Independents focus on putting clients first

The LawNet award winners with host Clive Coleman (second left) and LawNet's Helen Hamilton-Shaw (right)

Clients came out on top in this year’s LawNet awards, with the winning firms all showcasing strategies that put the customer first.

And the law firm network says it shows the step-change in the sector that’s being led by the mid-size independents that make up its membership.

The winner of Law Firm of the Year went to Manchester’s George Davies Solicitors LLP and Managing Partner of the Year was Kim Carr of Midlands firm FBC Manby Bowdler LLP, who has led the firm since 2008.

According to John Thomas, chief executive of LawNet: “George Davies stood out this year, with a range of initiatives tailored to improve service for their clients, combined with robust internal processes to keep employees on track with the business plan. The firm is delivering real results with a number of high-profile cases and a real presence in the legal rankings, all backed up by strong financial performance. They’re forging their own opportunities and this is a firm that is going places.”

Speaking about managing partner winner Kim Carr, FBC Manby Bowdler senior partner Niall Blackie said: “Kim has been instrumental in the firm’s continued growth. She is an inspirational and accomplished leader and we are fortunate to have her directing our business.” Mrs Carr’s award follows hard on the heels of recognition in the most recent Legal 500 for the 35-partner firm, and ‘One To Watch’ in the 2012 Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For survey.

Young Lawyer of the Year winner was Emma Atkins of Denison Till. Less than two years post-qualification, she is already handling complex and high-level cases in her area of specialisation. She has also taken the lead in the firm’s online and social media activity.

Best Business Development or Marketing Initiative went to Grindeys LLP, which recognised the importance of the role it plays in its local community and set about developing a platform to bring together its pro-bono, charitable and fundraising activities, which has raised the firm’s profile and attracted new contracts.

Best Website went to Ashton KCJ, winning for content development and site navigation that is focused firmly on the client and their needs.

The award for Excellence in Risk Management and Compliance went to Vanderpump & Sykes Solicitors, for initiatives designed to embed a compliance culture in the firm, including long-term compliance planning, comprehensive firm-wide training programmes and risk registers.

And Matthew Arnold & Baldwin won the Commitment to Client Care award, for a range of initiatives that range from secondments and flexible pricing models, to relationship partners and free in-house legal surgeries and training for clients.

Added LawNet’s John Thomas: “The aim of these annual awards is to get to the heart of what makes a LawNet firm, with an innovative attitude that’s underpinned by a commitment to excellence and strong risk management. Every submission this year demonstrated how firms recognise the importance of creating meaningful client interactions, and that’s going to be a game changer in the years to come. ”

This year’s winners were:

2012 LawNet Law Firm of the Year award, sponsored by Voicepath
George Davies Solicitors LLP

Managing Partner of the Year, sponsored by SSG Legal
Kim Carr, FBC Manby Bowdler LLP

Young Lawyer of the Year, sponsored by Wilkinson Read & Partners
Emma Atkins, Denison Till

Best Business Development or Marketing Initiative, sponsored by Sweet & Maxwell
Grindeys LLP

Best Website, sponsored by Conscious Solutions
Ashton KCJ

Commitment to Client Care sponsored by TikitTFB
Matthew Arnold & Baldwin

Excellence in Risk Management and Compliance sponsored by QBE European Operations
Vanderpump & Sykes Solicitors

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