Bird & Bird space law guru among host of lawyers to scoop New Year honours

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By Katie King on

A good start to 2017 for corporate solicitors and legal academics


A number of high-flying solicitors and law academics have been named alongside the likes of Andy Murray and Jessica Ennis-Hill in the 2017 New Year Honours list.

At the culmination of a year that’s proved a rollercoaster ride for the profession, solicitors such as Bird & Bird partner Joanne Wheeler are among the “extraordinary people” chosen for the esteemed line-up.

So what has she done to earn her place? Well Wheeler — who has worked at top City players CMS Cameron McKenna, Slaughter and May and Allen & Overy — is seen as one of the country’s leading space law practitioners. According to her impressive law firm profile, her professional experience at both the European Space Agency and Ofcom have given her “an unparalleled understanding of the challenges facing the sector”. She has been awarded an MBE “for services to the space sector”.

Another big name to bag this title is James Gosling, Holman Fenwick Willan partner and shipping expert. The Legal 500 lawyer was made an OBE “for services to the legal profession and maritime hostages”.

Also honoured by the monarch was newbie OBE Christopher Nott, senior partner of Welsh firm Capital Law LLP, who was awarded the title “for services to business and economic development in Wales”.

Stepping away from the big wide world of corporate law, Government Legal Department top dog Peter Fish was recognised “for legal services to government” and honoured Companion of the Order of the Bath as such. So too was Matthew Coats, Ministry of Justice chief operating officer, who bagged the title in recognition of his “public service”. Chair of the Intellectual Property Office Robert Gilbert and senior advisory lawyer for the Upper Tribunal Jennifer Fowler were also named in the list, as was Caroline Ross, a lawyer at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

It was also a good start to the year for law lecturers and academics.

Professor Nicola Lacey — who researches law, gender and social policy at the London School of Economics — was made a CBE “for services to law, justice and gender politics”. University of Cambridge criminal law professor John Spencer QC was, like Lacey, also made a CBE, this time “for services to the reform of law concerning child witnesses”. Professor Sally Wheeler, head of Queen’s University Belfast Law School, was recognised “for services to higher education in Northern Ireland”.