Twelve law firms and seven solicitors were honoured last night at the Law Society’s 11th Excellence Awards.

Private practice solicitor of the year for 2017 is Zoe Gascoyne, a partner at Liverpool criminal defence firm Quinn Melville. Gascoyne, an outspoken campaigner against legal aid cuts, is current chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association. Her commitment to the cause of access to justice earned her a profile in the Liverpool Echo examining how ‘a 38-year-old from Merseyside came to be the voice of a nationwide battle’ against the Ministry of Justice.

This year’s Law Society Gazette Legal Personality of the Year is David Greene, senior partner and head of litigation and dispute resolution at Lincoln’s Inn, London commercial firm Edwin Coe. He has acted in several landmark cases over recent months, including representing one of the successful lead claimants in the Brexit article 50 judicial review case at the Supreme Court.

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Zoe Gascoyne

Private practice solicitor of the year 2017

Greene has also advised on a crowdfunded legal challenge brought by a Green Party activist in Northern Ireland against prime minister Theresa May’s parliamentary deal with the Democratic Unionist Party.

The In-house solicitor of the year is Swati Paul of London Luton Airport Operations Ltd. She won plaudits from the judges for working on an innovative project to introduce a new ‘groundhandling’ model to the airport. This has attracted international attention from other airports globally and enabled new suppliers to enter a market previously dominated by a duopoly.  

Swati impressed the judges ’by going over and above her day job to understand the needs of her business to devise a legal structure that was fit for purpose for the project’.

Law Society president Joe Egan said: ’This year we received a record number of nominations for the awards, highlighting the extraordinary commitment of solicitors to serving their clients.

’Solicitors from every corner of the land were represented, which shows the breadth of quality throughout the profession.’

A full list of winners: 

  • Excellence in Pro Bono – Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
  • Excellence in Client Service – rradar ltd
  • Excellence in Conveyancing Practice – EMG Solicitors Ltd
  • Excellence in Technology – Dentons
  • Excellence in Law Management – Excello Law
  • Excellence in Marketing & Communications – Setfords Solicitors
  • Excellence in Private Client Practice – Wollen Michelmore LLP
  • Excellence In-house – Optivo
  • Excellence in Learning & Development – Sternberg Reed
  • Excellence in International Legal Services – Dentons
  • Excellence in Business Development – Paradigm Family Law
  • Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion – Slaughter and May
  • The Law Society Gazette Legal Personality of the Year – David Greene, Edwin Coe LLP
  • Solicitor Advocate of the Year – Vicky Preece, IBB Solicitors
  • Junior Lawyer of the Year – Ahmed Aydeed, Duncan Lewis Solicitors
  • Human Rights Lawyer of the Year – Tobias Garnett, P24 - Platform for Independent Journalism
  • Woman Lawyer of the Year – Sue Millar, Stephenson Harwood LLP
  • Solicitor of the Year – Private Practice – Zoe Gascoyne, Quinn Melville
  • Solicitor of the Year – In-house – Swati Paul, London Luton Airport Operations Limited