The district judge behind the groundbreaking Family Drug and Alcohol Court was honoured at the ninth annual Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards this week.

Nicholas Crichton (pictured, left) received the top award for outstanding achievement for his work in establishing the pilot of the court, which uses a more interventionist approach to family cases and has been successful in helping parents overcome addictions and keep their families together.

In the pilot, being run at Wells Street Magistrates’ Court in London, the judge is part of a multi-disciplinary team, working with parents to overcome their addictions.

Parents see the same judge each time they go to court and have to account to him for their successes or failures.

Other winners include Jane Hiatt, criminal solicitor at Southampton firm Footner & Ewing, who won the criminal defence award; Lorna Cservenka, partner in the child care department at London firm Hanne & Co, who won the family law award; and Smita Bajaria, assistant at London firm Birnberg Peirce, who won the immigration award.

Rheian Davies, partner at DH Law in London, won the mental health award and David Thomas, assistant at London firm GT Stewart, won the award for social and welfare law.

Baljeet Sandhu of Islington Law Centre’s Refugee Children’s Rights Project received the award for young legal aid solicitor.

The awards for legal aid barrister and young legal aid barrister went respectively to Marc Willers from London’s Garden Court, who specialises in social welfare law; and Steve Broach from Doughty Street, who acts for disabled children and adults.

The award for a legal did firm/not-for-profit agency went to the Prisoners’ Advice Service.

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