The law firm behind Legal365 – the online legal service that is set to expand into a chain of city-centre high street shops – last night received the Law Society award for excellence in innovation.
In an evening which showcased several new approaches to the law, Yorkshire firm Last Cawthra Feather – which is working with Freeserve founder Ajaz Ahmed to develop Legal365 – was recognised for a service that is “ready to compete in the new emerging legal services market”.
The judges said: “[Legal365.com] demonstrates innovation by enabling access to regulated professional advice and delivering services when they are needed, at a fixed price. The service aims to be jargon free and provides an environment and format that is easy to use.”
Two firms were highly commended in the category: Cheshire’s Abney Garsden McDonald, for the case management system it has developed to run group actions in child abuse compensation cases, and Newcastle practice Ward Hadaway for becoming “the first top 100 law firm to provide dedicated, high-quality and accessible support to creative businesses”.
Leicester firm Douglas Wemyss – which has a legal shop open seven days a week, a YouTube channel explaining legal issues and a business and lifestyle magazine as part of its drive to provide other ways for clients to access legal services – won the excellence in client service award. It was also shortlisted for the innovation, marketing and business development, and community investment awards, while senior partner Sameer Karim was highly commended in the leader of the year category.
London firm Collyer Bristow won the marketing and business development award. The judges said: “Collyer Bristow’s project ‘Connect’ was initiated to generate extra client contact. All lawyers were involved and set a target of 10 more connections than usual. 740 ‘connects’ were made, versus the target of 700, and many excellent outcomes were achieved, including 27 instructions worth at least 19% of the firm’s growth of 8%.”
Brethertons won the practice management award. The judge said the firm has “embraced Lexcel and used it to underpin their client-orientated ethos and business growth objectives. The firm uses the standards and good practice of Lexcel to deliver an unrivalled service to their clients. Compliance is an integral part of the firm”.
Suzanne Dibble, who featured last week in Legal Futures’ Legal Pioneers series for her practice dedicated to ‘mumpreneurs’, was highly commended in the private practice solicitor of the year category.
The other winners at the society’s fifth annual Excellence awards were:
- Community investment: Northumbria University – Student Law Office
- Equality and diversity: Paul Hastings
- Environmental responsibility: Linklaters LLP
- Learning and development: SJ Berwin
- Legal business woman of the year: Allison Page, DLA Piper
- Leader of the year: Geoff Wild, Kent County Council
- Legal executive of the year: Philip Warford, Renaissance Legal
- Solicitor-advocate of the year: Roger Jairaj Sahota, BSB Solicitors
- Solicitor of the Year, private practice: Michael Schwarz, Bindmans
- Legal Personality of the Year: Jo Cooper, Perren Buildings Chambers (chairman of the Solicitors Association of Higher Court Advocates)
- Junior Lawyer of the Year: Saadia Khan, Bindmans
- Solicitor of the year, in-house: Naomi Bentley-Lawson, Warwickshire County Council
- Lifetime achievement: Lord Collins of Mapesbury