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Family lawyers from across England & Wales came together yesterday evening at the Hilton Park Lane in London to celebrate Jordan Publishing's inaugural Family Law Awards, sponsored by Trimega Laboratories.
The room was charged with hopeful anticipation as the four nominees in each category waited to hear the decisions of the judges and the results from the family law community's votes. In a video presentation ahead of each award, a member from the judging panel provided the reasons as to why each of the nominees had been short-listed.
The first award of the evening was for Family Law Solicitor of the Year and was sponsored by 1 Garden Court chambers. The prize was awarded to Exeter based solicitor Vanessa Priddis, Partner at Michelmores solicitors.
It was an excellent night for 4 Paper Buildings chambers who won Family Law Chambers of the Year and whose member Teertha Gupta won the Barrister of the Year Award, sponsored by Class Legal. Rushing down to London from a trial in Leeds, Teertha arrived at the awards ceremony just in time to hear his name be announced and walked straight from the door to the stage to accept his award.
The Family Law Firm of the Year award, sponsored by 4 Paper Buildings, went to Family Law in Partnership.
Gillian Bishop, a founding partner of Family Law in Partnership, commented: "We are extremely proud to have won this prestigious award which pays tribute to the dedication of each and every member of our exceptional team at Family Law in Partnership. At a time when family lawyers are coming under increasing scrutiny for a lack of client care, we are delighted that the unique approach practiced by Family Law in Partnership, an approach which is client centred, constructive, collaborative and fair, has been recognised as a winning combination by the judges.
"We applaud the establishment of the Family Law Awards as a platform to celebrate the many successes and outstanding achievements of family lawyers in supporting clients and their families undergoing divorce and separation."
Roger Bamber, Partner at Mills & Reeves solicitors, won the Most Innovative Family Lawyer of the Year Award, sponsored by PKF Accountants. Roger was instrumental in a number of new innovations within the family law field, including the independent Money Advice Service's online separation calculator and the divorce.co.uk website.
In one of the two categories voted online by the family law community, the award for the ADR Practitioner of the Year, sponsored by 1 Garden Court, went to the Head of the Family Law team at Anthony Gold, Kim Beatson. Kim was also a nominee for the most innovative award, the only individual to be short-listed for two awards.
The second award voted by the family law community, the Family Law Readers' Commentary Award was won by David Hodson, Partner at the International Family Law Group. Regular readers of the Family Law Newswatch website will be familiar with David's weekly opinion column on international family law.
District Judge Nicholas Crichton was given a standing ovation by the audience as he was given the final award of the night, Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Family Law. District Judge Nicholas Crichton pioneered the setting up of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court in this country. The specialist court aims, where possible, to keep families together by using care proceedings to motivate parents to engage with treatment.
At the end of the ceremony, the winners, nominees and their guests stayed to celebrate and socialise at a champagne reception in the Hilton.
We would like to congratulate all the winners and short-listed nominees and thank everyone who submitted a nomination and voted.
"A large and important book that should be on the shelf of every family lawyer." Sir James Munby