The wide range of solicitors’ contributions to public life is reflected in the 2017 New Year honours. Among the members of the legal profession to be named in the list is solicitor James Gosling, consultant at City firm Holman Fenwick Willan, who is made an OBE for services to the legal profession and maritime hostages.

Gosling is an acknowledged piracy expert and member of HFW’s global marine piracy team, which has previously won awards for pro bono work to secure the release of 22 ‘forgotten’ seafarer hostages in Somalia.

Christopher Nott, founder and senior partner of Cardiff firm Capital Law LLP, is awarded an OBE for services to business and economic development in Wales.

Nott specialises in commercial disputes and is also a director of the firm’s integrated management consultancy. He is also chair of the Welsh Government’s financial and professional services sector panel, and the initial chair of the Cardiff Central Enterprise Zone.

Joanne Wheeler, partner at international firm Bird & Bird, receives the MBE for services to the space sector. Wheeler, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, specialises in communications, satellite and space regulatory and policy matters together with commercial contracts and public private partnerships.

Janet Cooper, partner at Yorkshire-based international business adviser Tapestry Compliance and a former magic circle partner, receives the OBE for services to gender equality and employee share ownership. Cooper, who left school at 16 and began her career as a secretary before graduating in law, became one of the first women to reach the partnership of a major City law firm when she was appointed by Linklaters in 1991.

In the public sector, Ministry of Justice chief operating officer Matthew Coats is made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in recognition of his public service. Lord chancellor Liz Truss tweeted to say it was ‘excellent to see dedicated civil servants’ recognised.

Coats was last year revealed to have received a 12.5% pay increase while chief executive of the Legal Aid Agency, at a time when the department was considering cutting fees for criminal defence practitioners.

Peter Fish, director general, Government Legal Department, and legal adviser, Home Office, is honoured with the Companion of the Order of the Bath for legal services to government. 

The same honour is handed to Robert Gilbert, chair of the Intellectual Property Office, who is recognised for his contribution to the legal profession and economy.

Jennifer Fowler, senior advisory lawyer for the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber), is made an OBE for services to the administration of justice.

Caroline Ross, a lawyer in the Department for Energy and Climate Change, is also made an OBE in recognition of her contribution to international climate change negotiations.  

Among the legal academics honoured is Professor Nicola Lacey from the London School of Economics, who is made a CBE, and Professor John Spencer QC from the University of Cambridge, also made a CBE for services to the reform of law Concerning child witnesses.