The outstanding achievements of the legal profession in England and Wales were celebrated by the Law Society at a ceremony in London yesterday evening.

Over 600 legal professionals and their guests joined the president of the Law Society John Wotton and BBC Broadcaster Mishal Husain at the presentation of the Law Society Excellence Awards 2011 at Old Billingsgate.

These annual awards recognise the most outstanding legal practitioners in their field and are designed to recognise best practice and to celebrate excellence and outstanding achievement in areas that are central to the profession today.

The awards highlight innovative business practices and successful approaches to practice management, as well as contributions through social responsibility, and equality and diversity initiatives.

Law Society president John Wotton said: ‘Winning an Excellence Award is more than recognition from professional colleagues, it is also a symbol of quality for members of the public highlighting professional excellence and a commitment to providing a high quality service to clients.’

The Law Society Gazette Legal Personality of the Year was presented to Jo Cooper, Perrin Buildings Chambers. Editor in chief Paul Rogerson said: ‘Jo won this award for his tireless efforts promoting the cause of solicitor-advocacy at a difficult time for the profession, in particular in respect of the controversial Quality Assurance Scheme for advocates.’

The award ceremony was attended by Lord McNally, Baroness Hamwee, the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP, Edward Garnier QC MP, Lord Bach and other leading figures in the legal profession.

The award winners were:

Excellence in Community Investment

Winner: Northumbria University - Student Law Office

Highly Commended

  • Justice for Children - Rift Valley Newcastle Justice Project Ltd

Excellence in Equality & Diversity

Winner: Paul Hastings LLP

Highly Commended

  • Joseph Frasier Solicitors LLP
  • Rayden Solicitors

Excellence in Marketing & Business Development

Winner: Collyer Bristow LLP

Highly Commended

  • Emmersons Solicitors
  • Stephens Scown LLP – Foodfinder SW

Legal Sector Alliance Award for Excellence in Environmental Responsibility

Winner: Linklaters LLP

Highly Commended

  • Bond Pearce LLP
  • Eversheds LLP

Excellence in Client Service

Winner: Douglas Wemyss Solicitors LLP

Highly Commended

  • Denning Solicitors
  • Eversheds LLP - Client Console

Excellence in Learning & Development

Winner: SJ Berwin LLP - Immerse

Excellence in Innovation

Winner: Last Cawthra Feather LLP

Highly Commended

  • Abney Garsden McDonald
  • Ward Hadaway - Creative Industries Team

Lexcel Award for Excellence in Practice Management

Winner: Brethertons LLP

Highly Commended

  • NewLaw Legal Ltd
  • Stuart Miller Solicitors Ltd

AWS Legal Business Woman of the Year

Winner: Allison Page, DLA Piper UK LLP

LMS Leader of the Year

Winner: Geoff Wild, Kent County Council

Highly Commended

  • Sameer Karim, Douglas Wemyss Solicitors LLP

Legal Executive of the Year

Winner: Philip Warford, Renaissance Legal

Highly Commended

  • Alexandra Boardman, Hartnell Chanot & Partners Ltd
  • Lynette Vaughan, Watkins & Gunn

Solicitor Advocate of the Year

Winner: Roger Jairaj Sahota, BSB Solicitors

Highly Commended

  • Flora Page, Old Bailey Solicitors

Solicitor of the Year - Private Practice

Winner: Michael Schwarz, Bindmans LLP

Highly Commended

  • Peter Garsden, Abney Garsden McDonald
  • Jules Carey, Tuckers Solicitors
  • Suzanne Dibble, Virtual Law

The Law Society Gazette Legal Personality of the Year

Winner: Jo Cooper, Perren Buildings Chambers

Highly Commended

  • Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers Ltd

Junior Lawyer of the Year

Winner: Saadia Khan, Bindmans LLP

Highly Commended

  • Madelene Holdsworth, Pannone LLP

Solicitor of the Year – In-house

Winner: Naomi Bentley-Lawson, Warwickshire County Council