Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards

Find out about the 2024 LALY Awards

Our beginnings

Photos of the first ever LALYs in 2003

What do people say...

This is the one evening of the year that we can put aside the utterly maddening shortcomings of the legal aid scheme … when we can forget about the crazy, soul-sapping, justice-denying bureaucracy, the baffling refusals of legal aid, and even the self-serving, misguided attacks on us and sometimes on our clients by politicians and the media. This is the evening when we come together as one legal aid community and celebrate the power of legal aid to transform lives and to defend the rights of ordinary people.

Jenny Beck KC (Hon), LALYs 2023
I was honoured to receive the LALY award for outstanding achievement in 2017, but I didn’t just want it to sit on my windowsill (although it looks very nice). I wanted to use it to shine a light on the importance of legal aid and its ability to transform lives. I hope that since then I have been at least a little successful in doing that by writing on the impact of legal aid cuts and campaigning for change,
Sue James, CEO, Legal Action Group

The LALYs always uplift me every year but also make me very emotional. At each ceremony, I don’t know when I’m going to have a tear in my eye or what it is that will move me, but something always does. Human endeavour, I think: a young lawyer who has maybe had to battle with adversity themselves, going on to support and win cases for disadvantaged clients; a solicitor or barrister who has given a professional lifetime to fighting on behalf of those suffering injustices or poverty; the dedication of friends and colleagues who selflessly take the time to put together outstanding submissions for nomination; the hard work of Team LALY; or just simply meeting up with old friends on the night. Everyone loves to be at the LALYs. I have seen the LALYs from all angles: as a judge; as one of the founding members; and as a person who has made and supported nominations. Being shortlisted or even winning is so important. They are a moment for personal reflection on what has been achieved and just to bask a little with other impressive nominees and feel that, maybe, it is all worthwhile.

David Emmerson, partner, Anthony Gold

This was my first LALYs and leading up to the event I had been unsure whether it would live up to the hype. The idea of an ‘Oscars for legal aid lawyers’ seemed strange. I was completely wrong. Not only was it a fun, feel-good evening, it was also incredibly inspiring and poignant. It’s clear that legal aid lawyers and support staff never celebrate themselves, and so it felt like a real privilege to watch them being honoured in front of family and peers. There were winners from Birmingham, Wales and Manchester, and yet it very much felt like everyone in the room was part of the same community.

Tessa Lieven Wright, Operations Officer, Legal Action Group

Most awards events leave me with mixed feelings about genuine achievement and overblown triumphalism – but not last night. Last night was an exceptional reminder of outstanding work being done, despite the draconian constraints on scope and funding.

Former senior partner at a large law firm, LALYs 2022

It just shows you your place in the whole system and how important it is. It is just such an inspiring event from start to finish. Just being there as an audience member, listening to the stories, hearing what the finalists have done, and being with people who are equally dedicated to trying to make our justice system work a bit better is inspirational in itself. It’s my favourite night of the year. I absolutely love it.

Former winner and regular attendee of the ceremony

Winners of the 2023 LALYs

Winners of the 2022 LALYs

Winners of the 2021 LALYs

Winners of the 2020 LALYs

Our Winners Archive (2003-2019)