary purpose – to help professional services firms generate more business. After more than 15 years of working with a wide range of professional services organisations, particularly law firms, certain patterns become very clear. Firms that are committed to a clear strategy, and that operate with a combination of effective communication and the right mix of well thought through business development activities, are the most successful.

    Sarah Chambers, chair, Legal Services Consumer Panel

    Sarah Chambers

    Judge: Excellence in Client Service

    Sarah is an expert in regulation, competition and consumer policy, with leadership experience at board level.


    Sarah was formerly chief executive of PostComm (2004–2008) and has wide-ranging experience as a senior civil servant in various roles, including director of consumer and competition policy, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, from 2008 to 2011, and director of renewable energy deployment, DECC, from 2011 to 2013.

    Until recently, Sarah was a non-executive director of the Competition and Markets Authority, and she holds several other public appointments, consultancy and trustee roles – including commissioner of the Electoral Commission; Judicial Appointments Commission panellist (appointing judges at all levels); Civil Aviation Authority Consumer Panel member; and chair of the Applications Panel of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code.

    Past appointments include member of the Qualifications Committee of the Bar Standards Board (2012–2017) and independent director, Payments Council (2014–2015).

    Virginia Clegg, senior partner, DAC Beachcroft LLP

    Virginia Clegg

    Judge: Law Firm of the Year - Large

    Virginia is the first female senior partner of DAC Beachcroft LLP. She is chair of the LLP Group Board and a member of the Audit Committee and Remuneration and Nomination Committee.


    In 2015, she spearheaded the introduction of the agile workplace initiative, one of the first of its kind in the legal sector.

    Since her election, as part of a whole-business review, she has led the development of the firm’s purpose, vision and cultural principles, involving over 1,000 colleagues. Most recently, she has concluded a review of the firm’s governance, resulting in the adoption of a new Member’s Agreement.

    Lord Clement-Jones CBE, consultant, DLA Piper

    Tim Clement-Jones

    Judge: Excellence in Technology and Innovation

    Lord Clement-Jones is a consultant of global law firm DLA Piper. He is chair of Ombudsman Services Limited, the not-for-profit, independent Ombudsman Service.


    Former positions within DLA include London managing partner (2011–2016), head of UK Government Affairs, chairman of its China and Middle East desks, international business relations partner and co-chairman of Global Government Relations.

    He is chair of Ombudsman Services Limited, the not-for-profit, independent Ombudsman Service that provides dispute resolution for the communications, energy, property and copyright licensing industries. He is a member of the Advisory Board of Airmic (the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers in Industry and Commerce) and board member of the Corporate Finance Faculty of the ICAEW.

    Lord Jones was made CBE for political services in 1988 and a life peer in 1998. Until July 2004, he was the Liberal Democrat health spokesman and thereafter until 2010 Liberal Democrat spokesman on culture, media and sport in the House of Lords. He is the Liberal Democrat spokesman for the digital economy and a former spokesman on the creative industries (2015–2017).

    He is the former chair of the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence (2017–2018) and co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence. He is deputy chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on China. Lord Jones was an external member of the Council of University College London and chair of its Audit Committee (2012–2017). He is chairman of the Council of Queen Mary University of London. Lord Jones is also president of Ambitious About Autism, an autism education charity and school for children with autism and other communication disorders.

    Paul Cummins, head of legal services, Milton Keynes Council

    Paul Cummins

    Judge: Solicitor of the Year - In-house

    Paul Cummins is head of legal services at Milton Keynes Council.


    Biography to follow.

    Chris Daly, chief executive, Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)

    Chris Daly

    Judge: Excellence in Marketing and Communications

    Chris is chief executive of CIM where he is implementing a fresh strategy and transformation programme.


    The programme aims to support individuals and organisations gain a recognised business advantage through professional marketing.

    Chris joined CIM in June 2001 as operations manager for the Training Division. In July 2007, he was promoted to director of membership and had responsibility for CIM’s membership and sector interest group operation, both in the UK and overseas.

    In March 2013 he became director of customer experience and, in March 2016, Chris was appointed chief executive of CIM.

