This year’s LALY finalists include: the young barrister who founded Black Protest Legal Support; young law centre solicitor who won additional financial support to protect asylum seekers from destitution; lawyers who have brought multiple successful challenges over the British government’s refusal to relocate Afghan nationals at risk from the Taliban.

Legal Aid Practitioners Group is proud to announce the 28 individuals and six organisations selected by our panel of judges as finalists in the 21st Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards (see full list, below).

The winners in these 11 award categories will be announced at a ceremony in central London on 12 July 2023, along with the winner of the LALY23 Outstanding Achievement award, which is the highest honour the LALYs can give.

LAPG CEO Chris Minnoch says:

‘Choosing the finalists was a fiendishly difficult task for our judging panel this year, as the calibre of nominations was so high. The nominations are a testament to the professionalism, resilience and sheer brilliance of lawyers working in the social justice sector – who all deserve to be celebrated.  We send our warmest congratulations to everyone shortlisted, and heartfelt commiserations to those who weren’t.’

The Legal Aid Newcomer award is always a highlight of the ceremony, and this year’s four finalists are:

  • Christian Weaver, Garden Court North, who acted for the family of 2-year-old Awaab Ishak, the toddler who died after prolonged exposure to mould in the housing association flat where he lived with his family.
  • Danielle Manson, Garden Court Chambers, a criminal law barrister known for her expertise in defending children and young people, and praised as ‘a true justice warrior’.
  • Ife Thompson, 1MCB Chambers, described as a ‘movement lawyer’, and ‘important voice for racial justice in the criminal defence community’, who, alongside her practice, founded Black Protest Legal Support, ‘the first Black and Brown-led legal observing group’.
  • Josie Hicklin, Greater Manchester Law Centre, whose win in ‘CB’ will mean increased financial support for around 50,000 asylum-seekers to help them cope with the cost of living crisis.

The total of six organisations shortlisted in the Legal Aid Firm/Not-for-profit Agency or Regional Legal Aid Firm/Not-for-profit Agency include:

  • Central England Law Centre, which holds seven legal aid contracts, employs 65 staff, and opened 800 new cases last year.
  • Deighton Pierce Glynn, which has brought a string of successful judicial reviews for Afghan nationals wrongly refused relocation under the British government’s relocation schemes.
  • Fountain Solicitors, which has five offices across the UK, and is known for its immigration and asylum law work, including the successful Supreme Court challenge HA, over the role of family life in the UK in deportation cases.

Tickets to attend the 12 July ceremony can be booked here:

For more information, contact; or LALY co-organiser

LALY23 award categories and finalists in full

1) Criminal Defence – sponsored by DG Legal

Aneka Thirurajah – Hodge Jones & Allen

Catherine Bond – SL5 Legal

2) Legal Aid Newcomer – sponsored by Friends of LALY23

Christian Weaver – Garden Court North Chambers

Danielle Manson – Garden Court Chambers

Ife Thompson – 1MCB Chambers

Josie Hicklin – Greater Manchester Law Centre

3) Social Welfare Law – sponsored by Doughty Street Chambers

Christopher Johnson – Community Law Partnership

Jamila Duncan-Bosu – Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit

Jess Haley – Bristol Law Centre

4) Children’s Rights – sponsored by Leigh Day

Alia Lewis – Duncan Lewis

Whitney Hard – Coram Children’s Legal Centre

Katie Wilkins – Irwin Mitchell

5) Family Legal Aid – sponsored by Resolution

Amna Khaliq – Wilson Solicitors LLP

Saifalee Doolooa-Collins – Reeds Solicitors

Victoria Jones – RLE Law

6) Legal Aid Support Staffer – sponsored by Accesspoint

Katayoon Zare – TRP Solicitors

Kelly Smith – Child Poverty Action Group

Sheree Clark – Coram Children’s Legal Centre

7) Legal Aid Barrister – sponsored by The Bar Council

Antonia Benfield – Doughty Street Chambers

David Gardner – No5 Chambers

Kathryn Cronin – Garden Court Chambers

8) Legal Aid Firm/Not-for-Profit Agency – sponsored by The Law Society

Central England Law Centre

Deighton Pierce Glynn

Watkins & Gunn Solicitors

9) Regional Legal Aid Firm/Not-for-Profit Agency – sponsored by The Legal Education Foundation

Butler & Co Solicitors

Fountain Solicitors

Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit

10) Immigration & Asylum Law – sponsored by Garden Court Chambers

Alison Stanley – Bindmans LLP

Daniel Merriman – Wilson Solicitors LLP

Nath Gbikpi – Leigh Day

11) Public Law – sponsored by One Pump Court Chambers

Nusrat Uddin – Wilson Solicitors LLP

Stephanie Hill – Leigh Day

Emma Vincent Miller – Public Law Project

12) Outstanding Achievement – sponsored by Matrix Chambers

No shortlist for this award

LAPG would also like to thank Miles & Partners for additional sponsorship for this year’s awards ceremony.