Uma Mehta, a lawyer at the London Borough of Islington, was last night named Solicitor of the Year (In-House) at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2013.
The citation for the award said Mehta, who is Chief Lawyer in the Community Services Team at Islington, had “made an outstanding contribution to child care proceedings”.
It added: “Training judges, magistrates and legal advisers on the new 26 week limit for child care cases, she worked beyond her brief producing effective guidance, direction and documentation that will reduce delay and make a real difference to the lives of the most vulnerable children.”
Kath Nicholson, Head of Law at Lewisham Council, and Pieter de Waal, Head of Legal at the Olympic Delivery Authority, were highly commended in the same category, alongside Pauline Curtis of the Crown Prosecution Service.
The citation for Nicholson highlighted how she spearheaded the council’s successful legal challenge to cuts at Lewisham hospital.
It said: “Kath demonstrated exceptional leadership and legal expertise. Her successful judicial review of the Secretary of State’s first use of the legal regime known as the Unsustainable Provider Regime designed to deal with failing hospital trusts means that this case is of national significance. Her success has a hugely positive impact on the community she serves.”
For de Waal, the citation said he had "shown passion and commitment" over the course of the Olympics project.
"He has been at the heart of the action as the authority that completed the new East Village, closed out £6bn of contracts and continues its important legacy work," it said. "Pieter’s commitment to a project that has run for seven years is highlighted by his continued focus on the successful final phase of the authority’s work before it dissolves in 2014. His part in the successful delivery of the project can not be overestimated. An example of an in-house lawyer at the top of his game.
Fiona Woolf, a former Law Society President and partner at CMS Cameron McKenna, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other winners on the night included:
- Solicitor of the Year (private practice): Catherine Leech, Pannone Solicitors;
- Junior Lawyer of the Year: Kevin Timms, Garden House Solicitors;
- Legal Business Woman of the Year: Helen Molyneux, NewLaw Solicitors;
- Excellence in Client Service: Aequitas Legal;
- Excellence in Business Development & Innovation: Bott & Co;
- Excellence in Marketing & Communications: Keystone Law.
Nick Fluck, Law Society President, said: “The Excellence Awards have attracted a record number of entries in 2013, and standards were incredibly high - evidence in itself that the legal sector, amid turbulent and challenging times, is ever resilient and evolving.”