    Gaining a BA in Modern History, Politics and Russian Studies from Durham University, Chris acquired a broad spectrum of management experience ranging from roles in the City, the British Army with the Blues and Royals, Household Cavalry Regiment, and the public sector, working in the Central Office of Information and being seconded to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

    Joy Akah-Douglas, director and principal, Hillary Cooper Law

    Joy Akah-Douglas

    Judge: Woman Lawyer of the Year

    Joy is a solicitor advocate with over 15 years’ experience in both private practice and the public sector.


    As an accredited mediator, she has acted on a few high-profile property law matters and has wide experience in ADR. She currently proffers expert legal advice on property law and dispute resolution.

    Joy also has a growing client base comprising senior executives and employees in employment law. Having practised as a barrister in the City, Joy is now a regular speaker and trainer at property professional events and has written articles for legal journals. She enjoys mentoring young people, travelling and cooking.

    Anthony Earl, head of residential and commercial property, Earl and Crocker Solicitors

    Anthony Earl

    Judge: Solicitor of the Year - Private Practice

    Anthony Earl is Earl and Crocker Solicitors’ senior director. He has extensive experience in dealing with both residential and commercial conveyancing.


    Anthony specialises in acting for developers and small businesses.

    He was educated at Devonport High School for Boys in Plymouth and after attending Guildford College of Law came back to the West Country to practice in Liskeard where he has spent his professional life.

    He is experienced in all forms of property transactions including freehold and leasehold house and flat sales and purchases, equity release schemes, re-mortgages, setting up management companies, transfer of equity and matrimonial property transfers.

    He was president of the Cornwall Law Society for 2015/16, is vice chair of Liskeard Chamber of Commerce, a committee member of Fastmove Property Lawyers, a governor at Callington Community College and a trustee of the SITA Cornwall Trust.

    Adele Edwin-Lamerton, chair, Junior Lawyers Division, Pattinson Brewer Solicitors

    Adele Edwin-Lamerton

    Judge: Junior Lawyer of the Year

    Adele is chair of the Executive Committee of the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society of England and Wales.


    The Junior Lawyers Division is the largest division of the Law Society, representing over 75,000 members.

    Adele has experience of advising on settlement agreements, grievance and disciplinary processes, unfair dismissal, holiday pay, redundancy discrimination and tribunal litigation and has experience of advising Police Federation and Trade Union members.

    As a member of the Executive Committee Adele leads on consultation responses, liaises with the SRA in relation to their proposals to reform the solicitor qualification process and campaigns on issues of social mobility and access to the profession. Adele is also a Social Mobility Ambassador for the Law Society and has had articles published in both Young Lawyer and the Solicitors Journal.

    Philip Giles, partner, Head of the Contentious Private Client Department, Giles Wilson LLP

    Philip Giles

    Judge: Law Firm of the Year - Small

    Philip has run his own law firm for the last 20 years in partnership with his sister. Philip’s firm is a general practice, with a focus on private client work.


    Philip has found that by building a strong local brand and placing great emphasis on client care and community relations, business has thrived.

    As chair of the Small Firms Division at the Law Society, Philip sees many different types of small firms, with innovative lawyers at their heart. Philip is delighted that the small firm is being championed by the Law Society by being included as a category at this year’s Excellence Awards.

    David Gilroy, sales and marketing director, Conscious Solutions

    David Gilroy

    Judge: Excellence in Marketing and Communications

    David is director of stuff and things (also known as sales and marketing director) at Conscious Solutions, and is one of the company’s founders.


    David has personally worked with over 300 law firms on their digital marketing strategies – including website design, email marketing, lead conversion, social media, SEO, PPC and CRM.

    He has presented at legal marketing and in-house seminars across the UK. In 2017 he presented 24 times to 818 people, including at the PM Forum Annual Conference and Alliotts Group and EuroJuris European meetings.

    Wanda Goldwag, chair of the Office of Legal Complaints Board, Legal Ombudsman

    Wanda Goldwag

    Judge: Excellence in Client Service

    In 2017, Wanda was appointed as chair of the Office of Legal Complaints – the board of the Legal Ombudsman.


    Wanda is also an adviser to Smedvig Venture Capital, and a non-executive director of the Royal Free Hospital.

