Top performing firms and outstanding individuals from across the country were recognised at the annual awards ceremony, which brought together 270 delegates from across the 71 firms that make up LawNet.
Now in its eleventh year, the awards recognise innovation and strategic success achieved by the network’s independent law firm members, as well as highlighting individuals who are delivering outstanding business results.
Said LawNet chief executive Chris Marston: “Each year, the entries across our nominated award categories paint a vivid picture of how dynamic firms in the mid-market are squaring up to the future. The sector continues to face many challenges in today’s fast moving political, economic and consumer environment, but we see our member firms actively embracing change and being truly innovative in their strategies.
“This year’s Law Firm of the Year posted a record financial performance underpinned by a stand-out strategy with a razor-sharp focus on being the best law firm in its chosen markets. Key to that success is its concentration on encouraging all of its staff to be the very best they can.”
The strategic plan delivered by MBM Commercial LLP saw the firm expand service lines, increase staff by more than 40 percent, open a new office in central London and deliver powerful financial results that included a 70 percent increase in turnover and a 25 percent increase in average income per fee earner.
Said Cat MacLean, partner of MBM Commercial LLP: “Exceptional standards and a commitment to quality are the criteria for membership of LawNet, so recognition within this group of excellent law firms makes the award very special.
She added: “We’re quite a small firm but being able to have available to us all that comes through LawNet membership is tremendous and has undoubtedly contributed to our achievements. In particular, we greatly value the learning and development opportunities it gives us access to.”
Winner of the Young Lawyer of the Year was Mark Meleady of Devon firm Tozers Solicitors LLP, who was nominated for his outstanding technical ability, winning praise from clients and colleagues alike, and an entrepreneurial mindset, which has included building a new branch office team from scratch.
And Team of the Year went to the Historic Abuse Team at Portsmouth firm Verisona Law, which has demonstrated outstanding results after harnessing new technology and involvement in charity and community initiatives to support their work securing justice for clients in the most difficult of circumstances. Adam Bullion of InfoTrack who sat on the judging panel said: “It’s a difficult subject, and the team demonstrated the delicate balancing act of supporting clients whilst ensuring organic growth of the firm.”
Outstanding Individual Contribution was awarded to sales director Neil Lloyd of FBC Manby Bowdler LLP, who has spearheaded new technologies, management systems and structure. He has helped to reshape the West Midlands-based business, increasing turnover and profit, and embedding innovative people management initiatives.
Best Business Development and Marketing went to regional heavyweight Ashtons Legal for their blend of strategic vision and creativity, which has seen the firm building a presence in a range of niche markets nationally alongside their core East Anglian geographic area services.
The Excellence in Client Care award went to VWV, for a strategy that makes client care a key deliverable, embedded through an appraised set of objectives and a training requirement for every single member of staff at its offices across Bristol, Birmingham and London.
Best Community Contribution went to Gamlins Law Limited. Recognising the part played by its local community in recent growth and commercial success, it launched an ambitious campaign designed to give something back, with staff from across its North Wales offices encouraged to get involved in their community in any way they wished. It has seen initiatives ranging from legal clinics to lifeboat volunteering, an enterprise and support network for women running small businesses, and a commitment to reducing plastic waste, generating over 1,000 hours of volunteering and over £1 million pro-bono advice.
This year’s LawNet Enterprise Award, which recognises the firm which has made the biggest contribution in participating in the network over the year, went to Gardner Leader LLP, also celebrating their 25th anniversary as LawNet members.
The award winners:
Law Firm of the Year : MBM Commercial LLP : Sponsored by Wilkinson Read & Partners
Team of the Year : Verisona Law, Historic Abuse team : Sponsored by InfoTrack
Young Lawyer of the year : Mark Meleady of Tozers Solicitors LLP : Sponsored by Moneypenny
Outstanding Individual Contribution : Neil Lloyd (FBC Manby Bowdler LLP) Sponsored by Tikit
Best Community Contribution : Gamlins Law Limited : Sponsored by Lloyds Bank, Commercial Banking
Best Business Development / Marketing : Ashtons Legal : Sponsored by Conscious Solutions
Excellence in Client Care : VWV : Sponsored by insight6
LawNet Enterprise award : Gardner Leader LLP : Sponsored by T-Impact Ltd