Young lawyer shortlist announced for Law Society ‘excellence awards’

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By Judge John Hack on

The Law Society’s excellent adventure kicks off again this year with 17 award categories for solicitors, including a gong for training


It may set you back an arm and a leg for a meal only marginally better than one a Crown Court canteen might produce, and then force you into a slow-dance clinch with an aging lawyer who still has wandering hands, but the Law Society’s “excellence awards” are still worth noting for their recognition of younger lawyers and training initiatives.

Chancery Lane seems to have adopted the Academy Awards-style mentality of more is better for the 9 October ceremony, with shortlists — which were announced this week — extending to the length of a short phone directory.

Leading the pack in the junior lawyer division is Camilla Graham Wood of London law firm Birnberg Peirce & Partners. Graham Wood has already bagged a legal aid award this year for her work on actions against the police. She’s joined by:

Diane Morrison, who qualified at Hackney Community Law Centre in London a couple of years ago after starting as a typist;

Helen Rundle, a personal injury and clinical negligence specialist at Lincoln and York-based Langleys;

Litigation and arbitration specialist Hendrik Puschmann at the London office of New York mega-firm White & Case;

Corporate lawyer Laura Barrell from London firm Matthew Arnold & Baldwin;

Lee Russell from the housing and mental health law departments at north east firm Ben Hoare Bell;

Ligia Bob at Bristol-based TLT;

Paul Maddock, a trainee from national firm DWF;

Criminal law specialist barrister-turned-solicitor Philippa Southwell, at London firm Birds Solicitors; and,

Rebecca Perlman, a qualified solicitor, who has become a “corporate responsibility executive” at Anglo-Australian giant Herbert Smith Freehills.

Chancery Lane is also gearing up to garland a law firm for its work in learning and development. According to the society, the winning firm will have demonstrated:

“a clear link between [a] learning and development initiative and how this has enhanced [the] business, either through improved service, increased efficiency or higher profitability”.

Presumably, then, lessons in the mechanics of the photocopier wouldn’t necessarily have counted.

Up for the prize are:

Ashurst, which gets two pops at the cherry for its “emerging leaders” and “mindfulness” programmes; Clifford Chance (probably not for advanced backstroke lessons on the firm’s fifth floor swimming pool); Cardiff-based Hugh James; Blackburn firm Lance Mason; the London office of US global giant Mayer Brown; the London office of fellow US global behemoths Reed Smith; residential conveyancing service provider myhomemove; Cheshire firm Roberts Jackson Solicitors; and London-based international private client specialist firm Withers.

There will be 17 gongs doled out in total on the evening — which is relatively few in the legal profession awards game — with Radio 4 Today programme and BBC One news reader Mishal Husain desperately trying to think of some jokes as she comperes the event.

The Law Society “excellence awards” shortlist in full is here.