The awards took place at Old Billingsgate in London

A Southampton law firm that has set up a business club for entrepreneurs last night won the Law Society award for excellence in innovation.

The society’s annual Excellence Awards also saw recognition for QualitySolicitors.

The Paris Smith Business Club is an online resource for entrepreneurs to keep abreast of developments in legal risk.

The citation said: “Guides produced by the firm, published on a subscription-based website [costing £200 a year per person], interpret judgments and legislation, and their impact on business. The club seeks to fill business knowledge gaps, separating the tangled strands of law and presenting information in a concise, illustrated format.”

Magic circle firm Clifford Chance was highly commended for its Global M&A Toolkit, an online service enabling clients and other mergers and acquisitions professionals to access the firm’s extensive M&A-related know-how. The judges said: “The toolkit includes interactive tools and videos, guides and handbooks, and assists clients while promoting the firm’s leadership, M&A capabilities and brand.”

Also shortlisted were:

  • City firms CMS Cameron McKenna and Addleshaw Goddard for a jointly developed e-learning training programme that aims to foster an inclusive working culture;
  • London firm Family Law in Partnership for a range of achievements, including two partners being among the first to qualify as family law arbitrators and a divorce support package;
  • Hackney Community Law Centre for a pop-up legal advice service in the London borough’s busiest library;
  • South-west firm Porter Dodson for creating a fertility and parenting law brand with a global client base; and
  • The Streetwise Community Law Centre in south London for developing ways of taking advice to young people.

QualitySolicitors was highly commended in the excellence in marketing and business development category for its national marketing campaign, but lost out to Norwich firm Fosters, which celebrated its 250th anniversary by “taking an innovative approach to marketing”, the judges said.

“The firm ‘crowd-sourced’ marketing ideas from staff, and used this to develop marketing plans for each department. This, along with individual marketing targets for all staff members, enabled a collaborative, responsible approach to firm marketing. One creative idea saw the firm link with a Premier League football club as their ‘official legal partner’.”

Other winners included:

  • Sheffield firm Unity Law (excellence in community investment) for showing “true commitment to community investment in their work on disability issues”, including pro bono work, campaigning and developing a “revolutionary” smartphone app that locates disabled parking bays throughout the UK;
  • North London firm AMV Law (excellence in equality and diversity), which has a workforce that is over 65% female, with 42% of staff working part-time;
  • Turpin Miller (excellence in client service), an immigration firm whose “ethos is grounded in the idea that every client is treated the way that they would want to be treated themselves”, and runs a drop-in surgery for detained immigration clients and several outside clinics for clients who would not be able to get to the office; and
  • South-west firm Coodes (excellence in conveyancing practice), which has designed niche specialist services, such as for first-time buyers and the buy-to-let and affordable housing markets.

Individual winners included:

  • Gary McKinnon’s solicitor, Karen Todner of Kaim Todner (legal personality of the year);
  • The first chartered legal executive to become a judge, Ian Ashley-Smith (chartered legal executive of the year);
  • Craig Connal QC of Pinsent Masons, the first solicitor-advocate to lead a civil appeal before the Supreme Court (solicitor-advocate of the year);
  • Sarah Goulborne of Gunnercooke, whose “vision is to challenge and evolve the way legal services are provided. Her model allows solicitors who do not wish to, or can no longer practise in traditional law firms, to find employment (legal businesswoman of the year); and
  • David Enright of Howe & Co for his campaigning on behalf of the Gypsy, Traveller and Romany communities (solicitor of the year – private practice).



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