2018 Legal Aid Practitioners Group Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards – Shortlist Announced

A trio of public law solicitors who were behind some of last year’s most significant legal challenges have been selected as finalists for this year’s Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year.

After reading over 800 pages of nominations, the LALY judges met in London earlier this week to make their selections for the 2018 awards.

Finalists in the Public Law award category include:

  • Harriet Wistrich, from Birnberg Peirce, who acted in the landmark judicial review of the parole board’s decision to release black cab rapist John Worboys;
  • Emma Norton, from Liberty, who represents families in the Deepcut Barracks inquests into the deaths of four young army recruits, where judgment is expected in June 2018;
  • Nancy Collins, from Hodge Jones & Allen, who represents people who seek to hold to account those acting on behalf of the state. Her recent work has focused on the needs of those with learning disabilities who are caught up in the criminal justice system and representing the families of people with learning disabilities at inquests.

There are 12 LALY award categories in total (see full list and names of all finalists, below), including Children’s Rights, Criminal Defence, Family Legal Aid, and, new for 2018, Practice Management.

Finalists in the Practice Management award include Adam Makepeace, from Tuckers, the biggest criminal defence firm in the country; Richard Prust, from Watson Woodhouse Solicitors in Middlesbrough, which successfully mixes legal aid work with privately funded and conditional fee work; and Sally Thompson, from immigration specialists Luqmani Thompson, who is credited with ensuring the firm’s survival, despite swingeing cuts to legal aid.

LAPG director Carol Storer says:

‘The LALYs are known for celebrating those lawyers whose skills and commitment directly transform the lives of so many vulnerable people ‐ and rightly so. However, this year, we also wanted to recognise those practice managers who do vital work behind the scenes so firms and agencies can stay afloat and keep providing a service to clients, and whose contribution is rarely publicly acknowledged. As one nomination said, “practice managers do not get cards or flowers from clients at the end of each success”.’

The winners will be announced by Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE at a ceremony in central London on 17 July. See full list of finalists, below.

The LALYs are organised by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, and are into their 16th year.

For more information, contact

Carol Storer, LAPG Director: 020 7833 7431; 07432 104088; carol.storer@lapg.co.uk Fiona Bawdon, LALY Co‐ordinator: 07740 644474; Fiona.bawdon@blueyonder.co.uk


1.   Children’s Rights – Sponsored by Anthony Gold

Alex Rook                                          Irwin Mitchell LLP

Dan Rosenberg                                Simpson Millar LLP

Silvia Nicolaou Garcia                     Simpson Millar LLP

2.   Criminal Defence – Sponsored by DG Legal

Aika Stephenson                              Just for Kids Law

Paris Theodorou                              Hodge Jones & Allen LLP

Helen White                                      Howells Solicitors

3.   Family including Mediation – Sponsored by Resolution

Tony McGovern                               Creighton & Partners

Lesley Monkhouse                          David Gray Solicitors LLP

Philip Wilkins                                    Hudgell & Partners Solicitors

4.   Practice Manager – Sponsored by Accesspoint

Adam Makepeace                           Tuckers Solicitors LLP

Richard Prust                                    Watson Woodhouse Solicitors

Sally Thompson                                Luqmani Thompson & Partners

5.   Housing – Sponsored by Garden Court Chambers 

Kate Hignett                                     Henry Hyams Solicitors

Giles Peaker                                      Anthony Gold Solicitors

Miles Richardson                             Citizens Advice Southend

6.   Legal Aid Barrister – Sponsored by The Bar Council

Martha Cover                                   Coram Chambers

Alev Giz                                              1 Garden Court

James Stark                                       Garden Court North Chambers

7.   Legal Aid Firm/Not for Profit Agency – Sponsored by The Law Society

Barking & Dagenham Citizens Advice Ealing Law Centre

Greater Manchester Law Centre

8.   Legal Aid Newcomer – Sponsored by Friends of LALY18

Joanna Bennett                                Hodge Jones & Allen LLP

Lewis Kett                                         Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Catherine Oborne                            Garden Court Chambers

Ifeanyi Odogwu                               Garden Court Chambers

9.   Public Law – Sponsored by Irwin Mitchell

Nancy Collins                                    Hodge Jones & Allen LLP

Emma Norton                                  Liberty

Harriet Wistrich                               Birnberg Peirce

10.    Social and Welfare – Sponsored by Tikit

Julie Cornes                                      Simpson Millar LLP

Sophie Freeman                               Coram Children’s Legal Centre

Caroline Hurst                                  Switalskis Solicitors

11.    Access to Justice through IT

CaseRatio                                          Tuckers Solicitors LLP

KIM                                                     The Jeanie Project

DIYLaw                                              Law for Good

The judges will also be making an award for Outstanding Achievement. There is no shortlist for this award.