Norfolk firm Spire headed the list of legal innovators recognised for their achievements in this year’s LawNet  awards.
The best and brightest from across the country’s mid-size independent firms were recognised at the annual awards ceremony, which saw more than 200 lawyers from 71 firms come together.
Now in its tenth year, the awards recognise the UK’s best law firms and lawyers who are driving innovation and delivering outstanding business results.
“Each of the seven nominated award categories was keenly contested and all those shortlisted were outstanding, demonstrating they are among the best in the sector, and leading the way in facing up to the rapidly changing environment we face,” said LawNet chief executive Chris Marston.
Spire Solicitors LLP was named LawNet Law Firm of the Year. A four-year strategic plan has seen three Norfolk firms across eight offices blended to create a major new regional player. Significant investment has established the necessary infrastructure, financial standing and team to enable the new firm to springboard future development and overcome declining local markets faced by smaller firms.
Said Alisdair Liddle, managing partner of Norfolk-based Spire LLP: “We have merged three firms and that’s quite a big challenge. It’s been a successful merger and we have an environment where people are positive and proactive, which reflects on the first-class service we serve to our clients on a daily basis. Without these founding business values across our firm, as well as the energy each member of staff has towards delivering outstanding advice and quality of service, achievements like this wouldn’t be possible.”
He added: “From my long involvement with LawNet, going back nearly 26 years, I know just how good our fellow finalists are, so to be selected as Law Firm of the Year is a real honour; it means a lot to us.”
Winner of the Young Lawyer of the Year was Rachael Gamble of Cleaver Fulton Rankin Ltd in Belfast, already a recommended individual in the UK Legal 500 and a well-regarded litigator with a busy Chancery practice.
Best Digital Presence went to East Anglian based Ashtons Legal for their continued digital commitment, with a sophisticated multi-channel strategy working seamlessly to support their aim of being more accessible to prospects, clients, referrers and business contacts.
Stamp Jackson & Procter Ltd from Hull collected the Excellence in Employee Engagement for its latest initiative, which has seen its personal injury department taken through a cultural shift to enable the team to lead a reputation-led approach to future business development, as the department moves away from direct advertising.
The Excellence in Client Care award went Clarkson Wright & Jakes Ltd in Kent for their work in delivering exceptional customer service through a relentless drive for improvement and creative client service initiatives.
Best Community Contribution went to Tozers Solicitors LLP in the South West for its CSR strategy, which has been a game-changer in securing staff engagement and extending the firm’s reach in its local community.
And Team of the Year went to the Employment & HR Team at MLP Law Ltd in the North West, for a three-year strategic growth plan that has seen a 300% increase in turnover and a six-fold increase in fee earners.
LawNet chairman, Kim Carr, managing partner of Midlands-based FBC Manby Bowdler, added: “We have an outstanding set of innovators within the LawNet network and the awards celebrate all that makes our firms distinctly different.”
The award winners:
Law Firm of the Year
Spire Solicitors LLP : Sponsored by Wilkinson Read & Partners
Team of the Year
Employment & HR Team, MLP Law Ltd : Sponsored by STL
Young Lawyer of the year
Rachael Gamble, Cleaver Fulton Rankin Ltd : Sponsored by Landmark Information Group
Excellence in Employee Engagement
Stamp Jackson & Procter Ltd : Sponsored by Tikit
Best Community Contribution
Tozers Solicitors LLP : Sponsored by Moneypenny
Best Digital Presence
Ashtons Legal : Sponsored by Conscious Solutions
Excellence in Client Care
Clarkson Wright & Jakes Ltd : Sponsored by Shopper Anonymous
Most active LawNet member
Gepp & Sons Solicitors