Law Society lays on rubber chicken for only 250 notes per head at ‘excellence’ awards

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By Judge John Hack on

Despite trying to pitch categories at high street and younger lawyers, only City slickers look likely to afford Chancery Lane’s gala event


In Woody Allen’s classic 1977 film “Annie Hall”, the lead character jets from New York to Los Angeles in a doomed bid to persuade the eponymous character to return to their former life back east. But sadly she’s keener on attending the Grammy Awards with her new lover (extra points if you remembered he’s played by Paul Simon).

“They give awards for that kind of music?” asks frustrated and befuddled jazz fan Allen. “They give awards for anything in this town. What next? Best fascist dictator — Adolf Hitler.”

Well, Allen must love the legal profession, where awards get chucked about like copies of the Metro newspaper outside Victoria Station of a Monday morning.

Even the Law Society — which arguably should know better — has got in on the act, several years ago managing a po-faced launch of its “Excellence Awards”.

The core business model for any award ceremony organisers is pile ‘em high and sell ‘em dear. That means the City boys are the best targets, which is why The Lawyer, Legal Week and Legal Business all focus their baubles on that demographic.

But should the society — which aims to represent solicitors in all walks of practice and is supposed to be particularly sensitive to the difficult times facing younger and high street practitioners — be in that game? Too bloody right, is apparently the answer coming from Chancery Lane.

Despite some worthy award categories to do with pro bono, corporate social responsibility and young lawyers, tickets for the gala event in October are priced to make the pips squeak. They peak at £250 plus VAT for an individual and £2,250 + VAT for a table for 10.

You’d have to push the boat pretty far out to eclipse £150 per head even at fashionable London West End eateries such as J Sheekey. And at least there you’d get a decent meal instead of the single glass of flat champagne on arrival, rubber chicken, half a bottle of plonk plus tea or coffee punters will most likely have to endure at the Law Soc’s awards bash.

So it must be short odds that when the short list is published early next month, most of those in the running for even the politically-correct prizes will hail from Square Mile.