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Success for local government lawyers at Law Society Excellence Awards 2011

Local government lawyers were to the fore at the Law Society’s Excellence Awards 2011 last night.

The Director of Law & Governance at Kent County Council, Geoff Wild, was named Law Management Section Leader of the Year, while Naomi Bentley-Lawson of Warwickshire County Council was named Solicitor of the Year (In-House).

Wild was recognised for his work in building Kent Legal Services into a practice with more than 100 lawyers, a turnover of £7m and a profit centre of £1.75m a year. The service now delivers legal advice to more than 300 public sector bodies.

The citation for his award said: “Geoff Wild leads a service that makes a difference and is widely regarded as an exceptional leader who continues to directly and decisively contribute to the health and success of Kent County Council and the whole of the UK public sector.”

Bentley-Lawson is a child care specialist at Warwickshire. The citation for her award read: “With five years’ PQE, Naomi is already an expert in her field of child protection, and has earned the respect of Warwickshire County Council’s social workers and all 24 experienced lawyers she leads.

“Naomi is unflappable and intelligent, bringing the sort of common sense to law that cannot be taught.”

Rashidah Conroy of the General Social Care Council had also been shortlisted in the Solicitor of the Year (In-House) category, notably for securing the first conviction of an unregistered social worker.


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In addition to Wild's nomination, Kent Legal Services saw Karina Vickerman shortlisted for the Legal Executive of the Year category. However, the winner in this category was Philip Warford of Renaissance Legal.

South Lakeland District Council had been shortlisted for the Excellence in Learning & Development award, but this went to City law firm SJ Berwin.

Notable winners included:

  • Legal Personality of the Year: Jo Cooper of Perren Buildings Chambers, for his work promoting the cause of solicitor-advocacy
  • Solicitor of the Year (private practice): Michael Schwarz, Bindmans
  • Junior Lawyer of the Year: Saadia Khan, Bindmans
  • AWS Legal Business Woman of the Year: Allison Page, DLA Piper
  • Excellence in Client Service: Douglas Wemyss Solicitor
  • Excellence in Innovation: Last Cawthra Feather

The awards were presented at a ceremony at Old Billingsgate.