    In the legal sector she is also a member of the QC appointments panel.

    She had a 25-year career in marketing and her last corporate role was as managing director of British Airways owned Air Miles. Wanda has also been a civil service commissioner and a postcomm commissioner. She has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and has recently been shortlisted for a Diversity Champion award.

    Caroline Gould, chief executive, Society for Computers and Law (SCL)

    Caroline Gould

    Judge: Excellence in Technology and Innovation

    Caroline read Law at the University of the West of England before joining SCL in 1991, where she is responsible for the Society’s administration and financial management.


    Working closely with the SCL Board of Trustees, it is Caroline’s responsibility to develop the Society’s long-term strategy, budget and business plan and to ensure the Society complies with the law and regulations. Caroline is also responsible for managing the SCL administration team and for all the contractors who work with SCL.

    Joanne Gubbay, head of learning and development, Slaughter and May

    Joanne Gubbay

    Judge: Excellence in Learning and Development

    Joanne began her legal career as a commercial litigator before moving into learning and development. She is now head of learning and development at Slaughter and May.


    Joanne is a qualified coach and an experienced mentor, including for the 30% Club. Her passion is helping young lawyers, particularly women, to develop and flourish in their careers. She is also a member of the Nominating Council of the Women of the Year Lunch and a trustee of the Women of the Year Foundation.

    Gillian Guy CBE, chief executive, Citizens Advice

    Gillian Guy

    Judge: Excellence in Pro Bono

    Gillian became chief executive of Citizens Advice in July 2010. She was awarded a CBE for services to consumers.


    Citizens Advice is an independent charity that leads, supports and promotes the network of local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales.

    Gillian is also chair of the UK Finance Consumer Advisory Group and a member of the Banking Standards Board.

    Gillian was previously CEO of Victim Support, where she led a major programme of change and development of new and improved services for victims. Gillian trained as a lawyer and spent 11 years as CEO of a large London borough. She served as a non-executive board member and chair of the Audit Committee of the National Audit Office and as a non-judicial member of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales.

    Ann Harrison, chairwoman, Stephensons Solicitors

    Ann Harrison

    Judge: Excellence in Practice Management

    Ann took a seat on the board of Stephensons Solicitors in 2002 and held the role of managing partner until 2008 when she moved to her current role as chairwoman.


    Ann joined Stephensons in 1991 having previously been a sole practitioner and cost draftsperson. She was appointed a partner in 1993. She was head of personal injury, head of clinical negligence and then head of litigation.

    In her role as chairwoman, Ann has responsibility for strategy and growth in addition to providing a mentoring role for partners. Ann also carries the responsibility for regulation, risk and compliance across the firm.

    Ann’s goal is to make Stephensons a trusted brand in the legal services market. She works with other managers to ensure that the firm achieves its vision of excellence in service delivery.

    Ann is obsessive about proper regulation and risk management. She holds the position of COLP, risk management partner and DPO, supported by a risk management team. She is also responsible for managing the firm’s relationship with the SRA.

    Marcus Hayes, director, Mason Hayes Solicitors

    Marcus Hayes

    Judge: Law Firm of the Year - Small

    Marcus heads award-winning law firm Mason Hayes. He was shortlisted for the 2013 Law Society Excellence Award for Solicitor of the Year.


    In 2015 he was highly commended in the same category.

    Marcus won the A1 National Legal Award for the UK’s best telecoms litigator and is rated as one of the notable practitioners for dispute resolution in the north west in Chambers.

    In 2009 he established his own charity, the Mason Hayes Charitable Trust. The Trust has helped to widen access to careers in the law, with its work shortlisted in the Widening Participation category at The Times 2013 Higher Education Awards.

    Chris Hart, chief executive, Wollen Michelmore Solicitors

    Chris Hart

    Judge: Solicitor of the Year - Private Practice

    Chris joined Wollen Michelmore Solicitors in 1986 and became a partner in 1992.


    Initially specialising in commercial litigation, he became the firm's managing partner in 1999 and is now chief executive.

    He has specialist expertise in licensing and gambling work and in the field of commercial contract drafting.

