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23 June, 2020 - 08:59 By Tony Quested

Revealed: Cambridge firms who grabbed glory at Cambridgeshire Law Society Awards

The high quality of legal firms in the Uk’s hottest technology cluster was reflected in the Cambridgeshire Law Society (CLS) Legal Excellence Awards 2020.

While the awards had to be held virtually via Zoom because of coronavirus the legal brilliance recognised by the Awards was reassuringly real. More than 100 lawyers from Cambridgeshire’s legal community beamed into the virtual awards ceremony facilitated by CLS’ Kirsten Pullan. 

Ashtons Legal stole the holders with a glorious triple success: The firm won Law firm of the Year, Private Client Team of the Year and Trainee Lawyer of the Year courtesy Natasha Adams.

Simon Davis, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, presented the awards to the winners who came from a wide range of law firms, in house teams, patent attorney firms and barristers’ chambers.

Roger Bamber of Mills & Reeve won the Lifetime Achievement Award. Roger is a highly-regarded member of the legal profession in Cambridge where he has practised law for many years contributing to the development of family law nationally.  

The judges praised Roger for being an inspiration for future generations. He was an outstanding candidate for the award.  

Chair of the judging panel, Ian Mather (Cambridge United CEO and a solicitor who practised in Cambridge for 36 years) said: “I and my fellow Judges (Fiona Hotston-Moore, JDC Corporate Finance; Graham Martin, Barclays; Greg Mueller, AstraZeneca and Mark Winchester, Rathbones) were very impressed by the quality of the applications which showcased the high calibre of legal services available in Cambridgeshire.” 

The major Awards winners were as follows:-

  • Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by BDO – Roger Bamber, Mills & Reeve
  • Commercial Litigation Team of the Year, sponsored by Temple Legal Protection – Howes Percival
  • Commercial Property Team of the Year, sponsored by Rapleys – Birketts LLP
  • Corporate Team of the Year, sponsored by Ensors – Hewitsons
  • Family Law Team of the Year, sponsored by Marsh JLT Speciality – Fenners Chambers
  • In House Team of the Year, sponsored by Handelsbanken – AstraZeneca
  • Injury Litigation Team of the Year, sponsored by Fenners – Slater & Gordon
  • Private Client Team of the Year, sponsored by Hannay Robertson Financial Planning – Ashtons Legal
  • Client Service Firm of the Year, sponsored by Peppermint Technology – Birketts LLP
  • Law Firm of the Year, sponsored by Errington Legal – Ashtons Legal
  • Patent Attorney Firm of the Year, sponsored by AstraZeneca – Venner Shipley
  • Trainee Lawyer of the Year, sponsored by Geodesys – Natasha Adams, Ashtons Legal
  • Junior Lawyer of the Year, sponsored by Quiss – Gurpreet Lalli, Irwin Mitchell
  • Lawyer of the Year, sponsored by Barclays – Rachel Frost-Smith, Irwin Mitchell
  • Partner of the Year, sponsored by Mobas – Lorna Carter, Greenwoods GRM
  • Birketts won at the double, crowned Commercial Property Team of the Year and rewarded for Excellence in Client Service for the second year running.

Katherine Herbert, partner and head of Commercial Property at Birketts' Cambridge office, said: “For the team to be recognised for its unrivalled expertise in strategic land and its acumen across a diverse range of commercial property transactions is hugely rewarding.”

Chief executive Jonathan Agar added: “Birketts remains dedicated to delivering the best results for clients no matter how complex or difficult the project and to receive these awards for the second year running, is a true credit to the firm’s collective hard work.”

Howes Percival, which won ‘Commercial Litigation Team of the Year,' entered the Cambridge legal market in early 2015 and now provides a full-service legal offering with commercial property, corporate and commercial, employment, insolvency, dispute resolution, regulation and private client services. 

The Cambridge office commercial litigation team was established in 2017. By the end of its first full year, the team achieved listings in two authoritative legal directories – the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.  

Michael Green, a partner at Howes Percival and head of the Cambridge Commercial Litigation team said: “I'm absolutely delighted that the team has been recognised with this prestigious accolade. As a relative newcomer to the Cambridge legal market, it is especially pleasing to receive this award. It is most pleasing as our peers in Cambridge are very impressive firms with an established pedigree in the region. 

"From a standing start three years ago, the team has gone from strength to strength.  Much of our growth has been down to new instructions from existing clients and recommendations they have made to their colleagues and contacts.” 

Hewitsons was thrilled with its top corporate team award. Partner Laurence Evans said: “It is always great to be recognised by your peers and I was delighted to accept the award on behalf of the whole team, the members of which remain dedicated to providing absolute client focus even during these difficult times.

“The corporate team at Hewitsons handles a range of corporate work for the larger corporations and businesses, with an enviable list of clients across UK and overseas. In addition, I am pleased to see we have been recognised as the ‘go-to’ team for young and developing companies in and around Cambridge.”

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