A trio of public law solicitors who were behind some of last year’s most significant legal challenges have been selected as finalists for this year’s Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year.


After reading over 800 pages of nominations, the LALY judges met in London earlier this week to make their selections for the 2018 awards.


Finalists in the Public Law award category include:


–  Harriet Wistrich, from Birnberg Peirce, who acted in the landmark judicial review of the parole board’s decision to release black cab rapist John Worboys;


– Emma Norton, from Liberty, who represents families in the Deepcut Barracks inquests into the deaths of four young army recruits, where judgment is expected in June 2018;


– Nancy Collins, from Hodge Jones & Allen, represents people who seek to hold to account those acting on behalf of the state. Her recent work has focused on the needs of those with learning disabilities who are caught up in the criminal justice system and representing the families of people with learning disabilities at inquests.


There are 12 LALY award categories in total (see full list and names of all finalists, below), including Children’s Rights, Criminal Defence, Family Legal Aid, and, new for 2018, Practice Management.


Finalists in the Practice Management award include Adam Makepeace, from Tuckers, the biggest criminal defence firm in the country; Richard Prust, from Watson Woodhouse Solicitors in Middlesbrough, which successfully mixes legal aid work with privately funded and conditional fee work; and Sally Thompson, from immigration specialists Luqmani Thompson, who is credited with ensuring the firm’s survival, despite swingeing cuts to legal aid.


LAPG director Carol Storer says:


‘The LALYs are known for celebrating those lawyers whose skills and commitment directly transform the lives of so many vulnerable people – and rightly so. However, this year, we also wanted to recognise those practice managers who do vital work behind the scenes so firms and agencies can stay afloat and keep providing a service to clients, and whose contribution is rarely publicly acknowledged. As one nomination said, “practice managers do not get cards or flowers from clients at the end of each success”.’


The winners will be announced by Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE at a ceremony in central London on 17 July.  See full list of finalists, below.


The LALYs are organised by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, and are into their 16th year.


For more information, contact

Carol Storer, LAPG Director: 020 7833 7431; 07432 104088; carol.storer@lapg.co.uk

Fiona Bawdon, LALY Co-ordinator: 07740 644474; Fiona.bawdon@blueyonder.co.uk




  1. Children’s Rights – Sponsored by Anthony Gold


Alex Rook                                           Irwin Mitchell LLP

Dan Rosenberg                                Simpson Millar LLP

Silvia Nicolaou Garcia                     Simpson Millar LLP


  1. Criminal Defence – Sponsored by DG Legal


Aika Stephenson                             Just for Kids Law

Paris Theodorou                              Hodge Jones & Allen LLP

Helen White                                      Howells Solicitors


  1. Family including Mediation – Sponsored by Resolution


Tony McGovern                               Creighton & Partners

Lesley Monkhouse                          David Gray Solicitors LLP

Philip Wilkins                                    Hudgell & Partners Solicitors


  1. Practice Manager – Sponsored by Accesspoint


Adam Makepeace                           Tuckers Solicitors LLP

Richard Prust                                   Watson Woodhouse Solicitors

Sally Thompson                               Luqmani Thompson & Partners


  1. Housing – Sponsored by Garden Court Chambers


Kate Hignett                                      Henry Hyams Solicitors

Giles Peaker                                      Anthony Gold Solicitors

Miles Richardson                             Citizens Advice Southend


  1. Legal Aid Barrister – Sponsored by The Bar Council


Martha Cover                                    Coram Chambers

Alev Giz                                                1 Garden Court

James Stark                                        Garden Court North Chambers


  1. Legal Aid Firm/Not for Profit Agency – Sponsored by The Law Society


Barking & Dagenham Citizens Advice

Ealing Law Centre

Greater Manchester Law Centre


  1. Legal Aid Newcomer – Sponsored by Friends of LALY18


Joanna Bennett                                Hodge Jones & Allen LLP

Lewis Kett                                          Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Catherine Oborne                           Garden Court Chambers

Ifeanyi Odogwu                              Garden Court Chambers


  1. Public Law – Sponsored by Irwin Mitchell


Nancy Collins                                    Hodge Jones & Allen LLP

Emma Norton                                   Liberty

Harriet Wistrich                               Birnberg Peirce


  1. Social and Welfare – Sponsored by Tikit


Julie Cornes                                       Simpson Millar LLP

Sophie Freeman                               Coram Children’s Legal Centre

Caroline Hurst                                   Switalskis Solicitors


  1. Access to Justice through IT


CaseRatio                                            Tuckers Solicitors LLP

KIM                                                       The Jeanie Project

DIYLaw                                                 Law for Good


The judges will also be making an award for Outstanding Achievement. There is no shortlist for this award.