    Chris is the honorary secretary of the Devon and Somerset Law Society and a past president of the Devon and Exeter Law Society. In March 2016 he was awarded the Leader/Law Manager of the Year at the inaugural Devon and Somerset Law Society Awards. He is the immediate past chair of the Law Society's Law Management Section and continues to sit on the Law Management Section Committee.

    Rachael Heenan, senior partner, Capsticks

    Rachael Heenan

    Judge: Law Firm of the Year - Medium

    Rachael is best known for her extensive expertise in healthcare employment law.


    Her practice includes handling high profile executive cases, major national organisational change, TUPE, and complex doctors’ issues.

    She has been described by a client as “the fount of all knowledge. She seems to be available 24 hours a day and the skills and expertise she has built over the years are second to none”. Chambers UK 2014: Employment Yorkshire.

    As well as leading the firm, she works with clients in the health and social care, regulatory and housing sectors on employment and governance issues as well as wider business strategy.

    The Hon Mr Justice Hickinbottom, Justice of the High Court and Honorary President, SAHCA, Royal Courts of Justice

    Hon Mr Justice Hickinbottom

    Judge: Solicitor Advocate of the Year

    The Hon Mr Justice Hickinbottom is only the second solicitor to be appointed to the Court of Appeal.


    Prior to this he was a Queen's Bench Liaison Judge in the High Court with special responsibility for the Administrative Court out of London. And he is even more of a rarity – having chosen to start his judicial career as a parking adjudicator.

    In 2000, he was appointed a full-time circuit judge, ending up as Designated Civil Judge for Wales. In January 2009 he was appointed to the High Court bench, aged 53, and moved back full-time to the court system. In September 2016 he was appointed to the Court of Appeal.

    Gus Hosein, executive director, Privacy International

    Gus Hosein

    Judge: Human Rights Lawyer of the Year

    Gus has worked at the intersection of technology and human rights for over 20 years. He developed national, regional and global campaigns on communications privacy.


    He worked on national security and anti-terrorism policy, and led global advocacy against border registration, biometric collection, tracking of migration, travel profiling and mass surveillance of financial data flows. He led research and co-authored a book on identity systems and policy, Global Challenges for Identity Policy. He has founded regional and global networks of civil society organisations to work on technology and rights.

    Gus has acted as an external evaluator for UNHCR, advised the UN Special Rapporteur on Terrorism and Human Rights, and has advised several other international organisations. He is currently on the boards of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, medconfidential, the Omidyar Network Digital Identity Portfolio, Simply Secure and Tactical Tech.

    Vidisha Joshi, managing partner, Hodge Jones & Allen

    Vidisha Joshi

    Judge: Junior Lawyer of the Year

    Vidisha joined Hodge Jones & Allen in 2011 and became head of the Personal Injury Department in 2015. She was appointed managing partner in 2017.


    Alongside the day-to-day management of the department she works closely with and supervises partners and junior solicitors.

    Her practice covers a wide range of personal injury claims arising from road traffic accidents, occupiers and employer’s liability. Vidisha specialises in high value cases involving life changing injuries and is an advocate of rehabilitation and care packages funded by the defendants under the Rehabilitation Code.

    She has successfully concluded claims involving complex legal and medical issues and believes that the success of a case is down to building a good relationship with her client and listening to their needs.

    Ian Kelcey, senior partner, solicitor and Higher Courts Advocate, Kelcey and Hall

    Ian Kelcey

    Judge: Solicitor Advocate of the Year

    Ian qualified as a solicitor in 1980. He has been involved in many notable cases and has built up a formidable reputation as one of the foremost criminal law solicitors of his generation.


    He has been involved in numerous murder cases, has advised and represented clients in relation to corporate manslaughter, and has wide experience tackling complex and lengthy fraud cases. He has also gained a reputation for representing high profile figures such as police officers, members of the legal profession and professional sports personalities.

    Ian is frequently called upon to commentate in both newspapers and the national media on issues arising out of criminal law. His work load has involved cases in courts across the UK and he has ‘Higher Rights of Audience’ in the Court of Appeal. He is a member of the International Bar Association and the European Criminal Bar Association and past chairman of the National Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee.

