Nominations for the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards (LALYs) 2014 are now open! Please submit your nominations by 1 April 2014.
The presentations for the 2013 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) awards were made at a ceremony at the Globe Theatre London on 2 July 2013 in front more than 300 lawyers and oth
The LALYs, now3 in their 11th Year, are a grassroots celebration of the work of publicly funded lawyers and are organised on a not-for-profit basis by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group.
Leading civil liberties solicitor Raju Bhatt was presented with the Outstanding Achievement award at last night’s (2 July) Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) awards.
Raju was feted for his long-standing commitment to justice, and in particular his work in relation to restraint-related deaths in custody, including for the families of Roger Sylvester, Alton Manning, Ibrahima Sey and Shiji Lapite.
In May this year, Raju Bhatt saw a major victory in the long-running case of Daniel Morgan, the private investigator found murdered in a south London pub car park in 1987. After a prolonged legal battle, the Home Secretary Theresa May agreed to order a review of the role of police corruption in the unsolved case.
Announcing Raju’s award, compere John Howard said: ‘No one should ever underestimate the amount of dogged determination and sheer mettle a case like Morgan takes.’
Raju said he was accepting the award on behalf of legal aid lawyers everywhere.
Also honoured at this year’s awards was Margaret Gordon, who acted for Alfie Meadows, the student acquitted of violent disorder after suffering a serious head injury at an anti-fees protest. Alfie himself wrote in support of Margaret’s nomination.
The winners were presented with their awards by Lord Justice McFarlane, who sits in the appeal court.
Winners in full
The presentations for the 2012 Tenth Anniversary Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) awards were made at a ceremony in central London on 12 June 2012 in front more than 400 lawyers and other guests.
The LALYs are a grassroots celebration of the work of publicly funded lawyers and are organised on a not-for-profit basis by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group.
Doreen Lawrence OBE and solicitor Imran Khan were both honoured for their contribution to justice and the pair received a standing ovation.
Imran Khan, who has acted for Doreen and her family since two days after Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1993, was presented with the award for Outstanding Achievement.
Doreen Lawrence, who has campaigned tirelessly for justice since her son’s death, was presented with the LALY 10th Anniversary Special Award.
Compere John Howard described Imran Khan as ‘one of the most creative and dogged lawyers around….A lawyer who believes in justice in the widest sense, not just in a narrow legalistic definition of the word.’
Doreen Lawrence was described as: ‘a touchstone for lawyers and others who believe in justice’. She was praised for having shown ‘amazing courage and tenacity in the face of appalling personal tragedy’.
Doreen Lawrence becomes the first non-lawyer to be presented with a LALY since the awards were launched in 2003. The award was decided by the LAPG committee, rather than the LALY judging panel (which chooses all the other 10 awards – see details below).
Jenny Beck, a family lawyer and co-chair of LAPG, said the committee wanted to make an award this year to mark the 10th anniversary and were unanimous in their choice of Doreen as the recipient.
Imran said receiving the award was ‘a shock’. He added: ‘I have previously quoted, probably mis-quoted Confucius that if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a single day of your life. I haven’t worked for the last 20 years.’
Other winners at this year’s ceremony included:
Raj Chada, who acted for the Fortnum & Mason protestors and for ‘Jonnie Marbles’, the man who attacked Rupert Murdoch with a foam pie. Raj (from Hodge Jones & Allen) received the award for Criminal Defence.
Garden Court Chambers scooped two awards, with Leslie Thomas winning Legal Aid Barrister and Shu Shin Luh winning the award for Young Legal Aid Barrister.
Rosaleen Kilbane, who founded the highly-respected Birmingham-based firm Community Law Partnership, won the award for Social & Welfare law.
Jed Pennington, whose case led to the first finding by a UK court that detention at an immigration removal centre was a breach of Article 3 of the Human Rights Convention, received the award for Young Legal Aid Solicitor.
The full winners list for 2012 is:
All the winners were presented with their awards by Michael Mansfield QC, who chaired the judging panel.
PRESS RELEASE 29th JUNE 2011
Nicholas Crichton, the district judge behind the ground-breaking Family Drug and Alcohol Court, won the top award for Outstanding Achievement at last night’s Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards.
He was presented with his award by Doreen Lawrence, the respected campaigner for justice and mother of the murdered black teenager, Stephen, at a ceremony in London attended by over 300 people.
Mr Crichton was instrumental in establishing the FDAC pilot, which takes a far more interventionist approach to family cases and has proved highly successful in helping parents overcome their addictions and keep their families together.
The LALYs are in their ninth year and are organised by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group as a grassroots celebration of the work of the publicly funded sector.
There are 10 awards in total. Other winners this year include family solicitor Lorna Cservenka who broke new ground with a successful challenge to hair strand evidence which wrongly concluded her client in a child-custody case had been drinking heavily; and criminal defence solicitor Jane Hiatt, who found herself on the other side of the court room when her own son fell victim to a savage street attack.
Accepting his award, Mr Crichton, a former family solicitor, said that up to 90% of parents coming before his court in family cases have problems with addiction. ‘It is a massive problem. Somehow we have to find a better way of dealing with these cases – and I think we have found a way that works.’
In the FDAC pilot, which is being run at Wells Street Magistrates Court in Central London, the judge is part of a multi-disciplinary team, working with other professionals to help parents overcome their addictions. Parents see the same judge each time and have to account to him for their successes or failure since the last review.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL CAROL STORER 07801 593963
Outstanding Achievement – District Judge Nicholas Crichton
Criminal Defence – Jane Hiatt, Footner & Ewing
Family – Lorna Cservenka, Hanne & Co
Young Legal Aid Solicitor – Baljeet Sandhu, Islington Law Centre’s Refugee Children’s Rights Project
Young Legal Aid Barrister – Steve Broach, Doughty Street
Social & Welfare – David Thomas, GT Stewart Solicitors
Mental Health – Rheian Davies, DH Law
Immigration – Smita Bajaria, Birnberg Peirce
Barrister – Marc Willers, Garden Court
Legal Aid Firm/Not-for-profit-Agency – Prisoners’ Advice Service
Photographs by Robert Aberman Film footage by Catch21