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Garden Court Chambers barrister named as young legal aid lawyer of the year

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Five-year-call housing specialist Connor Johnston joins Duggan family solicitor on podium along with 11 others at gala celebration

CJ

A junior housing and community care specialist barrister has scooped this year’s premier legal aid award for young lawyers.

Connor Johnston of Garden Court Chambers in London last night bagged the legal aid newcomer prize at the Legal Aid Practitioners Group’s annual awards.

Johnston — a Sheffield University law graduate — became a tenant at Garden Court in 2012 after completing pupillage at the chambers.

He is a former joint-chairman of the Young Legal Aid Lawyers group, and his chambers’ website profile describes Johnston as being “committed to legal aid work and to representing the interests of those who are homeless or at risk of losing their home”.

Johnston’s award was one of a baker’s dozen of prizes doled out last night to the stars of the legal aid firmament.

Leading the pack was Marcia Willis-Stewart, managing partner of London-based Birnberg Peirce & Partners, who acted for the family at the inquest into the 2011 police shooting of Mark Duggan. Willis-Stewart was named public law solicitor of the year.

Public Law Project received the outstanding achievement honour in recognition of the London-based charity’s role in fighting the proposed legal aid cuts with a series of successful judicial reviews.

And Bill Waddington and Robin Murray of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, and Jonathan Black and Paul Harris of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association picked up a special gong for “their tireless campaigning against government reforms to criminal legal aid”.

Other winners were:

Awards