    Emma MacPherson, Elm Solicitors

    Emma MacPherson

    Judge: Sole Practitioner of the Year

    Emma set up her practice in 2009 having worked locally in Berkshire and Oxfordshire. She practices exclusively in family law covering all aspects of family and marital breakdown.


    She qualified in 2002 having studied Law after her three children were born. She attended a part time LLB (Hons) at the University of Westminster for five years before completing her LPC at the Oxford Institute of Legal Practice.

    She provides a very personal service dealing with every aspect of the business herself.

    Emma was previously a committee member of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Law Society, a former chair of charity MATCH (Mothers Apart from Their Children) and is currently on the Small Firms Committee of the Law Society.

    Declan McKeever, Executive Director & Assistant General Counsel, JP Morgan Chase & Co

    Declan McKeever

    Judge: Excellence In-House

    Declan is Executive Director & Assistant General Counsel at JP Morgan Chase & Co.


    Biography to follow.

    Hilary Meredith, chairman and founder, Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd

    Hilary Meredith

    Judge: Human Rights Lawyer of the Year

    Hilary is chairman of Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd, a Senior Fellow of APIL, and a past APIL EC member (1998–2007).


    She is also visiting professor of law and veterans affairs at Chester University, and a former Military SIG Co-ordinator.

    The past managing partner of a City centre law practice employing 300 people, Hilary launched her own firm in 2003 and established Hilary Meredith Solicitors as a market leader in the field of personal injury and public affairs.

    Hilary has developed a reputation in public affairs and lobbying for the rights of both armed services personnel and the public. She has assisted and given evidence to the Parliamentary Select Defence Committee and successfully lobbied for changes in the recent SARAHs bill. She frequently puts questions to both houses and regularly meets with MPs.

    Sue Millar, partner, Stephenson Harwood

    Sue Millar

    Judge: Woman Lawyer of the Year

    Sue is an experienced and well-respected litigator whose expertise in commercial and banking litigation is recognised by Chambers UK.


    She co-heads Stephenson Harwood’s ‘technically strong’ finance litigation team.

    Sue is a finance litigation specialist. She focuses on investment banking disputes, involving highly complex products and structures. Her expertise extends to commercial and private banking and trade finance disputes. Clients value her responsiveness and her commitment to finding solutions to complex problems.

    She is also recognised for her expertise in commercial dispute resolution where her pragmatic approach wins praise. Clients describe her as “knowing the best deal and how to achieve it”. She advises a diverse range of clients including insurance brokers, asset managers, corporate and pension trustees and insolvency professionals.

    Penny Newman, chief people officer, Lewis Silkin LLP

    Penny Newman

    Judge: Excellence in Learning and Development

    Penny joined Lewis Silkin LLP in December 2007. Previously she was head of HR at Davies Arnold Cooper and Farrer & Co.


    Penny originally qualified as a chartered accountant with Deloitte, where latterly she worked in the training and development and HR functions.

    Penny is responsible for the HR, learning and development and trainee functions at Lewis Silkin. She also has responsibility for employee engagement and CSR and sits on the Diversity Board. She chairs the Inn Group, a consortium of firms that pool their resources to organise training for lawyers.

    James Palmer, chair and senior partner, Herbert Smith Freehills

    James Palmer

    Judge: Excellence in International Legal Services

    James is the chair and senior partner of Herbert Smith Freehills and is one of the leaders of Herbert Smith Freehills’ team on Brexit.


    He continues to spend his time advising clients and leading transactions.

    He is one of the UK’s leading capital markets and corporate lawyers, with deep experience of corporate governance and regulation, including financial regulation.

    James is frequently involved in helping clients in situations where they face significant and unusual challenges, including hostile takeovers, board and governance disputes, regulatory and other investigations, business crises, interactions with governments or government bodies, as well as significant transactions.

    James is a general editor of and contributor to Butterworth’s Takeovers: Law and Practice and has also contributed to other leading reference works on takeovers and corporate law, including Buckley on the Companies Acts and Hannigan and Prentice’s Guide to the Companies Act 2006.

    Michael Payton (QC) Hon, chairman, Clyde & Co

    Michael Payton

    Judge: Law Firm of the Year - Large

    Michael is the chairman of Clyde & Co, having served as the firm’s senior partner for 30 years.


