Legal Aid Practitioners Group announces winners of 2022 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards at first in-person ceremony since 2019.

‘Revered’ housing barrister; solicitor acting in Colston 4 case; and lawyer specialising in ‘Kafkaesque’ Special Immigration Appeals Commission work honoured by LALY judges.

Campaign group Young Legal Aid Lawyers and Marcia Willis Stewart QC (Hon) named as Winner of Winners to mark 20th anniversary of the awards.


LALY22 award winners
Photo: Frederique Bellec Photography

Last night (12 July) saw the biggest ever gathering of the social justice community at the 20th anniversary of the Legal Aid Lawyer or the Year awards in central London.

Trophies in 12 LALY award categories – including Outstanding Achievement, Criminal Defence and Social Welfare Law – were presented by Helena Kennedy QC; plus LAPG co-chair Jenny Beck presented two special Winner or Winners (WoW) awards, to mark two decades of this unique, non-profit-making celebration of the work of grass roots legal aid lawyers. See full list of winners, below.

The event was hosted by Channel 4 broadcaster and author Symeon Brown.

Barrister Zia Nabi won the top award, for Outstanding Achievement, in recognition of ’30 years, living and breathing housing law’. Zia has been at the forefront of making housing law more humane, and winning better protections for tenants and homeless people, through use of the Human Rights Act, Equality Act, and Public Sector Equality Duty.

Solicitor Laura O’Brien was named Criminal Defence Lawyer of the Year for her work including in the so-called Colston 4 case, over the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol. All four defendants were acquitted of criminal damage by the jury, in a case which generated significant media and political interest.

Legal Aid Barrister winner Amean Elgadhy
Photo: Rugfoot Photography

Solicitor Chris McKendry won the trophy for Social Welfare Law, in recognition of his work involving the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, described as ‘a uniquely complex and challenging area of immigration law, involving closed hearings, which neither lawyer or client can attend’. Chris’ efforts on behalf of a young mother stranded in Syria after being stripped of her British citizenship were described as ‘superhuman’.

Also recognised was Amean Elgadhy, the first British Yemeni legal aid barrister in England and Wales. Amean is a family law barrister and was praised for his ‘deep sense of social responsibility’ and ‘ability to ensure that the most vulnerable, pilloried and marginalised clients are treated with compassion and fairness.’

LALY22 winners

  1. Legal Aid Newcomer – Ciara Bartlam (Garden Court North)
  2. Legal Aid Support Staffer – David Neale (Garden Court Chambers); and Lesley Kennedy Neal (Wilson Solicitors)
  3. Disability Rights – Anna Moore (Leigh Day)
  4. Family Law – Grace Bradley (The Family Law Company)
  5. Criminal Defence – Laura O’Brien (Hodge Jones & Allen)
  6. Legal Aid Barrister – Amean Elgadhy (One Pump Court)
  7. Legal Aid Firm/Not-for-Profit Agency – UCL Integrated Legal Advice Clinic
  8. Regional Legal Aid Firm/Not-for-Profit Agency – Johnson Astills
  9. Public Law – Qaisar Sheikh – Coram Children’s Legal Centre
  10. Social Welfare Law – Chris McKendry (Wilson Solicitors)
  11. Housing Law – Rajea Sultana (Miles & Partners)
  12. Outstanding Achievement – Zia Nabi (Doughty Street Chambers)

Winner of Winners awards

  • Organisation – Young Legal Aid Lawyers
  • Individual – Marcia Willis Stewart QC (Hon)

For more information or photographs, contact: LALY co-organiser Fiona Bawdon –; or LAPG CEO Chris Minnoch –

LALY22 sponsors

  • Accesspoint
  • Bidwell Henderson
  • Resolution
  • Doughty Street Chambers
  • The Bar Council
  • The Law Society
  • The Legal Education Foundation
  • One Pump Court
  • DG Legal
  • Garden Court Chambers
  • Matrix Chambers
  • Legal Action Group (media partner)