Buckinghamshire County Council was named Local Government Legal Team of the Year at the inaugural Lawyers in Local Government Awards on Saturday.
Alison Stuart of the shared legal team at the London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham and Thurrock won Individual Local Government Lawyer of the Year, while Chloe Karamian of Slough Borough Council was named Junior Lawyer of the Year.
Other big winners on the night were Nplaw, the shared legal service in Norfork which won in two categories (Partnership & Procurement/Commercial; and Planning, Highways & Environment).
Commenting on her team’s win, Anne Davies, Head of Legal and Democratic Services said: “Needless to say we are absolutely delighted about the award.
“We launched Buckinghamshire Law Plus [the council’s alternative business structure] on 24 November so it was a brilliant end to our most exciting first week of trading, when the amount of interest shown in our venture (from both inside and outside local government) has been most gratifying.”
The awards were announced at a black tie dinner at the Rosewood Hotel in London.
LLG Vice-President Bev Cullen said: “I was delighted to preside over LLG’s inaugural awards ceremony and the dazzling array of local government legal talent which it showcased.
“At a premier London venue hosted by barrister turned celebrity, Clive Anderson, this was certainly a glittering event to spotlight the excellent work done by local government lawyers across the land and also to put LLG firmly on the strategic map as a serious professional organisation that means business.”
Cullen added: "I also wish to express LLG's sincere thanks to all our Corporate Partners and Sponsors for their invaluable support without which this important event would not have been possible."
The full list of winners and shortlisted entries was as follows:
Adult Social Care & Health (sponsor: 39 Essex):
- Winner: Warwickshire County Council “had a range of excellent achievements. The sharing of learning/best practice with other councils, reducing reliance on private sector expertise and solutions was the ‘stand-out’ feature of their application”;
- Also shortlisted: Buckinghamshire County Council; Essex County Council.
Children’s Services and Education (sponsor: LexisNexis)
- Winner: Brighton & Hove City Council was “an exemplar of best practice for other local authorities, showing a valuable standing both locally within the Family Justice Board, the local law society and nationally in advising government departments and writing legal articles”;
- Also shortlisted: Essex County Council; Kent County Council; and One Source (the shared service between the London boroughs of Newham and Havering).
Employment (sponsor: Sellick):
- Winner: Warwickshire County Council provided an “outstanding submission that demonstrated a clear understanding of the judging criteria. The use of testimonials was excellent, demonstrating specific examples of a wide range of work carried out. This well-rounded entry showed a real commitment to the ongoing development of the team”;
- Also shortlisted: Essex County Council; Lancashire County Council.
Information Management (sponsor: Weightmans):
- Winner: Eastlaw (North Norfolk) “impressed with their approach to managing information governance issues. [They] demonstrated a clear commitment to customer service, continuous improvement and quality management with tangible outcomes for their clients”;
- Also shortlisted: Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council (Jackie Tatam); Buckinghamshire County Council (Jonathan Baines); London Borough of Islington (Michael Smith); and North Yorkshire County Council.
Litigation and Licensing (sponsor: Nabarro):
- Winner: One Source (the shared service between the London boroughs of Newham and Havering) was “unanimously placed ahead of the others for its impressive, proactive and innovative approach. Particularly impressive was the way that the team sought to challenge existing case law”;
- Also shortlisted: London Borough of Southwark; London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.
Monitoring Officers and Governance (sponsor: 11KBW):
- Winner: Cheshire Constabulary “demonstrated forward and innovative thinking by introducing the monitoring officer role in an organisation that is not required, by law, to have such a role, with a view to restoring public trust, confidence and greater transparency”;
- Also shortlisted: London Borough of Tower Hamlets (Meic Sullivan-Gould).
Partnership & Procurement/Commercial (sponsor: Geldards):
- Winner: Nplaw “impressed the judges by a humorous and comprehensive bid drawing together testimonials of clients to evidence the wide-ranging influence that the service has had upon a series of core initiatives”;
- Also shortlisted: Buckinghamshire County Council; Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.
Planning, Highways & Environment (sponsor: Law Absolute):
- Winner: Nplaw “particularly impressed with their proactive approach to securing various regeneration/planning projects and their excellence in innovation. This council shows a great commercial awareness and are incredibly dynamic in their efforts to secure new business especially by generating 70% of their income for the council from external clients”;
- Also shortlisted: Buckinghamshire County Council; London Borough of Southwark; and Suffolk County Council.
Junior Lawyer of the Year (sponsor: Iken):
- Winner: Chloe Karamian (Slough Borough Council) “impressed the judges with examples of work which demonstrated value for money for her authority and a broad range of responsibility, including supporting junior colleagues, taken on at an early stage of her career. Her work on a high-profile statutory review showed dedication to securing the best outcomes for not only the authority, but the community it serves”;
- Also shortlisted: Gurbinder Sangha (Herefordshire Council); and Paula Harvey (London Borough of Enfield).
Individual Local Government Lawyer of the Year (sponsor: Thomson Reuters):
- Winner: Alison Stuart (London boroughs of Barking, Dagenham & Thurrock) impressed “with the range of her achievement and innovation both as a lawyer and a manager. The judges agreed with the winner’s Head of Service that her ‘ambition, determination and approach to local government serve as an exemplar to colleagues across the country”;
- Also shortlisted: Melanie O’Sullivan (Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council); John Oakley (London Borough of Enfield); and Barry Juckes (Warwickshire County Council).
Local Government Legal Team of the Year (sponsor: Bevan Brittan):
- Winner: Buckinghamshire County Council “displayed the greatest all-round level of innovation and contribution to their community”;
- Also shortlisted: Eastlaw (North Norfolk); London boroughs of Barking, Dagenham and Thurrock; London Borough of Enfield; and Suffolk County Council.