    During this period Clyde & Co progressed from a niche shipping firm of 20 partners to a more broadly based, global world trade practice with approximately 200 partners.

    Michael has acted for underwriters and insurers worldwide on most of the major international insurance problems of recent years.

    Michael helped to establish and was chairman of the Solicitors Indemnity Mutual Insurance Association from 1986 until 2007. He has been chairman of the British Maritime Law Association since 1996. He is chairman of the International Disputes Resolution Centre in London.

    Michael was voted ‘Senior Partner of the Year’ at the Legal Business Awards 2004, and again at the British Legal Awards 2011. In Chambers 2007 he is recorded as “a true leader of the insurance industry in London, Europe and Asia”.

    In 2011 Michael was awarded the title of Honorary QC.

    Kiran Radhakrishnan, head of the Newcastle Hub, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP

    Kiran Radhakrishnan

    Judge: Law Firm of the Year - Medium

    Kiran is head of the Newcastle Hub. He is a corporate lawyer who qualified in 2014.


    Kiran took over management of the Hub when it moved to Newcastle in April 2016 and has overall responsibility for its work and operations. Kiran splits his time between Newcastle and London.

    He was previously an associate in the London Corporate Team, with a focus on private equity, mergers and acquisitions and equity capital markets transactions.

    Natasha Taylor, advocacy legal services manager, Essex Legal Services

    Natasha Taylor

    Judge: Solicitor of the Year - In-house

    Natasha’s experience includes all aspects of criminal law, child protection, environmental, education, mental health, discrimination matters, licensing and public inquiries.


    Due to her wealth and depth of experience in the public sector, Natasha has been involved in several influential projects, including being invited to advise the European Commission on matters of law and procedure.

    Natasha provides help and support to a diverse range of clients, adopting a problem-solving approach to all key issues. She has been instrumental in devising policies and protocols to further her clients’ objectives in the most effective and cost-efficient way.

    Natasha has Higher Rights of Advocacy in Criminal and Civil Courts. She advises on the Council Membership Committee of the Law Society and the In-House Solicitor Committee of the Law Society.

    June Venters QC, managing partner, Venters Solicitors

    June Venters

    Judge: Woman Lawyer of the Year

    June Venters QC became the first woman solicitor Queen’s Counsel in 2006.


    This was in recognition of her advocacy skills and experience throughout her career of appearing in all courts in both family and criminal cases.

    She currently remains one of a few women solicitors to have achieved this highly regarded status, which places her at the forefront of her profession and a leader in her field.

    Throughout June’s career she has chosen to specialise in the field of social justice and has been a passionate supporter for access to justice and a crusader for the vulnerable in society. Whether her clients are legally aided or privately funded, she is known for her commitment, dedication, hard work and enthusiasm.

    June is the senior partner of Venters Solicitors which she commenced in 1991, and proudly leads a skilled and equally committed team.

    Liz Walker, general counsel, BT Global Services

    Liz Walker

    Judge: Excellence In-House

    Liz was appointed as general counsel in September 2014. She leads BT Global Service’s legal, regulatory, governance and compliance activities across UK, Europe, USA, Latin America and Asia.


    Her team is based around the globe in key jurisdictions. The team delivers practical, commercially focused and cost-effective solutions enabling the business while supporting and protecting BT Global Services’ interests and assets globally using a mix of in-house and external resources.

    In addition, Liz is responsible for shaping, implementing and driving the global legal vision and strategy. As well as being a member of the leadership team, Liz is a representative on the legal, governance and compliance leadership team.

    Liz is a qualified solicitor and a member of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. Her interests include scouting and working with young people, particularly on an international level. She is also county commissioner for Hertfordshire Scouts.

    Prior to joining BT Global Services, Liz worked as a commercial executive in a UK WAN business.

    Karon Walton, chief legal officer, Solicitors for the Elderly Ltd

    Karon Walton

    Judge: Excellence in Private Client Practice

    Karon is Solicitors for the Elderly’s (SFE) chief legal officer (CLO) and was appointed in January 2018. Prior to this appointment Karon was a director for SFE.


    Karon is a chartered legal executive and was a partner at Tollers LLP, heading up their Elderly and Vulnerable Client Unit, providing expert advice for the growing problems faced by an ageing population. She specialises in Court of Protection and elderly client affairs and in particular, contentious issues about finances and property and the abuse of the elderly and vulnerable.

    Karon will continue to represent SFE at meetings with the Court of Protection Rules Committee and the Court of Protection User Group. She works closely with the Law Society, Office of the Public Guardian and Ministry of Justice on policy and practice issues. In her role as CLO, Karon will be working on delivering a comprehensive training strategy for SFE and updating law manuals and precedents, together with overseeing the SFE’s accreditation process and exams for SFE membership.

    Karon is an accredited adviser for the Care Adviser Network and a Dementia Champion. She has strong links with organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, Dementia Action Alliance and ABIF.

    Jane Whitfield, senior solicitor, Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP

    Jane Whitfield

    Judge: Excellence in Private Client Practice

    Jane is one of the senior solicitors at Barrett & Co and works alongside Hilary Buckle and Charlotte Mckenty in their ever-expanding private client department.


    Jane is an accomplished solicitor who brings a unique blend of commercial application and strong technical, academic and research skills gained in the City and in highly regarded regional practices. Jane qualified as a solicitor in 2000 and has spent all her time since then in private client and charity law work, giving her breadth and depth of experience in assisting people with the various issues they face in relation to their personal affairs.

    Jane’s expertise covers the whole range of private client work, including drafting and advising on trusts and trust taxation for parents who have children with birth injuries and learning disabilities. Jane has strong links with Mencap, both nationally and locally, and regularly presents seminars for Mencap to parents of learning-disabled children.

    Sir David Wootton, alderman, City of London Corporation

    Sir David Wootton

    Judge: Excellence in International Legal Services

    From 1979 to 2015 Sir David Hugh Wootton was a partner at Allen & Overy, the international law firm headquartered in London with offices in 30 countries.


    He specialises in corporate transactions and best practice compliance with law and regulation in corporate governance. This involves dealing with mergers and acquisitions, IPOs and joint ventures across various international markets.

    Having a strong interest in the governance of the City of London, Sir David Wootton stood for election to Common Council and was elected as Common Councilman for the Ward of Farringdon Within in 2002. In 2005 he was elected alderman for the Ward of Langbourn.

    Sir David Wootton is chairman of the General Purposes Committee of Aldermen, which oversees the work of the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and the Court of Aldermen and the operations of Mansion House. He chairs the Mayoral Visits Advisory Committee, which decides on and manages the programme of oversees visits by the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs and serves on the Magistracy and Livery Sub Committee.

    David Yeoward, consultant, Never Second Services LLP

    David Yeoward

    Judge: Excellence in Business Development

    David is a chartered accountant and tax adviser and has worked in financial services for over 25 years.


    He worked as a fee earner in audit, corporate finance and tax before moving into the field of sales and business development in 2001. He is a co-founder of Never Second Services.

    David previously worked for Citibank, KPMG and SG Warburg. During eight years at Arthur Andersen he was a tax adviser before becoming director of bids supporting teams across the firm involved in formal tenders and other business development activity. He was regularly involved in designing and delivering both technical and soft skills training for individuals and groups.

    David advises professional services firms on winning new work and retaining clients. He gets involved in all aspects of business development and account management with an emphasis on competitive tenders. David has applied his expertise on behalf of cross-border teams selling services to household names but is equally comfortable working on smaller opportunities which are nonetheless important to vendor and buyer alike.

    Robert Hunter, founder and trustee, City Disabilities

    Robert Hunter

    Judge: Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion

    Robert Hunter is an experienced solicitor advocate who has worked in the City for over 30 years.


    He is a member of the Law Society Disability Division. He founded and helps run City Disabilities a charity offering mentoring schemes and advice to disabled professionals in London. The charity also advises students considering careers in London and employers with disabled employees.

    Vadisha Joshi, managing partner, Hodge Jones & Allen

    David Yeoward

    Judge: Junior Lawyer of the Year

    Vadisha Joshi is the managing partner at Hodge Jones & Allen.